Looking for the best things to see and do in Banff in November?
November is one of the quietest times of the year to experience the Canadian Rockies, and the best time if you want to avoid the crowds. Plus, if you’re looking for a unique winter experience, the popular icewalk tour to Johnston Canyon starts up again as the thundering falls begin to freeze.
1. See frozen falls at Johnston Canyon
Our most popular winter hiking tour starts in mid November! Take an icewalk tour to Johnston Canyon and see the frozen lower falls (where you can squeeze through a natural cave for a close up look if you like) and continue on to the awe-inducing upper icefalls from the upper deck where you’ll warm up with a hot chocolate. This tour is recognised as a Canadian Signature Experience – a collection of once-in-a-lifetime travel experiences found only in Canada.
2. See Lake Louise start to freeze
Winter is approaching and there has never been a better time to see the rare sight of thawed, blue lakes with a blanket of snow around them. This narrow window is arguably the most beautiful time to see the world-famous Lake Louise. Not only will you have the place to yourself, but you’ll get to see it in a state not many ever do. Save yourself the parking hassles on a guided tour from Banff with a scenic drive along the Bow Valley Parkway on the Discover Lake Louise Fall Tour. You might even see ice start to form on this famous lake!
3. Explore a wild, undeveloped cave
Venture underground into Rat’s Nest Cave – a wild, undeveloped cave under Grotto Mountain; near Banff and Canmore. These guided natural history tours take you climbing, crawling and even squeezing through the depths of the cave.
4. See the Canadian Rockies by helicopter
The Canadian Rockies are spectacular at any time of year – take to the skies on a sightseeing helicopter flight near Banff to see the turquoise rivers and lakes start to freeze, surrounded by snowcapped mountain peaks. For that truly romantic occasion, our top pick is the Private Marvel Pass Flight, which includes a 15 minute stopover at Marvel Pass at 7,200 feet overlooking Aurora Lake and surrounded by towering peaks.
5. See Banff’s best viewpoints
As the weather starts to cool, there’s no better time to see ice forming on the lakes and mountain tops covered in snow. Join a small group morning tour of Banff (where we often spot elk, deer and bighorn sheep!) to some of Banff’s best viewpoints including the Surprise Corner viewpoint of the ‘Castle in the Rockies’, Lake Minnewanka and the Hoodoos Viewpoint. For an extra special experience we recommend the Banff Tour + Banff Gondola Package, which includes your Banff Gondola ticket and optional dropoff at the gondola after your tour!
6. Visit a wolfdog sanctuary
Located just an hour from Banff between Banff and Calgary, the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary is a not-for-profit organisation that rehabilitates and regimes displaced wolf dogs. The sanctuary offers a variety tours to see wolf dogs up close and and learn more about these amazing animals. The interactive tour offers a semi-private guided sanctuary experience but book ahead, this is their most popular and sells out weeks in advance.
Skiing kicks off in Banff in November, and you may catch the occasional snowfall but it usually doesn’t stick around until December when the temperatures dip lower.
November is one of the quietest times to experience the Canadian Rockies, and a great time for seeing frozen falls at Johnston Canyon, helicopter flights, caving and wolfdog sanctuary tours.
Lake Louise typically freezes over in mid November, and it’s a beautiful time to see the icy waters surrounded by snow.
Johnston Canyon is open year round, and winter is a great time to visit the frozen falls. Parking is limited, so plan a backup option or join a guided tour.
The closest helicopter flights depart from Canmore, 20 minutes from Banff, and take you above Banff National Park to see glaciers, forests and mountain peaks.
Located an hour from Banff in Cochrane, Alberta, the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary rescues displaced wolfdogs. Visitors can enjoy interpretive talks at the sanctuary and view wolfdogs up close.