In a move to preserve Banff National Park’s pristine beauty, Parks Canada has banned personal vehicles on the 12-kilometer (7.5-mile) Moraine Lake Road near Lake Louise. Alberta’s Department of Forestry, Parks, and Tourism, however, is contesting the ban. The rift between the two departments is a typical tug-of-war: environmentalists against those who want unfettered tourism. So far, Parks Canada is winning the argument and the ban will go into effect.
Since Moraine Lake Road in Banff National Park is only open from June to mid-October, the impact of this decision will be felt in the summer of 2023. Keep checking Banff news websites (CBC.ca and The Globe and Mail) since the decision could change.
Why Ban Cars?
According to Parks Canada, the parking lot at Moraine Lake is “at capacity 24 hours a day.” Although 900 vehicles successfully park each day during the summer, about 5,000 are turned away. Unfortunately, those drivers often take their frustration out on park staff.
One visitor commented that they “got to the parking lot before 6 a.m., and it was packed. It was like a tailgate party. People camped the night. Some are eating oatmeal from the back of their vehicles, having their coffee.”
If I Can’t Drive My Car, How Will I Get Around The Park?
So, you can’t take your vehicle into the park. Not to worry, there are several ways to get around. These include Parks Canada Shuttles, Roam Transit, commercial buses, and taxis (Why taxis? They don’t park.) Disabled visitors with hang-tags can drive into the park.
There’s A History Of Closing Areas To Preserve Them
This move isn’t a first for Parks Canada or, for that matter, most national park systems. Proponents of tourism want to showcase an area’s natural beauty. Park “caretakers” want to preserve them for future generations.
In the recent past, Parks Canada has closed down hiking trails and has considered establishing caps on visitors to sensitive areas. The U.S. National Park Service (NPS) has also increased its preservation efforts, with timed entry tickets, private car bans, shuttles, and other measures to limit visitors’ impacts.
In addition, the NPS is promoting the use of electric vehicles (EVs) as a green and efficient option. Several national parks on the country’s East and West Coasts are the first in the system to install EV charging stations.
See the following TravelAwaits articles for more information about Canada’s national parks: