Summer in the Canadian Rocky Mountains is a magical time. The sunlight mountains come alive with wildflowers in every hue, animals as small as chipmunks and as large as moose roam, and birds take up their summer residence.
It’s one of the most popular times in Banff and Lake Louise and for good reason. Hiking, canoeing, camping, biking, dining, historical sites, and spas are just a few of the draws.
Here’s what you can expect to see, do, and experience in Banff and Lake Louise in July.
July and August are some of the warmest months in the mountains. They’re often our driest, but don’t be surprised if you see snow-capped mountain tops. It can snow every month of the year here, which mainly applies to the higher elevations on your adventures. Town, lower elevation hikes, and roadways often remain clear.
Banff Daytime 23°C (73.4°F)
Banff Overnight 7°C (44.6°F)
Lake Louise Daytime 21°C (69.8°F)
Lake Louise Overnight 5°C (41°F)
What to Pack
It’s time to pull out your summer wardrobe, with one exception. You’ll want to bring shorts, t-shirts, sandals, and sneakers on your visit. Just don’t forget a light jacket and pants for when the nights cool down.
Sunscreen and ballcaps are handy to have to prepare you no matter what the weather delivers.
Bring quality hiking boots and a backpack for water and snacks if you’re heading up the mountains. They can still get snow in the summer, so check the forecast ahead of time and bring winter clothing if you have your sights set on higher elevations.
Ticks are a minimal worry here, but air on the side of caution when you’re out in nature and wear DEET bug spray, long, light-coloured pants tucked into your socks, and a long-sleeved shirt.
Rain is less common than in other months, and when it does rain, it usually only lasts a short while. Most locals tuck inside a café or restaurant for a quick bite or drink to wait it out and then head back out on the town.
What to See and Do
Banff Gondola Free Shuttle
Looking for a fun way to beat the heat and take in the sights? Enjoy an 8-minute ride to the top of Sulphur Mountain on the Banff Gondola. Take a stroll along the 360-degree viewing platform, venture out along the boardwalk trail, or immerse yourselves in the interactive exhibits. With plenty of dining options available, you can also enjoy your peak views with peak cuisine!
This summer, visiting the Banff Gondola is even easier with the Free Banff Gondola Shuttle. This service runs daily every hour from July 3 to September 13. Pick-ups and drop-offs are at the Banff Information Kiosk (Banff Train Station) and the Elk + Avenue Hotel along Banff Avenue. You can find the full schedule here.
*Please note parking at the Banff Gondola is limited
On the Water
The waterways have finally melted enough to take a breathtaking paddle.
Lake Louise is best seen by canoe, where you can cut through the still turquoise waters with the bow of your rental. Once you’re in the middle of the lake, look above you and wave hello to hikers perched for lunch at the top of the Big Beehive.
To see Banff from a different perspective, rent a canoe on the Bow River. If the water is high enough, you can make your way toward Vermilion Lakes to keep exploring. Animals are often spotted along the banks, so keep your eyes peeled for muskrat, beavers, osprey, and maybe even elk if you’re lucky!
We still don’t recommend swimming unless you’re in for a polar dip. Water temperatures remain cold here, even throughout the summer.
On the Mountain
You don’t have to be a hiker or mountaineer to get to the top of a mountain. There are four gondolas between Mt. Norquay, Lake Louise Ski Resort, Banff Sunshine, and Banff Gondola. Each offers unique experiences like cliff-top dining, hiking, and hard-to-beat views.
If you want to exert a little more effort, try your hand at Mt. Norquay’s Via Ferrata. A guided and assisted climbing experience, you’re harnessed the whole time and have expertly placed holds to place your hands and feet. Multiple courses vary in length and degree of difficulty.
Free Bike Valet on Banff Ave
Banff and Lake Louise have some of the best cycling opportunities in Canada, with roads like the Bow Valley Parkway to ride and countless mountain biking trails. But what do you do with your bike after enjoying any of the numerous cycling experiences available in the Banff and Lake Louise area? You end your day by taking advantage of the free Bike Valet and exploring the Banff townsite. Whether you are looking to grab lunch on a patio, do some shopping, or even just indulge in a sweet treat, use the Banff Bike Valet to store your bike while exploring the town. Open seven days/week from 10:30 am to 6:30 pm. The valet is located in the Pedestrian Zone south of the Visitor Centre building (224 Banff Ave), beside visitor services tents operated by Parks Canada and Banff and Lake Louise Tourism.
Time: 10:30 am to 6:30 pm
Days: 7 days/week through summer
Location: South of the Banff Visitor Centre Building (224 Banff Ave)
Art in Nature Trail
Starting July 1, explore the wonder of art and nature intertwined on the Art in Nature Trail in the heart of the Banff townsite. The revitalizing power of the wilderness is the inspiration for 20 art installations lining the walking trails in the heart of Banff. Regional artists have crafted each art piece as a tribute to the strength and beauty of nature. The Art in Nature Trail follows the banks of the Bow River in an exploration of creativity, offering a different perspective for all who revere the Rockies.
Location: Trails Along the Bow River in Banff
Event Dates: July 1 to September 5
*No tickets or registration required.
On Canada Day
Canada Day falls on July 1st yearly. It’s a holiday for many residents who take to the lakeshores, trails, and pubs to celebrate.
Check the Banff Townsite’s website for this year’s events.
Parkway to Pint
Cycling and craft beer enthusiasts unite! For the ultimate summer activity, the Lake Louise Ski Resort encourages you to grab your bike and head out to Banff to begin a biking challenge along the Bow Valley Parkway (Highway 1A).
This 58 km ride along the stunning scenic parkway takes you to the Summer Gondola in Lake Louise. Show the servers at Banded Peak Base Camp your Strava or Garmin activity and receive a free swag bag to take home, which includes a Banded Peak beer and a Parkway to Pint t-shirt! You can also indulge in food and drink specials for participants only as you cool off from your adventure. Bring any bike - road, mountain, e-bike - and take advantage of this unique way to spend a summer day in Banff National Park.
*Pick any day from July 1 – September 5 to participate