If you’re planning on visiting Banff in February don’t come dressed in shorts and a t-shirt. Banff in February is a wonderful, but chilly time to visit. So not everyone may think it’s the best time to visit Banff.
This is Alberta after all! There are so many wonderful things to do in Banff in February! From visiting Lake Louise, to skiing at Banff Sunshine, to hitting up a hot chocolate bar here is all you need to know.
Things to Know Before Visiting Banff in February
What’s the Weather Like in Banff in February
The average temperature of Banff in February is around -1°C (but it can get colder). It’s definitely one of the coldest times to visit Banff, but also one of the best times to visit the Canadian Rockies if you like winter sports. While January was more of a “locals” month, February means tourists are now showing up for their winter adventures, so you may find high season prices and it’s gonna be busier than you might think in town.
There is one week in February that is Family Week, typically around the middle of the month. This is when the towns of Canmore and Banff fill up with visitors and the ski resorts can be particularly busy. It’s still manageable though and nothing like the big ski resorts like Whistler, Breckenridge, Aspen, Park City, or Mammoth.
Nights in February are still super cold, with temperatures hovering at -10°C or even lower. This means that February in Banff is the perfect time for sitting around a cozy fireside with a hot chocolate. Snowfall in February is a little unpredictable. Some winters it’s heavy and can provide epic powder days, while other Februarys have seen little snowfall.
Nevertheless, you should arrive to Alberta fully prepared for winter in Banff. Cross your fingers for sunshine, February in Banff means long days so when the sun is shining it can make for a glorious day. It’s a great time of year to spend days on the slopes, nordic skiing, or ice climbing around Johnston Canyon.
How Much Does it Snow in February?
It snows quite a bit in February, but surprisingly not as much as in March. On average it snows 11 cm over 4 days per week in February near the town of Banff.
However head up towards Lake Louise and the Icefields Parkway for more snow, on average about 15 cm per week. Come to Banff with a good pair of snow boots and an even better winter jacket.
Festivals in Banff in February
The festivals in Banff start to wind down in February, but there are a few events like the Kananaskis Ski Marathon, a competitive, cross-country event with around 50 competitors racing for first place, takes place this month. The Gathering Music Festival also takes place in mid-February across several nights.
What to Pack for Banff in February?
Layers, layers, and layers. February in Banff is one of the coldest months of the year and you’ll want to prepare accordingly. That means a proper winter jacket, thermal underwear, merino wool socks, winter boots, gloves, and a hat at the very least.
For indoor time you’ll want to pack things like a sweater and long sleeve pants. Don’t bother with any kind of summer gear during this time, and unless you plan on having an extravagant dinner out I wouldn’t advise bringing a dress or dress shoes. Honestly, you may even feel out of place dressing up a lot in Banff
Here’s a basic list to go off. The left column is for general winter packing and the right is if partaking in snow sports
- Winter Down Jacket
- Casual Pants
- 1 x Top Base Layer
- 1 x Bottom Base Layer
- 2-3 x Wool Sports Bra
- 2-3 x Wool Ski Socks
- Warm 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 February?
Yes, you can visit Lake Louise in February and it’s beautiful! I absolutely love Lake Louise in the winter. Although expect Lake Louise to be cold and have a lot of snow – it is Banff in February after all.
The best thing to do in Lake Louise around this time is ice skate, walk around the lake, or enjoy a coffee inside the Fairmont. Pack warm weather clothes for Lake Louise in February, it’s higher in elevation than the town of Banff so you can expect it to be quite a bit colder.
Don’t think that just because Lake Louise is frozen that it isn’t still beautiful. Lake Louise is still amazing in the winter. Note that Moraine Lake is not accessible in February.
Things to do in Banff in February
Johnston Canyon Ice Walk
The Johnston Canyon walk is the best thing you can do in Banff in the winter for free. Have you ever stood on a frozen waterfall before? Neither had we until the Johnston Canyon hike. Due to the elevation of the region and the sub-zero temperatures of winter the waterfalls of Johnston Canyon freeze in time. It’s a pretty surreal experience and completely accessible for all.
We suggest picking up some microspikes in town. Although the trail is well managed it can get icy and it’s better than slip everywhere on the trail – ours were very handy. Once you reach the end of the trail and the most impressive frozen fall you’ll probably find some ice climbers.
Hike Tunnel Mountain
Tunnel Mountain is right in the heart of Banff. It’s beloved by locals 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. It’s one of the easiest yet rewarding hikes you can do in Banff.
The hike moves slowly up the mountain through a number of switchbacks and offers various viewpoints out into the Bow and Spray Valleys. It’s great for sunrise or sunset and it rarely disappoints. 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.
Ski/Snowboard in Banff in February
There are three epic ski resorts in Banff to enjoy. Snowboarding at all of the SkiBig3 resorts was our primary reason for heading to Banff in the winter before we settled on moving here. 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 unique ski resorts.
Skiing or snowboarding here is one of the best things to do in Banff in the winter. Mt. Norquay is the closest ski resort to town, while Banff Sunshine is about 20 minutes from Banff and Lake Louise is about 40 minutes from the town. They are all great options, but we honestly love Lake Louise the most.
Snowshoe in Banff in January
A great thing to do for families visiting Banff in February is snowshoe! Just because there is snow on the ground doesn’t mean you can’t leave the well-trodden path. You might not be able to walk through the snow on foot, but a quality pair of snowshoes allow you to float across the snow.
They’re super easy to get the hang of and you’ll be moving along in no time. Two popular snowshoe hikes are to the Paint Pots or Marble Canyon, but you’re free to explore the wilderness on your own if you rent a pair, just make sure you don’t get yourself in avalanche terrain without proper avalanche safety knowledge. You can rent snowshoes at Snowtips Bactrax.
Go Dog Sledding
Discover Banff Tours runs dog sledding adventures at Lake Louise and in Canmore and is one of the best things to do in Banff in February.
We’ve done this four separate times and it’s always an amazing experience. What I particularly love is how quiet the ride is with only the sound of the dog teams steps against the snow.
Venture into Canmore!
Okay, this isn’t really a thing to do in Banff as it’s a 15-minute drive away. We may be biased to our home base, but we think Canmore is the bee’s knees. There’s plenty to do in Canmore in the winter. Including Nordic skiing at Canmore Nordic Center, hiking to Grassi Lakes, and enjoying the Grizzly Paw Brewery downtown.
Is February a Good Time to Visit Banff?
Banff in February is a great time to visit Banff if you love winter, and you don’t mind being cold.
Ski season is in full swing in February, so if you are a skier or boarder expect to scream your way down Banff Sunshine, Mt Norquay, or Lake Louise.
Winter sports abound right now and you’ll be able to enjoy snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and fat biking. However it is cold and you should be prepared for cold temperatures otherwise you’ll be miserable. A great parka can work wonders for just strolling through town in February.
If you are more of a warm weather person, obviously you should save your Banff trip for the summertime.
Visiting in February has some perks, although it’s high season for the resorts you can still get winter deals on accommodation. Downtown Banff is also much quieter during this month than in the summer!
Keep in mind that you need winter tires to drive in the mountains in February. When renting a car it’s imperative you make sure you get a car with winter tires.
Rent a Car for Your Trip
Where to Stay in Banff in February
Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
One of the most sought after places to stay in Banff. It’s the only hotel actually on Lake Louise and in the winter there are some fun events at the hotel. The good news about winter here? It’s slightly cheaper than in the summer!
Mount Royal Hotel
One of the best hotels to stay in Downtown Banff. It’s right in the heart of the action on Banff Avenue, and rooms have been recently updated with new modern touches.
A great Lake Louise cabin that is a super cozy place to stay in the winter. There’s nothing better than sitting in front of the fire with a cup of tea here.
Hopefully, this helped you determine if you want to visit Banff in February.
If you have any other questions leave a comment or see our Canadian Rockies travel guide for more articles about photography spots, lakes, hikes, and everything else.
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Plan Your Trip to the Canadian Rockies
- Travel Insurance: We don’t recommend traveling without travel insurance. World Nomads offers competitive rates for all travelers.
- Hotels in the Rockies: From luxury hotels to wilderness cabins, there are plenty of places to stay in the Rockies. See all our favorites here.
- Pack for the Rockies: See our full Alberta packing list here.
- Get Around: We suggest either renting a car to get around, or embarking on an epic campervan trip with companies like Outdoorsy.