April marks the beginning of the spring shoulder season, which makes it one of the most affordable times to visit Banff and Lake Louise.
The snow becomes a little less predictable, so while there’s still great skiing and snowboarding available on the mountains, the lower elevations in town start to thaw out. But that doesn’t mean there still isn’t plenty to do!
Here’s what you can expect to see, do, and experience in Banff and Lake Louise in April.
As we mentioned, April’s weather can display all four seasons within the month. The mountain peaks and ski resorts still see a fair amount of snow and are generally in good condition until the end of May, while the townsites start to warm up.
You can expect milder temperatures that are ideal for outdoor activities.
Banff Daytime 9°C (48.2°F)
Banff Overnight -3°C (26.6°F)
Lake Louise Daytime 8°C (46.4°F)
Lake Louise Overnight -6°C (21.2°F)
What to Pack
Similar to March, you’ll want to pack plenty of layers.
If you’re exploring Banff and Lake Louise shops, restaurants, museums, and galleries, you can get away with a light winter or spring jacket during the daytime. At night, you’ll want a thicker coat, scarf, and gloves. Since it continues to freeze overnight, boots with good traction are recommended so you don’t slip on ice.
Should you head out onto the trails, you’ll want to pack a toque, mittens, neck warmer, and potentially even a base layer for pants and a shirt. Shaded areas can still be cool, especially if there’s a breeze.
Bring lighter layers like a sweat-wicking long-sleeved shirt and long johns for the last few months of the ski season. Some find it warm enough to ski with just a base layer under a waterproof jacket and pants, and you’ll often see people without jackets once the afternoon sun hits the slopes.
Whatever you wear, make sure you cover any exposed skin with sunscreen—we’re well-known for a lot of sunshine!
What to See and Do
In April, you can make the best of summer and winter activities, which can’t be said for many other destinations.
Early Season Hiking
There are plenty of hikes that thaw out early in the season.
We recommend packing hiking boots, hiking poles, and ice cleats if you’re heading out in April or May so you can be prepared for any trail condition (snow, ice, wet, or bare).
It’s also important to know that animals are starting to wake from hibernation and are looking to travel the path of least resistance, which can be where you’re hiking. Get to know bear safety before heading out, stay in groups, and bring bear spray along with you. If you’re safe and smart, you’ll adventure with more confidence and have a more enjoyable experience.
Where should you hike?
April is an excellent time to explore Johnston Canyon—a trail that is often busy in peak months but gets some reprieve this time of year. Drive the Bow Valley Parkway during daylight hours, when it’s open, and stop at the well-marked parking lot. From May to October, you can take the Roam bus Route 9.
In Lake Louise, take a walk around the lake to the back, where there’s a boardwalk and small rapids a little further down the trail. Lake Louise is at a higher elevation than Banff and does take a bit longer to thaw out. Expect more hiking here in May or June.
If you can’t hike Lake Louise yet, ski it! Skinny skis or snowshoes are the only ways to access Moraine Lake road and are likely your last chance of the season. This beautiful uphill trail meanders on the roadway through the forest and presents you with stunning views of the valley.
The Great Divide is another excellent trail nearby that takes you across the provincial border into British Columbia.
April and May are your last chances to downhill ski or snowboard in Banff and Lake Louise. Banff Sunshine, Lake Louise Ski Resort, and Mt. Norquay generally still have a good snow base, and you couldn’t ask for better weather!