Last updated on May 4th, 2023 at 11:37 pm

As the summer crowds begin to dwindle, Banff National Park transforms into a breathtakingly beautiful autumnal paradise. The crisp air, vibrant foliage, and peaceful serenity of the season make Banff in fall an ideal destination.

From hiking through golden hued forests to soaking in hot springs surrounded by snow-capped mountains, there is something for everyone in this picturesque town. 

This blog post will explore the best things to do, see, and experience in Banff during the fall season. Get ready to fall in love with Banff all over again this autumn!

Banff, larch trees in fall
Dive into this guide on the seven best things to do in Banff in fall. I touch on relaxation, hiking, eating and much more!
A Park Pass (day pass or discovery pass) is necessary in order to get into Banff National Park, including Banff Town. Discussed in full in this Alberta, Canada guide!
This Banff in fall blog post contains affiliate links. If clicked, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Banff Gondola views, Banff National Park

Should I visit Banff in Fall?

10000%!!! Banff in fall is AMAZING. The temperatures are more tolerable, the crowds are less, the hikes are better (and prettier, in my opinion). DO IT.

HOWEVER, just make sure you visit before Canadian Thanksgiving as Moraine Lake access will be closed!!!! Moraine Lake is not something you want to miss. It is a once in a lifetime view. 

What to do in Banff in Fall?

1. Visit Banff Town

When visiting Banff National Park, start off your trip by visiting the town. Banff town is picturesque, surrounded by the Rocky Mountains. The streets are filled with souvenir shops, restaurants, hotels, an information centre and much more.
I suggest making the Information Centre your first stop. You are able to purchase bear spray here, which is highly recommended while spending time in Banff National Park. The information centre staff show you how to use the spray and how to behave on the hiking trails (making noise every 100m, etc).
They are friendly and happy to answer your questions on Banff National Park, including the many activities available to you! Take advantage of their wisdom and individualize your itinerary with their advice.
The town of Banff is enjoyable to walk through. You are also able to drive in and park in their parking lots for about $3 per hour.
Spend an hour or two checking out their shops and have a bite to eat at their many restaurants.

2. Have a bite to eat in one of Banff’s best restaurants!

My favourite Banff Restaurants
Address: 207 Banff Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1B4
Price range: $$$
The Grizzly House, Banff Town, fondue dinner The Grizzly House, Banff Town, fondue dinner
The Grizzly House is a dining experience like no other and a MUST while you are in Banff. Their specialty is fondue.
Fondue for appetizers, fondue for dinner, fondue for dessert, you name it. I recommend getting the four course fondue dinner, and make sure you come to dinner hungry.
The four course starts off with a soup of the day or salad, followed by an appetizer fondue (classic Neuchâtel fondue or vegetable fondue). I have heard wonderful things about the vegetable fondue, however, pictured is the cheese fondue, which we ordered.
The main course is a choice between a number of different meat options. We chose the Hunter Fondue, which is comprised of; buffalo, wild boar and venison. If you are feeling adventurous they have an Exotic Fondue Dinner, which includes; shark, alligator, rattlesnake, ostrich, frog lets and buffalo (we were not ready for that type of dinner haha).
To end off a filling four course meal, you receive the Toblerone chocolate fondue served with fruit.
The four course meals range from around $50 – $70CAD, depending on the type of main course you choose.
If you are not that hungry, you are able to order fondue dinners separately, or just enjoy the chocolate fondue for a dessert.
Tip: You cook the meat yourself on a tabletop cooking stone. A result of this being the strong meat smell throughout the restaurant. I suggest leaving your jacket in your car or hotel if able, to avoid smelling like meat the rest of your trip.
Address: 219 Banff Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1A7
Price range: $$
Park Distillery, Banff Town
Park Distillery offers grilled meats and hearty sides. It is not only a restaurant, but also a craft distillery in Banff National Park.
We ordered the Park Classic Meal – 1/2 rack of ribs, 1/4 chicken meal, this comes with potatoes, gravy and coleslaw for $44.50 CAD. Additionally, we had two sides; mac & cheese and the broccolini (which was my favourite).
There are a number of other sides, all are under $10.00. This meal was enough for two people.
The Distillery offers tours and tastings that occur every Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday at 3:30PM for $25 per person. You can book a tour/tasting at the link here.
After eating at their restaurant, check out their store which is connected and receive 10% off. We bought their Park Gin and it was fab!
Address: Mountain Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1J3, @ Banff Gondola
Price range: $$$
Sky Bistro, Banff Gondola
I would consider Sky Bistro a tourist spot, especially as it is attached to the Banff Gondola. However, they had one of the best desserts.
We visited Sky Bistro after the Banff Gondola to get inside from the cold. The chocolate torte with orange and cranberry compote was to die for.
They offer a package of $80.00 per person including; an appetizer and entree, at lunch or dinner, (your choice), with Banff Gondola admission. You can also stop in for a la carte and would have to purchase gondola admission separately.

Fairmont Banff Springs Food Pairing Experience

Address: 405 Spray Ave, Banff, AB, T1L 1J4
Price Range: $$$-$$$$
Visit the Fairmont Banff Springs on this food tour. This tour offers a uniquely Albertan food experience with fresh foods from local farms. This food experience will also offer you the opportunity to visit Fairmont Banff Springs and learn about it’s history.
Restaurants that I wish we had time to visit and would visit next time we are in Banff
Let me know if you have tried these!
Address: 101 Banff Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1B3
Price range: $$
Why I want to go: for steak, DUH!!
Address: 110 Banff Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1A9
Price range: $$
Why I want to go: for their terrace that overlooks the mountains
Address: 405 Spray Ave, Banff, AB T1L 1J4
Price range: $$$$
Why I want to go: for a fancy meal in Fairmont Banff Springs, (definitely a luxury), and their fondue

3. Relax at a Banff Spa or Hot Spring (or both)

Your Banff Hotel

Many Banff hotels have hot tubs, saunas, heated pools and if you’re lucky a spa. Our hotel had a hot tub and sauna to use for free. Check out Banff hotels here.
Canalta Lodge, Banff National Park, relaxing in the hot tubs
I understand public pools and hot tubs can be a breeding ground for bacteria, however, I found the amenities to be clean at Canalta Lodge.
Research your hotel ahead of time and read the reviews on the cleanliness of their spas.
Majority of the Banff hotels have beautiful views of the mountains. No better way to relax than sitting in a whirlpool and looking out at the scenery! The fall weather may be chilly, this is the perfect way to enjoy it outside.
Banff Upper Hot Springs is run by Parks Canada and is open daily. Less of a spa and more of a hot springs/public pool. Still enjoyable and a warm escape from the cold Alberta weather. Admission is reasonably priced, ~$9.00 entry for adults.
Parks Canada has two other hot springs locations; Miette Hot Springs, in Alberta and Radium Hot Springs, in British Columbia.

Fairmont Spas

If you are willing to spend some money (which I did not have at the time), this is the spa to spend it at. Fairmont offers almost any spa treatment you can think of.
Their prices are quite high, with majority of services ranging between $200 – $400 CAD. After your purchased service, you are able to use the spa facility for two hours.
The spa facility includes; lounges, whirlpools, saunas, a steam room and more.
Similar to the above spa, this Fairmont also offers luxury services at higher prices. It is located right outside of the famous Lake Louise.

4. Visit Banff’s Famous Lakes

Moraine Lake

Moraine Lake, Banff National Park at sunrise
I have seen many beautiful places in my life, but I am here to say, Moraine Lake takes the number 1 spot. This lake is extraordinary. I highly recommend being there for sunrise, there is something so special about watching the stillness of the lake with the peace of morning.
Our experience seeing the sun rise and hit the peaks of the mountains was a memory I will take with me forever.
In order to see the beautiful colour of Moraine Lake, you need to visit when the ice has thawed, in late May/early June.
The road to Moraine Lake is open to the public each year from May to mid October, usually closing after Canadian Thanksgiving weekend. This is important to note in Banff in fall.
For reference, the photo of Moraine Lake above was taken in early October.
Moraine Lake is about an hour drive from Banff Town. To ensure you are able to get into the parking lot, you need to show up to the lake at around 5:00 – 5:30 AM (early I know, but take that seriously).
The parking lot fills up quickly, and if you don’t make the first round of spots you must wait in line, most likely missing the sun rise.

Lake Louise

Lake Louise, Banff National Park
Lake Louise, in my opinion, is Alberta’s second most beautiful lake. It is also definitely one of the most popular. The colours are just as beautiful as Moraine Lake with amazing mountain backdrops.
Lake Louise has multiple hiking opportunities nearby that make for a great full day trip from Banff town.
I have detailed how to spend a day in this area in this Banff Itinerary. The type of activities that can be done around Lake Louise depend on the time of the year.
Banff in fall will allow you to do all of the hiking, kayaking & more with decent weather.

Lake Agnes

Lake Agnes, Banff
Lake Agnes trail, detailed below in the hiking section, is a sweet treat when reaching the top of a 3.7km hike up to the teahouse. Enjoy the views while sipping on some hot tea.

Lake Minnewanka

Lake Minnewanka, Banff National Park
Lake Minnewanka, Banff’s largest lake, is another of many glacial lakes in Alberta. This lake offers boat tours that can be purchased here.
These tours run from May – mid October. It can also be purchased in a combo package here, which I recommend to get the best value for money and visit as many attractions as possible.
You are also able to hike around Lake Minnewanka on their user friendly trails.

Two Jack Lake

Two Jack Lake, Banff National Park
Two Jack Lake is right next to Lake Minnewanka. We were unable to spend much time here due to our tight schedule, however, we were able to stop and enjoy the scenery at the road stop.
There is a nice 3.2km trail loop around Two Jack Lake that starts at the Parking Lot. In the summer, Two Jack Lake offers swimming and other water sports.

5. Go For a Hike

HOT TIP: Download Alltrails, a free app that has information, maps and photos of hikes in a specific area. I use it for all my hiking trips. You can also upgrade the app to premium for a price, however, I don’t find this necessary, unless you are a serious hiker, the free version is perfect enough.

Bow River Bridge Trail

Difficulty: Easy
Length: 7.8km (longest), can turn back at any point
Start: Banff Pedestrian Bridge
Surprise Corner Viewpoint, Banff National Park
Walk along the Bow River to see the Bow Falls. The Bow Falls viewpoint is at about 2.3km into the hike. This trail passes the Banff Springs Hotel and goes all the way to the Banff Gondola. You can stop and turn back at any point as it can be long.
If you choose to walk along the Bow River on the other side you will get to the Surprise Corner Viewpoint, where you will get a beautiful view of the Fairmont Banff Springs (pictured above).

Hoodoos Trail

Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 10.0km
Start: Surprise Corner Viewpoint
Tunnel Mountain, Banff National Park
This trail can be started across the street at the Surprise Corner Viewpoint or in Banff Town. It goes around Tunnel Mountain (pictured above), and is a nice trail. The trail is on the longer side if you start from Banff Town. If you drive up to the Surprise Corner Viewpoint, there is a parking lot across the street – the trail can be started here.

Johnston Canyon Trail

Difficulty: Easy – Moderate
Length: 11.7km (longest), can turn back at any point
Start: Johnston Canyon Lodge
Johnston Canyon, Banff National Park
This trail is a very popular tourist destination in Banff. Johnston Canyon is about a 30 minute drive from Banff Town.
In the busier months it is important to get to Johnston Canyon early in the morning to ensure you have a parking spot, otherwise you will be in line until you are let in.
The trail has breathtaking views of the canyons and waterfalls.
After about 1km of walking, you reach the lower falls
3kms later you will reach the upper falls
At around 6km you will reach the Ink Pots
We opted to go to the upper falls and back due to time constraints.

Lake Agnes Trail

Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 7.4km
Start: Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise
This trail is a very popular one starting at Lake Louise. When visiting Lake Louise, walk around the lake to the right hand side, passing the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, this will take you closer to the trailheads for a number of different hikes.
The Lake Agnes Trail takes you on a scenic route. From the trees you are able to see views of Lake Louise from above.
You will reach Mirror Lake 3km into the hike, stop here to enjoy and take photos.
Lake Agnes is 3.7km into the hike.
There is a teahouse at the top that is open from May – October. Purchase some tea and take in the beautiful lake.
You can continue this hike for about 1km more to Little Beehive, which is a viewpoint of Lake Louise.
Lake Agnes Teahouse, Banff National Park
The Lake Agnes Teahouse takes cash only.

More Banff Hiking

Visit Parks Canada, for more hikes in Banff National Park.

6. Visit Banff Gondola

Banff Gondola
Banff Gondola is open year round and is a tourist attraction that offers panoramic views with the least amount of exertion, win win haha.
The gondola takes you to the summit of Sulphur Mountain where you are able to walk around on a boardwalk and take the sights and learn about the area.
I suggest purchasing tickets for this in a combo package with other Alberta tourist attractions (saving money!!).
If you do not want a combo package, you can purchase tickets solely for Banff Gondola.
Adult admission tickets are about ~$60.00CAD and children are around $30.00. Higher prices are seen on the weekends and warmer months.
It is cheaper to combine your admission ticket with a meal at the Sky Bistro or with a combo package of other tourist attractions.

7. Take a guided tour OR participate in a guided excursion/activity

Bow River Horseback Riding (1 Hour)

I don’t know why I love horseback riding so much while on vacation. I did it for the first time in Ireland and now love to do it on my vacations.

Horseback ride through the gorgeous landscape of Banff National Park with this tour.

This tour includes a horse (duh..), helmet, riding instructions, guides & amazing views.

Canoe Ride on Bow River (1.5 Hours)

Join this small group tour and canoe along the Bow River in Banff. You will be accompanied by professional guides, and given all necessary and lifesaving equipment.

Banff is all about being one with nature, what better way to do this than by taking a canoe ride on the Bow River!

Lake Louise & Moraine Lake Sightseeing Tour

Hiking not really your thing but you still really want to see those gorgeous lakes? No problem, this guided tour offers a half day exploration of Lake Louise and Moraine Lake.

On this tour, you will visit Fairmont Château Lake Louise, Lake Louise itself and  Moraine Lake.

This tour includes pick up and drop off from your hotel, a tour guide, snacks & a warm beverage.


Banff in fall is an unforgettable experience that offers a unique blend of natural beauty, adventure, and relaxation. With fewer crowds and stunning fall colours, visitors can enjoy a peaceful and serene atmosphere in this mountain paradise!
So, pack your bags, grab your camera, and get ready to immerse yourself in the stunning autumn landscapes of Banff!
Check out my related blog posts below for more information on Alberta blog posts: