Taking in a long August sunset from the peak of a mountain is an unparalleled experience. The only obstructions to your views are other mountaintops, and the only sounds you’ll hear are gasps of awe from your fellow spectators.
So, if you’re looking to add a little more wonder to your life, the Canadian Rocky Mountains in the peak of summer is where you want to be.
Here’s what you can expect to see, do, and experience in Banff and Lake Louise in August.
August is the middle of our summer season and often holds some of the warmest days. It’s also one of the driest months in the mountains, though we have been known to see snow every month of the year.
Not to worry! It usually only falls on the peaks, which deliver those iconic mountainscapes.
Banff Daytime 22°C (71.6°F)
Banff Overnight 6°C (42.8°F)
Lake Louise Daytime 21°C (69.8°F)
Lake Louise Overnight 4°C (39.2°F)
What to Pack
Alpine vacations call for a different packing list than something tropical, even during the summer.
Bring your usual summer clothing, like shorts, t-shirts, sandals, sneakers, and hats, but also add in some warmer layers. Although the days are long, the nights can get cool, so you’ll want a sweater, pants, and a light jacket.
If you’re out exploring the mountains, bring sunscreen, bug spray, a backpack for water and snacks, and sturdy footwear. Athleisure or hiking clothes are a great option. Most trails, even the more accessible ones, require running shoes or hiking boots; heels and loafers should stay back at the hotel.
Most locals wear mountain-casual clothing, even at night, but you can certainly get dressed up for a nice dinner and drinks out on the town.
What to See and Do
Use this opportunity to practice your swing at the world-renowned Fairmont Banff Springs and Stanley Thompson Golf Courses. Expert or not, you’ll need to warm up and adjust to the views—otherwise, you’ll miss half your shots staring at the scenery!
Fly & Reel Fishing
What’s more relaxing than a day on the water? How about not having to lift a finger until you’re ready to cast your line? Book a fly or reel fishing trip with an expert for a half-, full-, or multi-day excursion that includes your equipment, permits, transportation, and meals.
The Canadian Rockies are a magnet for climbing enthusiasts and amateurs alike. Try your hand and book a tour with Alpine Air Adventures or Yamnuska Mountain Adventures. A certified guide will take you to beginner-friendly areas and provide instruction and your equipment.
If you’re a confident sport or trad climber, we still recommend consulting local guides to learn about the region’s rock formations. You can also find more information through Parks Canada and local guide books.
Is there any better way to experience the Wild West than by horseback? Grab the reins and head out for a short introductory ride, a day trip with a cowboy cookout, or a multi-day backcountry tour.
White Water Rafting & Float Trips
You don’t have to be an adrenaline junkie to enjoy the water, but if you are, there are Class II and IV+ rapids you can conquer! Take a full- or half-day trip led by experienced guides who take your safety just as seriously as your fun.
For something a little slower pace, take a leisurely float trip without any rapids. Your guide will share local knowledge about history, geography, and the surrounding flora and fauna. Strap your camera on tight to not miss any photo opportunities!
Arts & Culture
Banff and Lake Louise may feel like small towns, but they pack a punch when it comes to cultural experiences. Visit one of our many galleries and museums on a self-guided art walk; join an Indigenous Medicine Walk; take a food tour at Banff’s Castle, the Fairmont Banff Springs; or psych yourself up for a Ghost Walk.
A leisurely walk down Banff Ave and Bear St can be just as rewarding. You’ll find bakeries, restaurants, ice cream shops, souvenir and clothing stores, and more!
Grab a Snack with the Scenery
You don’t have to break a sweat to enjoy the mountains. Take your pick of patios with stunning views and delicious food and drinks, like Banff Centre’s MacLab Bistro on Tunnel Mountain, Park Distillery in downtown Banff, or Juniper Bistro at the base of Mt Norquay. Looking for a more rustic experience? Cascade Ponds, on the Lake Minnewanka Scenic Drive, offer a series of benches and campfire pits for your perfect picnic.
Drive the Icefield Parkway
The Icefield Parkway is a scenic highway known for its glacier-topped mountains. A thirty-minute drive north, you’ll find Bow Lake – the source of the Bow River. You’ll want to stop at Peyto Lake next. This beauty isn’t visible from the road, but a short, steep hike up a paved path will give you a sweeping view of the vibrant blue lake and seemingly endless mountain ranges.
Make your next stop Mistaya Canyon and marvel at its depth as the Mistaya River plunges through it. Want to see a glacier up close? Drive an hour further north and you’ll hit the Athabasca Glacier, where you can park your car and hike up to the foot of the glacier, or book a trip to explore it close up with the Columbia Icefield Adventure. For another perspective, the Glacier Skywalk lets you stroll on a glass viewing platform to marvel at the glaciers below.
Events in Banff and Lake Louise in August
Explore the Art in Nature Trail
Until the end of September, walk the Bow Valley Trail in the Banff townsite and explore 50 art pieces created by Bow Valley artists. Start at the Nancy Pauw Bridge in Central Park and walk towards Bow Falls, before looping back on the other side of the river by crossing at the pedestrian bridge and heading back to Central Park.
Banff Mountain Market
If you’re in Banff on a Wednesday, you won’t want to miss the weekly Banff Mountain Market at Central Park, full of local produce, treats, and crafts from noon to 6 p.m.
Cave and Basin Mural Project: Stories of This Place
The Peter and Catharine Whyte Foundation and Cave and Basin National Historic Site are once again joining forces for the second year to pay tribute to the profound Indigenous history and ongoing importance of this unique and sacred location through their temporary mural project. Following the success of the 2022 mural boxes, the 2023 additions are now ready for display. We invite you to visit the site during the summer of 2023 to witness the captivating mural artwork that will grace the Cave and Basin National Historic Site throughout the season.