Moraine Lake has become the darling of Instagram and it's easy to see why. No longer a hidden gem Moraine Lake is overwhelmed with tourists from the day the access road opens until it closes. We arrived at 5am on opening day and we were met with a line of cars and were lucky to be one of the last ones to get a parking spot before the road to Moraine Lake was closed to all car traffic at 6am because it was over capacity. I've left Canmore at 3am with couples in hopes of getting one of the 150 parking spots and barely made it before the road closed. It used to be that if you arrived before 8am or after 6pm you could reach Moraine Lake but now that all of the hotel conceirges have told their guests to arrive early or go late that it is no longer the case. In fact one of my couples told me they drove in at noon and had no issues parking because the hotels had all told guests to be there before 6am. Trying to get in with your own vehicle is totally unpredictable. Thankfully there are now shuttle buses that allow you to reach Moraine Lake after the road is closed to vehicle traffic.
Instagram does a good job of deceiving travellers into thinking that Moraine Lake is a peaceful spot where you'll have the lake all to yourself by showing people standing in front of the lake with their arms outstretched and no one in sight but that is FAR from the reality of what you'll actually experience. Moraine Lake is the BUSIEST location in the Canadian Rockies. This Global News report shows an accurate picture of what to really expect at Moraine Lake.
Parks Canada has been working hard to find solutions so that tourists can reach Moraine Lake and have a good experience. For 2020 they have announced that they will be introducing a bus reservation system to try to get rid of long lineups for tourists as they wait for a bus to visit Moraine Lake and allow tourists the ability to pre-plan their trip. You can read more details about the new bus reservation system at Moraine Lake in this front page article.
If you are on a bucket list trip to the Canadian Rockies I think a stay at the stunning Moraine Lake Lodge would be amazing. You'll get an assigned parking spot, a pass that allows you to reach Moraine Lake even when the road is closed and a free canoe ride (worth $120!). It's a beautiful way to experience such a gorgeous place. The lodge rooms are beautiful.
It's important that you do your research before planning a day at Moraine Lake so you are not disappointed.