Fall in Banff and Lake Louise is a time for invigorating adventures and nourishing connections. As the air becomes crisper, the trees come alive with radiant colours and the serenity of fall replaces the buzz of summertime. It’s the perfect time to connect with the beauty of our natural environment for a trip full of vibrant and tranquil experiences.
Fall is the locals’ favourite time of the year to hike, with cooler temperatures, fewer people on the trails, and breathtaking colours. It’s a wonderful opportunity to seek fulfilling experiences indoors too. Take part in events such as the Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival and adventurous culinary offerings, or wind down your day of exploration with lingering dinners and long conversations next to a cozy fire.
Things to Do
Hiking amongst the fall colours of the Rocky Mountains is a never to be forgotten experience. For a magic but brief time in September and October, the larch trees turn golden-yellow and other deciduous trees and shrubs light up in brilliant shades of red, orange, and yellow. Immerse yourself in the enchanting scene with one of our recommended hikes.
Hiking through a magical landscape full of glowing autumnal trees is without doubt a bucket list experience. These are some of our favourite hikes for making the most of the small window each year when you can experience it all yourself:
- Larch Valley: this is one of the most popular hikes during the fall - we recommend an early start.
- Sentinel Pass
- Lake Agnes Tea House
- Castle Lookout
- Taylor Lake
Early Season Skiing
If you’re visiting in late fall, take advantage of the colder temperatures and early season snowfall by getting in some turns on the slopes. Banff and Lake Louise are home to three world-class ski resorts: Mt Norquay, the Lake Louise Ski Resort, and Banff Sunshine. Their seasons normally kick off in early November.
Where to Stay
Banff and Lake Louise have accommodation options for everyone, whatever your preferences and budget. Stay in a classic backcountry lodge, enjoy epic views from your chalet, or immerse yourself in the colourful energy of Lake Louise in the fall. To explore all the accommodation options, please see our Places to Stay page.
Make the most of fall in Banff and Lake Louise by getting out for a hike in the crisp mountain air before cozying up in front of a fire. Frontcountry and backcountry lodges are a wonderful way to enjoy both outdoor fun and indoor relaxation. Take a step back in time and away from reality, with the historic Skoki Lodge, located in the high alpine of Lake Louise. With no electricity, the nights are brightened with kerosene lamps and warmed by a wood-stove. Emerald Lake Lodge can be accessed by road but offers a mountain experience on the edge of a pristine alpine lake. Storm Mountain Lodge is known for its all-Canadian (and delicious) menu, and its Banff National Park makes it a great base for exploring the nearby trails.
Stays on the Bow Valley Parkway
The Bow Valley Parkway is a stunningly scenic road winding between Banff and Lake Louise. There are a number of great places to stay along the route. At Castle Mountain Chalets, many of the chalets have a wood-burning stove. Baker Creek Mountain Resort has log cabins and lodge suites, as well as an authentic Canadian restaurant. Both have incredible mountain vistas and are ideal for groups and families.
Lake Louise Hotels
Lake Louise truly glows in the fall as the leaves change colour and snow starts to fall on the peaks. There are plenty of options for where to stay in Lake Louise: Lake Louise Inn, Baker Creek Mountain Resort, Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, Deer Lodge, Mountaineer Lodge, and Paradise Lodge and Bungalows (May 15 - October 4, 2020).
In the fall, our events calendar is packed with a huge range of events catering for all interests and types. Whether you love films or sports, whisky or beer, make sure you check out our events calendar to see what’s going on while you’re in the area.
Events happening this fall:
- The Banff Whisky Experience celebrates whisky craftsmanship with over 300 delicious whiskies to taste from some of the finest distilleries in the world.
- Join thousands of runners and spectators as they gather in the town of Banff to take part in Melissa's Road Race. A family-friendly running event, famous for being a colourful and fun race with entertainers throughout the course.
- Banff Centre Mountain Film and Book Festival: the world-renowned Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity hosts an epic celebration of ground-breaking expeditions and adventures as told by adventurers, authors, photographers, and filmmakers from around the world.
- Experience Banff Craft Beer Festival - considered to be the world's most beautiful beer festival! Featuring exclusively Alberta craft brewers, sample delicious craft beer from over 40 vendors, share stories with local brewmasters, and discover Banff's amazing food and craft drink scene!
- Check the calendar of the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity to see what inspiring music, film, arts, and drama programs they have on offer in the fall.
Where to Eat
Banff and Lake Louise’s diverse food scene features a distinctive taste of place which connects you to our people and environment. Fall is a wonderful time to enjoy intimate dinners and hot drinks in front of a cozy fire. And after your outdoor explorations, take advantage of the golden afternoons with après on a sunny terrace.
- Savour a nourishing meal which reflects our incredible natural setting. Many of the world class chefs in Banff and Lake Louise make use of ingredients local to our area, such as bison, elk, and game meats, complemented by a wide selection of regional craft beers, small batch distilled spirits and wines from across Alberta and British Columbia. Read more about our distinctive taste of place.
- Check our locals' recommendations for the 10 best places to après after your days' adventures.
- Park Distillery creates award winning spirits in one of the purest places in the world. Tour their distillery to learn how they create small batch spirits from Rocky Mountain glacial waters - and maybe taste one or two along the way as well.
- The dedicated brewmasters at Banff Ave Brewing Co use the very best ingredients to create premium beers in their in-house brewery in Banff. Enjoy a local brew paired with their menu of classic Canadian food.
- Read about the best ways to enjoy coffee or tea in Banff National Park.
There are many easy options for getting around and exploring during your visit, whether you’re driving, planning a vehicle-free visit, or in an RV. Read on for more information.
We have gathered together all our tips for getting around Banff and Lake Louise. Here are some of the highlights:
- Take advantage of the extensive public transit and shuttle options to enjoy the scenery vehicle- and stress-free.
- If you’re driving to Banff and Lake Louise you’ll need to purchase a Park Pass for entry into Banff National Park. Purchase the Park Pass online before you arrive for express entry into the park.
- Rent a bike or lace up your walking shoes for a fun and healthy way to get around the town of Banff.
- Check out the Town of Banff’s parking page for a parking map, current capacity at Banff parking lots, and traffic cameras.
What to Wear
In fall we see warm sunshine, cool mornings and evenings, and the chance of snow. We recommend bringing layers of clothing, including some warm clothes, so that you stay warm and comfortable whatever the weather during your visit.
During fall in the Canadian Rockies you might experience a range of weather. We usually enjoy sunshine and mild temperatures during the day, while the temperature drops at night. By mid-September there is often frost on the ground in the morning and leaves start to fall. In early October snow will likely start to cover the peaks and sometimes dust the valley floor.
We suggest bringing layers, so you can stay warm during the chilly evenings and mornings and take layers off as it warms up during the day. Warm gloves, a toque (that’s Canadian for a woolly hat), and sunglasses are a good idea as well.