Is it Worth Visiting Banff in November?

November kicks off the Christmas season and all things festive in this part of the Canadian Rockies, so it’s a pretty magical time to visit Banff National Park.

While some may think November is not a great time to visit Banff (I disagree) due to colder temperatures and potential snowfall, there are actually tons of reasons why this month can be a great month to experience what Banff offers.

Below you’ll find insights into what weather to expect, ongoing activities, upcoming events, and our personal recommendations on where to stay. We’re Banff regulars so we know a thing or two about visiting during this month.

Written by Lou

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November in Banff along the river sprinkled with snow

Weather in Banff in November

The weather in November can be quite chilly because winter is starting to settle in, especially toward the end of the month.

Average temperatures range from a daily high of 0.6°C to a daily low of -8°C. These are just averages though, it can be a lot colder but on the other hand, it can be a lot warmer. Either way, you’ll want to pack some warm clothes so you’re prepared for any colder days.

With the right clothing, you won’t have any trouble enjoying the outdoor activities you’ll want to do in Banff.

Does Banff Get Much Snow in November?

The average snowfall over the month is 34 cm, so this is quite an increase when you compare it to the 19 cm average in October in Banff.

November is when Banff typically starts to see the significant snowfalls of the season. This means that outdoor activities such as skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing are just starting to ramp up, so it can be a great time to visit if you’re a winter sports enthusiast.

While there may be snowfall in November, it does not usually cause major disruptions as the town is well-equipped to handle snow removal. Roads are generally kept clear so you can get to do some of the following activities without any issues.

Things To Do In Banff In November

So what exactly is there to do? The following is just a small sampling of the many things you can do in Banff in winter:

People ice skating and walking on frozen Lake Louise
Lake Louise

Ice Skate on Lake Louise

Ice skating on a frozen lake is something I highly recommend you experience during your visit to Banff NP.

As the temperatures drop, especially toward the end of the month, and the lakes freeze over, they become perfect natural ice rinks. One of the most popular spots for ice skating is Lake Louise, Here you can glide across the smooth ice surrounded by stunning mountain views.

It doesn’t matter if you’re an experienced skater or a beginner, ice skating on a frozen lake is an unforgettable experience.

You don’t have to bring your ice skates as you can rent a pair at Ultimate Sports in downtown Banff.

Stargazing and Northern Lights

To have the best chance of spotting the Northern Lights in Banff, it’s ideal to visit during the most favorable months, from September to April, when the nights are longer and darker. So that makes November a great time to try and catch a glimpse of this natural wonder.

Two popular locations within the park for stargazing and Northern Lights watching are Lake Minnewanka and Vermilion Lakes. Both spots give great views of the night sky.

Just make sure you’ve got some warm clothes on and a hot drink so you can comfortably spend time outside.

Go Skiing or Snowboarding

In November, Banff’s ski resorts open for the winter season. Banff is a prime destination for skiing and snowboarding, with three world-class ski resorts.

First up is Banff Sunshine Village, located about 15 minutes from the town of Banff. This resort is renowned for its powder-like snow and beautiful mountain scenery and has a variety of terrains suitable for all skill levels.

Next, we have the Lake Louise Ski Resort, famous for its stunning views and world-class skiing. This resort has 4,200 acres of skiable terrain, so you’ll be well catered for no matter what your skiing ability.

Last but not least, is Mt. Norquay Ski Resort, the closest ski resort to Banff. With its convenient location and diverse terrain, Mt. Norquay is a favorite among locals and visitors alike. This resort offers a mix of beginner, intermediate, and advanced runs.

Mt. Norquay also has night skiing, so you to hit the slopes even after the sun goes down.

See The Canadian Rockies by Helicopter

Helicopter flying over the Three Sisters, Canmore
Helicopter ride over the Canadian Rockies

For a really unforgettable experience, consider taking a helicopter tour over the Canadian Rockies like this one for a bird’s eye view of the stunning mountain landscapes.

Helicopter tours are available year-round near Banff, but November can be a fantastic time to take one as the snow-covered peaks sparkle in the sunlight.

You can opt for a short scenic flight or a longer tour that takes you deeper into the Rockies.

Visit The Frozen Falls at Johnston Canyon

You should definitely check out the frozen waterfalls at Johnston Canyon. The hike to the iconic Lower Falls takes you along suspended catwalks that wind through a narrow canyon.

As the temperatures drop, the creek’s rushing water freezes and forms stunning ice formations along the way and around the falls.

The hike to Johnston Canyon is relatively easy, but just make sure to dress warmly and wear footwear that provides good traction, or use ice cleats as the trail can get icy as I’ve found out a couple of times.

View from Sulphur mountain across Rocky mountains
View from Sulphur mountain across Rocky mountains

Views from the Banff Gondola

Another must-do activity in Banff during November is taking a ride on the Banff Gondola. This scenic gondola ride takes you up to the summit of Sulphur Mountain, where you have beautiful panoramic views of the Canadian Rockies and the town of Banff below.

We’ve done the gondola several times now and each time we are blown away by how stunning the views are.

The gondola operates year-round, but in November you can see snow-capped peaks and the town of Banff blanketed in snow and it really is a picturesque sight.

After the eight-minute ride, you can explore the boardwalks and the 360° observation deck at the summit and snap some photos of the stunning scenery.

Drive the Bow Valley Parkway

One of the most scenic drives in Banff National Park is along the Bow Valley Parkway, which is a 48-kilometer stretch of road that runs parallel to the Trans-Canada Highway.

In November, the Bow Valley Parkway is much less crowded than in peak tourist season, making it a peaceful and tranquil drive through the Rockies. Keep a look out for Banff’s local wildlife as you’re sure to see a few bighorn sheep around.

There are also several viewpoints and hiking trails along the parkway where you can stop and take in the beautiful landscape.

Visit the Mountain Town of Canmore

Just a short 20-minute drive from Banff is the beautiful mountain town of Canmore. Canmore is less crowded than Banff overall, making it perfect if you want a quieter mountain retreat.

Like Banff, Canmore is known for its outdoor activities, including hiking, mountain biking, and rock climbing. The town is also home to a variety of local shops, restaurants, cafes, and some really great breweries.

One of the most popular attractions in Canmore is the Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk, a picturesque trail that follows the creek and has views of the surrounding mountains.

In November, you could combine your visit and check out the Christmas Artisans’ Market held at the Canmore Recreation Centre, 1900 8th Avenue. It’s usually held around the 3rd weekend of November.

You can buy some Xmas pressies such as pottery, artwork, jewelry, paintings, home décor, bath and beauty products, and loads more.

Take a Trip to Lake Louise

From around mid to late November, Lake Louise begins its transformation into a winter wonderland. As the temperatures drop the turquoise waters gradually start to freeze over and become covered in a layer of ice and snow.

To get a good look at the ice forming on the lake, you can take a leisurely walk around the lake and also admire the stunning views of the surrounding mountains.

One of the great things about visiting Lake Louise in November is the lack of visitors compared to the summer months or even the end of December, so no crowds of people getting in the way when you want to take photos of this iconic lake.

Events in Banff in November

As I said above, November is the start of the Christmas season in Banff, so several events are happening throughout the month. I go over everything on the Christmas in Banff page, so you might want to check that out as well.

Here are just some of the things happening in November.

Santa Claus Celebration of Lights

A popular event in November is the Santa Claus Celebration of Lights, held on Banff Avenue in the middle of November. This festive event brings holiday cheer to this bustling street in Banff, with lights and decorations adding to the Christmas spirit.

You’ll see street performers and live music performances, and if you’ve got kids they can meet Santa in his workshop and take some pictures.

Banff Craft Beer Festival

If you like a good beer and want a taste of something special, then you’ll like this festival.

The vendors offer a wide variety of craft beers from local breweries, along with food vendors and live music. You’ll have a great time sampling some of the best beers Banff and Alberta offer in a fun atmosphere.

Banff Hot Chocolate Trail

There’s nothing nicer than a hot chocolate on a snowy winter’s day, so why not take part in the Banff Hot Chocolate Trail in November? This self-guided tour takes you to various cafes and restaurants around Banff where you can sample some of the best hot chocolates in town.

Each stop on the trail offers a unique twist on this classic winter drink, from traditional hot chocolate to some seriously creative boozy concoctions. It’s a fun way to warm up while visiting the cozy cafes and restaurants in Banff.

I also think it’s a great excuse to get your chocolate fix.

Banff Christmas Market

One of the most popular events in Banff during November is the annual Banff Christmas Market which takes place at the Warner Stables in Banff.

You’ll find a variety of vendors selling some really fantastic handmade gifts and artisanal crafts.

You can stroll through the market stalls, sipping on mulled wine or a hot chocolate from the Chocolate Trail, as you browse the unique and festive goods.

Where to Stay in Banff in November

There are plenty of accommodation options to choose from to suit every preference. Whether you’re looking for a cozy cabin, a luxurious hotel, or a more budget-friendly place to stay, Banff has it all and these are our personal recommendations:

Outside Fairmont hotel in Banff at night
Fairmont hotel in Banff

Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

405 Spray Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1J4

The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel is the epitome of luxury and when it comes to splurging on accommodation, there’s no better choice than the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel.

In terms of amenities, this hotel has it all. Indulge in a relaxing spa treatment, take a dip in the heated outdoor pool (I insist you do), or enjoy a gourmet meal at one of the hotel’s restaurants. The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel is a fantastic place to stay during your visit to Banff in November, but be warned, it is not cheap.

Check price on

Check price on Expedia

Tunnel Mountain Resort cabin with wood burning fireplace
Inside the cabin

Tunnel Mountain Resort

502 Tunnel Mountain Rd, Banff, AB T1L 1H8

If you want something more budget-friendly that’s just a short drive from town, then Tunnel Mountain Resort is a great choice.

This resort has cozy and comfortable accommodations with wood-burning fireplaces and stunning views of the surrounding mountains.

There are a variety of room options including cabins, suites, and condos, all equipped with modern amenities. We like staying here because we don’t want to eat out all the time and having a kitchen means we can cook our own meals (and save money).

You also don’t have to worry about finding somewhere to park in town, as the bus stop is right out of the reception area, and the bus fare is included in your stay.

Check price on

Check price on Expedia

Elk and Avenue Hotel

Elk and Avenue Hotel room
Hotel room at the Elk & Avenue, Banff

333 Banff Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1B1

The Elk and Avenue Hotel is another great option for accommodation in Banff and it’s located right in town.

We like this hotel as it has large, cozy rooms and modern amenities, so it’s a convenient choice if you want to be right in the downtown area.

As it’s in such a central location, you’ll be within walking distance of Banff’s shops, restaurants, and breweries. Plus, the hotel has one of the best places to get a great cup of coffee in Banff at the on-site Good Earth Coffeehouse.

Check price on

Check price on Expedia

What to Pack for Banff in November

November might not be as cold as the other winter months, especially at the beginning of November, but some days are certainly chillier than others. Either way you’ll want to make sure you’re prepared for those cold temperatures.

See our complete Banff winter packing list for a full rundown of what to pack, but some key items to remember include:

1. Warm layers – Pack clothing, such as long-sleeve tops, sweaters, and thermal leggings, to keep you warm in chillier temperatures.

2. Winter jacket – A heavy-duty waterproof winter coat is a must for staying warm while exploring the town and surrounding areas.

3. Waterproof boots – Ensure you have a good pair of sturdy waterproof boots to keep your feet dry and warm while hiking or walking around Banff.

4. Socks – Don’t forget about thick socks to keep your feet warm and cozy. Wool or thermal socks are great options for providing extra insulation.

5. Gloves, hat, and scarf – you’ll need these to protect yourself from the elements.

6. Accessories and extras – sunglasses to protect your eyes from the snow glare, and lip balm to prevent chapped lips in the dry mountain air.

As I said, you can see the full list of what to bring by clicking the link above.

Is Banff worth visiting in November?

I definitely think so. Visiting Banff in November has its advantages and disadvantages. On the positive side are the lower hotel prices, and even flights.

One of the biggest draws of visiting in November is that it is far less crowded compared to the summer months, so you can enjoy it all without the crowds.

But, it can be cold. Temperatures drop significantly, but if you don’t mind bundling up to stay warm, then it’s definitely worth visiting because the cold weather brings its own charm, as the mountains and lakes transform into a winter wonderland.

The snow-covered landscapes are stunning, and you can enjoy activities like skiing, snowshoeing, and ice skating. Then there’s the cozy atmosphere of the town with its festive decorations and warm fires that make it a magical time to visit in November.

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