Most of us know and love Banff for the activity filled summers and world-class winter skiing. What many don't know is that when September comes around, Banff begins to transform into a fall lover's paradise.
Once summer ends, tourism slows during the fall season (also called shoulder season), meaning less crowds, better deals on accommodations, and just as much fun. The Banff area is one of the world's top places to enjoy all the best things that fall has to offer, especially hikes filled with fall colours, a fan favorite.
These are the best places to enjoy the fall colours glowing gold across the mountains of Banff.
Larch and Lake Mania in Banff National Park
The Larch Valley is a pristine showcase of fall colours reaching high into the sky from late September to mid-October. The larch trees of Canada are the first to show off their flaxen leaves, followed by the golds, oranges, and reds of the Aspen groves.
One of the best ways to immerse yourself in this grandeur is by heading off on one of the park's hikes. The four-hour Larch Valley/Sentinel Pass hike takes you along a winding trail from Moraine Lake to Sentinel Pass, climbing 1148 feet in the process.
The next most popular option is the six to eight-hour Paradise Valley Trail, which starts along the same route and then drops into Paradise Valley.
Less popular, but super-scenic, the Saddleback Pass hike takes you through the Sheol Valley from Lake Louise toward Fairview Mountain. Apart from the turquoise waters of Lake Louise, you'll also get to admire the splendor of Mount Temple, Sheol Mountain, and Haddo Peak along the way.
Other popular larch hikes include:
Fall Colours Along Icefields Parkway
If you prefer a less strenuous showcase of Banff's fall panoramas, a road trip along Icefields Parkway is the way to go. The Icefields Parkway stretches for 144 miles (232 km) from Lake Louise to Jasper.
This is one of the world's most beautiful roadways, surrounded by thick forests, towering mountains, abundant water, and over 100 glaciers. The abundance of trees makes it the ideal place to capture Canada's incredible fall scenery, and it's made all the better thanks to plenty of attractions along the way.
Don't miss a chance to enjoy the views at the following places:
Bow Summit overlooking Peyto Lake
Saskatchewan River Crossing
The Weeping Wall
Big Hill and Big Bend
The Glacier Skywalk offers a unique opportunity to admire the sights from a glass-bottomed walkway over the Sunwapta Valley. Sunwapta and Athabasca Falls near Jasper provide a suitably dramatic end to this scenic drive.
Cascade Ponds belongs on the travel wishlist of all families in search of the best fall experiences near Banff. It's the perfect place to relax and take in the sights in a scenic and peaceful environment.
You'll find Cascade Ponds about a ten-minute drive from Banff along the Trans-Canada highway, near Two Jack Lake.
The series of ponds lies in the foothills of Cascade Mountain and is a great place to see some of Canada's wildlife. You might spot elk, mule deer, and foxes as well as ospreys, eagles, and loons.
The lakes offer opportunities for paddle boarding, surrounded by the beauty of the mountains, and the park has excellent picnic sites complete with fire pits and picnic tables.
You can enjoy walks along the bridges that connect the lakes and bring you up close to the beautiful yellow aspen trees in the fall. Photographers love to capture the leaves up close or snap away at one of the photo points dotted around the lakes, especially the one over the bridges toward Mt. Rundle.
If you love mountain views, Vermilion Lakes offers an outlook over two of Banff's most outstanding peaks.
These three large wetland lakes just north of Banff offer a scenic blast of colour against the backdrop of Sulphur Mountain and Mount Rundle. The reflection of these peaks in the lakes' waters is a sight to behold on clear fall days.
Vermilion lakes link with the Bow River and 40 Mile Creek to form fantastic paddle routes through these mountainscapes that glow with golden leaves at this time of year.
It's a good place to see the birds and small mammals that thrive in this lush environment, making it one of the area's most popular attractions year-round. You can expect to see herons, swans, bald eagles, elk, muskrats, and beavers during a visit to Vermilion Lakes.
One of the best ways to absorb the sights is on the Fenland Trail which winds through a white spruce forest for two kilometres along a gravel trail. This route connects to Vermilion Lakes Drive which leads to several lakeside docks for the best sunset views near town.
If you stick around a little later, you can admire a celestial wonderland above the dark peaks of the mountains when the stars come out to play in the clear fall skies. You might even catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights if you're there as fall wanes into winter.
Basecamp’s Baker Creek
If viewing the fall colours from the comfort of your own cabin sounds more like your speed, then Baker Creek is the perfect place to stay when visiting Lake Louise in the fall. Baker Creek is situated in the heart of Banff National Park between the towns of Banff and Lake Louise. The property offers luxury amenities, private cabins, and cozy suites.
Guests can enjoy breathtaking views, hiking trails, cycling trails, and so much more right from the property, making it the perfect place to stay for your fall adventures around Banff.
As a plus, when you are looking to relax after a long day of exploring all of the fall colours, you can enjoy your private in-suite fireplace, share stories around the communal fire pits, relax in the sauna or steam room, or take a soak in your private jacuzzi tub.
Don't miss your chance to explore the magnificence of Banff. Inquire and book your accommodation now to avoid a last-minute rush as the leaves start to turn. As an added bonus, when you book directly, you also save!
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