Home Travel Guides The Greatest Time to Go to Banff: the Execs and Cons of Every Season

The Greatest Time to Go to Banff: the Execs and Cons of Every Season

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Banff Nationwide Park is a spot that’s been fascinating vacationers with its magnitude and wonder for over 100 years. As essentially the most well-known of the Rocky Mountain parks in Canada, Banff is a spot like nowhere else on earth.

If you happen to’re planning a visit of a lifetime to this attractive mountain area, you’re most likely questioning when precisely is the very best time to go to Banff? 

Effectively, there are a variety of things at play to reply that query.

It is a powerful one for me, as a result of I’m fortunate sufficient that I’ve been visiting Banff in all 4 seasons for years now (I solely reside a number of hours away).

So – to interrupt it down, we’re going to have a look at three main components: the seasons (climate) for surroundings and issues to do, crowds/how busy will probably be and lodging (availability and costs). 

This put up comprises affiliate hyperlinks, that means in case you click on via and make a purchase order I’ll make a small fee. I solely share details about issues I do know, love and belief!

When is the Greatest Time to Go to Banff?

If you wish to expertise the winter snow globe magic, the very best time to go to Banff is on the finish of November or late January. These months provides you with all of the snow with fewer crowds.

Alternatively, if you would like good summer time climate earlier than the crowds arrive, the top of Could can be my alternative for the very best time to go to Banff.

To expertise the golden larch bushes at their peak, go to Banff from mid-September to early October.  

Planning to go to Banff to soak up the surroundings, snap some images and simply be one with the mountains? You are able to do this any time of the 12 months.

Need to sort out some world class mountain hikes? You possibly can hike the identical path in the summertime, fall and winter and have a totally completely different expertise each time.

Figuring out when to go to Banff isn’t a simple query to reply – it actually will depend on the kind of traveler you’re and what you wish to expertise.

However guess what, it doesn’t matter what time you go to Banff, it’s going to be life altering. 

Now let’s go to extra in depth what every season affords that will help you determine when to go to Banff, Canada’s crown jewel.

You can too watch my video which explains the very best time to go to Banff, and covers all 4 seasons.

What’s the Greatest Time of 12 months to Go to Lake Louise?

To expertise the good aquamarine shade that makes Lake Louise so well-known, the very best time of 12 months to go to is from late June to early September.

Lake Louise freezes within the winter and takes a very long time to thaw.

In 2022, Lake Louise wasn’t utterly unthawed till June seventh! So to make sure the lake can be glowing turquoise whenever you go to, wait till at the least the top of June.

Inside tip – head as much as Lake Louise Ski Resort and take the gondola up the ski hill. You’ll have the ability to see the whole thing of Lake Louise from up there.

What’s the Climate Like in Banff?

The very first thing to learn about visiting Banff is that mountain climate could be unpredictable and alter shortly. So at all times be ready.

Layered clothes is at all times your most suitable option.

I really like the Baleaf assortment yow will discover on Amazon. Nice layered clothes for all types of outside adventures at an reasonably priced worth.

Summer time can be heat and comfy, however often not overly sizzling. Even in the summertime time the evenings could be chilly due to the altitude.

For instance, it may be 30 levels Celsius in the course of the day and I’ll put on shorts and a tank prime, however would require a light-weight sweater within the evenings.

Winters could be fairly chilly the place it’s essential bundle up and canopy all uncovered pores and skin. However there are additionally many days the place the solar’s warmth could be very warming on a blue sky day with no wind.

Actually, any time of 12 months is greatest to go to Banff! It’s lovely all 12 months lengthy, and I’ve visited in each season. They every have their very own perks. 

Right here’s a breakdown of the seasons that will help you decide the very best time to go to Banff: 

Summer time: June to August

Pedestrian solely Banff Avenue

The months of July and August are thought of peak season in Banff. That is the preferred time of 12 months to go to and consequently, when it’s the most busy.

However there are good causes for this! It’s completely gorgeous, and there are such a lot of issues to do in and round Banff Nationwide Park.

That is when the climate is sizzling and the children are out of faculty and everyone seems to be on summer time trip. June isn’t fairly as busy as July & August however nonetheless attractive with heat climate.

All through these 3 months, Summer time blooms can be in full impact and it will probably get highly regarded. The lakes can be shimmering of their full turquoise show.

However they’re nonetheless going to be tremendous chilly all summer time lengthy. They’re glacier fed, so not essentially the most comfy for swimming.

Many individuals additionally convey their canines & pets to Banff within the summertime. Strolling alongside Banff Avenue you will notice all types of furry buddies.

If you happen to’re planning to convey your canine to Banff Nationwide Park, I like to recommend studying:

journey information to pet pleasant Banff actions, lodging and eating places

overview of the pet-friendly motels in Banff for all budgets and journey varieties

View from Tunnel mountain in July

That is the very best time to see the turquoise waters of Lake Louise. For the very best expertise, arrive simply after dawn to take in all of the views your self with out another vacationers round. 

Nevertheless, one factor to remember is that if it’s a very sizzling and dry summer time, forest fires could be a actual drawback.

Even when there are fires lots of of miles away, the smoke might nonetheless interrupt the mountain surroundings.

That is largely not a difficulty till early to mid-August and it doesn’t occur yearly. Simply one thing to think about whenever you’re contemplating your journey to Banff in the summertime. 

And in case you’re planning on doing any mountain climbing, you may encounter very completely different climate on the prime of your hike in comparison with whenever you began.

Pack shorts and t-shirts/tank tops and a hat alongside together with your different mountain climbing necessities.

I’d additionally plan to convey lengthy pants and a sweater for the evenings. And in case you’re fortunate, you may have the ability to catch the northern lights (however they’re often most lively in late winter).

Don’t overlook your copy of the Lonely Planet’s Information to Banff & Jasper Nationwide Parks – maps, trails, hidden gems and suggestions for driving from one to the opposite.

You will have mosquito repellent whenever you’re mountain climbing/strolling always in the summertime, and particularly as you get nearer to nightfall.

My favourite is this DEET-free lotion that additionally repels ticks, which is a rising concern in Alberta. You can too get in spray-form.

Plan to go to Banff in June for a very good probability to see wildlife.

For the very best probability, journey alongside the Bow Valley Parkway (Freeway 1-A), which a 30-mile secondary freeway from Banff to Lake Louise.

Cruise this highway at daybreak or nightfall for an opportunity to identify bears, deer and moose, however at all times keep in your automobile, by no means ever get out to see these wild animals up shut.

If you happen to actually wish to assure wildlife viewing, head to Radium Sizzling Springs (1.5 hour drive away) to see the bighorn sheep that roam round city.

If you wish to assure seeing some bears and different wildlife, you may go on a full day grizzly bear tour.

As you get deeper into June and all through July and August, the tops of the mountains can be dry with little snow on prime, just like the photograph above taken in July. 

The place to Keep in Banff within the Summer time

So far as lodging go, July and August would be the costliest time of 12 months to remain in a lodge in Banff.

My favourite lodge is the Moose Lodge and Suites – it’s one of many newer motels on the town, it’s only some minutes stroll into downtown (you may stroll to the whole lot), and the views from the roof prime sizzling tubs are dreamy!

Moose Lodge – courtesy of Reserving.com

My subsequent alternative is the Elk & Avenue. It’s one block from downtown (nearer than the Moose), could be very pet-friendly and fairly priced for it’s prime location.

The onsite restaurant – Farm & Hearth additionally has an incredible breakfast unfold and a stunning patio overlooking Banff Avenue for an ideal begin to your morning.

Guide effectively prematurely for summer time stays in Banff, at the least a month or two forward of time for the only option of rooms and costs.

Use the map beneath to look and evaluate costs in actual time from all the key reserving corporations.

Fall/Autumn: Banff in September and October

Fall is a lovely time of 12 months to go to Banff. The leaves can be at their most shade change someday between mid-September and mid October.

You’ll possible get epic surroundings of the copper, orange, crimson and yellow leaves as a backdrop to the turquoise lakes and icy blue glacier rivers.

These are the coveted golden larches that make the Banff fall colours so well-known.

In Banff, the climate in October can differ between being crisp and chilly but comfy, or downright frigid. It actually will depend on the 12 months.

All the time plan to put on heat pants/lined leggings, a heat winter jacket and mitts and a touque (what us Canadians known as a beanie) for the autumn season. A pair of cute winter boots are a should!

Banff in October is an ideal time to go to. The top of summer time crowds have left, the climate can nonetheless be very nice.

It received’t be sizzling, however the air can be crisp and refreshing, the golden larch bushes will nonetheless be vibrant originally of the month and likelihood is there can be a light-weight dusting of snow.  

It could possibly undoubtedly snow in October in Banff. For instance, in 2020, the primary large snowfall at Moraine Lake was on October fifteenth. However you possible received’t encounter main snow storms, making it the proper month to expertise a number of seasons directly!

Most of the summer time sights will possible be closed by the Canadian thanksgiving vacation which is at all times the 2nd Monday in October. However the widespread sights just like the Banff Gondola and the Higher Sizzling Springs are open 12 months spherical.

As a result of the summer time sights are closed for the season and the ski hills not but open, you will see that that Banff isn’t very busy in October.

The lakes received’t be frozen but both (no ice skating).

So if you would like a quiet vacation to do some mountain climbing, pictures and leisurely sightseeing round city, October is a good time to go to Banff.

Wildlife viewing continues to be attainable within the fall, many individuals have success heading to Lake Minnewanka to catch elk roaming round. 

So far as issues to do in Banff in case you go to within the Fall, that is the very best time of 12 months for mountain climbing and pictures to see the gold and copper colours.

Summer time sights are closed for the season, and the winter sights received’t be open but.

Learn Subsequent: Banff vs Jasper – Easy methods to Select Which Nationwide Park to Go to

Winter: November to Early-April

Winter affords a complete new expertise and perspective in Banff.

Snow capped mountains are postcard excellent, and nothing is extra magical than waking as much as a recent blanket of snow with chunky snowflakes gently falling out your window.

Winter in Banff affords a complete new set of issues to do like viewing frozen waterfalls, canine sledding, ice skating and snowboarding and snowboarding.

Lake Viewing and Ice Skating

However in case you’re right here to see the attractive turquoise lakes, you’ll be out of luck. A lot of the lakes freeze within the winter time (together with Lake Louise).

Quickly after the lakes freeze, they get coated with snow.

However in case you’re fortunate, some years the lakes freeze over earlier than the snow flies and that’s when you may skate on crystal clear ice.

Snow-covered Lake Louise

Ice skating on Lake Louise is a winter bucket checklist merchandise for a lot of, and it’s often assured to be frozen and secure sufficient to skate on by the top of December.

Generally it’s frozen sufficient as early as November, it simply will depend on the climate annually. You possibly can verify the webcam on the Chateau Lake Louise for reside situations.

The lodge workers clears the snow off for ice skating and you may lease skates on web site as effectively.

One other iconic lake in Banff Nationwide Park is Moraine Lake, which isn’t accessible within the winter.

The Nationwide Parks service closes the highway from early-November to March or April on account of excessive avalanche potential within the space. 

Winter Climbing in Banff

Winter mountain climbing is obtainable, however lots of the trails go via avalanche territory, so these ones will not be advisable until you’ve acquired the right gear and coaching.

There are some extra widespread trails although which are secure and often well-packed down.

The loop round Lake Louise is at all times good, and undoubtedly head to the Fairmont Lookout.

The Lake Agnes path close by does go via avalanche territory, so greatest to keep away from.

Johnston Canyon is a light-weight hike and is superior and effectively price it within the winter, however you completely want ice cleats because the path descends down hill on the way in which in and is at all times pure ice.

Tunnel Mountain and Sulphur mountain are additionally secure selections for winter hikes in Banff.

Vacation Season

The Christmas season in Banff oozes vacation magic! The Fairmont Banff Springs Lodge and the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise get particularly glammed up for the vacations beginning in mid-November.

And if you wish to go snowboarding or skating on Lake Louise, the whole lot is open in the course of the holidays, together with Christmas Day and New 12 months’s day.

Banff is a well-liked place in the course of the vacation season, often from December twentieth to some days after New 12 months’s Day.

Guide your lodging effectively prematurely, as costs can be somewhat larger than regular throughout this 2-week interval.

Northern Lights in Banff

Maybe one of the lovely and most wanted sights within the mountains is the northern lights. You’ve acquired the very best probability of seeing the Northern lights from November to March, making Winter an epic time to go to Banff.

Head to Vermilion Lakes or Lake Minnewanka for the least gentle air pollution to view them higher.

And you may join e mail alerts or verify the Aurora Watch web site, which is run by the College of Alberta and predicts the opportunity of catching the Aurora Borealis every evening.

Winter Wildlife

It’s additionally attainable to see wildlife in winter in Banff (keep in mind, bears can be hibernating).

If you happen to don’t have a automobile or favor to not drive on the winter roads, there’s a winter wildlife tour you may take with locals guides who will do their greatest to seek out deer, elk and bighorn sheep from the consolation of the tour van.

Elk on the Bow Valley Parkway

Understand that within the winter it additionally will get darkish round 5pm, so remember to plan your daytime actions accordingly.

Associated: Locations Like Banff – Go to the Canadian Rockies Off the Overwhelmed Path

The place to Keep in Banff in Winter

My favourite place to remain in Banff within the Winter is on the Moose Lodge. The rooftop sizzling tub is unbelievable right here!

It’s additionally just about proper within the downtown core, so it’s probably the greatest places.

And it’s less expensive to remain right here within the winter in comparison with summer time.

Spring: April and Could in Banff

Banff in April to early Could is taken into account shoulder season, because the ski season winds down however the summer time guests haven’t proven up but.

That is the time of 12 months when the climate could be very risky, that means it may very well be tremendous heat and sunny or you may  be hit with a late season snow storm.

The images beneath are after I visited on the primary weekend of Could. The beginning of the day was nice and sunny, however by the top of the night it was chilly and snowy.

That being stated, in case your Banff itinerary contains eager to keep away from the crowds and have essentially the most choices obtainable for lodging, the spring shoulder season might be your greatest wager.

As the times begin to turn out to be longer, even when it does get chilly, it’s not for very lengthy. You possibly can nonetheless get some closing weekend snowboarding in at Lake Louise Ski Resort.

And the top of Could is probably going your final probability to see snow-capped mountains in Banff Nationwide Park. 

The Banff gondola viewing level in Could

The place to Keep in Banff within the Spring

The final couple of instances I visited Banff, I stayed on the Fox Lodge & Suites.

It’s strolling distance to the downtown space, has underground parking (tremendous necessary so that you don’t must brush snow off your automobile) and probably the greatest continental breakfasts on the town. However the very best half?

Their sizzling tub is modeled after the Cave & Basin historic websites, so it’s like a reproduction of an underground cave or a grotto.

The recent tub makes this lodge my favourite one in Banff. Particularly in case you’re on a romantic getaway!

Costs are tremendous cheap within the spring shoulder season, however get costlier in the summertime.

The Fox Lodge courtyard, trying on the opening to the underground sizzling tub

For spring mountain climbing choices, attempt the Sundance Canyon path hike, a brief loop path that covers quite a lot of Banff panorama gems like crystal lakes, rivers and moss-covered switchbacks via the bushes, all resulting in dramatic mountain viewpoints.

Banff trails in Could can nonetheless be snow-covered or moist from the melting snow, so a very good pair of mountain climbing boots is advisable.

And in case you’re fortunate, Northern Lights have been noticed in Banff in Could so there may very well be an opportunity to see the evening sky gentle present. 

Banff trails in early Could (some snow-covered, some not)!

Is Banff Higher in Summer time or Winter?

I believe Banff is best in early summer time, since you get all fantastic thing about the greenery and wildflowers, however the mountains are nonetheless snowcapped. So that you get to expertise summer time local weather however with pockets of snow right here and there.

For instance, you may be strolling via Banff’s downtown in a t-shirt, however then head to the Athabasca Glacier and stroll on snow and ice all in the identical day.

All that being stated, Banff within the winter is attractive. Very often you’ll get clear blue skies that make the snow shimmer and frozen blue waterfalls are a sight to see.

So it actually relies upon what sort of expertise you like.

What’s Off Season in Banff?

Sometimes off season in Banff is April to early Could and October to mid-November.

Off season means the climate isn’t as excellent, and seasonal sights (each summer time and winter) aren’t fairly open but.

For instance in case you go to within the spring off season (April to early-Could), the ski resorts can be shutting down for the season, however the summer time sights just like the glacier skywalk and the Columbia Icefields journey aren’t but open.

If you happen to go to within the fall off season (October to mid-November), the above talked about summer time sights have shut down, and the ski resorts received’t be open till the top of November or early-December.

However visiting Banff within the off season has it’s perks. There’s nonetheless loads to do, comparable to sightseeing, wildlife viewing, mountain climbing, sizzling springs and driving the scenic gondola.

There may even be fewer vacationers which implies decrease lodge costs.

Hopefully I’ve helped you slim down and select the very best time to go to Banff.

Mainly, any time you go to can be unbelievable, it simply relies upon what varieties of experiences you’re in search of. Why not attempt all 4 seasons!

P.S. >> touring to Banff on a finances together with your canine? Think about staying in Canmore – solely quarter-hour away with many pet-friendly lodge choices cheaper than Banff.

Need to uncover extra Alberta? Take a look at these 6 Iconic and Distinctive Highway Journeys right here >>

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