Photo Credit: Travel Alberta

Looking for the best things to do in Banff in May?

It’s May and we’re not the only ones after the fresh air – our furry neighbours are waking up, feeding on berries in the low valley bottoms and giving wildlife watchers a show! As summer inches closer lakes start to thaw it’s the perfect time for water activities such as whitewater rafting and lake cruises.

1. Take advantage of peak wildlife spotting season

Our daily Wildlife Watching Safaris are in full-swing and giving guests a treat while animals await snow in the high alpine areas to melt. We often spot elk, deer and bighorn sheep on this tour, and typically bears will start to become more active from mid May onwards. Wondering what we’ve seen lately on this tour? Check out our guides’ report!

See bears in Banff National Park on a wildlife tour with Discover Banff Tours
Photo Credit: Colleen Gara @colleengaraphoto

2. Embrace your inner cowboy on a bbq cookout ride

Speaking of animals, horseback riding and cowboy BBQ cookouts have begun! The horses are frisky with the crisp morning air and waiting for adventure, and the cookouts are the perfect activity for the whole family with your choice of horseback ride or wagon ride with a delicious steak cooked to order!

Wagon Rides, Banff

3. See Lake Louise covered in ice

The lakes are starting to thaw and spring is a great time to visit Banff National Park’s most popular lake, iconic Lake Louise. The lake typically thaws around late May to early June, so May is a great time to see the lake covered in ice for some interesting photography. Towards the end of the month the access road to Moraine Lake re-opens and visitors can see two famous lakes on one tour!

See Lake Louise surrounded by snow on the fall tour with Discover Banff Tours
Photo Credit: Mital Patel @mitalpatelphoto

The best Banff activities in May

Take a Banff ghost tour led by an interpretive guide

Banff Ghost Walk

Spend a spook-tacular evening unearthing the ghastly ghosts, ghouls and mysterious events lurking in the shadows of Banff’s streets. Take
1 Hour 40 minutes

Kicking Horse River Classic Whitewater Rafting

The Kicking Horse River is the Rockies' most thrilling whitewater rafting with Class 1-4 rapids. Located 1.5 hours from Banff
9:15am, 1:15pm
3 Hours
Take in the evening beauty of Lake Louise on the Deluxe Lake Louise and Moraine Lake Tour
Limited Space

Deluxe Lake Louise & Moraine Lake

This evening tour gives you more time to wander and soak up the beauty of Lake Louise and Moraine Lake
6 Hours
Horseback Ride to a Cowboy Steak Cookout with Discover Banff Tours
Family Fun

Horseback Ride + Cowboy BBQ Cookout

Ride along the base of Sulphur Mountain to a delicious cowboy BBQ cookout at 3 Mile Cabin. First you'll ride
11:30am, 4:00pm, 5:00pm
3 Hours
Class 4 rafting rapids fun on the Horseshoe Canyon in the Canadian Rockies
Limited Space

Horseshoe Canyon Whitewater Rafting

Calling all adventure lovers - there’s no better way to get the adrenaline flowing than big waves! Jump into a
4 Hours
Lake Minnewanka Banff Lake Cruise

Lake Minnewanka Cruise

See the Rocky Mountains from a new perspective on a 1 hour interpretive boat cruise of the largest lake in
Throughout the day
1 Hour
See elk and other animals on a Banff wildlife tour with Discover Banff Tours
Most Popular

Evening Wildlife Safari

Where do you find the animals of Banff when the sun goes down? Your guide will know! So keep your
5:30pm, 6:30pm, 7:30pm, Varies seasonally
2 Hours
Banff Covered Wagon
Family Fun

Wagon Ride + Cowboy BBQ Cookout

Take a relaxing wagon ride along the Bow River and join the horseback riders for a BBQ cookout. After a
11:30am, 4:00pm, 5:00pm
3 Hours
Family friendly rafting rapids on the Kananaskis River in the Rockies
Family Fun

Kananaskis Whitewater Rafting

You'll get splashed by the frothy swells of the rushing river but it won’t wash the smile off your face
4 Hours
See turquoise Moraine Lake and the Valley of Ten Peaks on the Lake Louise and Moraine Lake Tour with Discover Banff Tours
Most Popular

Lake Louise & Moraine Lake

See two of the world's most beautiful lakes including iconic Lake Louise - famous for its jewel-like water nestled between
8:00am, 1:00pm
4.25 Hours

4. Experience whitewater thrills on a rafting tour

Rafting season is finally here! The snow has melted and the rivers are rising – come and join us on three whitewater rafting rivers near Banff. May is a great month for rafting because the river levels are high and there’s lots of fun to be had. And it’s the perfect rainy day activity, you’ll be surprised how much fun it is to be out on the river in the rain!

Family friendly rapids fun on the Kananaskis River in the Canadian Rockies

5. Cruise on Banff’s largest lake

Banff’s largest lake, Lake Minnewanka, is also the only lake in Banff National Park open to public motorized boating. Take an interpretive 1 hour cruise on the lake’s emerald waters surrounded by forested pine and spruce trees and towering peaks. Better yet, combine your cruise with a ride up the Banff Gondola in a package deal!

Lake Minnewanka Banff Lake Cruise
Photo Credit: Mike Seehagel / Pursuit Banff Jasper Collection

6. Learn about Banff’s haunted history

Spend a spooktacular evening unearthing ghastly ghosts, ghouls and mysterious events lurking in the shadows of Banff’s historic streets on an evening ghost tour.

Banff ghost walks with an interpretive guide
Photo Credit: Canmore Theatre Productions

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What is there to do in Banff in spring?

As summer inches closer and lakes start to thaw, spring is a great time to experience whitewater rafting, see Lake Louise covered in ice, spot local wildlife and admire snow-capped mountains.

What is Banff like in May?

With daytime highs around 15C, the ski season is winding down and snow only remains in the mountains. Spring is a great time for wildlife viewing and enjoying spring starting to bloom.

Is Moraine Lake open in May?

The road to Moraine Lake opens in late May, once the snow has been cleared. With limited parking, this popular lake can be easily visited on a guided tour from Banff.

Is Lake Louise open in May?

Lake Louise is open year round, and is a 45 minute drive from Banff. In May the lake will still be covered in ice, which is a great time for interesting photography.

Are there boat cruises in Banff?

Banff’s largest lake, Lake Minnewanka, has daily scenic cruises from May to October. Many lakes permit water sports, although Lake Minnewanka is the only lake where motorized boats are permitted.

Is there whitewater rafting in Banff?

There’s lots of whitewater rafting near Banff, however none within the Town of Banff. The closest whitewater rafting is on the Kananaskis and Bow Rivers approximately 45 minutes from Banff.