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The real picture behind all those shots of Alberta’s Moraine Lake

They come in the thousands from all corners of the globe every single day: tourists armed with smartphones and selfie sticks, pining for the perfect picture in front of some of Canada’s most iconic peaks.

Moraine Lake is at the top of many to-do lists when visiting Banff National Park, but officials worry those postcard-worthy pictures wallpapered all over social media sites may be setting wrong expectations.

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“When people see a beautiful picture of somewhere along the lake, they might think, ‘Oh, I can just get there very easily’ but they don’t understand the journey it took to get there, whether it be a long hike or congestion in the area or not getting through,” said Richard Dupuis, acting visitor experience manager for Lake Louise.

The road to the lake closes when the parking lot is full; coming early doesn’t guarantee you a spot.

“The lot is often full at six in the morning before our staff even get here to close the road,” Dupuis said.

Drivers are encouraged to park in the overflow lot off of Highway 1 and then take the shuttle up, but that gets jammed quickly.

READ MORE: Alberta farming, tourism offer bright lights as dark economic clouds loom: economist

Despite the crowds and traffic, many tourists Global News spoke with agreed the reward of seeing it is worth the hassle.

“It’s hard to be selfish and say we are the only ones allowed to see it; it’s kind of a double-edged sword,” said Neil Cawse, who was visiting from Toronto but is originally from South Africa.

READ MORE: Calgary, Jasper, Banff recording highest temperature increases in Alberta: study

It was a sentiment echoed by Gi Karthik, of Vancouver, who admitted it was pictures on social media that helped them choose the lakes they planned to visit.

“I think it’s perfectly fine if people want to come out into the wild and capture these memories. The more crowd, the better—just find the best spot you can to take your family picture and remember it. ”

Parks Canada is encouraging visitors to pack their patience and lower their expectations, because not everyone may get a parking spot or a Pinterest-worthy picture with only them in the frame.

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