October marks a transition in Banff, with temperatures dipping and the season changing. It's time for unique opportunities for nature lovers, with hikes you won't want to miss it at this time of year and wildlife on the move, as well as ways to unwind and stay cozy.
Catch a ride up a gondola
If you're heading to Banff National Park in October, you're still in time to catch a ride up a gondola for breathtaking views. The Banff Gondola gives you a sweeping vista of the Bow Valley. Up top, take your time and grab a gourmet bite at Sky Bistro. In winter, the Lake Louise Gondola takes skiers to world-class slopes, but before the mountains are completely snow-capped, leave your skis behind and ride the gondola for a perspective of the park you can't find anywhere else (closes for the summer season on mid-October).
Take a larch tree hike
In summer, larches look much like other coniferous trees, but frosty autumn nights unlock a change, turning them a brilliant golden yellow. Leaving from Moraine Lake, the Larch Valley hike is a moderate to difficult trail. Saddleback and Lake Agnes, a gentler option, both begin at Lake Louise. Between Banff and Lake Louise, Taylor Lake and Bourgeau also offer stunning golden larch views. Find more larch hikes check out 8 larch hikes in the Canadian Rockies.
Treat yourself to a cozy dinner
Tucked away on Highway 93 South, Storm Mountain Lodge offers a series of cozy cabins, but you don't have to stay for a night to enjoy gourmet Canadian cuisine in this stunning setting. Canadian Rocky Mountain Resorts also boasts a series of quaint cabins, including Deer Lodge near Lake Louise and Buffalo Mountain Lodge in the town of Banff. Beyond offering an atmosphere perfect for a chilly autumn day, CRMR is famous for its ranch. There, they raise elk, bison and more meats that feature on the resort's menus for a true farm-to-table experience.
Watch for wildlife
Early autumn is a busy time for animals. For one, it's the elk mating season. You'll hear the sound of male elk bugling, which echoes throughout the valley. It's unsafe to approach elk at any time of year, and male elk are particularly dangerous during the rut, but a guided wildlife tour with Discover Banff Tours lets you observe these magnificent animals from a safe distance.
The solitude of the mountains
What better place to enjoy stillness than Banff National Park? Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise offers two October retreats to enjoy yoga and mindfulness, all while immersing yourself in nature. This is a chance to connect with yourself and others who are nourishing their bodies and minds in the mountains.
Take the scenic route
With such vibrant scenery, the drive itself can be the destination. Take the Bow Valley Parkway heading to Lake Louise. This road winds its way through the trees, mountain peaks soaring into the sky beside you. With plenty of stops to pull over, you'll want to take some time to soak in the views and snap some photos. From the town of Lake Louise, take the meandering drive up to the famous turquoise lake, and catch a glimpse before it freezes over for the winter.
Celebrate community at a local event
Banff Pride is back in October with a week of events and activities for everyone to enjoy. Attend the Banff Pride Party, the Drag Brunch at Waldhaus Pub, Pride in the Park, or visit one of the participating restaurants to sip and celebrate with rainbow-inspired cocktails from October 1 - 6.
Those with a passion for skiing and snowboarding unite in anticipation of the winter season at the Rockies Shred Fest on October 17. This pre-season gathering will feature some top local filmmaker's short films and is a must-see events for all winter sport lovers.
From October 26 to November 3, 2019, folks from around the globe flock to the Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival. Immerse yourself in storytelling through films, books and live events, which will transport you around the world, and take you on wild adventures. Don't miss the Banff Avenue Block Party, local dining offers, and special events throughout the destination during the festival.
Discover the best of fall
Check out these great images of autumn events and activities in Banff National Park, as shared by our online community!