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Late August vs late September for visit to Banff/Lake Louise

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Oriskany Falls, New...
Level Contributor
1 post
6 reviews
Late August vs late September for visit to Banff/Lake Louise

We are planning a honeymoon trip to Banff/Lake Louise in 2014. Due to conflicts with work, we cannot go in early or mid September (my preferred time). Would the weather still be favorable for hiking from September 23-30? We like cool temperatures and have hiked the Rockies in Colorado in late September, but I'm afraid of it being too cold and icy, preventing us from doing some hikes (our main reason for wanting to visit this area).

The other option would be August 22-Sept 2. Falling over a holiday weekend and also likely a busier time for tourists. Are the crowds really that much worse in the summer (or have they died down a bit by the end of august?) and will the trailheads be that much more crowded/no parking/etc? I already see that hotel prices are more expensive this week.

Thank you in advance for any help!

Vancouver, Canada
Destination Expert
for Vancouver
Level Contributor
41,842 posts
54 reviews
1. Re: Late August vs late September for visit to Banff/Lake Louise

Welcome to the forum, kmweigand ~

Labour Day weekend will be very busy. Many Calgarians come out to the area for their last fling before school goes back in. Definitely high season.

But the earlier time is a little better in terms of daylight. On 1 Sept, sunrise/sunset is 6h50/8h20, 13h30m. On 27 Sept, 7h30/7h20, 11h51m. Labour day weekend would give you more daylight. Temps would be a bit better too.

Level Contributor
45 posts
19 reviews
2. Re: Late August vs late September for visit to Banff/Lake Louise

I would go in august....yes it will be busier ...you can get away from the crowds.....we were theremiddle of sept.and when we left Banff on 22nd sept .the weather has changed and there was snow on the mountain tops.we had really warm weather .but seemingly that was a fluke ...

Jasper, Canada
Destination Expert
for Jasper, Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies
Level Contributor
14,143 posts
94 reviews
3. Re: Late August vs late September for visit to Banff/Lake Louise

I would also choose August. Hiking season at higher elevations is *usually* fine until almost the end of September, but snow can start to accumulate at subalpine and alpine elevations anytime from mid-September on. When it falls earlier, it may not stick around, but with the shorter, cooler days, what often happens is that snow will melt, but the trail won't dry up (especially in shady or forested areas) because there may only be a couple of hours in the afternoon when the temperature is much above freezing, and then it will refreeze at night. Over a few days, you can get quite a slick coating of ice in some spots. There is a lot of variance, of course, since so much depends on what aspect a slope is, is it shaded, local weather etc. ... and even trail construction.

August is part of the "busy" season, but the easiest way to lose the "crowds" (there really are only lots of people at a very few popular sites) is to walk off the pavement and up a trail. Something like 90+% of visitors to the Canadian Rockies national parks never get more than a hundred or couple of hundred metres from the pavement. The last week of August is usually a bit of a lull (school starts the next week, so there are fewer families travelling), but yes, the long weekend is busy ... but not as busy as the August long weekend. Excepting the long weekend, it's basically about the same in busy-ness from the last week of August through to mid-September; the visitor numbers really don't drop a lot until closer to the end of September, coinciding with the weather starting to get noticeably cooler.

Edmonton, Canada
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3,679 posts
56 reviews
4. Re: Late August vs late September for visit to Banff/Lake Louise

for me, the risk of cooler weather would be worth it to avoid the summer crowds. so, i'd choose september. check out the history on the weather network.

5. Re: Late August vs late September for visit to Banff/Lake Louise

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