Visiting Banff in October

What can you expect during your visit to Banff in October?

Well, if you like to do a bit of leaf peeping, then you’re in luck. The fall foliage is beautiful during October, and there are plenty of hikes and trails where you can see the stunning colors of the season. But there’s more to Banff in October than just the vibrant autumn leaves.

In the following sections, you’ll get an idea of some of the fantastic activities you can enjoy during this autumnal month in the Canadian Rockies.

But first, we’ll start with what you can expect from the weather as it transitions from fall to winter.

Written by Lou

Some links may be compensated, at no cost to you

Banff in autumn view of trees, mountain, and river.
Autumn in Banff

Banff Weather in October

Banff experiences fall weather in October, with average high temperatures of around 10°C (50°F) and lows of around -1°C (30°F).

These are average temperatures as reported by Parks Canada, but as I’ve said in my other posts, it can be much warmer and colder than these averages.

The weather in the Rockies can be unpredictable, and there can be variations from day to day. So be prepared for chilly mornings and evenings.

As the month goes on, the cooler air moves in, and snow can start to sprinkle the mountain peaks. Nevertheless, the mostly sunny days with temperatures around the 10°C mark make it an ideal time for hiking without the slippery ice.

October Sunrise and Sunset Times in Banff

At the beginning of the month, the sunrise typically occurs around 7:40 am, gradually getting later as the month progresses, with the latest sunrise at around 8:34 am at the end of the month.

As for sunset, it usually begins around 7:20 pm at the beginning of October, gradually getting earlier as the month goes on. The latest sunset occurs at nearly 6:15 pm.

These times make it super convenient to catch a beautiful sunrise or sunset over the mountains.

Luna on Tunnel Mountain Reservoir overlooking the Rocky Mountains
Our dog getting in the spirit of Halloween in Banff

Does it Snow in Banff in October?

October is when Banff usually starts to see its first proper snowfall of the season. While it may not be heavy, you can expect to see some snow on the mountain peaks and in town.

As you can see in my photo above, it doesn’t always snow, even at the end of the month. But the average snowfall in October is around 19 cm, with snowfall occurring approximately 5 to 8 days throughout the month.

These early snowfalls create a stunning winter wonderland in Banff, making it such a picturesque time to visit.

However, the snowy conditions can also impact travel and outdoor activities, so try to be prepared for slippery roads and trails.

How Much Does It Rain in October?

Banff gets an average of around 15mm of rain, and this is mainly in the first couple of weeks of the month. As the temperature drops later in the month, the precipitation often changes into the white stuff instead.

How Busy is Banff in October?

October is a heck of a lot quieter compared to the busy summer months. It’s even less crowded than September in Banff, which sees over 500,000 visitors.

So how busy is it in October? Visitor statistics show that the number of tourists is around 165,000, which is a massive drop, especially toward the end of the month.

We like that it’s quieter, and we also like that you can get some great prices on hotel rates. This also means you don’t usually have to book in advance to ensure you get the hotel of your choice.

Of course, I still think it’s a good idea to book as far ahead as possible, so you can get a better rate than leaving it until the last minute.

How Busy is Lake Louise in October?

Lake Louise, one of the most iconic and popular spots in Banff National Park, also sees a significant decrease in visitor numbers during October.

If you want to visit Lake Louise when it’s much quieter and more peaceful, then October’s the time to do it.

Where to stay in October

The great thing about visiting Banff during the fall season is the big price drops in accommodations.

If you want to visit this part of the Canadian Rockies when it’s not so crazy expensive, then October is a good time to come. If you want a more budget-friendly alternative to staying in Banff, then the beautiful mountain town of Canmore is an excellent option.

Here are just a few of our recommendations.

View of Fairmont Banff Springs hotel and surrounding mountains from Surprise Corner in Banff
The luxurious Fairmont Banff Springs hotel

Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

With Halloween just around the corner, October is the perfect month to stay at this luxurious and reportedly haunted hotel.

Whether you like the idea of being spooked or not, a stay at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel will be a memorable one. This grand hotel has the most stunning views of the surrounding mountains and has all the amenities you could possibly need for a fantastic stay.

This hotel is widely regarded as the most luxurious place to stay in the area, which is why it’s a popular choice if you want a more upscale experience in Banff.

The Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel has multiple dining options, a spa, indoor and outdoor pools, good-sized rooms with really comfy beds, and its own golf course.

Check prices on

Check prices on Expedia

Coffee on balcony at Buffalo Mountain Lodge, Banff
Early morning coffee on balcony at Buffalo Mountain Lodge

Buffalo Mountain Lodge

Buffalo Mountain Lodge is definitely one of our favorite places to stay in Banff. It provides such a rustic yet comfortable experience with its mountain-inspired decor, crackling fireplaces, and panoramic views of the Canadian Rockies.

I recommend sitting in the outdoor hot tub and stargazing if it’s a clear night.

The rooms are cozy, and there’s nothing better than sitting on the balcony wrapped in a blanket and enjoying a cup of coffee while looking at the mountains first thing in the morning.

The lodge also has an excellent restaurant that serves some great food made with local ingredients. There’s also a bar, so you don’t have to venture into town for a drink or two if you don’t want to.

Check prices on

Check prices on Expedia

Banff Aspen Lodge

The Banff Aspen Lodge is a great choice for a comfy stay in Banff. The rooms are modern, cozy, and have everything you need.

But one of the best things about this hotel is that it offers a very tasty complimentary cooked breakfast made with locally sourced ingredients. Finding a hotel that has breakfast included is extremely rare in Banff, so this really does save you money.

The hotel is in the downtown area, so you can easily explore the town or just hop on a bus to wherever you want to go. There are hot tubs in the courtyard area, which are very popular with the hotel guests.

Check prices on

Check prices on Expedia

October Events in Banff

In October, Banff hosts a variety of lively festivals and events, such as:

Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival

The highlight of the month is the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival, which takes place from the end of October to the beginning of November.

This world-renowned event celebrates mountain culture with film screenings, book readings, art exhibitions, and discussions with prominent adventurers. For more information and exact dates, click here.

Canadian Thanksgiving

During Canadian Thanksgiving weekend, Banff’s hotels and restaurants offer special deals such as traditional turkey dinners and pumpkin-themed menus.

Canadian Thanksgiving is the second Monday in October and is a time for families and friends to come together, express gratitude, and enjoy the beauty of the autumn season.

The long weekend sees an increase in visitor numbers to Banff National Park as people take advantage of the holiday to explore the park.

To beat the crowds, the ideal time to visit Banff National Park is just before or after the Thanksgiving weekend.

Banff Pride

Another event is Banff Pride, which celebrates the LGBTQ+ community with a variety of events, such as parties and live performances. This event usually takes place in mid-October.

Things to do in Banff in October

It might be shoulder season, but there’s no shortage of activities and attractions to keep you entertained. Here are some of the top things to do in Banff during this season:

Banff Ghost Tour

For an evening of spooky mystery and history around Halloween, take the Banff Ghost Walk Tour, which lasts approximately 1.5 hours.

You’ll begin your twilight journey at Banff’s Good Earth Coffee House, where the tour will lead you through the eerie streets of the town. You’ll hear about the ghostly legends and tales that have been passed down through generations.

Whether you’re a skeptic or a believer, you’ll enjoy this unique and entertaining experience that will give you a different perspective on the town of Banff.

Leaf Peeping/Larch Hikes

From mid-September toward the middle of October is Larch season, where you can see the stunning fall foliage in Banff National Park.

The larch trees turn a vibrant yellow and people travel a long way to see them in Banff, so expect some of the trails to be fairly busy.

Some of the best spots for leaf peeping or larch hiking in Banff include Johnston Canyon, Lake Louise, Vermilion Lakes, and of course, Larch Valley which is a hike that offers some of the most spectacular views of the golden larch trees.

Banff Gondolas + Chairlifts

Banff has several gondolas and chairlifts and all have the most spectacular views.

The Banff Gondola is an 8-minute journey to the top of Sulphur Mountain, where you get fantastic panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains. You can get your ticket here.

At Lake Louise Ski Resort, the sightseeing gondola runs until around October 14th. It is not only a scenic ride with stunning vistas of the surrounding area but is also a great way to see the golden larches without having to hike to see them.

You might also be lucky enough to pass over the top of a bear. You can get tickets here.

The Mt Norquay sightseeing chairlift also has beautiful views of the Rockies. It runs until around the middle of October, and it’s a great way to see the fall foliage from above.

Take a Scenic Drive

Banff National Park has some of the most beautiful scenic drives in the world, and the famous Icefields Parkway is definitely one of them, with out-of-this-world mountain views, glaciers, and turquoise lakes.

Other routes with stunning scenery include the Bow Valley Parkway and the Lake Minnewanka Loop.

There’s also Highway 40 in Kananaskis, which provides a scenic and less crowded alternative.

Take your time along these so you can enjoy the beautiful fall colours, but also because you never know what wildlife you might spot along the way.

Catch the Northern Lights

From September to April, there’s a chance you might see the northern lights in Banff. The best time to spot the Aurora Borealis is usually between 9 pm and 3 am.

If you head to Vermillion Lakes or Lake Minnewanka, both only a short drive from downtown Banff, you’ll have a good chance of catching a glimpse of the northern lights when a high KP index and clear skies are forecast.

Wolfdog being fed a treat
Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary

Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary in Cochrane

About an hour’s drive from Banff is the wonderful Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary, which is dedicated to educating people about wolfdogs and providing a safe home for these beautiful rescued animals.

You can take self-guided tours of the sanctuary and learn about wolfdogs and wolves in the wild, or you can take the interactive tour, where you’ll get the chance to sit with them and give them a treat.

Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary is a non-profit organisation that is really worth a visit during your trip to Banff.

See the Larches from the Sky

Another great way to see the fall foliage from above is with a helicopter tour. Companies like Rockies Heli Canada offer scenic helicopter tours that take you over the breathtaking views of the golden larches, turquoise lakes, and snow-capped mountains.

Soak in Warm Natural Springs

A visit to Banff in October wouldn’t be complete without experiencing the warmth and relaxation of the natural hot springs. The Banff Upper Hot Springs are open year-round and, as you would expect, have stunning views of the mountains.

As it’s next door to the Banff Gondola, I recommend a visit to the springs after you’ve had a good, long walk exploring the boardwalk along the top of Sulphur Mountain. Take a dip, let the warm water soothe your muscles, and take in the beautiful fall scenery.

Explore Hiking Trails

With the cooler temperatures and vibrant fall colors, October is a great time to explore the numerous hiking trails in Banff. From easy walks to challenging hikes, there is something for every fitness level. Some popular trails to consider and already mentioned, include Johnston Canyon, Tunnel Mountain, and Lake Louise Lakeshore Trail.

Make sure to pack warm layers and proper hiking gear, as the weather can be unpredictable in October.

Don’t forget to check trail conditions and bear activity before going on your hike.

Spot the Local Wildlife

There’s a diverse range of wildlife in Banff National Park, and October is a good month for spotting animals. October is the rutting season for elk, so you may have the chance to see these majestic animals in action during your visit.

Keep a look out for deer, bighorn sheep, and even bears as they prepare for winter.

Yes, that means you’ll need bear spray if you plan on doing any hiking.

Remember to observe wildlife from a safe distance and follow all park regulations to ensure your safety and the animals’ wellbeing.

Ski Season Might Start Early

Although October may be a little early for skiing in Banff, it’s worth noting that some ski resorts may open towards the end of the month, depending on weather conditions.

If you’re lucky, you might get to experience the early ski season and take advantage of the fresh powder-like snow that Alberta is famous for.

What to Pack for Your October Visit

The weather can be unpredictable in October in the Rockies as fall transitions to winter. It’s a good ideal to pack clothing items that can accommodate changing weather conditions, so layers are key.

Be sure to bring light options like long-sleeve shirts and heavier ones like sweaters or fleece jackets. With the potential for colder temperatures, a down jacket is a must-have.

Packing waterproof hiking shoes or boots is essential for outdoor activities. Accessories like mittens and a warm hat will help keep you comfortable.

You can check out our What to Pack for Banff guide for a more detailed list of essential items for your trip.

Is it worth visiting Banff in October?

Banff is a great place to visit all year round because it’s absolutely stunning. Each month or season has its own perks, but we’re focusing on October for now.

In October, you’ll see the park’s gorgeous fall colors, which make it a perfect time to explore the park. The weather is usually sunny and mild, so you can enjoy outdoor activities like hiking.

The best part is that the crowds are much smaller than in the busy summer months so you can have a more peaceful and less crowded vacation.

October also changes from fall to winter, meaning there might be some snow. This could limit access to certain trails and make driving a bit tricky, especially if you’re not used to snowy conditions.

But don’t let that put you off, as it’s a beautiful time to visit and see the change of seasons in Banff National Park.

Scroll to Top