Banff in September – Here’s Why You Should Visit

Banff in September is probably one of the best times to visit this beautiful national park in the Canadian Rockies.

The summer crowds have thinned out, and the fall colors start to emerge, creating such a stunning contrast against the rugged mountains.  

The temperatures are still mild, so it’s perfect for hitting some of Banff’s amazing trails.

September is also ideal for other outdoor activities like biking, wildlife spotting, or just exploring the many scenic viewpoints in the park. It’s also a great time to paddle on the turquoise waters of Lake Louise.

Below, you’ll find everything you need to know about visiting Banff in September, including packing tips, where to stay, events, and activities.

Let’s start with what you can expect weather-wise. 

Golden larches with mountain backdrop in Banff
Golden larches

Written by Lou

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Weather in Banff in September

Visiting Banff in September means you might see the shift from the warmth of summer to the brisk freshness of fall, especially if you visit from the second half of the month onwards.

With temperatures averaging a high of 16°C (61°F) or even higher and lows of around 3°C (37°F), you can see a range of weather conditions, often within the same day. You could see snow or enjoy a sunny day at 77°F (25°C). So, you’ll want to pack for different weather conditions.

September Weather in Banff 
Average High Temperature16°C (61°F)
Average Low Temperature3°C (37°F)
Possible High25°C (77°F)
Average Rainfall37.7mm
Rainfall Days13

September Sunrise and Sunset Times in Banff

September in BanffTimes from beginning to end of month
Sunrise6:55 – 7:40 am
Sunset8:30 – 7:20 pm

In September, the days start to get shorter as fall approaches, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy plenty of daylight hours for exploring Banff National Park.

At the beginning of the month, the sunrise is around 6:55 am and the sunset is around 8:30 pm, and as the month progresses, the sun rises later and the sun sets earlier.

You can catch the most amazing sunrises and sunsets in September, and you don’t have to head too far to see one. Vermillion Lakes and Tunnel Mountain Reservoir are just two of the places we like to head to.

Does it Snow in Banff in September?

After having no snowfall in July and August in Banff, there will likely be some snowfall in September, especially towards the end of the month.

While it’s not common for heavy snowfall, Banff averages 7 cm in September.

How Much Does It Rain in Banff in September?

The amount of rain usually decreases in September compared to the summer months.

But there will be some occasional showers as Banff gets an average of 38 mm of rainfall over approximately 12 days in September.

How Busy is Banff in September?

Downtown Banff in September
Downtown Banff

Things start to calm down after the busy summer in Banff National Park.

Visitor numbers are still quite high at around 534,000 (2023 figure), especially at the beginning of the month.

But this is nothing compared to Banff in July, which saw over 700,000 visitors.

September is in ‘shoulder season’ because it’s in between the busy summer and winter months. 

I think this month is a great time to visit because you can enjoy the nice weather without dealing with huge crowds.

It also means hotel prices are lower compared to peak season, and you’ll find better deals on accommodations. So if you’re looking for a more budget-friendly trip to Banff when it’s still warm, then September is the time to visit. 

However, it’s still a good idea to book in advance, especially if you plan on being here over Labour Day weekend (first Monday in September), as it’s still busy during this time.

How Busy is Lake Louise in September?

Although the park sees fewer visitors in September, Lake Louise is still such a popular place to visit. But the good news is that, just like Banff, it is less crowded compared to the summer.

The best time to visit Lake Louise in September is early morning or later in the evening, when most day-trippers have left. This way, you can enjoy this Canadian icon without the crowds.

It is still a good idea to arrive early if you want a parking spot as it can be difficult to find one after 7 am.

Parking at Lake Louise Lakeshore is $21 (2024); this is in addition to the Banff Park Pass, which you’ll also need to buy.

Honestly, the best way to visit Lake Louise is by booking a Parks Canada shuttle or Roam Public Transit, or by taking a guided tour. This way, you can enjoy Lake Louise without having to worry about parking.

Where to stay in Banff in September

You can choose from many different places to stay in Banff National Park that fit your preferences and budget. Whether you want something fancy or more affordable, there are plenty of options for you in September.

Here are our recommendations for your stay:

Rimrock Resort Hotel

300 Mountain Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1J2

View of mountains and scenery from room at Rimrock Hotel, Banff
Stunning view from hotel room at Rimrock Hotel

The Rimrock Resort Hotel is a great place to stay if you want luxury and some seriously stunning views of the Canadian Rockies

This hotel is just a short drive from downtown Banff and has elegant rooms, fine dining options, an indoor pool, and a spa for ultimate relaxation after a day of exploring.

If you want the best buffet breakfast in Banff, you won’t get better than here.

Check latest prices on:

Highlights at Rimrock Resort Hotel
Elegant rooms with stunning views
Proximity to Banff Gondola
Indoor pool and spa

Tunnel Mountain Resort

502 Tunnel Mountain Rd, Banff, AB T1L 1H8

Tunnel Mountain Resort cabin with wood burning fireplace
Inside the cabin

Tunnel Mountain Resort is just outside of downtown Banff and has a range of accommodations to choose from, such as cozy cabins and suites with kitchenettes, perfect if you’re looking to save money on dining out.

The rooms have a wood-burning fireplace, so if it’s a bit chilly during your September stay, you can cozy up by the fire. There’s also an indoor pool, but it’s quite small compared to other hotels in Banff.

We like staying in the cabins because they are more spacious than just a hotel room, and it’s pet-friendly.

There’s a bus stop right outside, so you don’t have to worry about taking the car and finding parking in town.

Check latest prices on:

Highlights at Tunnel Mountain Resort
Chalet and cabin lodging options with wood burning fireplace
Beautiful mountain surroundings
Ideal for peace and privacy

Mount Royal Hotel

138 Banff Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1A7

Another great option in Banff is the Mount Royal Hotel, as it’s located right in the heart of downtown, making it easy to just walk out of the hotel and over to shops, restaurants, and attractions.

This hotel has recently been renovated, so the rooms are nice and modern with really comfy beds.

The rooftop hot tubs are a great way to relax as you’re surrounded by the stunning mountain views of the Canadian Rockies.

The hotel also has an on-site restaurant and bar, which is perfect for grabbing a meal or a drink without having to leave the hotel.

Check latest prices on:

Highlights at Mount Royal Hotel
Central location on Banff Ave
Historic charm with updated facilities
Rooftop hot-tubs with scenic views

Events in Banff in September

September in Banff is not just a time to see the changing colors of nature; it is also dotted with events taking place in this month:

Image of bear created for Art in Nature Trail in Banff
Art in Nature Trail

Art in Nature Trail

The Art in Nature Trail runs from the beginning of July to the end of September, so you might want to read more about it on the Banff in August page.

It’s basically a free self-guided art tour along the beautiful Bow River, featuring various works of art from local artists.

It’s a great way to explore this easy walkable trail while appreciating some beautiful artwork.

Melissa’s Road Race

Melissa’s Road Race is an annual running event held in Banff in September, attracting participants from all over the country.

You can take part in the 5k, 10, or half marathon, or you can just cheer on the runners as they pass by.

It’s a fun and energetic event that showcases the beauty of Banff while promoting health and fitness.

If you’re interested in taking part, you can find out more here.

National Day for Truth and Reconciliation

The National Day for Truth and Reconciliation, which is held on September 30th, is a time to recognize and commemorate the legacy of residential schools in Canada and honor the survivors, their families, and communities.

In Banff, some events and activities promote understanding, reconciliation, and healing.

This might include ceremonies, workshops, or cultural performances that highlight Indigenous culture and history.  More information on these events can be found here.

Amazing Activities to Do in Banff in September

September in Banff offers a fantastic experience with fewer crowds, warm weather, and the onset of autumn’s golden hues. Here are five amazing activities to enjoy during this wonderful time:

Larch Hiking

September is a fantastic time to go hiking in Banff National Park as the weather is still warm, but it’s the fall colors that start to appear that make it even more special.

One of the highlights of hiking in Banff in September is seeing the golden larch trees.

Some popular Larch hiking trails include Larch Valley, Sentinel Pass, Paradise Valley, Eiffel Lake, and Healy Pass.

Make sure to check trail conditions and bring appropriate gear for the changing weather.

Hot Springs

After a day of hiking to see the larches, nothing beats soaking in the warm waters at Banff Upper Hot Springs.

The natural hot spring is open year-round and is just what you need to relax and unwind while enjoying the beautiful surrounding mountain views.

The cooler temperatures in September make it the perfect time to enjoy a soak in the hot springs.

Canoeing on Lake Louise

Paddle through the tranquil waters of Canada’s most iconic lake, Lake Louise, in a canoe.

September is a great time to do this as it’s less crowded and the gorgeous colours of fall start to appear, so you’ll have a stunning backdrop for your paddle.

You can rent a canoe from the boathouse at Lake Louise (you don’t have to be a guest) and enjoy a peaceful paddle on this picture-perfect lake.

Bow Valley Parkway Cycling

The 17 km eastern section of the Bow Valley Parkway is closed to vehicles between Fireside Day-use Area and Johnston Canyon from September 1st to the beginning of October, so you can take a relaxing bike ride in Banff National Park without worrying about traffic.

There are several places in Banff to rent a bike, such as Bike Banff and Snowtips Bactrax and they have a variety of bikes available for rent.

Take a Wildlife Tour

September is a great time to go on a wildlife tour in Banff National Park. You could see deer, elk, moose, bears, and even wolves.

Several tour companies offer guided wildlife tours where you can learn about the animals.

Going on an evening tour is a good idea because the animals are more active at that time.

And as September is rutting season for elk, there’s a good chance you’ll see some bull elk sparring and hear their bugling calls.

See the Northern Lights

As the nights start to get longer in September, there’s a chance you may be able to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights in Banff.

While not as common as in more northern locations, the Northern Lights can still be seen in Banff National Park on clear nights.

To increase your chances of seeing the northern lights Banff has some great locations away from the lights.

The best times to see the Northern Lights are typically in the late evening and early morning hours.

Ride in a Gondola

Banff gondola and boardwalk, Sulphur Mountain
Banff gondola and boardwalk, Sulphur Mountain

Visiting the Banff Gondola in September is a fantastic experience you won’t want to miss. As the fall season begins, you’ll get to see the stunning colours of the changing leaves from high above.

The eight-minute gondola ride itself gives you breathtaking views of the Canadian Rockies.

Once you reach the summit, you can explore the viewing decks, walk along the boardwalk and just stand there and take in the panoramic sights.

It’s such a great way to spend a day in Banff.

What to Pack for Banff in September

Visiting Banff in September is a wonderful time to explore everything the national parks have to offer, but it also requires smart packing.

Mornings and evenings can be a bit on the chilly side, so pack some warm layers.

Here’s a quick list of essentials:

Clothing:

  • Layered clothing, including long-sleeved shirts, sweaters, and a waterproof jacket.
  • Comfortable hiking boots for trails like Larch Valley and Tunnel Mountain.
  • Hats and gloves for cooler mornings and evenings.

Accessories:

  • Sunglasses and sunscreen, even in the temperate weather.
  • A reusable water bottle to stay hydrated.

Outdoor Gear:

  • If you plan to canoe on Lake Louise, consider wearing water-resistant outerwear.

Extras:

  • A camera to capture the golden larches and breathtaking views.
  • Binoculars for wildlife watching.

You can check out our Banff winter packing list for more general tips on what to pack for your September visit to Banff National Park.

Is Banff Worth Visiting in September?

Absolutely, Banff is well worth visiting in September.

This month marks shoulder season, a perfect time to enjoy the beauty of Banff National Park without the summer crowds and high cost of hotel accommodations.

The weather is usually warm, but expect a flurry or two, making it comfortable to hit the numerous trails to see the stunning fall colours. There’s also a chance to see wildlife in their natural habitat.

So whether you’re paddling on Lake Louise, cycling along the Bow Valley Parkway, going on a wildlife tour, or catching a glimpse of the Northern Lights, September is a great time to visit Banff.

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