Information and things to do and see in Banff in November
November is one of the quietest times of the year to experience the Canadian Rockies, making it the best time to visit if you want to avoid the crowds. Be assured though, just because it’s the quietest time, doesn’t mean there’s nothing to do. Johnston Canyon’s thundering falls begin to freeze, the Canadian Rockies are stunning as they sit under a sparkling blanket of snow, and there are other beautiful sights to see and fun activities to experience. But, before we get into all the details, we want to provide you with some helpful information about Banff in November.
What to expect from Banff’s weather in November
Fall is gone and winter is in full force—so, you can expect frosty weather with average temperatures around 1-2℃. By the end of November, snow will be covering the ground, so the chill isn’t just in the air, it’s beneath your feet.
The weather and conditions around Lake Louise in November
Lake Louise is starting to freeze and remains a popular destination, so we want to make sure you have all the information you need. The temps here are also around 1-2℃. It can get pretty windy, and there is around a 30% chance that you will see either rain or snow. All this means is that you need to plan ahead so that you can enjoy Lake Louise to the fullest.
What to pack for your trip to Banff in November
Packing well becomes really important when the temperatures start to drop and precipitation starts to fall, so we want to make sure you’re prepared. A good jacket, a hat, mittens, a scarf, warm socks, sweaters, and layers are a must. You’ll also want a really good pair of boots because sneakers won’t do the trick once November rolls around. If you want to learn more about what to pack, you can check out our Banff seasonal packing guide.
1. See the frozen falls at Johnston Canyon
The frozen falls at Johnston Cayon are truly a sight to behold and you can beat the crowds to them by visiting in November. You will follow the built-in steel catwalks through the canyon, see great pillars of ice, and see multiple perspectives of this natural beauty—from the lower falls where you can traverse a natural cave to the awe-inducing upper icefalls where you can warm up with a hot chocolate. If you want to sip on a hot chocolate and hit the canyon’s best spots, our Icewalk of Johnston Canyon is a great option! It’s recognised as a Canadian Signature Experience – a collection of once-in-a-lifetime travel experiences found only in Canada.
2. Observe Lake Louise as it starts 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.
You can 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 the 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. Gaze upon the Canadian Rockies by helicopter
The Canadian Rockies are spectacular at any time of year— so, take to the skies to get a jaw-dropping birds-eye-view! You can take a sightseeing helicopter flight near Banff to see the turquoise rivers and lakes start to freeze and the snowcapped mountain peaks that surrounded them. For that truly romantic occasion, our top pick is the Private Marvel Pass Flight, which includes a 20-minute stopover at Marvel Pass at 7,200 feet overlooking Aurora Lake and surrounded by towering peaks.
5. Take in 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. You can explore on your own or you can join a small group tour of Banff that can take you to the best viewpoints with ease (and the possibility to spot elk, deer, and bighorn sheep!). Some of our favourite sights are the Surprise Corner viewpoint of the ‘Castle in the Rockies’, Lake Minnewanka, and the Hoodoos Viewpoint.
For an extra special experience, we recommend the Discover Banff Tour with Gondola, which includes your Banff Gondola ticket and dropoff at your hotel after the 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. On top of their wonderful mission and also offer a variety of tours to see wolf dogs up close and learn more about these amazing animals. They have an easy self-guided tour, an intro tour, and an interactive tour that allows you to not just learn about, but interact with the wolf dogs. The interactive tour can sell out weeks in advance, so make sure to book ahead!
Even though November is one of Banff’s slowest months, there is still so much to explore, and you can do it all without the crowds! Are you going to beat the crowds to Johnston Cayon, take a gorgeous flight over the snow-capped mountains, or meet some amazing wolf dogs? No matter what you choose, you will be sure to fall in love with the place we call home.
Is your time in Banff starting in October or extending into December? Check out our recommendations for What To Do In Banff In October and What To Do In Banff In December! For more information and exploration of Banff, visit our blog.
Have More Questions About Traveling to Banff in November? We have Answers.
Is November a good time to visit Banff?
November is not a prime time to visit Banff, but it still has tons to offer and is a good time to visit if you want to avoid the crowds. Lakes are starting to freeze over, snow becomes a regular occurrence, and it’s the beginning of the ski season.
Is Banff too cold in November?
It get’s pretty chilly in Banff in November, but if you know what to pack, you’ll be all set to brace the cooler weather. You’ll want to bring a winter jacket, lots of layers, boots, warm socks, a scarf, gloves, a hat, and multiple sweaters. For more information about what to pack, you can check out our Banff seasonal packing guide.
Does Banff have snow in November?
You should see snow while in Banff in November, but it really falls (and sticks) once Decemeber rolls around. That being said, it is still super likely to see snow fall in the later half of November.
Can you see the Northern Lights in Banff in November?
You can see the Northern Lights in Banff in November, but they are most visible and brilliant in December, January, and February.
Is there snow in Banff in November?
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.
What is there to do in Banff in November?
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.
Is Lake Louise frozen in November?
Lake Louise typically freezes over in mid-November, and it’s a beautiful time to see the icy waters surrounded by snow.
Is Johnston Canyon open in winter?
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.
Are there helicopter tours in Banff?
Yes, there are helicopter tours in Banff! 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.
Where can I see wolves in Banff?
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 with a Wolfdog Sanctuary Tour.