If you’re wondering what the best time to visit Banff we provide a month by month break down of what to expect from the weather in Banff. With some stunning scenery to behold all year round, you can’t go wrong with a trip to the Canadian Rockies.
Whether you like skiing and snowboarding or you simply want to hike around mountain trails and camp out under the stars, Banff is a dreamy destination of imposing mountains, glassy lakes, and storming waterfalls. We fell in love so much the first time we visited we ended up moving here!
If you were wondering when is the best time to visit Banff, you need wonder no more. We’ve got it all figured out for you: that means everything from temperatures and snowfall, to things to do, and the best events and festivals that Banff has to offer.
Here is a month-by-month breakdown of the weather in Banff, accompanied by some of our photos of that month so you can get a picture of what it’s like.
When is the Best Time to Visit Banff?
Click the individual month posts to get an idea of what there is to do in Banff around that time.
Weather in Banff in January
In short, January in Banff means it’s cold and there’s plenty of snow. However, the frequent snowfalls during the month make peaks like Mount Rundle and Cascade Mountain stunning as they’re draped in sheets of white.
It’s also the perfect time to hit the slopes at Lake Louise, Mt. Norquay, and Banff Sunshine. January is one of the best times of the year to visit the Canadian Rockies and go skiing and snowboarding in Banff National Park. Outside of the few days around the New Year celebrations, the ski resorts are quiet as it is not peak season and there are no holiday crowds.
However, like we said, it’s cold and snowy. Average daytime temperatures are -5°C, and the nights drop to around -10°C. Despite the cold, there’s plenty of sunshine and not a lot of wind. Crisp, cool conditions for winter sports, we’d say. That being said, we receive chinooks in the winter where temperatures fluctuate between mild winter temperatures and extreme ones that reach below -30C. Pack warm clothing!
Weather in Banff in February
Things are getting warmer for Banff in February. Ok, we’re kidding, but the average temperature 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 for winter sports.
Canadians and international tourists alike are now showing up for their winter adventures, so you may find high season prices. Especially during Family Week when the towns of Canmore and Banff fill up with visitors and the ski resorts can be busy – especially on weekends. It’s still manageable though and nothing like the big ski resorts like Whistler, Breckenridge, Aspen, Park City, or Mammoth.
Nights are still super cold, hovering at -10°C or even lower; this makes it perfect for sitting around a cozy fireside at a Banff cabin in the evenings though. Snowfall 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 be prepared for winter in Banff. Most of the time, however, it’s going to be sunny, with about ten hours of daylight. It’s still a great time of year to spend days on the slopes and nights back at the lodge warming up. If you’re into winter sports like nordic skiing or ice climbing it is a great time to visit as temperatures stay well under freezing.
Weather in Banff in March
The average temperature in Banff in March creeps above freezing (finally) up to around 4°C. The sun shines over the mountains this time of year (12 hours a day, people), the snow glistens, and signs of spring can be seen in less snowy places.
Thanks to the snow that’s still left on the slopes, ski season is still in full swing; there’s usually much less snowfall than there has been though, but we’ve seen the powder days in the mountains during the month. We’re in the midst of a blizzard as I update this article in March now.
That said, the nights in the Rockies still drop to below zero. Being the start of spring, 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.
Weather in Banff in April
Spring is sorta starting to show up in Banff in April! Those cool temperatures of winter are almost all but gone, with the average temperature being 11°C. Amazing. Be warned; cold snaps of 6°C or lower are still pretty common… and yeah, the nights are still below freezing.
So it’s not exactly warm, but it’s definitely getting that way. You may be switching out your Canadian Goose jacket for a packable down jacket. With the longer days (14 hours of daylight), it really does feel like spring is here day after day.
It’s still a good time to visit Banff if you like snowboarding since there’s still a lot of snow around, we even get the occasional powder day! Lake Louise and Banff Sunshine have some of the longest seasons in North America, and don’t close until at least May – so if you’re wanting to extend the ski season head here.
It’s pretty popular this time of year 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. It was in April 2019 that three world-class alpinists lost their lives to an Avalanche in Banff National Park. Make sure you check any conditions before heading out.
Weather in Banff in May
Things really start to get pretty lovely in Banff in May. Temperatures increase and the sun shines over the land. The mercury hits the mid-teens during May, on average, and the sun doesn’t set till after 8 pm. There can still be a dusting of rainfall in May, especially in higher altitudes, but generally, this is what you’d call pleasant weather.
Banff Sunshine and Lake Louise Ski Resort are still open until mid-May, among the longest-running ski seasons in North America. You might get the very odd powder day too, but for the most part it’s a little slushy. The glacier lakes will not be thawed yet, so if you’re coming to Banff expecting to see the amazing blue lakes you should wait another month.
Rainfall in May increases to about 50mm – still not that much. At high elevation, this means snow-capped mountains. At lower elevation, you’ll be reaching for a rain jacket. The wildlife is waking up from its winter slumber, and a few mountain hikes are doable now. Though you should check trail reports if you’ll need poles and crampons still. We hiked Sulphur Mountain last year in May and it was still very snowy and the low elevation hikes are very muddy from melting snow.
It’s still low season in Banff, and not camping weather quite yet. However, some campsites are open and ready to accept visitors just make sure to bring a sleeping bag rated for freezing temperatures.
Weather in Banff in June
It’s sort of getting into summer by the time June arrives in Banff. This is the end of the ski season (boo), but that doesn’t mean that Banff isn’t without anything to do (yay).
It’s a good time of year to visit Banff for hiking; the trails start to get popular in June. Though many are still a little wet and muddy and the high elevation ones will still have snow. However, even though day temperatures are pretty high (we’re talking highs of 21°C), once the sun goes down, it’s still very cold, hovering just above 2°C. It’s a good idea to bring some wet weather clothes since there’s the chance of getting caught in a shower.
The good news is the glacier lakes have just thawed. Lake Moraine access road opens by early June and you’ll finally be able to see the majestic body of water. The bad news? Crowds are coming.
By mid June parking at some of the main sites becomes an issue, and you’ll definitely need to secure camping spaces early during this time. Prices in Banff creep up, up, and up, but it’s still not as bad as July.
Weather in Banff in July
July is without a doubt one of the best times to visit Banff. It is a beautiful summer month in Banff. Rainfall is low and if you’re lucky your vacation will be filled with sunshine and long days.
As such, the town and the national park are filled with visitors who want to come and experience Banff’s beautiful nature for themselves. Camping, enjoying the wildlife, hiking – everything’s on offer. You’ll likely need reservations for the popular camping spots, and if you’re staying at a Banff hotel you’ll be paying high prices for it.
The average temperature is 24°C, but tends to be warmer in the afternoon. Yes, this means you can finally forget about winter, though you’ll still want to pack a packable down jacket and a shell jacket just in case. On the hikes from the photos above, we saw warm weather, rain, snow, and snow in a couple of hours.
All that sunshine and melting snow has made the mountainsides a lush carpet of greenery and by mid July the wildflowers are in bloom. There’s also a lot of sunshine – about 16 hours a day, meaning the sun doesn’t set until about 10 pm. Clear, cloudless skies at night equal great stargazing conditions, but bring some layers – it’s about 7°C at night.
Most of the trails are completely snow-free. Though if you want to scramble Mount Temple, you should wait another month to do so.
Crowds, on the other hand are a little out of hand. With neverending images of Lake Louise and Lake Moraine on Instagram you’ll be hard-pressed to find parking at the lakes between the hours of 6 am and 7 pm. Yes, I’m serious.
Head away from the popular places to escape the crowds. There’s a lot to explore in Banff National Park, but everyone always seems to head to the same spot. Spread out and you’ll easily find yourself alone in nature. If you do enough digging on this website, you’ll see what I’m talking about. 😉
Weather in Banff in August
The warmest weather of the year in Banff is in August, so if you’re looking for the best time to visit Banff, it’s this month – that’s if you prefer hiking to skiing, of course.
The park is alive with flowers and overflowing with nature. Nights can still get quite cold, though, around 7°C, so you might want a sweater or something warm to wear for the evenings, but days can climb to the mid-twenties.
There are some fantastic views to be had from mountainsides in August; the visibility is impressive since the air is relatively free of clouds. Just hope that wildfires haven’t started and that it’s a smoke free summer. If there have been fires out west and in the US, it will affect Banff and the air will be hazy. The Oregon and California fires of 2020 had the Canadian Rockies hazy and orangish for at least a week.
If you’re a fan of mountain biking, then August may just be one of the best months to go to Banff for you. It’s safe to say that most of the hiking and scrambling trails in Banff are now good to go. Snow free in most places so it’s the time to go for the big mountain hikes, scrambles, climbs, and mountaineering objectives.
However, if you thought July is busy you haven’t seen August. With school holidays and everyone getting their summer on you’ll still see lots of people around the town of Banff and main sites. Hopefully you’ve booked your hotels and campsites well in advance.
Weather in Banff in September
Things begin to cool off slightly in Banff in September, but it’s still relatively warm… for Banff, that is. The average temperature for this month is around 18°C, but nights – as always – can feel quite cold. It’s the start of fall.
You know what that means: the town and the park start to change colors to a golden palette, making it a beautiful time of year to visit. Make sure you see the golden larches the last few weeks of September, here are the best hikes to see larches!
There are generally fewer tourists than during the summer months, but you will still have people visiting for Labor Day and in late September chasing the larches. There are still plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy now. Hiking is still in full swing – we hiked back to Assiniboine in late September last year. Weather can be changeable, so make sure you check the forecast before you head out on an adventure (and be prepared with waterproofs).
Weather in Banff in October
There’s still plenty of sunshine in Banff in October, but it’s most definitely fall weather. Early October means it could still be larch season and a good time to go hiking! Our last big mountain scramble of last year was October 8th, then we stuck to lower elevation hikes. The temperature on average is about 10°C, and after dark, it can drop below freezing.
There can be instances of light rain and even snow across the month, but it’s still pleasant enough for hiking in the hills and the valleys in the early days.
Later in the month, snow starts to fall. They’ll be lots of snowfall on the mountain summits, especially around Lake Louise and up the Icefields Parkway. Though October starts like fall – with fall foliage still around – the month ends feeling like winter, with more snow and fog. In 2020, Lake Louise Ski Resort even opened up before Halloween.
Weather in Banff in November
November in Banff is a changeable month with a mix of sunshine and snow, but generally, the temperatures are much cooler than they have been. These plummet to an average of 3°C. It’s definitely no longer fall in November. This is a shoulder season month with very few visitors. Locals enjoy the quiet atmosphere in the towns. This means it’s a great time to score a deal on Banff accommodation.
There’s still only a light breeze, so there’s not much windchill to worry about, and it’s still great to be outside when you’re in the sunshine. But night time? It can be super cold. Think -9°C. November marks the official start of the ski season and you’ll find SkiBig3 resorts open, but the runs will likely only be visited by locals.
Few tourists are here in November, meaning now crowds and low prices. However, if you wanted to see the beautiful blue lakes in their splendor you’ll be disappointed. They are pretty much frozen now. Grab some ice skates as November is the best time to skate on the natural lakes before the snow covers them.
Weather in Banff in December
December is decidedly cold in Banff. In fact, some of the coldest weather of the year is in December. The average temperature, if you were wondering, is about -4°C; so yeah, it’s frigid. After dark, it plummets to -10.
Expect snow and fog and only a few hours of sunshine a day; it’s pretty cloudy. One upside to the gloomy weather is skiing and snowboarding is now in full swing, which obviously becomes a lot more popular over Christmas and New Year.
The sun sets around 4:30 pm this time of year, which means less time outside and more time by the fire, sipping coffee, and enjoying the holidays in a picturesque mountain town.
Being the holidays it’s a popular time to visit Banff. Visitors flock here to spend their Christmas in a winter wonderland. Still, compared to summer it’s not too busy and the Christmas cheer is in the air. It’s a wonderful time to visit Banff as you are almost guaranteed a white Christmas!
Festivals in Banff
Winter Festivals in Banff
December is awash with festivities. Obviously, there’s Christmas, the run-up to New Year, and the general holiday season fun, but there are also some cool events to check out, too. The Lake Louise Alpine Ski World Cup is a huge event that’s watched by some 73 million fans around the world.
New Year in Banff is super fun. New Year’s Eve means fun events at Centennial Park as well as sleigh rides, and events spread around the town; Banff Avenue is packed with food stalls and live music.
As the new year starts, January means the Ice Magic Festival. Super skilled people somehow create some amazing ice sculptures that can be found on the shores of Lake Louise. There’s also SnowDays. Towards the end of the month (roughly the same time as Ice Magic), the 12-day-long SnowDays sees a load of snow sculptures take to the streets of Banff for a winter wonderland kind of feel. Both festivals attract many people to see the sculptures, which are admittedly pretty cool.
February has a few events. The Kananaskis Ski Marathon, a competitive, cross-country event with around 50 competitors racing for first place, takes place in this month. The Gathering Music Festival also takes place in mid-February across several nights.
Spring Festivals in Banff
The Arc’Teryx Canmore Ice Climbing Festival at the beginning of March kicks off the spring with a variety of clambering for climbers of various levels. March also sees the Lake Louise Junior Big Mountain Challenge, where young free-skiers compete against each other, pulling out all the stops to impress judges.
In April, there’s the Cochon555. This is actually a culinary event that’s primed and ready for foodies – and lovers of craft beer. If you feel like tackling 40 courses of food, this is where you should be heading. Later in April, there’s the Western Heritage Jubilee; think plenty of late-night entertainment and general merriment.
At the end of April, the Banff Summer Arts Festival begins, and runs to the start of September. It celebrates and displays the work of varying artists throughout the rest of spring and summer.
If you like running, you might want to be in Banff for the Banff to Calgary Road Race. Taking place in May, it’s a grueling task, but being a fundraising event, it’s for a good cause. Also in May is the Slush Cup. What? Also in May is the coveted Slush Cup. This happens at Banff Sunshine and is when skiers and snowboarders head down the hill only to jump into slushy water. The event has happened since 1928 and is celebrates winter’s last bits when these daring skiers and snowboarders try to stick a landing and ski in water.
As May ends in Banff, there’s the family-friendly Children’s Festival. Think puppet shows, readings from children’s books, and other kid-friendly fun.
Summer Festivals in Banff
Summer kicks off in Banff with more active fun. It may not be snowy anymore, but the warmer weather means more outdoor sports. The Banff Relay Race, for example, takes place over 186 miles. If you like the sound of that, the Banff Marathon might be a good idea for you as well.
On July 1, it’s Canada Day. This is celebrated with processions, fireworks, and concerts.
If you like your festivities to be less wild and more of a weekly thing, then you’ll like Banff Farmers Market. This takes place every Wednesday throughout the summer (from late May to early October actually) and is the place to go for fresh produce, crafts, and ceramics – as well as food trucks if you get hungry.
Like music? Then head to the funky Canmore Folk Music Festival. This is a long weekend of music and mayhem that’s been going since 1978. Also in August is Doors Open Banff, a time when monuments and historical monuments are open for visitors to enjoy.
Although it’s not in Banff the Calgary Stampede is a great even to time your visit to Banff. The world’s largest stampede takes place every year in Calgary and you’re sure to have a good time and live out your cowboy dreams.
Fall Festivals in Banff
September is a great time to visit Banff. Not only are there beautiful colors adorning the mountainside, but there’s some Scottish heritage to be peeped at the Canmore Highland Games. People don kilts and throw massive logs, amongst other things.
Foodies, listen up; Banff Springs Food and Wine Festival, held in October, sees a delicious array of food (and wine) from around the local area offered up, shown up, and consumed. For beer, wait till November for Banff Craft Beer Festival.
November is cold, so it makes sense that this is the month for the WinterStart Festival. It gets the town into the holiday spirit, with a Santa Claus parade, illuminations, and tasty food galore. Banff Christmas Market also starts in November and is a perfect place for some Xmas gifts and decorations (complete with caroling).
When is the Best Season to Visit Banff National Park?
High season (June-August, December-February)
Banff National Park has a high season for winter enthusiasts and those after that perfect North American summer getaway. The first, is much quieter than its summer counterpart, but around the holidays the prices rise and crowds flock to Banff. Those after a ski vacation and visit Banff in February will see the ski runs become busier. During these two winter times, you’ll find higher prices on accommodation.
However, that’s nothing compared to summertime in Banff. Numbers balloon between June and August and while I would love to say that because of this it’s not a good time to visit I would be lying. July and August bring about the best weather in the park. Long days and sunshine await you during the summer.
The wildflowers are in full bloom and it’s a great time for anyone looking for a summer adventure. It’s my favorite time to be in the Bow Valley – there is truly nothing like a Canadian Rockies summer. However, the crowds can be a bit insane at Lake Louise, Peyto Lake, and Lake Moraine – you’ll have to work and think harder to get away from crowds in the summer.
Shoulder Season (May, September-October)
The shoulder season months are still a wonderful time to visit Banff National Park. As mentioned May can still be pretty wintery and there is still snow on the ground. The glacier lakes will be frozen, but the summer crowds have not appeared making it a great time to visit Banff.
If chasing the fall and seeing the yellow larches are the thing you’ll want to visit in September and October. After Labor Day the crowds start to fizzle out as the kiddies go back to school and summer vacations are over. Hiking is still great as the winter gods haven’t dumped snow yet. As the snow starts to pile up in the mountains options dwindle and the lakes begin to freeze.
Low Season (November, March, April)
These are generally cold, cloudy, and what some may call “miserable” months. Unless you like the winter, snowboarding and skiing, ice skating, cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and all that other fun snow stuff.
If you’re a winter person this is a great time to visit Banff. Low numbers of tourists, low prices, and plenty of snow in March and April! The snowpack in November though is generally low and not perfect for winter sports. That being said we have skied here in October, but I would never plan a trip around it!
Is Banff Crowded in the Summer?
In short, yes, Banff is crowded in the summer, particularly between the months of June and September. If you’re after a true crowd-free experience it’s best to visit in the winter or shoulder seasons.
Does it Rain A Lot in Banff?
I suppose rain isn’t the right word. Let’s call it precipitation. It snows a lot in Banff, particularly in the winter. Thankfully it doesn’t rain a lot in Banff, but your highest chances for rain are in the shoulder season months. You can expect a little rain in late April, May, and October. Come prepared with warm weather clothes and a good rain jacket.
When is the Best Time to Visit Banff for Good Weather?
It depends. If good weather for you is a winter wonderland than the best time to visit Banff is between December and February.
If good weather for you means sunshine and long days then the best time to visit Banff is July and August.
When is the Best Time to Visit Banff for Skiing and Snowboarding?
The ski season in Banff is in full swing between Late November and Late April. The best powder is between December and February, but spring skiing is quite good in late March and April. I particularly like skiing in Banff the best in December before the holidays arrive.
When is the Best Time to Visit Lake Louise and Lake Moraine?
This also depends. I think Lake Louise is magical in the winter. It’s covered in snow, there are ice sculptures at the Chateau Lake Louise. You can walk on the lake or take a sleigh ride around Lake Louise. However, there is no hiking during this time.
If you want to see the baby blue Lake Louise you’ll need to visit between June and September. If you’re lucky you may be able to see Lake Louise in early October covered in snow, but still thawed.
Moraine Lake is only accessible when they clear the access road to it in early June. Parks Canada closes this road by Mid October, so unless you want to cross country ski or snowshoe in 14km you’re only time to see Moraine Lake is between these times.
Note that parking at these locations between June and early September is absolutely bonkers. There are few spots and plenty of people that want to visit. If you want a parking spot by the lakes you’ll need to get there before 7 am. I personally would plan to arrive before 5:30am just to be sure you get a spot at Moraine Lake. However there are new parking restrictions in place this year, so brush up on the rules here.
What Time of Year Can You See the Northern Lights in Banff?
The best time to see the Northern Lights in Banff is in the winter. Northern Lights viewing is best between December and March. See our guide to viewing the aurora in Banff here.
When is the Best Time to Visit Banff for Hiking?
Hiking season starts around Banff and Canmore in April. Peaks at elevation will still have snow on them so spikes and hiking poles are recommended. Grassi Lakes, Grotto Canyon, and Johnston Canyon walks are good all year round. Sulphur Mountain is also a good year-round hike.
Some of the more serious peaks should be saved until late June. You can bet anything above 10,000 ft will have snow on it until late July. These should only be attempted by people with proper hiking and scrambling experience.
Mount Temple, the only 11,000er in the Canadian Rockies that doesn’t require mountaineering experience to the summit has a short climbing window, and is typically best attempted in August.
When is the Best Time To Visit the Canadian Rockies for Wildlife
There’s wildlife all year in the Canadian Rockies. In the winter you’ll likely see a lot of elk and goats. If you’re lucky you might come across a moose or a coyote. Maybe even a wolf (though unlikely).
Summertime means bear season. Come early May the bears start to wake up and bear spray should be carried on any hike. Look out for the black bears and grizzlies, but do so safely. Do not approach wildlife in Banff and view them quickly from the safety of your car and then move on – don’t create a traffic jam by taking photos of a bear for twenty minutes.
All year you’ll also stand a chance of seeing foxes, owls, and plenty of birds. Look out for the bunnies of Canmore as well!
When is the Cheapest Time to Visit Banff?
The cheapest time to visit Banff is during the low season months. This is November, March, April, and early May. Banff is not a cheap destination so if you’re looking for a deal on accommodation these months are your best months.
Another budget alternative is to get a group of people together for a campervan trip. See our best tips on saving money in Banff here.
How Many Days Do You Need to See Banff?
This is a tough question to answer. We have lived here for over two years and still have so much to see! However I think the average visitor needs at least 5 days, but preferably a week, to get the most out of a trip to Banff.
What Are Some Things to do in Banff?
Oh man where do I start!? There are so many fantastic places to visit in Banff it needs a whole new post. You can also see my favorite things to do in Canmore, my favorite things to do in Banff in the winter, my favorite hikes in Kananaskis, and the best things to do in Jasper National Park.
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