August is easily one of the best times to visit Banff National Park. Tied only with July as the best summer month and easily your best bet for getting warm weather and sunshine in the Canadian Rockies.
I love Banff in August and make a point to stay in the Rockies throughout the entire summer because it is so amazing. Summer is great everywhere, but I’m not sure it gets much better than in Banff.
So what can you expect from a visit to Banff in August and what all is there to do in Banff in August? Let’s dig in.
Things to Know Before Visiting Banff in August
What’s the Weather Like in Banff in August
The warmest weather of the year in Banff is definitely in August. So if you’re looking for the best time to visit Banff, it’s likely going to be August. The Canadian Rockies are alive with wildflowers, green grass, and sunshine. Most, if not all, of the snow, has melted off most of the big peaks meaning hiking is in full swing in August.
If you’re a fan of mountain biking and climbing, you’ll have an enjoyable time in August. Long, warm days are what await you. The visibility of August is typically free of heavy clouds, and you can expect mostly sunshine. Just hope that wildfires haven’t started and that it’s a smoke-free summer. If there have been fires out west, it will affect Banff, and the air will be hazy.
We’ve been through a few Augusts now without any smoke, and the days have sure been memorable. Just because it’s the warmest month of the year doesn’t mean you shouldn’t still pack some warm weather clothes. It gets cold in Banff at night and you’ll definitely want at least a packable down jacket and long pants. A sweater is never a bad idea either.
If Banff in August sounds like heaven, that’s because it is. Except for one thing – the crowds. August in Banff is the busiest the park will get. With school holidays and everyone having summer off the park is loaded with Canadians and international travelers.
Yes, even more than July. That being said, if you get away from Moraine Lake, Lake Louise, and the other busy Banff spots, you’ll definitely be able to escape the crowds. Remember Banff National Park is a huge park, the size of small countries, and there are plenty of places to explore without tons of people. In general the further and higher you hike, the fewer people you see.
What to Pack for Banff in August?
A whole lot of everything! August is the warmest month in Banff National Park, but that doesn’t exactly make it Maldives warm or anything. So while you will probably be comfortable in shorts and a tank top throughout the day, it’s best to come prepared with a jacket and pants for nighttime.
Don’t forget to bring your hiking shoes and poles if you want to do any hiking in the park. Also, a good daypack will come in incredibly useful. If you have nice dinner plans, don’t forget to bring a few nicer outfits for a night out on Banff Ave, but don’t bother with heels or a suit – you will look out of place in Banff.
Can You Visit Lake Louise in August?
Yes, you can visit Lake Louise in August, and it is beautiful. However, remember what I said about August crowds? Well those especially turn up for Lake Louise. Expect Lake Louise to be busy during August, even during the week. You’ll need to arrive at the parking area early, around sunrise, to score a parking spot. If you don’t nab a spot, you can always head for the Lake Louise overflow parking or take the shuttle from Banff. (See the new 2021 Lake Louise parking rules here).
Once at Lake Louise, you’ll notice how incredibly blue the water is. The color at Lake Louise is so vibrant because of the rock flour from the Glacial melt, and you can’t help but want to fight the urge to drink it (but don’t!)
At Lake Louise, you have a ton of options for things to do. You can rent a canoe and take a paddle around or go for a hike on one of the many Lake Louise hiking trails.
Can You Visit Moraine Lake in August?
If you thought July at Moraine Lake was busy, it’s not going to get much better in August. By August, Moraine Lake is totally thawed, and the color of the lake is incredible. Most of the Moraine Lake hikes and scrambles are good to go. Late August is even a great time to summit Mount Temple, if that’s an objective of yours.
Parking is a major issue in August at Lake Moraine. To get a parking spot in the morning, you should plan on being at Lake Moraine well before sunrise. In August, that means 5am.
For most of the day, weekend and weekday parking at Lake Moraine will be tough to score unless you grabbed a parking spot early. However, you may get lucky if you show up later in the day or for sunset and get a parking spot. There are new parking restrictions for Moraine Lake implemented by Parks Canada; you can check them here.
Things to do in Banff in August
Stand Up Paddleboard on Two Jack Lake
There are so many lakes in Banff to enjoy! I love taking the paddleboard or canoe out on them on a hot summer day. One of my favorite lakes in Banff to Stand Up Paddleboard on is Two Jack Lake. It’s located just outside of town and isn’t as wind-affected as nearby Lake Minnewanka.
Banff National Park and the Canadian Rockies are the hiking mecca of Canada. You can’t visit Banff and not go hiking at least once. Seriously it’s one of the best things to do in Banff!
There are some great hikes in Canmore, or close to Downtown Banff, and upwards towards Lake Louise and even in Yoho National Park too. Here are a few of my favorite hikes in Banff and hikes in Kananaskis.
If you are a good hiker and want to try something more challenging, try your hand at scrambling when visiting Banff in August. Scrambling is a walk up steep terrain involving the use of one’s hands. Three points of contact with your body are typically needed to classify a hike as a scramble.
I love scrambling as it’s more challenging than hiking, and it’s typically required to access some of the big peaks in the Rockies. August is the best time to scramble as most of the snow has melted off the mountain peaks. My favorite scrambles in the Canadian Rockies are Jimmy Simpson, The Onion, EEOR, and Mist Mountain.
Head to the Cascade Gardens
The Cascade Gardens are located at the end of Banff Ave and make for a great family-friendly activity to go do while strolling Banff Ave. These gardens are beautifully maintained and easy to walk around. If you have older people in your party, this is a great activity to do in Banff.
Hike Cascade Mountain
Cascade Mountain towers over Banff and is impossible to miss. Those who are after a long adventurous day outside may try their hands and climbing it. The best month to summit Cascade Mountain is in August, when all the snow is melted.
It may look appealing, but keep in mind summiting Cascade Mountain is a very long day. You can expect it to take up to 9 hours as it’s 20.3km and almost 1600 meters of elevation gain. I wouldn’t suggest it as your first hike in Banff, but one to try after you have a few hikes under your belt.
Go for a Dip in a Glacier Fed Lake
If you’re gonna go for a swim in one of the Canadian Rockies lakes, August is the time to do it. As mentioned, it’s the warmest month, and getting in the water will take your breath away only slightly less than it would other months.
But it’s still the Canadian Rockies and submerging yourself in the water is still incredibly cold. I wouldn’t plan to spend too long in the water or go for a long swim. The lake above is Chephren Lake, I got in about waist deep and couldn’t go any further.
Drive the Icefields Parkway
The Icefields Parkway runs from Lake Louise to Jasper and is said to be one of the most beautiful road trips in the entire world. A beautiful time to drive it is during the summer months when the wildflowers are in full bloom.
There are plenty of stops you can make along the way, including Herbert Lake, Bow Lake, and Sunwapta Falls. Though, the road can get busy in August, and make the most of your time I would recommend starting the drive early around sunrise.
Where to Stay in Banff
For a small mountain town, Banff has a plethora of accommodation options. Some of our favorites are:
- Banff Springs Hotel: Most luxurious place to stay in Banff. Definitely a splurge, but worthwhile if you are celebrating a special occasion.
- Baker Creek Resort: Cabins in the wilderness of Banff. If you are looking for somewhere away from the hustle and bustle of downtown this is for you.
- The Rimrock: Is a super great pet friendly option in Banff. It’s close to Sulphur Mountain and the Banff Hot Springs.
- Canmore: You can always stay in the nearby town of Canmore! One of our favorite hotels is the Lady Macdonald Country Inn.