When planning the ultimate Western Canada road trip, you’ll likely ponder when the best time to visit Banff is. Nestled in the majestic Canadian Rockies, Banff is one Canada’s greatest outdoor escapes and a must-see destination for anyone wanting to experience the natural beauty Canada is so justifiably famous for.
Not sure when to visit Banff, Canada? Plan the perfect trip with this complete Banff weather guide for travellers including a summary of weather in Banff by month and by season…
When is the best time to visit Banff?
The best time to visit Banff is between June and August and between December and March.
Like most travel destinations in Canada, Banff experiences a true four-season climate. Temperatures range greatly throughout the year, bottoming out during the chilly winter months and hitting their highs in the height of the summer high tourism season.
In spit of Canada’s reputation for dreadfully cold winters, Banff is a year-round travel destination. The summer months are a fantastic time to go hiking in Banff National Park, home to some of the best hiking trails in Canada. Likewise, travellers visiting in winter will get to take on some of Canada’s best ski slopes.
The shoulder seasons of spring and autumn can, however, can be a bit of a mixed bag in terms of weather. Spring sweeps between pleasantly warm days to chilly. Visiting in fall is much of the same with the added bonus of the stunning autumn colours and some of Banff’s most interesting festivals. The bonus of both of these times of year, however, is the lower concentrations of tourists. (And lower prices!)
Banff weather by season
When is winter in Banff?
Winter in Banff falls between December and March.
What to expect in Banff in winter?
As you’d expect, winter brings about a shift to cooler temperatures and snowfall. The winter months of December to March are the peak period for skiing in Banff and Lake Louise. It’s the best time of year to visit Banff if winter sports are high on your agenda—whether its ice skating, snowshoeing, skiing or snowboarding.
On average, December and January are the coldest months. Average daytime temperatures in these winter months fluctuate between -9ºC and -11ºC with lows approaching -16ºC during January’s coldest days.
For most sightseeing, winter is not the best season to go to Banff. Many of the top tourist attractions in Banff, including the Columbia Icefields and Moraine Lake are inaccessible during winter due to icy conditions and avalanche risk.
Winter festivals & events
- Ice Magic Festival
- Snow Days Festival
- Lake Louise Alpine Ski World Cup
When is spring in Banff?
Spring in Banff falls between April and June.
What to expect in Banff in spring?
The weather in Banff is a little hit-and-miss during the spring months. While April relieves us from the coldest temperatures, the precipitation also starts to ramp up. During spring, mild sunny days can also turn into chilly snowy ones at the drop of a hat.
Spring also starts to see the top hiking trails awaking from their winter slumber including the route to Moraine Lake (generally cleared between mid- to late May). Generally, you’ll be access most of them by mid-June.
Thanks to its location high up in Canadian Rockies, the skiing season generally still rolls on into late May.
Spring festivals & events
- Children’s Festival
- Banff Marathon
- Banff Relay Race
- Yoga Festival
When is summer in Banff?
Summer in Banff falls between July and August.
What to expect in Banff in summer?
With spring disappearing in the rearview mirror, summer in Banff sees another surge in temperatures. Daytime average highs climb as high as 24ºC in the months of July and August.
The summer is tourism high season and sees the town at its most crowded. Summer is the best time of year for tackling some of the best hiking trails in Banff.
It’s also the only season where you’ll be able to dazzle at the stunning glacial mountain lakes of Banff National Park (including Peyto Lake, and Lake Louise) in their full technicolour glory as July to September are the only months they aren’t covered in ice!
If you decide to visit Banff in summer and want to stay at one of the best Banff hotels (especially in the centre of town), you’ll need to book your accommodations well ahead of time.
Summer festivals & events
- Canada Day
- Doors Open Banff
- Banff Summer Arts Festival
When is autumn in Banff?
Autumn in Banff falls between September and November.
What to expect in Banff in autumn?
The fall shoulder season is mixed bag of weather. The transition from August into September sees the average temperature slide downward. Into October, it can get downright chilly in the area. Blizzards in late autumn aren’t overly unusual.
One of the big bonuses to travelling to Banff in fall is to catch the lovely autumn colours at their most radiant. The fall foliage season in Banff can sometimes be cut short, however, due to the howling winds and swift snowstorms of October.
The edge of autumn in late November marks the official start of the long ski season as snow starts to accumulate in the higher-altitude areas.
Fall festivals & events
- Banff Craft Beer Festival
- Banff Mountain Film & Book Festival
- Taste for Adventure
- Banff Springs Food and Wine Festival
- Banff Christmas Market
Banff weather by month
Banff lives up to Canada’s cold winter stereotype in January. Average temperatures are at their lowest in January with average lows dropping down to a bone-chilling -16ºC and average daytime highs sitting at just -6ºC.
In spite of the colder temperatures, visiting Banff in January isn’t all bad news. January is one of the driest months, and even with the shorter winter days, there’s plenty of sunshine to go around!
January also approaches the apex of the ski season in Banff & the Canadian Rockies. Ski resorts like Mount Norquay, Sunshine Village, and Lake Louise Ski Resort are at their best both in terms of skiing & snowboarding conditions and liveliness.
Layering up with a warm fleece jacket and an insulated ski jacket is a good idea to deal with the chilly mountain air.
Unlike other places in Canada, Banff gets a tad milder into the month of February. (Only a tad.) Average temperatures in Banff in February still hover around a not-so-balmy -2ºC with average lows dipping to -14ºC.
Like January, February is one of the best times of the year to visit Banff for winter sports. Not only are the snow conditions great, the days of February bring plenty of sunshine and blue skies.
February is also among the busiest months. Expect high-season prices and limited availability at the top-rated resorts & hotels.
In March, average high temperatures start to rise, peeking above the freezing mark for the the first time in three months. Even with the milder days, Banff’s ski season is still in full force in March with plenty of pleasant calm & sunny days to enhance the experience.
March nights are still quite chilly. If you’re trying to figure out your Banff packing list, be sure to pack warm outerwear including comfortable base layers, a mid-layer (like a fleece jacket), and an insulated jacket as an outer layer.
Although April marks the first official month of spring, temperatures can still range between pleasantly mild and chilly—sometimes even within the same day!
As the ski season extends into May, April is still one of the best time to go to Banff to hit the slopes for some spring skiing or snowboarding without the winter crowds.
If you’re considering off-piste runs, keep in mind that the warming temperatures of April also carry an avalanche risk. Monitor conditions and follow the advice of local experts before heading out.
Despite all the positive temperatures increase, snowstorms aren’t unheard of in Banff in April. Be sure to pack accordingly for cold weather and snowy conditions.
One of the best months to go to Banff to avoid crowds, May finally sees all its average temperatures climb above freezing. Highs creep into the mid-teens. Fused with long sunny days, it makes for a comfortable visit.
Although the mercury’s rising, most of the most popular hiking trails still aren’t quite ready for visitors. There’s often still snow & ice on many of them including the popular Sulphur Mountain Trail. (Take the Banff Gondola up if you want to check out the scenery from atop.)
The glacier-fed lakes are also still covered in ice, leaving their brilliant aquamarine colours hidden. To catch them at their finest, you’ll need to wait just a little bit longer!
Surprisingly, ski resorts including Lake Louise and Sunshine Village still operate into the month’s end.
For most travellers, the late-spring month of June is among the best times to visit Banff National Park. Although the ski season has finally bid its farewell, hiking season starts ramping up in the warmer days of June.
While many of the hiking trails are still wet from the spring meltdown, the daytime highs inch up to 21ºC by mid-June. With the long sunny days, it makes for some incredible hiking weather especially into late June.
If visiting the glacier lakes is high on your bucket list, you’ll be pleased to know that the warmer weather of June finally rids the lakes of their icy cloak. The road to Moraine Lake re-opens in June. You’ll also finally be able to, once again, catch the shimming hues of Lake Louise in their full glory.
The only major drawback to visiting in June is the crowds. With the re-opening of the hiking trails and melting of the lakes, the tourist populations start to swell along with accommodation prices. Book well ahead of time to secure your spot.
Much like the summer months, June is also one of wetter months of the year. Be sure to pack a reliable rain jacket to prepare for possible flash mountainside downpours.
If we’re going to pick just one month as the best time to visit Banff, it’s gotta be July. As the first full month of summer, July is awash with activity as long sunny days smile down from blue skies.
Nearly everything that Banff is famous for (besides skiing, of course!) spikes in July: wildlife-watching, hiking, mountain biking, and camping.
Average daytime temperatures climb up to a glorious 24ºC, making it a fantastic time of year to enjoy all the outdoors of the Canadian Rockies.
Nights are still a tad chilly in July with temperatures often dipping into the single digits. If you can layer up and brave the cold though, July is a wonderful month for star-gazing in Banff National Park thanks to the clear skies. (The dark sky preserve in nearby Jasper National Park is even more spectacular!)
The only caveat about visiting Banff in July is that it’s among the busiest months of the year in terms of tourists. Accommodation prices tend to be much higher than normal and availability lower. Unless you book well ahead, scoring a room at one of the most popular places to stay in the centre of town can be a challenge. (Don’t say we didn’t warn you!)
Alongside July, August is the best month to go to Banff thanks to its warm weather and clear sunny skies.
For hiking, there’s hardly a better time of year. By August, most of the snow is melted (yes, it takes that long!) on most of Banff’s top hiking & biking trails. Sightseeing opportunities are ripe as well. The mountainsides and forests are among their greenest and lushest in August.
The wide-open outdoor activities, however, also draw larger-than-normal crowds. August is the apex of the summer high tourism season, and, like July, can present challenges for finding space around the town of Banff and even in the national park.
Even with the beautiful days, averaging 16ºC with average highs up to 24ºC, evenings can be chilly. Be sure to pack a warm fleece jacket or a softshell jacket and some toasty base layers if you want to extend your day into some evening star-gazing.
With the summer high season pushing into the background, September starts to see the mercury dipping from its blissful summer highs. The average temperature falls to just 11ºC with nighttime lows inching closer to freezing at just 3ºC.
As the official start of fall in Banff, September also marks the beginning of the fall foliage viewing season. In September, the area begins to erupt into a flurry of autumn colours. It’s actually one of the best places in Canada to see fall colours!
The highlight is Alberta’s distinctive larch trees. They’re one of the only conifers to change colour and lose their needles in the fall. For the scenery, September is, in fact, one of the best months to travel to Banff!
The absence of summer crowds, the fall colours, and relatively mild temperatures also mean that September is a great time of the year to go hiking. The conditions along the top hiking trails are still excellent into this first month of fall.
Weather in Banff in September, however, is highly variable. Warm sunny days can follow cool rainy ones—and vice versa. Be sure to pack both warm clothing and waterproof outerwear to prepare for all scenarios.
Fall is into full swing in Banff in October. The weather is still mostly pleasant and sunny albeit with cooler temperatures especially into mid-October. The average daytime temperature in October in Banff falls a few more degree, sitting at a chillier -6ºC. Average nighttime lows dip below freezing for the first time since April.
Hiking is still good in Banff National Park throughout most of the month. As things cool off from mid-October towards the end of the month, however, snow is possibility especially in higher-altitude places like Mount Norquay and Sulphur Mountain. Flash October blizzards aren’t unheard of. Be sure to keep abreast of the conditions before embarking on a hike.
Enjoy the last flashes of autumn: Winter is coming…
Although most would still consider November as autumn, November in Banff definitely marks a sea-change in the weather. For the first time in 7 months, the average daytime temperature descends below freezing to a chilly -3ºC.
With the cool temperatures, so, too, comes the snow. November marks the start of the long ski season, one of the longest in all of North America. The three top ski resorts—Sunshine Village, Lake Louise, and Mt. Norquay—open their doors to skiers and snowboarders towards the end of the month.
One to the most compelling reasons to visit Banff in November is to take advantage of the smaller crowds. While the glacial lakes will likely be frozen over by November, other hiking trails will be blissfully empty. Accommodations also tend to fetch lower prices at this time of the year, meaning you can get more luxurious digs for much less than normal.
You know Canada’s stereotype for cold winters? Well, here ya go…
December marks the “official” start of winter in Banff. And with the change in season, you can expect a definite dip in temperatures. December is one of the coldest months of the year in Banff. Average daytime temperatures sink to just -9ºC with lows dropping to a chilly -14ºC.
Along with the frigid weather and shorter days, December is often a foggy & cloudy month. There’s only an average two hours of sunshine per day in Banff in December.
Despite not being a high-point for weather, December is a great month to go skiing & snowboarding. The best ski resorts in full swing in December with the added bonus of smaller crowds than the peak ski season from Christmas & New Year to the end of winter.
December is also great time to visit to go ice skating on one of the area’s pristine glacier lakes.