What To Do In Banff In September
See the colours of fall on a guided hike to Larch Valley in the Canadian Rockies

Looking for the best things to see and do in Banff in September?

September is a month to remember in the Canadian Rockies – with continuing warm summer weather and crisp morning air – it’s a perfect (and slightly less crowded) environment for exploring as the leaves and temps start to change. But, like many others, there are probably a few bits of information that you want to know before you make your plans…

We love the weather in Banff in September!

It’s the best of both worlds–a taste of summer, with the breeze (and colors!) of fall. In general, the average temperature this time of year is 17 ℃ during the daytime, but it will get fairly cold (around 2 ℃) at night. If you are here earlier in September, you will most likely catch the warmest of the days, but if you are here later in September, you will get a true glimpse of the crisp fall mornings and evenings.

What to pack for your trip to Banff in September

This is true for almost every season in Banff, but the key to packing for Banff in September is the same–pack in layers! Light layers will allow you to enjoy the cool mornings, the afternoon heat, and the chill of the evening. This means that (especially if you are coming earlier in September) you will want to include some shorts and t-shirts or tanks, but you will also want to include some long sleeves, pants, and a jacket that can keep you warm if temperatures take a big swing. Last but certainly not least, make sure to bring a good pair of hiking shoes so that you can get out and see all that Banff has to offer. Check out our all-season packing guide to find out what to wear for all seasons in Banff.

See fall colours along the Bow Valley Parkway in Banff with Discover Banff Tours
Photo Credit: Robert Schrader @leaveyourdailyhell

1. Observe Banff’s amazing fall colours on a hike

As fall sets in, it’s the perfect weather for hiking. There are a million places to hike in the various National Parks, so it can be hard to know which ones are best. You can research the best places for yourself, or you can take a guided hike. Our Lake Louise and Banff guided hikes are great options if you want to explore the best trails in the area with an experienced guide. We have hikes that will take you through the wild and rugged environments of both Banff and Kootenay National Park. Each hike offers different sites and experiences but one thing they have in common is the presence of larch trees. The larch trees are a “must-see” when visiting Banff in September because that’s when they transition to a bright golden yellow. For this reason, The Larch Valley hike is one of our favourites this time of year.

Banff sightseeing
Credit: Banff and Lake Louise Tourism/Paul Zizka Photography

Are you interested in hiking in Banff?

Learn More About Guided Hikes

 

2. Adventure through the golden larch trees on an ATV tour

Another option for seeing the larch trees is on an ATV tour! While ATVs aren’t permitted in Banff National Park, there are fully guided ATV tours located just two hours from Banff on the edge of the Canadian Rockies. This is one of our favourite things to do in Banff in September because it’s such a unique way to catch the refreshing late-summer/early-fall air while also seeing the changing colours. If you’re up for a fall adventure, the full-day ATV tour is a great choice, and it includes free transport from Banff and lunch at an alpine cabin.

Toby Creek Adventures ATV Tour

Ready to try an ATV tour?

Learn More About ATV Tours

 

3. Visit Moraine Lake before the road closes

While many lakes in the Canadian Rockies are accessible year-round, the access road to Moraine Lake closes in early October every year. This means that September is your last chance to see this famous lake for a while and it also happens to be one of the best times to visit! You will get to see the lake’s stunning turquoise colouring, surrounded by mountains and trees, while also enjoying Banff’s early fall weather. Keep in mind, parking is extremely limited, so if you don’t want to wake up at the crack of dawn to get a spot, booking a tour (that takes care of all those details for you) is a great way to see both Moraine Lake and the well-known Lake Louise.

Instagram Photos at Moraine Lake

Planning a visit to Moraine Lake and Lake Louise?

Learn More About Moraine Lake and Lake Louise

4. See AND hear bull elk fight in rutting season

Every fall, the rut happens during breeding season as mature bulls gather cows and their calves into harems. During this time of year, it’s common to see the elk bulls fighting over the cows. This is already a really cool sight to see, but there’s another entertaining aspect of their fights–their extremely unique ‘bugle’ noise (which sounds like a high-pitched roar). A great way to see and hear these amazing animals during this important time of year is on our daily Evening Wildlife Safari. Our guides know where to go and can lead you to the best spots.

See elk rutting in Banff National Park on a wildlife tour
Photo Credit: Stevin Tuchiwsky @stevint

Do you love watching wildlife?

Learn More About The Evening Wildlife Tours

 

5. Catch Banff from a birds-eye-view with the Banff Gondola

The Banff Gondola is the number one attraction in Banff, but did you know that the Banff Sightseeing Chairlift at Mt Norquay offers similar sky-high views for almost half the price? Of course, both options will show you a stunning perspective of Banff, but the Banff Sightseeing Chairlift has another bonus– the Cliffhouse Bistro! The Cliffhouse Bistro sits at the top of the chairlift and is ready with charcuterie, wine, and more. This 1950s tearoom turned modern bistro is one of the best mountain gazing lunch spots in Banff.

Dine at the Cliffhouse Bistro at Mt Norquay

Looking for sky-high mountain views?

Learn more about Banff Gondola + Discover Banff TourLearn more about the Banff Sightseeing Chairlift

 

6. Meet a grizzly bear

As the fall weather begins to cool, it’s a great time to look for bears before they go into hibernation. To do this, you would have to know where to go and what precautions to take. Another negative is that you can’t observe them up close. If these are all things you would love to do, we have a great solution. Our full-day Discover Grizzly Bears Tour guarantees that you can see, meet, and observe our good friend (and grizzly bear), Boo. The tour takes you to Kicking Horse Mountain Resort in Golden to meet Boo, and includes a sightseeing Gondola ride up to Eagle’s Eye Restaurant, for lunch at Canada’s highest restaurant. Meet Boo, learn more about grizzly bears, sightsee, and dine–it’s everything you need for a full day of Banff adventure.

Grizzly Bear Refuge
Photo Credit: Resorts of the Canadian Rockies RCR

Want to meet a grizzly bear?

Learn More About Grizzly Tours

 

We hope this list of things to do in Banff in September helps you plan your trip so that you can get the most out of your time. No matter how you choose to spend your visit, we can’t wait for you to enjoy Banff’s beautiful weather, breathtaking views, changing leaves, and awesome wildlife.

 Is your time in Banff extending into October? Check out our recommendations for What To Do in Banff in October!

The best Banff activities in September

Private Wildlife Tours

Looking for a more in depth way to connect with Banff's wildlife? Book a private wildlife tour of Banff National
5 Hours
All Ages

Private Hiking Tours

Looking for a guide to lead your group on Banff or Lake Louise's hiking trails? Our private full-day hiking tours
10 Hours
All Ages
Hiking Lake Louise
Most Popular

Guided Signature Hikes

With hundreds of hiking trails how do you know which one to choose? Come with us! Our guides have picked
8:00am
7 Hours
Toby Creek Adventures ATV Tour
Most Popular

Panorama ATV Tours

Feel the 4 wheel power at your fingertips as you ride up to 8,000 feet with spectacular mountain views on
1:30pm
3 Hours
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

Discover Grizzly Bears

Meet Boo at the Grizzly Bear Refuge! Seeing a bear in the flesh is a thrilling moment that will stay
8:30am
10 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

Sign up to our newsletter for news on special deals and events.

We promise to only send you the good stuff!

Have More Questions About Traveling to Banff in September? We have Answers.

Is September a good time to visit Banff?

Many refer to September as one of the best times to visit Banff, with continuing warm weather and fewer crowds, it’s the perfect time to see the changing colours.

 

How long does larch season last?

There are a few short weeks when larches’ needles turn golden in fall, typically from late September to early October.

 

When can you hike Larch Valley?

The popular time to hike Larch Valley at Moraine Lake is during summer and fall. The weather (and views) are stunning throughout the summer but become truly spectacular in fall when the larches turn golden yellow in colour.

 

How can I hike Larch Valley?

The trailhead for Larch Valley is at Moraine Lake, which has extremely limited parking. Head in before sunrise to grab a parking spot or join a small group guided hike.

 

How can I see larch trees?

From late September to early October, larch needles turn a bright golden yellow which can be seen on hiking trails such as Larch Valley and on ATV tours.

 

Is the road to Moraine Lake open?

The road to Moraine Lake is typically open from late May to early October, but there is limited parking, so it’s recommended to visit early in the morning, in the evening, or on a guided tour.

 

What time of year do elk rut?

The elk rut occurs in fall, from late August to mid-October, when male elk (bulls) vie for harems of female elk (cows) during the elk breeding season.

 

Which gondola ride is better in Banff?

The Banff Gondola is the number one attraction in Banff, but the lesser known Banff Sightseeing Chairlift at Mt Norquay offers similar sky-high views for almost half the price. No matter which one you choose, you are sure to gain a new perspective of Banff’s amazing mountains.

 

What’s the weather like in Banff in September?

In general, the average temperature this time of year is 17 ℃ during the daytime, but it will get fairly cold (around 2 ℃) at night. If you are here earlier in September, you will most likely catch the warmest of the days, but if you are here later in September, you will get a true glimpse of the crisp fall mornings and evenings.

 

What should I pack for my trip to Banff in September?

Pack in light layers! This will allow you to enjoy the cool mornings, the afternoon heat, and the chill of the evening. Also, make sure to pack for possible temperature swings, this means a pair of shorts and a t-shirt as well as pants, a long sleeve shirt, and a jacket. Oh, and don’t forget a great pair of hiking shoes!