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.
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)
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.
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.
If you haven’t guessed already, March is great for skiing and snowboarding, but there are options beyond our SkiBig3 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.
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:
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.
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.
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.