Visiting Banff in April? Here’s All You NEED to Know (2024)

If you plan on visiting Banff in April, be prepared for a bit of snow, sunshine, and a lot of in-between. Banff in April is unpredictable, but I can guarantee there will be snow on the ground, and it will likely be colder than you anticipate. So, what is the weather like in Banff National Park in April? What should you pack for your trip, and what are some things you should do in Banff in April? We have you covered!

snowboarding in canmore in april
Snowboarding in the backyard during April lockdown in 2020

Things to Know Before Visiting Banff in April


What’s the Weather Like?

Ha Ling Peak in April
Ha Ling Peak in April

Spring is starting to show up in Banff in April. The cool temperatures of winter are almost all but gone, with the average temperature being 11°C, but there is still plenty of snow on the ground. You may have some warm days, but don’t let a warm day in April fool you – winter is not over yet. Be warned; cold snaps of 6°C or lower are still pretty standard… and nights are still below freezing.

cascade ponds in April
Cascade Pond in April

By the end of the month, it’s getting warmer, and you may even get lucky enough to enjoy clear roads for a bike ride. You’ll be switching out your Canada Goose down jacket for a packable down jacket, but make no mistake, you’ll still need that jacket, a hat, and gloves! With the longer days, every day, you can sense spring is just around the corner.

  • Banff Average April Temps: Daytime 8°C High / Overnight -4°C
  • Lake Louise Average April Temps: Daytime 3°C / Overnight -6°C

Does it Snow in April?

Hiking Ha Ling in Early April
Hiking Ha Ling in Early April

There is still plenty of snow in Banff in April. Though in lower elevations, like in the Town of Banff and Canmore, it is melting and you’ll start to see plenty of dirt and grass, complemented by plenty of dust. However, up in the alpine, there will be plenty of snow and snow falling.

That means April is still a good time to visit Banff if you like snowboarding and skiing since there’s still a lot of snow around – we even get the occasional powder day! This time of year, it’s pretty popular for off-piste tracks and backcountry skiing as the spring brings stability to the snowpack.

Just make sure you know the avalanche risks; the warmer temperatures bring variable conditions that change throughout the day. In April 2019, three world-class alpinists lost their lives to an avalanche in Banff National Park. Make sure you check any conditions before heading out in the backcountry.

The good news about visiting Banff in April is that it is very much still the shoulder season, and you won’t find many tourists lingering around. April is the time to mingle with locals and enjoy the quiet streets and lower hotel prices.


What to Pack for Banff in April?

outdoor adventures in canmore in april

As mentioned, April marks a shoulder season in Banff. While it may be spring down south, it’s still pretty wintery in the Canadian Rockies in April. You’ll need to pack a range of clothes, but the most important thing you’ll need is a jacket and boots. There’s no point in bothering with shorts, sandals, and T-shirts – you won’t be needing them in April. It will be mostly winter conditions, with the occasional beautiful warm day – perfect for a bike ride around town.

Here’s a basic list to go off. The left column is for general winter packing and the right is for partaking in snow sports

  • Winter Down Jacket
  • Sweaters
  • Flannel
  • Casual Pants
  • 1 x Top Base Layer
  • 1 x Bottom Base Layer
  • 2-3 x Wool Sports Bra
  • 2-3 x Wool Ski Socks
  • Mittens
  • Hat
  • Winter Boots
  • 1 x Mid-Layer Jacket
  • 1 x Shell Jacket
  • 1 x Shell Pants
  • 1 x Insulated Jacket*
  • 1 x Snow Pants*
  • 1 x Mitts or Gloves
  • 1 x Balaclava
  • 1 x Buff Headwear
  • 1 x Goggles (if skiing or snowboarding)
  • 1 x Helmet* (if skiing or snowboarding)

Can You Visit Lake Louise in April?

Skating at Lake Louise in Early April
Skating at Lake Louise in Early April

The weather in April in Banff is still very much wintery, especially in higher up elevation places like Lake Louise. That being said, Spring is starting to show up, especially towards the end of the month. Snow is starting to become slushy and spring-like now.

Lake Louise will still be a sheet of ice, covered by a thick layer of snow. You can still walk on the frozen Lake Louise – and April will be your last month to ice skate on the lake, the maintained ice rink usually closes for the season around the second or third week of April.

Skating at Lake Louise in Early April
Skating at Lake Louise in Early April

In your heart and mind, you may expect the weather to be warm in April, you have to remember you’re in the Canadian Rockies. So don’t come expecting Lake Louise to be thawed and have that beautiful blue color.

It’s 100% going to be frozen with snow. Any high elevation hikes around Lake Louise are not possible at this time as avalanche risk is high. Though you can still hike to the Fairmont Lookout for epic views of the lake and Fairmont.


Can You See Moraine Lake in April?

It is not possible to visit Moraine Lake in April. Every year, the Moraine Lake access road closes in October due to high avalanche risk and stays closed until the end of May/Early June, depending on conditions. Biking in is not possible unless you have a fat bike and know avalanche conditions, the road will most certainly be snow-ridden.


Things to Do in Banff in April


Ski/Snowboard Big Mountain Terrain

banff in april
Lake Louise in the winter!

Snowboarding at all of the SkiBig3 resorts is one of the primary reasons for heading to Banff in the winter. SkiBig3 is a collection of three mountain resorts, all within Banff National Park. You have Lake Louise, Banff Sunshine, and Mt. Norquay, which are all fantastic and unique ski resorts.

Skiing or snowboarding is one of the best things to do in Banff in the winter. Winter lasts pretty long here too, and these resorts have some of the longest seasons in North America. Come April, you’ll have a few powder days and plenty of spring riding. You may even get a few very warm days when you ride in a sweatshirt! Crowds are low, and it’s mainly just locals hanging out skiing enjoying their last days of winter.


Hike Tunnel Mountain

hiking tunnel mountain in winter

Tunnel Mountain is right in the heart of Banff. Locals love it for its accessibility, and you can hike it year-round. It may be one of the smallest mountains in Banff National Park, but it still offers tremendous views of the surrounding valleys and Mount Rundle. The hike moves slowly up the mountain through a number of switchbacks and offers various viewpoints out into the Bow and Spray Valleys. Tunnel Mountain is great for sunrise or sunset and it rarely disappoints.

It’s ready to go year-round, including in April! The best part is it’s only a 4.5 km round trip hike and shouldn’t take more than one hour up. It’s one of the easiest winter hikes you can do with only 266 meters of elevation gain.

**In April, animals are emerging from hibernation and seeking the easiest route to food, potentially intersecting with your hiking path. Familiarize yourself with bear safety protocols before embarking on hikes. We recommend carry bear spray all year round. Did you know bears aren't true hibernators and can awaken at any time?

Hike Sulphur Mountain

Hiking Sulphur Mountain at the end of April
Hiking Sulphur Mountain at the end of April

Still wondering what to do in Banff in April? How about you climb a mountain! What? Just because it’s winter you think you can’t climb a mountain? Sulphur Mountain is easily one of the most popular hikes in Banff National Park. It’s a beautiful hike up that provides visitors with astonishing views over the Bow Valley.

Town of Banff Overlook Canmore vs Banff
The view from the boardwalk

Due to its proximity to Banff town and the fact that you can take the Banff Gondola up to the peak instead of sweating it out on the trail, Sulphur Mountain becomes very busy – but not in April. With a pair of crampons and some hiking poles, you’ll be able to tackle the trail in no time. You can read all about hiking Sulphur Mountain here.


Banff Gondola

banff gondola
Views from the top of the Banff Gondola in April

If you don’t feel like hiking up Sulphur Mountain, you can still reach the top another way. The Banff Gondola takes just eight minutes to reach the top and climbs to 2281 meters (7486 ft) above sea level—698 meters very quickly!

Once at the top, you’ll have panoramic views of the Bow Valley and down towards the town of Banff. From up here is one of my favorite views of Cascade Mountain. There’s a coffee shop up here, as well as Sky Bistro, one of the best restaurants in Banff! You can safely and easily walk around the well-planked wooden platforms and duck inside when it is cold!

Book Your Banff Gondola Tickets

Cross Country Ski

nordic skiing at the canmore nordic center in April
Cameron at the Canmore nordic center in early April

April is a great time to cross-country ski in Banff. Plenty of people enjoy this low-impact sport in the winter, which gets your heart racing as you slide across the snow. One thing you can’t argue against is the pristine wilderness beauty Nordic skiers will find themselves in, especially in Banff.

Cross-country skiing is a serious hobby here, and plenty of people get out there and stretch their legs every day. The Nordic Center near Canmore is a popular place to go cross-country skiing, but there are plenty of other trails to enjoy. The photo above is on Lake Louise, but Moraine Lake Road, Spray River West Trail, Great Divide Trail, or Castle Junction are all good Nordic ski options.

10 Best Banff Cross Country Skiing Trails

Enjoy the Town of Banff

Enjoy the Town of Banff

Banff Ave is usually slammed from June to September and even in December around the Christmas season. But guess what? Not in April! April in Downtown Banff is pure bliss and is the perfect time to enjoy the town’s beauty and some of the best Banff eats!


Eat The Castle Food Tour

luxury hotels in Banff

April is still pretty chilly, so you may be looking for an indoor activity. The Eat the Castle Tour takes place at the iconic Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel with a small-group tasting tour. With four locations within the sprawling complex to visit, indulge in “fork and knife” tastings and beverage pairings at the Vermillion Room and 1888 Chop House. On this half-day tour, you’ll also gain insights into the hotel’s history, art, and architecture from your guide as you explore the national historic site.

Check Availability for the Eat the Castle Tour

Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary

Yamnuska-Wolfdog-Santuary

A fun thing to do in Banff in April with the kids is visit the Wolfdog Sanctuary in Cochrane. The Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary, home to more than 35 wonderous wolfdogs, sits in the foothills of the Canadian Rocky Mountains.

This sanctuary allows you to learn about and observe these beautiful wolfdogs and even interact with them by sharing treats and pats. If you’ve ever wanted to learn more about these impressive creatures, a visit here is a must – and not one you can have in many places in the world!

Book tickets to the Wolfdog Sanctuary!

Catch Sunset at Vermilion Lakes

Vermilion Lakes
Sunset at Vermilion Lakes in Early April

Vermilion Lakes are the closest lakes to the Town of Banff and a super popular Alberta lake to head for sunrise and sunset, even in the winter. If you are visiting Banff, you literally cannot miss this lake as you can see it right from the TransCanada. Add it to your Banff itinerary in April, it’s a quick and easy stop that should not be missed.


Go for a Bike Ride

Legacy Trail
The Legacy Trail in late April

April is a mixed weather for biking. Clear, dry roads all depend on the snowpack and temperatures that year. That being said, I’ve often been able to hop on the road bike towards the very last week of April, and even parts of the Legacy Trail (a paved multi-use path that connects Canmore to Banff) are clear at the end of the month. It was around April 20th last year that I was able to ride all the way from Canmore to Banff on the Legacy Trail!


Stroll Around Canmore

on the Canmore bridge
Walking on Canmore on Easter Sunday

No visit to Banff would be complete without also visiting Canmore. On a beautiful spring day, we love walking around Canmore and enjoying the views of Ha Ling, Mount Rundle, and Grotto Mountain. Our favorite spring weather walk is the Bow River Loops, which crosses over the famous town bridge, giving views of the Three Sisters, and also takes you around the Historic Engine Bridge.


Johnston Canyon Hike

Johnston Canyon
Johnston Canyon Early April

Johnston Canyon is a great year round destination in Banff. Throughout most of April, you can expect snow, ice, and frozen waterfalls. The trail is well maintained, and is a great safe and easy hike. Though in the winter, you’ll want grippy boots or microspikes to venture around here – the trail gets super icy!

Book a Tour to Johnston Canyon!

Hike Ha Ling Peak

Hike Ha Ling Peak in april
Ha Ling Saddle in April

If you want to bag a mountain summit in April, Ha Ling near Canmore is a great option. This is an 8km trail that climbs 804 meters. It’s often a great hike I recommend to beginners who want to summit a mountain in the Rockies, though in April, you’ll experience winter conditions on Ha Ling and need to be prepared for the elements.

That means proper hiking shoes, a warm jacket, a hat, and layers. Hiking poles and microspikes are super helpful in April. Be aware of your surroundings, as one avalanche path could slide under warm conditions. Hiking Ha Ling in April is best reserved for people with experience hiking in the mountains. Nevertheless, it’s a fantastic April objective.


Walk to Bow Falls

bow falls

Bow Falls is a pretty waterfall just a short walk away from Downtown Banff. It’s not the most impressive waterfall in the Rockies, but it’s great for those looking for a quick sight to behold. There is also a short trail around the area to take in the surroundings. A short drive away is Surprise Corner, a beautiful place that gives the best views of the Banff Springs Hotel.


Hike to Grassi Lakes

Grassi Lakes in Early April

Grassi Lakes is an easy hike near Canmore, suitable for all. The hike to these bright blue lakes is just 4.3 km round trip and climbs less than 200 meters. It should take 1-2 hours to see these magnificent lakes, which are great to see all year round!


Grotto Canyon Hike

grotto canyon hike in april
Grotto Canyon in Mid-April

Another easy Canmore hike that’s good year-round is Grotto Canyon. Even in the winter, this famous canyon with rock art is possible to walk along the frozen creek. In April, the surroundings are melting. At the beginning of the month, you’ll likely see ice climbers calling the walls, and you may even see some rock climbers enjoying the end of winter at April’s end. At only 4km in length, you can check this one off the list in an hour or two.


Is April a Good Time to Visit Banff?

Lake Minnewanka in Late April
Lake Minnewanka in Late April

I’m not going to lie, April is not my favorite time in Banff. Though thanks to the cold temperatures and snowfall, it’s still a fun time to go skiing and snowboarding, meaning it’s not like some dreary winter places in the world.

Just because I say it’s not my favorite time to visit Banff, doesn’t mean it’s a bad time to see the Rockies. The Canadian Rockies are never ugly, and to see them at all is truly magnificent.

Two Jack Lake Mid April
Two Jack Lake Mid April

If you don’t mind snow, some cold temperatures, and overall unpredictable weather, you’ll enjoy Banff in April. If you like skiing and snowboarding or backcountry skiing, you’ll love the Canadian Rockies during this time! You might even get a few powder days!

Lake Minnewanka Mid April
Lake Minnewanka Mid April

While you can’t complete any big hikes or scrambles in April, there are still some incredible sights to see. If you hope to see the beautiful glacier lakes in their brilliant blue and turquoise color, you’ll want to postpone your trip until June or later, as all the lakes are still frozen. That being said, April is the true offseason, and if you travel during this time, you will be rewarded with lower prices and low crowds!

All of that being said, please keep in mind that some popular attractions like the Lake Minnewanka Cruise, all Icefields Parkway adventures, and tours like the Banff Open Top are not running yet. These are summertime attractions and will open in the middle of May. All chairlifts and gondolas (besides the Banff Gondola) are still in winter mode and servicing the ski resorts and not summer operations.

banff cheatsheets

Pros and Cons of Visiting Banff in April

Pros

  • Cheap prices on accommodation and car rentals
  • Deals at restaurants to be had
  • Few crowds
  • Skiing is still in full swing
  • You’ll still get a few blissful sunny days
  • Beautiful snow-capped peaks.
  • Ice skating on Lake Louise!
  • Winter hiking!
  • The start of biking season.

Cons

  • Unpredictable and changeable weather.
  • It’s still very cold – pack a jacket and all the winter garb.
  • Frozen lakes
  • Moraine Lake Road is still closed.
  • Winter hiking only
  • Winter driving still
  • Summer attractions like the Jasper Skywalk and Athabasca Glacier Experience are not open until May.

Where to Stay in Banff in April

For a small mountain town, Banff has a plethora of accommodation options. Some of our favorites are:

banff springs hotel
Banff Springs Hotel

The most luxurious place to stay in Banff. Definitely a splurge, but worthwhile if you are celebrating a special occasion.

Check Rates

johnston canyon bungalows
Johnston Canyon Bungalows

Cabins at the base of Johnston Canyon! These are a fantastic getaway for a few nights that will have you away from the noise of Downtown Banff.

Check Rates

tunnel mountain resort
Tunnel Mountain Resort

A no frills, but super comfortable place to stay in Banff. It’s not on Banff Avenue, but a short drive, bike ride or walk away. Very quiet!

Check Rates

The Malcolm Hotel Canmore-10
Stay in Canmore!

You can always stay in the nearby town of Canmore! One of our favorite hotels in Canmore is The Malcolm on Policemen’s Creek!

Check Rates



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Plan Your Trip to the Canadian Rockies

  • Tours (New in 2024): The Banff Blog is partnering with one of the leading tour companies in Western Canada so readers can experience the magic of the Rockies with other travelers – without having to think about a thing. See all our 2024 tour offerings here!
  • Get to Banff or Canmore Without a Car: The Banff Airporter provides fantastic service connecting you from the Calgary International Airport (YYC) to Banff or Canmore.
  • Get Around: We suggest renting a car to get around. You can search for rental cars on Rentalcars.com. Or embark on an epic campervan trip. We like to compare prices on Motorhome Republic and Outdoorsy.
  • Cheaper Airfare: We also use Going to watch for cheap airfare deals!
  • Hop On, Hop Off: This tour is taking Banff by storm. It’s exactly what it sounds like, hop on and off a bus bound for all the best attractions at your own pace!
About Natasha

Natasha calls Canmore, Alberta home. After traveling across seven continents and 90 countries with Cameron, she settled down in the stunning Canadian Rockies. She loves to help others travel and make their planning easier. She is a winter enthusiast and loves to snowboard, ice skate, and snowshoe and enjoy all the fantastic summer opportunities in Banff like hiking, scrambling, and biking. You can find her in the mountains or enjoying a coffee by the river. Learn more on the about us page!

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7 thoughts on “Visiting Banff in April? Here’s All You NEED to Know (2024)”

  1. Hi! We are visiting end of March/early April so this was super helpful! What kind of pants would you recommend for things like snowshoeing and hiking? I’m trying to find alternatives to ski pants if possible. Would leggings with a base layer suffice? Thank you!

    Reply
  2. Thank you for this article – we are visiting end of April so it was very helpful 🙂 A realistic glimpse that it will be a little colder than we anticipated but a great way for us to know prepare and know where to winter hike.

    Reply
  3. What are your favorite restaurants in Canmore?? We are coming for our honeymoon May 5th-10th and staying in Canmore for 3 days. Thanks!

    Reply

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