The Best Time to go to Banff

Banff is the most famous of the Rocky Mountains parks and one of the most visited places in Canada. If you are planning to go there, you are probably wondering about the best time to do so. Choosing your travel date is no easy task as there are a number at factors that play a role. Each season offers unique landscapes, highlights and attractions and has its advantages and disadvantages. We’ve rounded up the most important information that helps you to decide when the best time is to go to Banff.

The Seasons

There are four seasons but the common belief is that there are two seasons for tourists in Banff: busy season and shoulder season. Whereas the busy season is at the peak of summer and winter, shoulder season is from May to June and September to November. Let’s have a closer look at these seasons to make clear when you should best go to Banff.

Busy Season

Winter and summer are the busiest seasons but they also have many advantages. When trying to decide whether you prefer visiting in winter or summer ask yourself if you’d rather see snow covered mountains or the turquoise coloured lakes. 
If you want to make the most of the outdoors, summer is probably the best season for you. The hiking trails are open and you can do many activities like kayaking and canoe trips. The longer daylight hours also make the summer months perfect for enjoying the cultural events in town. The downside though is that the summer months are the busiest for tourism – the summer holidays and the warm weather bring tourist masses to the park.
When you like skiing and the picturesque mountains covered in glittering snow, winter is the perfect time for you to go to Banff. From dog sledding and sleigh rides to hunting the Northern lights or just enjoying the time in ski resorts and cosy lodges, winter is a great time to visit. But again, it will be busy.

Shoulder Season

The first shoulder season is from May to June. Keep in mind that spring in Banff National Park starts later than you would normally expect. However, you will find meadows covered with flowers, warm afternoons and you might see animals and their offspring. The locals start going to the mountains again after a long winter and the tourists start visiting to go hiking. Be aware that you should avoid visiting Banff at the end of May on the May long weekend as it is the busiest time. Besides that, this time of the year is good because it is less busy than in summer but almost every summer activity is possible.

The second shoulder season is from September to November. It is still warm enough to go hiking and some love it to hike among the golden larches. This is a great time for wildlife fans to visit as well as Elk rutting season begins in late August and continues until mid-October.

There are exceptionally busy times

Tourists and locals love spending the holidays in the mountains. This means there are two times each year that are exceptionally busy: The holiday season surrounding Christmas and New Year, and the summer months July and August. Many say the warmer weather from late June to mid-September is the best time to visit. Respectively this time frame attracts the largest crowds and highest accommodation prices. In the shoulder season as mid-September to mid-October there are less crowds and it is the perfect time to visit Banff on a budget.


The easiest way to make a decision is to decide on a time frame based on the activities you want to do, whether you are okay with busy places, or how important it is for you to make a trip on a budget. For skiers it is clear that they will want to go on vacation in the height of winter. For hiking fans the summer months are best. If you want to avoid the crowds and save money go between mid-September to mid-October. You can visit Banff all year long so this really is a decision of personal matter. One thing is for sure: You will enjoy your trip doesn’t matter when you decide to go!

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