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Things to do in Banff and Lake Louise in March

Published Date
Feb 22, 2022
A man and woman walking across a snowy ski resort with the lodge in the background. Both are wearing their goggles as it is a bright sunny day

March brings the first day of spring, and in a mountain town, that means only one thing: spring skiing!

If you’ve never skied in the Rockies between March and May, then you’re in for a treat! The days are mild, the snow is still falling, and the après patios are full of happy, sun-warmed faces.

Are you ready to see how the Canadians take on the last days of winter?

Here’s what you can expect to see, do, and experience in Banff and Lake Louise in March.

Friends sit around an outdoor table and a nearby outdoor fire pit with ski runs and snow in the background on a sunny dayFriends sit around an outdoor table and a nearby outdoor fire pit with ski runs and snow in the background on a sunny dayFriends sit around an outdoor table and a nearby outdoor fire pit with ski runs and snow in the background on a sunny day

The Weather

December, January, and February are typical for an Albertan winter. The months are cold and generally filled with a good dumping of snow. But while the rest of the province starts to warm their chilled wind-blown prairie bones, Banff and Lake Louise challenge the mountains to a few more months of fun into March, April, and May.

This means that you might experience spring-like weather in town, but up in the mountains, you get a milder winter, so you can play in the snow all day long.

Banff Daytime 4°C (24.8°F)

Banff Overnight -8°C (17.6°F)

Lake Louise Daytime 3°C (37.4°F)

Lake Louise Overnight -13°C (8.6°F)

Three friends pose for a photo wearing light winter layers and a snowy Mount Rundle behind themThree friends pose for a photo wearing light winter layers and a snowy Mount Rundle behind themThree friends pose for a photo wearing light winter layers and a snowy Mount Rundle behind them

What to Pack

You’re going to need to make use of every square inch of your suitcase for your trip in March. As the lower elevations begin to rise in temperature, the higher elevations can remain relatively cool. So if you plan on doing any exploring beyond the townsites, you’ll want to bring a variety of clothing options.

Pack a winter coat, toque, mitts, scarf, snow pants, and winter boots for out-of-town travels. When possible, pick clothing that is water-resistant and moisture-wicking.

On the mountain, you’ll want to dress a little lighter than our deep-set winter months since you’ll warm up quickly and want to remove layers. Don’t forget the wind layers, though. The chairlifts and summits can carry a chilly breeze: outer shells and a Buff for your ears should do!

In town, you’ll get a mix of balmy, sunny days and some that are still quite nippy. For this reason, you’ll want layers but can generally get away with short jaunts from your hotel to the restaurants with a winter jacket and boots.

Alberta is one of the sunniest places in Canada, so don’t forget to bring sunscreen.

A couple walks next to a small cabin dusted with snow in the spring sunshineA couple walks next to a small cabin dusted with snow in the spring sunshineA couple walks next to a small cabin dusted with snow in the spring sunshine

What to See and Do

As many other parts of Canada thaw out – Banff and Lake Louise remain go-to destinations for “winter” activities because of our extended season.

March skiing is a local’s favourite secret. The snow gets a little softer, the skies a little more blue, and the après patio parties a lot more bumpin’!

For best results, we recommend the triple whammy and hitting up all three ski hills to compare the terrain and conditions. The SkiBig3 pass grants you all access to Mt. NorquayBanff Sunshine, and Lake Louise Ski Resort, so you can pick your favourite first-hand.

There are options beyond the resorts. Book a heli-ski trip with CMH to up the ante before the season ends. They’ll take you to ski lines untraced where only the mountain goats roam.

March also holds excellent cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and winter hiking conditions. As the snow melts in the sunshine, it can freeze overnight, so be prepared for ice with good boots, cleats, and walking poles.

A man in a yellow jacket cross-country skis across a snow covered Emerald Lake with mountains and sunshine in the backgroundA man in a yellow jacket cross-country skis across a snow covered Emerald Lake with mountains and sunshine in the backgroundA man in a yellow jacket cross-country skis across a snow covered Emerald Lake with mountains and sunshine in the background

Après Adventure

No matter your activity, you are sure to run into other explorers for après! There is something for every taste, from on-hill chalets to hotel tapas and bars to downtown restaurants.

Banff and Lake Louise are particularly known for Alberta-raised and -grown ingredients. Popular dishes include beef, bison, and elk, along with plenty of vegetarian and vegan options.

You’ll find bites of:

  • Canadian mountain-fare
  • Greek
  • Italian
  • Irish
  • Japanese
  • Indian
  • Spanish
  • Mexican
  • Thai
  • Vietnamese
  • English
  • Korean
  • Chinese
  • German
  • And so many fusions

To drink, you’ll find locally made vodka, gin, rye whiskey, and beer. Take some local knowledge home with you after seeing how our spirits and brews are made at Banff Ave Brewing Co. and Park Distillery. Many restaurants and bars also uncork British Columbia wines from our neighbours next door.

A server lays down a large sharing plat of food with a bottle of vodka and the distillery in the backgroundA server lays down a large sharing plat of food with a bottle of vodka and the distillery in the backgroundA server lays down a large sharing plat of food with a bottle of vodka and the distillery in the background

Après Après

After dinner, find some more fun indoors! Try your luck bowling at High Rollers downtown Banff. Catch a movie at the Lux Theatre or check out upcoming events like concerts, film screenings, theatre, and artist talks at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.

A bowling sign in the background with colourful bowling balls in the foregroundA bowling sign in the background with colourful bowling balls in the foregroundA bowling sign in the background with colourful bowling balls in the foreground

If you’re not ready to head back to your hotel, there are plenty of ways to carry on the night with cocktails at sit-down bars and pubs. Banff and Lake Louise have both lively and ambient atmosphere options.

A group of friends chat and laugh with drinks at the barA group of friends chat and laugh with drinks at the barA group of friends chat and laugh with drinks at the bar

SOOTHING SOAKS

Sometimes, our preferred way to enjoy winter is from inside the spa where you can watch as snowflakes fall. The Willow Springs Spa at the Fairmont Banff Springs has indoor hot springs fit for any wellness enthusiast. Their indoor and outdoor pools allow you to experience the best of both worlds without having to surrender your robe.

If you prefer the snowflakes falling on your rosy cheeks, the Banff Upper Hot Springs offers an outdoor soak. These hot springs replaced the original springs at the Cave and Basin National Historic Site where you can no longer swim, but you can still visit the space and see the hot spring.

Check out all of Banff's beautiful outdoor hot tubs and spas.

Outdoor hot tub in Banff.Outdoor hot tub in Banff.Outdoor hot tub in Banff.

Plan your trip to Banff & Lake Louise today using our intuitive Trip Planner.

Whitney Arnott

Whitney Arnott

Whitney enjoys all things outdoors. Whether she’s camping, hiking, or kayaking, she always has her camera at hand ready to capture life in the Canadian Rockies.