Visiting Banff in March? Here’s All You Need to Know

Planning to visit Banff in March and curious to know what to expect? We have you covered! Banff in March means it’s still very much winter. While some of Canada is starting to warm up and head into spring, it doesn’t exactly happen in the Canadian Rockies.

That doesn’t mean March is the wrong time to visit Banff, though! There’s still so much to do in Banff in March, especially if you enjoy things like skiing and snowboarding. So, what will the weather be like in the Rockies in March, and what should you pack? Let’s dig in.


Things to Know Before Visiting Banff in March


What’s the Weather Like in Banff in March?

In the backcountry in March
  • Banff Daytime Average: 3°C
  • Banff Nighttime Average: -8°C
  • Lake Louise Daytime Average: 1 to 2°C
  • Lake Louise Nighttime Average: -13°C

The average temperature of Banff National Park in March creeps above freezing (finally) up to around 2-4°C. The sun shines over the mountains this time of year (12 hours a day) the snow glistens, and signs of spring can be seen in less snowy places come late March.

There’s still plenty of snow left on the slopes so ski season is still in full swing. By the end of March, you might get a few days of spring riding, but you may also get a few frigid days. Every day is an adventure in Banff!

Depending on the year, you may have a dry March, but we’ve seen plenty of powder days in the mountains during the month. Come expecting a few blizzards – or maybe not – hard to tell in the mountains!

Banff after a snowstorm in March
Banff after a snowstorm in March

All that being said, March in Banff means it’s going to be cold – pretty much all day. Most days and nights in the Rockies still drop well below 0°C. The weather can be pretty varied, so make sure you bring plenty of layers.

Feel like going ice climbing? March is a good time of year to do it! The lakes are still well frozen too so great winter activities like ice-skating and dog sledding are still in full swing.

If you’re renting a car in Banff, you’ll want to know how to drive in the snow, there’s still plenty of it on the road in March. Prepare for all types of weather in March, some days are beautiful with the sun shining, and some days it will be overcast and blizzarding.


How Much Does It Snow in March?

Lake Louise Ski Resort in March

You’ll still get plenty of snow in Banff in March, when you look at the past yearly forecast March actually gets more than January or February. The Town of Banff typically sees between 10-14 cm of snow per week, with between 4-5 snowy days a week.

Further up the valley near Lake Louise, you can expect up to 20 cm of snow and 5.2 days of snow – per week. Bring snow pants and good boots!


What Clothes Should You Wear in Banff in March?

What Clothes to Wear in Banff in March?
March 3rd in Canmore

March is very much still winter in the Canadian Rockies and you’ll need to pack for the occasion. That means layers and layers. You’ll want a winter jacket, thermals, and warm waterproof boots. Don’t bother with any sort of summer clothing, you won’t need it here.

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

  • Winter Down Jacket
  • Sweater
  • 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
  • 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 March?

Lake Louise Ski Resort in March

Lake Louise is still very frozen in March. Like January and February, you can still skate on Lake Louise, snowshoe around the lake, or enjoy a dog sled ride. If you like the snow and the feeling of being inside a beautiful snowglobe March, is an excellent time to visit Lake Louise.

It’s definitely not a bad time to travel to Lake Louise Ski Resort. If you’re a powder hound and love to ski and snowboard, you won’t regret being here.

The Canadian Rockies have great spring skiing come later in March, and you’ll likely still get a few powder days during the month. Keep an eye on that snow forecast – there’s nothing better than a pow day at Lake Louise.


Can You Visit Moraine Lake in March?

Moraine Lake Road is closed in March, and Moraine Lake is not accessible. If you want to visit Moraine Lake and see her in all her glory, it’s best to wait to visit Banff in the summer. Moraine Lake Road will open up on June 1st.


Things to Do in Banff in March


Ski/Snowboard Big Mountain Terrain

Lake Louise Ski Resort
The ski terrain in Banff is unreal!

Snowboarding at all of the SkiBig3 resorts was our primary reason for heading to Banff in the winter years ago before moving to the Rockies. 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 Banff ski resorts.

Lake Louise Ski Resort in March
Riding at Lake Louise Ski Resort in March

Skiing or snowboarding here is one of the best things to do in Banff in the winter. It’s also one of the many reasons we relocated to the Canadian Rockies.


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 region’s elevation 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.

As a tip, we suggest picking up some microspikes in town. Although the trail is well managed, it can get icy, and paying for microspikes is better than slipping everywhere on the trail – ours were very handy. You can rent them at Wilson Sports at Lake Louise, or Snowtips Bactrax in Banff. We purchased ours at Canadian Tire, which is also an option if you want to keep them! It’s also popular to book an ice walk tour to Johnston Canyon, and the tour guides will provide microspikes for you!

Once you reach the end of the trail and the most impressive frozen fall, you’ll probably find some ice climbers. If you’re feeling adventurous, book an ice climbing tour yourself with Yamnuska Guides.


Ice Skate on Lake Louise

Lake Louise Ice Skating - One of the Best Things to do in Banff in Winter
One of the Best Things to do in Banff in Winter

There’s really no more iconic ice-skating area in the world than at Lake Louise. Heading to Lake Louise in the winter is one of the best things to do in Banff in March.

The Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise clears and maintains the “rink” every day so that visitors can enjoy ice skating here all winter long. They also have lights at night so you can skate under the stars! Rent ice skates directly at the Fairmont or at Wilson Sports in Lake Louise Village.


Catch the Northern Lights

If you’re lucky, and I mean really lucky, you may catch the Aurora while visiting Banff in March. It’s rare, and I wouldn’t plan on seeing the northern lights while visiting, as the good shows only happen a few times per year.

But if the sky is clear and the aurora forecast looks promising, it’s best to make your way to a really dark area of the park and keep your eyes open. The darkest days are in December, but it’s possible to see the Northern Lights well into April and May.

How To See The Northern Lights in Banff

**Many people ask about northern lights tours, and while there are no specific tours centered around seeing the northern lights in Banff, this is a fantastic stargazing tour offered throughout the year!


Hike Up Tunnel Mountain

Tunnel Mountain hike

The hike up Tunnel Mountain is a short and cruisy one that you can do right while staying at a hotel in Downtown Banff. The hike up to the summit will take less than an hour and provides excellent views over the Bow Valley, Downtown Banff, and Mount Rundle.

Tunnel Mountain is a fun trail in the winter as it’s not too steep, and we’ve never experienced it being too icy either. Meaning you won’t need microspikes, snowshoes, or poles to tackle this hike in Banff in winter, though having those items never hurts when hiking in the winter in Banff!

11 Beautiful Banff Winter Hikes

Spot Wildlife

The wildlife doesn’t leave Banff when summertime goes away. Apart from bears, you’ll find moose, elk, deer, owls, sheep, foxes, wolves, and coyotes here all year round. I actually love spotting these animals in the winter more than in the summer – they look so much more majestic against the white snow.

Please remember if you want to pull over to take photos of wildlife, to do so safely and make sure you are out of the way of traffic. You can spot wildlife on your own, but if you want the knowledge of the area and information about what you are seeing, it’s best to book a tour.


Relax at Lake Minnewanka

Lake Minnewanka in March
Lake Minnewanka in March

Lake Minnewanka is a glacial lake that is just a ten-minute drive away from the town of Banff. This lake is 21 km long and 142 meters deep. In the summer, it’s a busy place to hike and go canoeing on, but in the winter, it’s a sight to behold.

Even though all facilities are closed in March, the views are nothing short of amazing. Mount Inglismaldie, towering over Lake Minnewanka, is seriously impressive, all covered in snow. There’s a short trail that skirts the lake for a bit in the winter if you aren’t too cold. Make sure to stop at Two Jack Lake and Cascade Ponds after and enjoy the views of Mount Rundle.


Enjoy the Town of Banff

Strolling Bear Street in Banff in March
Strolling Bear Street in March

If you want a day of shopping, cappuccinos, and breweries stay in the town of Banff and enjoy a day of walking around. Banff Ave has tons of restaurants, boutique shops, awesome cafes, and cheesy souvenir stores to entertain all.


Mt. Norquay Tubing

A fun thing to do in Banff with the family or friends is go tubing at Mt. Norquay. There’s a set tubing park here and two different time slots to enjoy every day. On weekends, there is often night tubing. But make sure to check the schedule first.

You can expect super long tube parks (the longest in Alberta), and they are extremely fast. Tickets cost $45 and include the tube. Be careful here, although it seems like a seemingly safe activity many people get hurt tubing every year by going too fast.


Go on a Helicopter Tour

When wondering what to do in Banff in winter, consider heading to the town next door. Alpine Helicopters is based in Canmore and offers helicopter tours that provide a spectacular bird’s eye view of the surrounding mountains. While it’s certainly not a cheap thing to do in Canmore in the winter it is undoubtedly an unforgettable one. Tours cost $150 per person and can reach as high as $600 for a 45-minute tour.

However, rates are lower in the winter and during off season months like March, so make sure to check their site to find the best rate.

The Best Canmore Winter Activities You’ll Love!

Go Dog Sledding With Howling Dog Tours

Dog sledding is one of those quintessential Banff winter tours and will easily be a highlight of any winter vacation in the Canadian Rockies. There are a few dog sledding operations in Lake Louise and Canmore, but Howling Dog Tours in Canmore is our favorite as they offer the chance to enjoy this experience deep in Kananaskis Country.

HDT is a small family operation that has been in operation since 1995 and is a great ethical company within the Bow Valley. Head over to their website for their contact details.


Drive the Bow Valley Parkway

bow valley parkway in winter
Driving the Bow Valley Parkway After a Fresh Snowfall

The Bow Valley Parkway, or 1A, is a beautiful winter drive that connects Banff to Lake Louise. It’s always stunning, but I especially love driving it just after a fresh snowfall when the trees are absolutely covered in white.

The road is much quieter in the winter and makes me fall in love with the drive even more. Some of the best stops are Morant’s Curve, Johnston Canyon, and Storm Mountain Lookout.


Kananaskis Nordic Spa

The Kananaskis Nordic Spa is in the Kananaskis Mountain Lodge in Kananaskis Country. Right near the base of Nakiska Ski Resort is this beautiful hotel. Their new Nordic Spa is the ultimate space for relaxation in the mountains.

Here they have a Eucalyptus Steam Room, Alchemist Steam Room, Finnish Sauna, an Exfoliation Cabin, and so much more. You could easily spend a whole winter day here enjoying the pools and other amenities.

If you really want to have a fabulous wellness weekend in the Rockies, book a stay at the Kananaskis Mountain Lodge, so you never have to hop in the car.


Snowshoe

I’m not a big snowshoeing (instead, I prefer splitboarding), but this is March 20th at Taylor Lake.

In March 2020, when the pandemic shut everything down one of the first things we did was skin/snowshoe up to Taylor Lake for some fresh air and freedom (before they closed all Canadian National Parks, that is). March is just a glorious time of year to snowshoe at different areas around the park.

Please make sure not to venture into avalanche territory unless you have taken an avalanche safety course, are knowledgeable on the subject, and have a beacon, probe, and shovel. You can see some safe snowshoes we recommend here.

Booking a snowshoe tour is one of the most popular things to do in March, and is great for people who want assistance in the Banff backcountry, this tour takes you to beautiful views in the Sunshine Meadows!


Warm Up at a Brewery

Enjoying a beer at Three Bears

The Canadian Rockies have some pretty awesome breweries. There’s Banff Ave Brewing on Banff Ave, Three Bears on Bear Street, and Sheepdog and Grizzly Paw in Canmore. All these breweries have warm and inviting environments, perfect for grabbing a beer with friends after a cold day out in the mountains.


Head Up the Banff Gondola

Banff Gondola Hike

The Banff Gondola allows visitors to ride up Sulphur Mountain in gondola cabins with large windows enabling 360-degree views from the base. It’s one of the best things to do in March if you want some epic views from above, and on every first-time visitor’s Banff itinerary. It’s a great activity all year round, but I particularly love going up the Banff Gondola in the winter to see Cascade Mountain covered in a blanket of snow above the Town of Banff.

A ride up Sulphur Mountain takes eight minutes and climbs to 2281 meters (7486 ft) above sea level. You climb 698 meters very quickly, and when you reach the top, you are on Sulphur Mountain. Here, you’ll enjoy the Sky Bistro, one of the most scenic restaurants in Banff (reservations recommoded).

One of the best things about visiting the Banff Gondola in the winter is…


Banff Nightrise

banff nightrise

The Banff Nightrise is an interactive experience created in partnership with the Stoney Nakoda Nation, it is included in the price of a Banff Gondola ticket. What is Nightrise? Nightrise is an immersive and interactive journey that transforms Sulphur Mountain after dark with lights, projections, and riveting soundscapes – and it only runs until the end of March.

It allows visitors to “listen to the view,” and each level of the complex is transformed, with the viewing deck allowing visitors to view Banff in a new way. Nightrise is a beautiful and unique experience, especially since it is partnered with the Indigenous peoples who contribute music, words, and stories. This is only a nighttime experience, so if you want a little bit of daytime action on the gondola and little bit of Nightrise action we recommended heading up the gondola around sunset!

Book Your Tickets For the Banff Gondola

Is March a Good Time to Visit Banff?

Banff in March
Enjoying the Mt Norquay Lookout over Banff in March

I’m certainly not going to say that March is the best time to visit Banff, but it’s also far from the worst. If you are into winter sports, March is a fantastic time to visit.

If you don’t like being cold or dealing with much snow, you should wait a few more months until you visit.

Due to it still being so cold in the Rockies, the ski resorts are prime in March. While many US ski resorts are winding down by the end of March, SkiBig3 Resorts still have more than a month left of awesome ski. Remember that more snow typically falls in March than February, and Banff ski resorts are open until the first two weeks of May.

Canmore the beginning of March
Canmore the beginning of March

With March being low season you’ll be able to score some great winter rates on accommodation, with many rooms costing less than $150 a night (a steal in the Rockies).

It’s also quiet in town, and although 0 to 2°C doesn’t exactly sound warm, most of the *freezing* cold winter days are behind us.

winter storm driving in March
Driving in Early March in a Winter Storm

If you are renting a car to visit Banff in March, you will still need to have winter tires. Experience driving in winter conditions is helpful for any mountain driving. If you don’t feel comfortable driving in the winter that’s okay, there are plenty of ways to travel Banff without a car.

Rent a Car for Your Trip

Check Rates from the Calgary Airport


Pros and Cons of Visiting Banff in March

Pros

  • Say it with me – skiing and snowboarding season!
  • Low crowds
  • Better deals on accommodation
  • Winter sports!

Cons

  • Unpredictable and changeable weather.
  • It’s COLD
  • Days are still short, but they are getting longer every day!
  • Winter driving
  • Not many festivals or events going on.

Where to Stay in Banff in March


Baker Creek

Our absolute favorite place to stay in Banff in the winter is Baker Creek. These Banff cabins are as cozy as it gets! With a fireplace and robes there’s very little to want here!

Check Rates

Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
Chateau Fairmont Lake Louise

If you have dreamed at staying at one of the most iconic hotels in Canada March may be the season to do it! Sure you won’t wake up to a bright blue unfrozen lake, but you will pay low season rates during this time.

Check Rates

sunshine-mountain-resort
Sunshine Village

The only ski in ski out accommodation in Banff!

Check Rates

Johnston Canyon Bungalows

Right on the Bow Valley Parkway at Johnston Canyon are these awesome Alberta cabins. These are small cabins perfect for the whole family to enjoy! Plus you’ll be the only people who get to stay overnight at the canyon!

Check Rates


Hopefully, this helped you determine if you want to visit Banff in March.

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.


↓ Join the community ↓

The Banff Blog Facebook Group is your headquarters for Canadian Rockies travel advice and information, including hike and off-season travel information. You can also meet new adventure buddies.

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Plan Your Trip to the Canadian Rockies

  • 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 camper prices on Outdoorsy.
  • Cheaper Airfare: We also use Going to watch for cheap airfare deals and like to use travel credit cards to hack our way into free flights and hotels! Our favorite cards are the Capital One Venture X and Chase Sapphire, which both work well in Canada and have no foreign transaction fees.
  • 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!

If you have found the content on this site helpful to your trip planning please consider supporting The Banff Blog. You can say thanks directly by buying us a coffee. All support is much appreciated!

6 thoughts on “Visiting Banff in March? Here’s All You Need to Know”

  1. Hi,
    I’m trying to Book a vacation to The Rockies for March break. My wife and I would be bringing out 2.5 year old son
    Looking for places to stay and things to do

    Reply
  2. Thank you for this wonderful post, it is so helpful!

    My husband and I visited Canmore and Banff last year in February and had the best time, despite a nasty cold snap (now I know what -15 F feels like, oof).

    I’m considering another winter trip this year (note: I’m too scared of grizzlies to visit in summer!). I am curious to hear when you’d recommend going if we want to see snow and potentially some open water. Everything was pretty much frozen over last year, so there were very few opportunities to take a peek at the pretty blue lakes. The key is finding the time when *most* grizzlies are still hibernating and the water isn’t totally frozen. Any advice is appreciated, thanks!

    Reply

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