With the last long weekend of the summer approaching, officials in Alberta’s mountain parks are warning visitors to plan ahead.
Banff National Park says this year is on track to be another record for visitation.
Traffic restrictions were implemented twice in Lake Louise as officials turned away guests without reservations.
Spontaneous mountain trips are harder than ever to come by for this scenic hot spot.
“Probably five years ago, we drove in early in our RV and drove right back out again,” Cathy Poole recalled. “That was our Lake Louise experience.”
This year, it’s shuttle access only to Moraine Lake. And every day this summer, Parks Canada has sold out of its 2,800 tickets to Lake Louise and Moraine Lake.
“Tuesday morning we were online at 8 o’clock,” Poole said, beaming as she stood alongside the crystal blue waters and pristine mountain views at Moraine Lake.
Francois Masse, the superintendent of Banff National Park, said that “tickets come online at 8 o’clock in the morning two days ahead of the day.”
“The tickets are gone within 30-45 minutes,” Masse said.
Up to 500 other visitors will make it to popular lakeside trails daily with ROAM Transit. Hundreds more are also expected to make the trip through private operators.
But many others won’t be so lucky.
“We drove all the way from South Dakota,” said Sung Shin, a visitor from South Dakota. “We spent about two hours in the parking lot and then someone gave us information about ROAM number 11.
“It was beautiful. But there was another lake — Moraine — we gave up. Too much of a hassle.”
Masse said the park has “around 5,000 or 6,000 people a day who are trying to drive into the lake without any plans, without any reservations and the parking lot is very small there.”
“It’s full at 7 o’clock in the morning until 7 o’clock at night.”