Why You Should Visit Banff in August

Banff in August is filled with activities and attractions, making it one of the best times to visit the Canadian Rockies. With warm weather and long sunny days, you have plenty of time to explore the amazing outdoor activities available in the Rockies.

Whether you’re driving along the stunning Icefields Parkway, horseback riding through Banff National Park, or hiking on one of the many trails, the options are limitless.

Sure, August brings larger crowds and higher prices because it’s peak tourist season, but trust us, it’s worth every penny. 

Here’s why you should visit Banff National Park in August. 

Written by Lou

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Johnson Lake in summer with beach area and people canoeing and kayaking
Johnson Lake in summer

Weather in Banff in August

The weather in this part of the Canadian Rockies in August is gorgeous, with some really warm temperatures. The average highs reach around 20-22°C (68–72 °F) and lows around 5-7°C (41–45 °F).

As I’ve said in my other posts, these are just average temperatures. It can reach up to 30°C (86°F) during the day—perfect for sitting on a patio with a nice glass of wine or a cold beer while surrounded by the most beautiful mountain scenery.

The mornings and evenings are cooler, so a hoodie or light jacket would be a good idea.

August Sunrise and Sunset Times

Banff has some of the most beautiful sunrises and sunsets in August. On August 1st, the sunrise is around 6 am and sunset is around 9:30 pm.

As the month progresses, the sunrise and sunset times gradually change. By August 15th, the sunrise is closer to 6:30 am and the sunset is around 9.30 pm.

By the end of the month, the sunrise is a few minutes before 7 am and sunset is at 8:30 pm. 

Does Banff Get Snow in August?

No, it does not snow in August. July and August are the only two months of the year when it doesn’t snow in Banff.

Does Banff Get Rain in August?

In August it’s relatively dry with occasional rainfall. On average, there are about 10 rainy days throughout the month, with a total precipitation of approximately 50 mm.

Although August in Banff can still bring some showers, they don’t last long. So overall, the weather tends to be mostly dry and sunny, with bright blue skies. 

How Busy is Banff in August?

August is the peak tourist season in Banff National Park, so it’s no surprise that the area can get quite crowded.

Popular hotspots like Lake Louise get packed with visitors, which can make it difficult to really appreciate the natural beauty of the area.

To avoid the crowds, head out early in the morning or later in the evening, especially if you’re visiting some of the more popular trails and attractions.

In 2023, Banff National Park saw around 696,000 visitors in the month of August alone, so it’s important to plan your accommodation and tours well ahead of your visit. I suggest a minimum of 8 months to a year before.

How Busy is Lake Louise in August?

As you can see from the figure above, it gets busy in Banff National Park. And as Lake Louise is one of the most popular destinations in the park, it can get extremely busy in August.

To avoid the masses, try visiting early in the morning or later in the evening.

However, finding a parking spot at Lake Louise Lakeshore can be challenging, to say the least. Arriving before 7 am gives you a better chance of securing parking, but it’s not guaranteed.

Overnight parking is not allowed, and there is a $21 parking fee from 7 am to 7 pm.

Your best bet is to reserve and take the Parks Canada shuttle which not only allows you to visit Lake Louise but also Moraine Lake as well. Another option is to take a Roam Transit bus from Banff or book a commercial tour.

Lake Louise with snow-covered Victoria glacier in background
Lake Louise in summer

Weather in Lake Louise in August

As with Banff, Lake Louise also has warm temperatures and relatively low rainfall. The average high during the day is around 20°C (68°F), while the average low at night is around 3°C (37°F).

Again, these temperatures are just averages, and it does get much warmer than 20°C during the day, and there’s the odd day when it dips below as well.

As for rain, Lake Louise sees around 54 mm of rainfall over August, so you can expect mostly dry and cloudless sunny days.

Where to stay in August in Banff

When it comes to finding accommodation in August, you have plenty of options to choose from, ranging from luxury hotels, cozy lodges, or budget-friendly hostels. But book as far in advance as possible to get a good rate, and also because hotels get booked up quickly during the summer season. I personally try to book at least 8 months in advance.

Here are a few of our personal favorite hotels we’ve stayed in.

Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

405 Spray Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1J4

The iconic Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel is a luxurious castle-like hotel that has the most stunning views of the surrounding mountains and is located just minutes from downtown Banff.

It features numerous amenities, including multiple restaurants, bars, a spa, an indoor and outdoor pool, and a championship golf course.

It’s super expensive to stay here in peak season, so expect to pay over $2,000 a night.

Check prices on Booking.com

Check prices on Expedia.

Buffalo Mountain Lodge

700 Tunnel Mountain Rd, Banff, AB T1L 1B3

Located in the beautiful Tunnel Mountain area, a few minutes drive from downtown Banff, is Buffalo Mountain Lodge.

This cozy and rustic mountain retreat has lovely, comfy rooms with wood-burning fireplaces (you won’t need one of these in the summer!) and beautiful views of the surrounding forest. The lodge also has an on-site restaurant and bar serving delicious Canadian cuisine.

This is a great place to stay if you want to get up and see a Banff sunrise, as you just walk across to the meadow and watch the sun come up over the mountains.

Check prices on Booking.com.

Check prices on Expedia.

Banff Inn Hotel

501 Banff Ave., Banff, AB T1L 1A9

The Banff Inn is just a few minutes walk from the downtown area, so it’s in a good location for restaurants and shops.

I found our room at the Banff Inn to be clean and comfortable. There’s a large jacuzzi whirlpool you can relax in at the end of the day. The hotel also has underground parking.

Check prices on Booking.com

Check prices on Expedia.

Elk + Avenue Hotel

333 Banff Ave., Banff, AB T1L 1B1

I recommend staying at Elk + Avenue because it’s steps away from all the shops, restaurants, and bars. The rooms are big, modern, and clean.

The hotel has a jacuzzi, a dry sauna, and underground parking at an additional cost.

Check prices on Booking.com

Check prices on Expedia.

Sunset at the cascading Bow Falls
Bow Falls

Banff Events in August

Banff is a vibrant town that has a variety of things going on in August that celebrate the culture, art, and natural beauty of the area. Here are some highlights:

Art on the Nature Trail

One of the lesser-known but really interesting attractions in Banff is the Art in Nature Trail along the Bow River during July, August, and September.

Along the trail, you’ll see various art installations that local Bow Valley artists have crafted to enhance the surroundings.

Starting at the Whyte Museum, make your way along the trail that follows the Bow River, over the Nancy Paw Bridge, and continue down to the beautiful Bow Falls.

This is one of our favorite easy hikes in the summer, as the scenery is absolutely stunning, as you can see from my photo above.

Canmore Folk Music Festival

Don’t miss the Canmore Folk Music Festival in August.

Held in the mountain town of Canmore, just outside of Banff, this festival brings together talented musicians from around the world for a weekend of live performances and celebrations of folk music.

The festival also features workshops, food vendors, and a beer garden, so you can expect a lively and fun atmosphere.

Whether you’re a die-hard folk music fan or simply enjoy good music in a beautiful setting, this is the perfect way to spend your weekend in August.

Canmore Highland Games

The Canmore Highland Games, held at Centennial Park in Canmore, are a lively celebration of Scottish culture and heritage.

This annual event usually takes place in late August or early September and has traditional Highland dance competitions, bagpipe performances, and heavy events like caber tossing and a tug of war.

You can experience Scottish traditions by watching the competitions, trying Highland dancing, and sampling traditional Scottish food and beverages. The event also includes live music, vendors selling Scottish goods, and activities for children.

Tickets and more information can be found here.

Things to Do in Banff in August

When the weather is hot and sunny in Banff, there are endless outdoor activities to do in Banff in the summer. There are too many to mention on this page, but here are some of the top things to do in Banff National Park in August:

White Water Rafting

For something out of the ordinary and adrenaline-pumping, how about whitewater rafting in Kananaskis?

This tour offered through Get Your Guide has a complementary pick-up at the Stoney Nakoda Resort and Casino (888 Nakoda Way, Kananaskis, AB).

From here, you’ll be taken to the Class 2-3 grade river, where everything is provided for the 3.5–4 hour water adventure.

If you’re brave enough, you can take a dip in the glacial-fed river afterwards—even in August, the water will still be cold!

Arts and Culture

Banff and Lake Louise are home to some incredible art and culture. The Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies is worth a visit with its inspiring collection of art and heritage from the region.

The Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity is an international learning and cultural organization that has some fascinating exhibitions and events throughout the year.

The Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum is dedicated to preserving and promoting the history of the First Nations of Western Canada and gives an insight into Indigenous culture.

For a more unique cultural experience, the Banff Medicine Walk around Cascade Ponds explores the connection with the land and the traditions of the local Indigenous peoples.

Food tours at the Fairmont Banff Springs, or ‘Castle in the Rockies’, as it’s also known, are a great way to explore the culinary delights of Banff. These tours take you on a guided journey through the hotel’s history and four food and beverage pairings, offering a taste of the region’s finest cuisine.

View of mountains, river and part of the golf course from Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel
View from Waldhaus patio at Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

Scenic Patios

When visiting Banff, don’t miss out on the top scenic patios in the area. The Juniper Bistro and Waldhaus Pub (our favorites) have really stunning mountain views and a cozy atmosphere to relax in.

After a day of hiking or sightseeing, these patios are the perfect place to just sit back and take in the surroundings.

The Juniper Bistro boasts panoramic views of Mount Norquay, while Waldhaus Pub has a charming, alpine atmosphere with views of the Fairmont Hotel’s golf course from the large patio area.

Of course, you can grab a table at any of the restaurants and bars in the downtown area and be guaranteed fantastic views of the surrounding mountains while enjoying the lively atmosphere.

Overnight Backcountry Lodge Trip by Horseback

This next activity is rather expensive, but for a true western experience, consider this 2-day overnight backcountry lodge trip by horseback.

No horseback experience? No problem, as you’ll be matched with a horse and taught everything you need to know.

You’ll start at the Banff stables and be led along the same route travelled by early explorers for the scenic ten-mile trek to your overnight accommodation at Sundance Lodge.

On the way, you’ll learn about the area’s history and stop for a cowboy-style lunch by the beautiful Bow River.

After you’ve settled in at the lodge, you’ll enjoy a fantastic meal and get to spend some time just enjoying the surroundings of this stunning part of Banff National Park.

On the second day, wake up to a delicious breakfast before riding back to Banff.

Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park
Johnston Canyon

Go on a hike

Banff National Park is known for its variety of hiking trails for all levels of hikers.

If you want a fairly easy hike in Banff that’s not too far from the townsite, then the Tunnel Mountain Trail is ideal. It’s a popular hike with great views of the town.

The Johnston Canyon Trail leads to stunning waterfalls, taking you alongside the creek via catwalks hanging from the canyon walls to a bridge where you can watch the powerful lower falls or go into the small cave and get an even closer look.

It gets super busy at Johnston Canyon, so get here before 8 am or late afternoon.

If you’re visiting Lake Louise, then hike to the iconic Lake Louise Teahouse. It is a bit more of a moderate hike that takes you through the forest to the teahouse, where you can enjoy a drink or snack before heading back down.

Something a bit more challenging is the Cascade Amphitheatre hike. This hike starts at the Mount Norquay ski area and takes you through a forest and open meadows, opening up to views of the surrounding mountains.

Rent a Canoe or Kayak

As you know, Banff National Park has lots of stunning lakes that you can stroll around. But you can also experience the natural beauty of Banff from the water.

Several top spots for canoeing and kayaking include Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, and Emerald Lake.

For canoeing or kayaking closer to Banff townsite, there are Cascade Ponds and Vermillion Lakes.

Canoe rentals at Lake Louise and Moraine Lake typically cost around $145 CAD per hour, and rental prices for Vermillion Lakes are around $60 CAD per hour.

Conquer the Ferrata

Via Ferrata is definitely an adrenaline-pumping activity that involves climbing along a series of iron rungs, cables, and ladders fixed to the rock face of Mount Norquay.

There are five different routes available, each varying in difficulty and length, so beginners and more experienced climbers alike can enjoy this thrilling experience.

You’ll be equipped with a helmet, harness, and lanyard to ensure your safety on the challenging terrain. Along the route, you’ll have breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains and valleys.

Keep in mind that reservations are required, so make sure to book in advance.

Go wildlife Spotting

One of the most exciting things about visiting Banff National Park is the chance to spot some incredible wildlife.

During your visit there’s a chance you’ll spot elk on the outskirts of the townsite. We nearly always see bighorn sheep near Johnston Canyon and the Lake Minnewanka loop.

If you drive along the Icefields Parkway (and you definitely should), there’s a chance you’ll spot bighorn sheep, mountain goats, moose, and bears.

The best times of day to spot wildlife in Banff are in the early morning and late afternoon. It’s important to observe from a safe distance to avoid disturbing the animals and risking dangerous encounters.

A guided tour like this one can also increase your chances of spotting wildlife and provide valuable information about their behavior and habitat.

Visit Where Banff National Park Began

The Cave and Basin tells the story of how Banff National Park came to be, as this is where it all started with the discovery of natural hot springs in Banff by three railway workers.

You can explore the interpretive exhibits and learn about Banff’s history, geology, and ecology.

This site is where the park system in Canada originated, and it was here that bathhouses were built around natural hot springs, attracting visitors before the park was officially established.

Today, you can explore the underground cave and learn about the cultural and geological importance of the area through interactive exhibits and guided tours.

The site also has stunning views of the surrounding mountains and the chance to soak in the mineral-rich hot springs that made Banff famous, which we will look at in the next section.

Soak in the Hot Springs

After learning about the history of Banff’s hot springs at Cave and Basin, it makes sense to experience the hot springs yourself.

The mineral-rich water is heated naturally, and the temperature is between 37-40°C (98-104°F).

It’s a fantastic experience to sit and unwind in the hot springs and be surrounded by mountains.

Keep in mind that the hot springs can get crowded, so it’s a good idea to go early in the morning or later in the evening to avoid the crowds.

You can purchase the Thermal Waters Pass which includes admission to Cave and Basin and Banff Upper Hot Springs.

Banff gondola and boardwalk, Sulphur Mountain
Banff gondola

Banff Gondola

The Banff Gondola is undoubtedly one of the most popular attractions in Banff, and in eight minutes you’ll reach the top of Sulphur Mountain, where I promise you’ll see THE most amazing views of Banff National Park and the Canadian Rockies.

At the summit is the boardwalk that takes you to different viewpoints where you can capture incredible photos. There’s also a rooftop observation deck that provides 360-degree views of the surrounding landscape.

There are also dining options at the top of Sulphur Mountain with views that are hard to beat.

It’s going to be busy, so book your tickets in advance or arrive early to avoid long wait times.

What to Pack for August

Alright, let’s talk about what you need to pack for your trip to Banff in August.

During the day, it’s hot and sunny, but the temperature will drop to single digits at night, even more so towards the end of the month.

So pack summer gear, such as:

1. Bring lightweight, breathable clothing for warm days like shorts and t-shirts and comfortable shoes for hiking and exploring the outdoors., but also pack a sweater or jacket and warmer clothing for cooler evenings.

2. Hiking gear: bring comfortable hiking shoes, moisture-wicking socks, and breathable clothing. Don’t forget a hat, sunglasses, and sunscreen for sun protection.

3. Swimwear: Don’t forget to pack your swimwear for a dip in the hot springs or any of the beautiful lakes in Banff.

4. Insect repellent: although August isn’t prime mosquito season in Banff, it’s still a good idea to pack insect repellent to protect yourself from them and other bugs.

Is Banff Worth Visiting in August?

Banff is worth visiting in August for a multitude of reasons, and the fantastic weather is one of them. August is hot and sunny, so you’ll be able to spend all of your time out in the Canadian Rockies exploring the stunning landscapes, hiking the scenic trails, and enjoying outdoor activities like whitewater rafting or canoeing on the lakes.

The wildlife is also active during this time, so you have a good chance of spotting animals like bears and elk.

Remember, you’re visiting Banff in high season, so expect crowds and high accommodation prices, so book ahead. Don’t forget that you’ll also need to purchase a Banff Park Pass.

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