5 Reasons To Visit Banff National Park during the shoulder seasons (Fall And Spring)

Written by
Banff & Lake Louise Tourism
Published On
August 30, 2022
First Published on
The Real Banff

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Bring home the adventures

When you think of visiting Banff and Lake Louise, two options come to mind: a summer hiking and sightseeing trip or a winter ski/snowboard adventure. Both great options, but before you book your airfare and accommodation, have you considered a shoulder season (spring or fall) adventure?

Spring and autumn in the Rocky Mountains have more character than you’d usually attribute with these seasons, but one thing is for certain: there are fewer visitors to Banff and Lake Louise.

1. HAVE THE PLACE TO YOURSELF

While Banff National Park welcomes millions of international visitors each year, most of them visit in the summer for the hiking season or around the winter holidays and school breaks for the ski season. But from late March to mid-June (excluding the May long weekend), and late September through mid-December, the park quiets down considerably. It’s easier to get parking as there are fewer people at popular attractions and at the ski resorts. Ultimately, it takes much of the time spent waiting out of your visit which is a definite bonus.

2. FIND GREAT DEALS

With less demand, you’re also going to find far better deals on accommodations, meals and activities. Basecamp Resorts often offers great deals during the shoulder seasons. To view current rates and check for deals, visit our Home Page.

If you’re flying into the Calgary airport to start your trip, you may find deals on airfares too. With your shoulder season savings, think about splurging on an experience to remember, like a special dinner at one of Banff or Lake Louise’s high-end restaurants.  

3. ENJOY AMAZING EVENTS

The shoulder season months boast their own unique events that don’t happen in the summer or winter months. In late October to early November, plan your trip around the Banff Centre’s Mountain Film and Book Festival, where you can see world-class adventure films and attend talks with athletes, filmmakers, and writers. During November get your holiday shopping done at the Banff Christmas Market or sample Alberta beers at the Banff Craft Beer Festival. At the end of November and beginning of December head to The Lake Louise Ski Resort to watch the Lake Louise Audi FIS Ski World Cup.

Spring skiing is one of the best times to visit one of the three mountains in Banff National Park. Not only is the snow still great, but there are events to make the days even more enjoyable.  Mt Norquay will host their annual Bozo & Kinder Cup, Banff Sunshine will finish the season with the Slush Cup in May, and Lake Louise Ski Resort will finish with their Cardboard Box Downhill Derby.

Every night until Mid-April, the Banff Gondola, in partnership with the Stoney Nakoda Nation, will transform Sulphur Mountain into an immersive, interactive experience after dark through dynamic lights, projections, original soundscapes, and more.

LAKE LOUISE SKI RESORT

4. SOAK IN THE COLOURS

While there are no set rules in the Canadian Rockies, summer usually peaks in July and August. By September, the nights are cooling off, sometimes leaving frost: the magic ingredient that kicks off larch season. If you haven’t heard of larch season, it’s a magical but brief window in September through October when the needles of the larch trees turn a golden-yellow before falling off. To catch the best of the colours, try one of our favourite larch hikes: Taylor Lake, Sentinel Pass, or Arnica Lake. You may also get lucky enough during the fall to catch a glimpse of the elusive northern lights (aurora borealis). September is typically the time of year where you have the best chance to have your mind blown by this breathtaking natural wonder in the night skies.

Larches Hike - Image Credit Paul Zizka

5. IT’S THE BEST OF BOTH WORLDS

The most spectacular part of the quirky, shoulder season weather is that you get to enjoy the best of both worlds. In late spring, you can still ski at Sunshine, as well as taking advantage of early season discounts at the golf courses. Even when there’s snow at the ski resorts in April and well into May, the Bow River is often thawed out enough to enjoy a paddle in your canoe or kayak! Prefer to stay on land? Plan a day of hiking after your day of skiing.

After fun-filled days of skiing, kayaking, golfing, or hiking, it is important to have somewhere comfortable to relax and unwind. Basecamp Resorts has a number of properties in Banff and the surrounding area that include all sorts of great amenities like mountain view jacuzzis, multi-room suites, full kitchens, grill areas, comfortable beds, and more. To check out our properties and see our shoulder season special offers, visit our homepage.

Local tip: bring layers for all weather events and you’ll be able to enjoy an array of activities.

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