Looking for the best things to see and do in Banff in October?
Once October comes around, summer is gone and fall is in full force. With the cooling temperatures, changing of the seasons, and stunning transition of the leaves, October is easily the best month to see the fall colours in Banff National Park. As you set your gaze on the changing leaves, you will also get the perfect backdrop of snow-capped mountains—can it get much better than that?
No, it can’t get much better. But to enjoy all that Banff has to offer in October, you have to understand the weather that causes the views we love so much and know how to prepare for it. So let’s dive into that important information before we cover all of the must-sees in Banff in October.
Banff has great fall weather in October
If you are looking for classic fall weather, you’ve found it. With mostly sunny days and average temperatures of 10-15℃, it’s the perfect environment for hiking and seeing the golden light hit those larch trees in the best way. There is a possibility that you could see some snow on the ground, but it shouldn’t inhibit the exploring you plan to do.
What to pack in Banff in October
Layers are key. You will want light layers, and some heavier layers too–a thick coat, some gloves, a scarf, and a hat. You shouldn’t need those heavier layers during all of your time in Banff, but at night, the weather can drop below freezing and you will want to be prepared. If you are visiting later in October, the temperatures in Banff start to get even colder, and those thicker layers will become more important. Last but not least, a great pair of hiking shoes are crucial to experiencing Banff to the fullest in warmth and comfort. If you want to learn more about what to pack, you can check out our Banff seasonal packing guide.
Now that we’ve covered our bases, you know what to expect of the weather and how to pack for it, all that’s left to learn is the amazing things to do while you’re there. Let’s jump in!
1. Marvel at Banff’s fall colours
October is the perfect time to admire the leaves as they change colour in Banff. The first week of October is usually the peak time of year to see the golden larch trees before they begin to lose their leaves. So, if you want to catch their brilliant golden color, early October is a great time. If you don’t want to go searching for them on your own, the morning Discover Banff & Its Wildlife Tour takes you to some of the most scenic viewpoints in Banff so that you don’t have to wonder if you missed out.
Interested in discovering Banff and its wildlife?
2. Visit Lake Louise before it freezes
Lake Louise is a famous Banff destination for a reason—its bright turquoise colouring and stunning backdrop. Well, the backdrop will still be there in a month, but October is the last time to see the lake before it freezes for the winter. So make sure to add the iconic Lake Louise to your October Banff to-do list. If you do, you will see the lake as ice begins to creep over its surface, bringing a beautiful contrast to its blue water. Parking is limited at the lake, so plan your trip with intentionality (early in the morning or later in the evening) or book a tour that can do all of the planning for you.
Want to experience a scenic drive along the Bow Valley Parkway before wandering the famous shoreline? Let us take the wheel so you don’t have to worry about anything other than enjoying the views.
Please note that Moraine Lake closes in early October but can be visited until this time on the Discover Lake Louise and Moraine Lake Louise Tour.
3. Get spooked on a Halloween ghost tour
If you are visiting Banff in October and have a love for all things spooky, you came at the perfect time. With Halloween approaching, Discover Banff runs a guided evening stroll through all of the darker parts of Banff’s past…ghosts, paranormal stories of haunted landmarks, unsolved mysteries, and terrifying encounters at hotels.
Ready to embrace the darker side of Banff?
4. Take a fall stroll on horseback
A horseback ride is one of our favourite things to do in Banff in October. Why? The weather is amazing, the snow-capped mountains are stunning, the water is still sparkling, and you can get a glimpse of the changing leaves! There are a lot of horseback riding options to choose from, so we will walk you through some of our favourites. You can take a one-hour horseback ride along the Bow River, a one-hour ride crossing through the Spray River in early October, or a Banff Trail Ride. The Trail Rides specifically are great for beginners and super easy to fit into your schedule because they run daily. As an added bonus, you might even see some elk during their rutting season while on the ride!
Want to learn more about horseback rides?
5. Experience a Banff Lake Cruise and the Banff Gondola
Every perspective is a good perspective of Banff, so you should see them all! The Banff Lake Cruise and the Banff Gondola are two of the most popular attractions in Banff year-round, and October is no exception. You can combine the two by booking a package deal to get the most value for money. The package allows you to relax on a 1-hour sightseeing cruise on Banff’s largest lake, Lake Minnewanka, and then soar to the summit of Sulphur Mountain on the Banff Gondola. It’s the best of both worlds.
Want to cruise the waters and ride through the skies?
The lake cruise operates until mid-October (weather permitting), and the Banff Gondola operates year-round.
6. Get up-close and personal with nature on a hike
As the fall colours linger into October, there are still plenty of hiking trails waiting to be explored. By hiking, you can really retreat into nature, observe the changing seasons, and see the land we call home. You can research the trails you want to take, or you can take a hike with a professional guide. The best part of being led is that you have an expert to trust, plan, and make sure you see the best Banff has to offer. Some of our favourite guided hikes include the Plain of Six Glaciers at Lake Louise and Larch Valley at Moraine Lake.
Want to take a guided hike?
Please note that guided hikes operate until mid-October, but private hikes are available on request at any time of year.
We can’t wait for you to explore all that Banff has to offer in October. There are so many ways to experience the changing seasons and all of the nuances of our jaw-dropping views that you can only see in October. Whether you see Banff from the ground, the water, the sky, or a horse’s back, you are sure to leave in awe.
Have More Questions About Travelling to Banff in October? We have Answers.
Is October a good time to visit Banff?
October is the best month to see fall colours in Banff National Park, with snow-capped mountains as the perfect backdrop.
Is Banff open in October?
Banff National Park is open year round, and October is a great time to take enjoy the fall colours and cooler weather with less crowds.
When does Lake Louise freeze?
Lake Louise usually begins to ice over in October before it freezes in November, and thaws in June each year. The best months to see the turquoise waters is July and August.
What can I do for Halloween in Banff?
Banff Ghost Walks are the perfect Halloween activity, with stories of haunted landmarks, unsolved mysteries and terrifying encounters at hotels.
Can you hike in Banff in October?
As fall colours linger into October, there’s still plenty of hiking trails to be explored including the Plain of Six Glaciers at Lake Louise and Larch Valley at Moraine Lake.