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Banff in June

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Nottingham, United...
posts: 60
reviews: 1
Banff in June

I know this is a question answered many times elsewhere - but I see lots of conflicting answers so want to ask it in my own way...

I am planning a trip to N. America: (home is England):

- 1 week in Yosemite June 1st to 8th

- 1 week Banff 9th to 15th (rough dates)

These are the places I most want to see in N. America and combining them into one trip seems to work (nothing booked)

In Banff I want to:

- drive the ice fields parkway

- see beautiful glacial lakes

- hike some moderate trails

I have seen reports that say this is the best time of year to go:

- the ice fields parkway will be snow free and safe to drive

- the lakes will be melting and have surrounding mountains still capped with snow

- there won't be the crowds of July and August

But I have heard conflicting views:

- June is the wettest month in Banff

- expect muddy trails and cloud hiding the peaks

- the ice free lakes of July are more beautiful than the mix of ice and water on June

I'm travelled enough to know that spring weather is unpredictable in the mountains, but what are my chances of seeing Banff at it's best if I come for a week in June?

Many thanks,

Andrew

29 replies to this topic
Cheshire
posts: 45
reviews: 18
21. Re: Banff in June

I visited in August and although it was busy the weather was just perfect. We spent 3 nights in banff, 1 night in lake Louise, 2 nights in jasper. Personally I would have liked to have spent more time in banff and lake Louise. Jasper is much warmer and has some nice walks but lake Louise and banff is excellent for hikes. We drove through the Icefields twice, from banff to jasper and back again to lake Louise before heading off to Yoho. Doing it this way meant that we didn't have to rush and we could see some sights and walks on the way up and then some on the way back down again. It is also a tiring day having to travel that much and fitting in beautiful walks means that it is a very early start. The weather is very changeable, just make sure you have a waterproof jacket and a rucksack with you. We wore shorts the whole time (waterproof) and we onto needed trousers for the glacier.

If you go to the tourist info place in banff and lake Louise they can give you some excellent maps for walks/hikes that are graded by difficultly. It took us ages to choose which ones we wanted to do as the were so many. Most of the walks we went on were a little busy (but was we chose The difficult ones these trails we not as busy as the easy flat walks that most people went on.) most of the time we walked a few past people but it wasn't that busy and we were there in the middle of August.

Hope this helps

K

Chorley, United...
posts: 13
reviews: 3
22. Re: Banff in June

Just to further recommend Air Transat, as they offer very good value for money. If you book with them through Canadian Affair (who I think are their parent company) you usually get at least 10% off car hire with them also.

Nottingham, United...
posts: 60
reviews: 1
23. Re: Banff in June

Thank-you for all the great replies. I still haven't made the decision on June or Sept [will probably depend on home commitments] - but below is my draft itinerary [I still need to look at driving distances amongst other things]. Any comments would be highly valued.

- any risk with the high level hikes in Jun/Sep?

- is Wells Gray worth the mileage?

- any 'must sees' missing?

Day 1 - [18-Jun. or 3-Sept] - Flight to Calgary - Stay Banff

Land 1:20pm - drive to Banff

Day 2 - Moraine Lake - Stay Banff

Day hike to Sentinel Pass

Day 3 - Lake Louise - Stay Banff

Day hike to Lake Louise / Big Beehive

Day 4 - Ice Fields Parkway - Stay Jasper

Militaga Canyon, Sunwapata and Anthabasca falls

Day 5 -Jasper to Clearwater - Stay Clearwater

Mount Robson, Wells Gray Provincial Park

Day 6 - Clearwater to Jasper - Stay Jasper

Wells Gray Provincial Park

Day 7 - Mailigne Lake - Stay Jasper

Mailigne Lake / Maligne Canyon

Day 8 - Ice Fields Parkway - Stay Golden

Bow Glacier falls

Day 9 - Yoho - Lake O'Hara - Stay Golden

Lake O'Hara - Lake McArthur hike

Day 10- Yoho Valley - Stay Golden

Emerald Lake Loop Hike [?]

Day 11 - Sunshine Village - Stay Banff

Sunshine Village Hike

Day 12 - Fly home

Vermilion lakes / Lake Minnewanka loop Road - 7:40pm flight from Calgary

[possible 2 day extension for June option]

Jasper, Canada
Destination Expert
for Jasper, Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies
posts: 11,262
reviews: 80
24. Re: Banff in June

If you come in June, there is a possibility that some higher hikes will still be snowbound. Sentinel Pass would be one of those - it's one of the highest trails in the Canadian Rockies. I hiked Larch Valley (below Sentinel Pass) a couple of years ago on the 18th or 19th of June; we went right to the base of the pass, and in the larch forest part of the hike, the snow was mid-shin deep. In the meadows immediately below the pass, it was almost all melted (since it's more open and gets the sun). On the switchbacks up the pass itself, there were several very large snowpatches. We had also hiked to Eiffel Lake that day so were not looking to ascend the pass, but I'm not if I would have... descending back to Larch valley might have been tricky on some of those snow patches, and beyond my comfort zone. However, we did see a hiker on her way up to the pass and then on her way back down (the north side of the pass would still be impassable at that time of year). So assuming snow conditions are similar next June (and that is not a given), it really depends on your tolerance for possibly slippery snow slopes on a trail where a slip could be disastrous.

Lake O'Hara would also be very snowy still at that time of year. I have never hiked there, but have seen photos from friends' trips (including some sections mid-thigh deep), some at that time of year... again, in some years there can still be very deep snow and some of the prime trails would not yet be passable.

By the way, are you aware of the procedure for access to Lake O'Hara on the bus? Details are on the Yoho NP website. It will probably not be as difficult to get in there at that time of year since the hiking might be "iffy".

Early September is definitely a safer bet for access on the highest trails.

Edited: 8:19 pm, January 02, 2014
Nottingham, United...
posts: 60
reviews: 1
25. Re: Banff in June

Hi krp329 - thank-you for the response - I was aware of the need of booking a place on the bus to get to Lake O'Hara, but haven't checked out the details. I would skip any of the high trails rather than face slippy snow. Doing high level hikes is not an essenital part of the holiday, but it would be a nice option to have. Thank-you again. Andrew

Jasper, Canada
Destination Expert
for Jasper, Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies
posts: 11,262
reviews: 80
26. Re: Banff in June

There are lots of lower elevation hikes to do in the Canadian Rockies, but really, the best ones (the ones the Rockies are famous for) are the ones at higher elevations, in the subalpine and alpine areas. Many of the lower elevation hikes entail mostly walking through forest to a viewpoint or scenic attraction. I am not totally oblivious to the charms of forest ;-) but given a choice (and if I were spending money to come here to hike), I would be maximizing the time spent on the higher trails.

Nottingham, United...
posts: 60
reviews: 1
27. Re: Banff in June

Hi krp329 - hope you are still following the thread

Work commitments have meant that September would not be that easy

So on my following plan what do you feel is not an option for June (and can you suggest any alternatives?) - many thanks Andrew:

Day 1 - 18-Jun. - Flight to Calgary - Stay Banff

Day 2 - 19-Jun - Moraine Lake - Day hike to Sentinel Pass (or maybe just Larch Valley)

Day 3 - 20-Jun - Lake Louise - Day hike to Lake Agnes

Day 4 - 21st Jun - Ice Fields Parkway - Stay Jasper

Day 5 - 22-Jun - Jasper to Clearwater - Wells Gray Provincial Park

Day 6 - 23-Jun - Clearwater to Jasper - Wells Gray Provincial Park

Day 7 - 24-Jun - Mailigne Lake / Maligne Canyon

Day 8 - 10th Sept - Ice Fields Parkway

Day 9 -25 -Jun - Yoho - Lake O'Hara

Day 10 - 26 -Jun -Yoho Valley - Emerald Lake Loop Hike

Day 11 - 27 - Jun - Sunshine Village

Day 12 - 28- Jun - Fly home

Jasper, Canada
Destination Expert
for Jasper, Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies
posts: 11,262
reviews: 80
28. Re: Banff in June

Hi Andy, still here. ;-) Looks good. On either day 5 or day 6, if you have time, you may want to hike to Kinney Lake (in Mt. Robson Provincial Park). It's an easy 9 km return, with only 180m of elevation gain, to one of the lowest elevation glacial lakes here in the Rockies. (984m/ 3200ft) There will be very long hours of daylight when you are here (right around the summer solstice)... in Jasper, it's really only pitch dark for about 3 hours at that time of year, with a couple of hours of twilight on either end. It's light past 10 pm... as an example, our Canada Day fireworks (on July 1) start at 11:15 pm, and it's not yet completely dark then!

On day 4 or day 8, you might want to consider hiking to Wilcox Pass, or even partway up the trail to the first look-out. Wilcox is usually an earlier option than Parker Ridge (which is nearby) because Wilcox is south/west facing whereas Parker faces east.

Just wondering ... day 8 still has a Sept. date in it, and day 9 is the date in June after day 7 ... does that mean day 12 and your flight is actually on June 29? (instead of the 28th) or do you actually only have 11 days, not 12? Otherwise, assuming all the dates given for June are correct, you are going to need a VERY early start from Jasper to get to the Lake O'Hara parking lot in time for the bus (assuming you are able to get a reservation on the bus). If the "day 8" with the September notation is to be completely omitted, it might be better to reverse your activities for Yoho... do Emerald Lake etc. after driving the parkway, and go to O'Hara the next day, when you will, presumably, be staying nearby (Field or LL) or no more than an hour's drive away (Banff).

I am struggling a bit with Wells Gray. I have visited Wells Gray a couple of times and have enjoyed it, but am not sure I would include it in as you have, as a 4 hour detour (each way). Certainly the driving is scenic though. But hopefully others who may know that area better than I do will chime in with their thoughts on this. Wells Gray is, imo, a great stop for those on the way to Vancouver from Jasper via that route - I much prefer stopping there over Kamloops.

Hope this helps!

Nottingham, United...
posts: 60
reviews: 1
29. Re: Banff in June

"Just wondering ... day 8 still has a Sept. date in it, and day 9 is the date in June after day 7 ... does that mean day 12 and your flight is actually on June 29? "

oops correct - flying hope on the 29th - I still haven't booked the flights - hopefully have the leave booked by the weekend and then the flights. The trip was all planned for Sept before the switch to June. In either June or Sept we have 12 days.

Yes on the night before Lake O'Hara I hoped to stay in Field or LL after driving the IceFields Parkway. If Lake O'Hara is an option in June (I am more of a hiker than my wife and would cut it from the plan if it meant more than hiking over the odd snow patch), then I will try to get some bus tickets, and if I fail I'm sure there are lots of great fall back options.

Wells Gray- all my planning has been done from the Moon Guide Book - which doesn't go as far as Wells Gray, but I spotted it in some wider research. It adds substantially to the mileage, but the photos of the waterfalls looked amazing - and something different to what we would see at Jasper/Banff. If we cut this out, I guess we could do one day to Mount Robson and do the hike to Kinney Lake as you suggest, but any suggestions on how you would spend the other day this frees up?

Huge thank-you, it always amazes me how generous people are with their advice on this forum.

Andy

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