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When is the best time to visit Banff/Jasper NP ?

Anaheim, California
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When is the best time to visit Banff/Jasper NP ?

I want to visit the beautiful Canadian Rockies for the first time in my life. I want to spend may be 6 to 7 days.

Can anyone suggest the best time to visit Banff/Jasper/Canadian Rockies area based on following criteria ?

1. Crowds factors - I rather have less crowds than a lots of crowds

2. Scenery and weather - when is the best time for scenery ?

3. Hotel accommodations - when are the best rates ?

Can anyone also recommend the best itineraries (where to stay, what to see and etc) if I fly into Calgary and want to visit the beautiful Canadian Rockies ?

This will be one time in life kind of trip. And I don't want to miss anything when I am there.

Thanks.

Canmore, Alberta
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1. Re: When is the best time to visit Banff/Jasper NP ?

The summer months are the busiest, July and August. It can be extremely crowded in the popular spots. Once the Labour Day holiday weekend has gone by in the beginning of September (2011 it is the 3rd, 4th and 5th) the tourism slows down from the mass crowds of summer, but can still be busy for the rest of the month.

The hotel rates follow the peak demand times, summer months, Christmas, prime skiing season, etc.

My choice if I was coming to experience it as a once in lifetime opportunity and taking into consideration you don't want it to be super crowded would be coming right after the Labour Day holiday in September. You may already be getting some cooler temperatures, and I don't know that the hotels will be that much cheaper, but overall I think it will be the best balance.

My other thought was the month of June, but it can be one of the months with the most rain for both Banff and Jasper National Parks. April and May can be okay times to visit, but it really depends on what you want to be doing. Some higher elevation lakes and such are still frozen until the first week of June. You will be limited in what areas are accessible for hiking as well. If you are into just general sight seeing and lower hotel prices it might be a time that works for you. It would help if you list what kind of activities you would like to be able to do when you arrive.

If you do a search through the Jasper, Banff, and Lake Louise forums you will see a lot of questions that have been answered about the best time to visit and what to expect at certain times of the year.

Hope that helps some.

Cheers.

Edited: 10:44 pm, April 05, 2011
Banff, Canada
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2. Re: When is the best time to visit Banff/Jasper NP ?

I agree - from Labour Day into mid-September gives you the best of all worlds!

If you type "best time" into the search box for this forum, you will find many, many threads on this topic - that will let you access the views of a bunch of different people, but I believe the final answer will be the same.

Edited: 3:17 pm, April 06, 2011
Jasper, Canada
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for Jasper, Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies
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3. Re: When is the best time to visit Banff/Jasper NP ?

The answer to your points #1 and 3 is mid-October to late-November - that's the "in between" seasons time - too early for most ski areas to be open (or have decent conditions) and too cold for summer-type activities. This is when the fewest visitors are around, so there are lots of specials on.

However, somehow I don't think that's exactly what you have in mind with your questions ... but how are we to know when you haven't said? So it would be helpful if you told us a bit about what interests you and what you would like to do in the Canadian Rockies.

The answer to #2 is that the scenery is gorgeous all through the year. Some people really love to see the mountains all snowy in the winter and spring, others prefer to see the glacial lakes unfrozen, in the summer and autumn. Depending on what you like to do, weather may also be a factor in getting out and enjoying the scenery.

A good start would be... do you want a winter holiday, or one in the warmer seasons? Are you planning on doing any activities while you visit, or just tour (by car?) and see the sights? Are you a hiker wanting to get up into subalpine meadows and alpine ridges (if so, July, August or early September would be the best time to come).

Fredericksburg...
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4. Re: When is the best time to visit Banff/Jasper NP ?

That depends on what you want to see (or do). We've been twice now in winter. Since tit's starting to thaw this time of year (end March/early April) with daily highs in the 40f's the roads are clear, sidewalks too and it's not bitter at all and quite pleasant. There's still plenty of snow on the mountains (it snowed daily but melted fast and was never an issue). So far this was our favorite time of year. Also we've been skiing at the end of January- well after the holiday and before Spring Break. Neither time was crowded- not town, not in the hotel, not restaurants and not on the slopes. You don't have to ski to enjoy the winter in this area. If you can walk you can snowshoe or dogsled or simply wonder at it all while taking it in fireside somewhere with a view, and that's an easy bill of goods to fill in Banff. There are loads of free parking garages in town, or choose a lodge within walking distance that has underground parking and you're set. The views are outstanding form nearly anywhere so I hope you take some time to do something new and different, too.

But... we are a family that loves snow (actually, we don't mind any kind of weather!) and it did snow all but one day of our trip (not necessarily common and this year March had a record snowfall) which pleased us all to no end. Didn't snow a lot mind you, but if you don't appreciate the fluffy white stuff, it wouldn't be for you. However, I can't think of a more majestic and beautiful time in the Rockies. Anyone can see a green tree but the mountains covered with snow, eagles perched over thawing lakes was just simply breathtaking. I wish I could have stayed another week or two to spy some bears! We're coming back at the end of summer just before school starts (as the expert said, ALL summer is busy, but my little hotel birdie told me that for them it tends to drop off just before school starts, so we're taking advantage) but frankly I can't wait for our next winter adventure there. Also, it's a romantic spot so many folks come up to Banff for special occasions on the weekends (not a mad-crazy rush for certain but it does add more people by a wee bit), so midweek is best and it's the best time to book deals on lodging, too.

I posted all our vacation pictures online mainly because our friends thought we were absolutely crazy to head north this time of year to more winter. Now they all want to go, too, including my 20 year old for her 21st birthday. She could go anywhere in the world, and wants to see Banff. That's saying something!

Banff, Canada
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5. Re: When is the best time to visit Banff/Jasper NP ?

Hi Zeppelin417 and Welcome to the Forum.

I would say in July or August. July and August are "the best" weather months - and therefore the most popular. For a lot of visitors, their experience is directly proportional to the weather - they have a good experience when the weather is warm. September is my favorite time of year to enjoy the National Parks, with smaller crowds, but there is greater potential of inclement weather. The hotel rates stay high until the end of September and the peak season for hotel rates reflect the most desirable months to travel here: anytime from mid-June to mid-September.

If you haven't booked yet, is it possible you can take more time? 10 days would be ideal to explore Banff, Lake Louise and Jasper. You'll want to start and finish your trip in Calgary and rent a car from the airport. 3-4 days in Banff and Lake Louise is ideal, 1 day to drive the Icefields Parkway to Jasper, 2-3 full days in Jasper and then, a full day to drive back to Calgary will give you enough time to see the towns and the outstanding scenery in the National Park(s).

seattle
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6. Re: When is the best time to visit Banff/Jasper NP ?

I go every month between may and october and its hard to have a bad 'trip' to the rockies. Coming from California, on the busiest day you'll ask where is everyone. Best to avoid Banff on weekends in summer but I never think its very crowded anywhere. Timing is everything. Going to Moraine or Lk Louise early is always the best. To me anytime after June is ideal as all the lks will be unfrozen. As mentioned Sept is always a great time to visit but earlier in the summer the weather is pretty ideal, it stays light a lot longer, and I don't think you'd find the crowds much of a factor.

Calgary, Canada
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7. Re: When is the best time to visit Banff/Jasper NP ?

When you say "best to avoid Banff on weekends in summer", are you referring to the Banff townsite, or the entire park?

La Jolla, California
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8. Re: When is the best time to visit Banff/Jasper NP ?

I have booked arriving in Calgary on Sat, July 2 and leaving Sat. July 9. So we'll get to Banff on Saturday night.

So we have 6 full days, since we plan to be back in Calgary on Friday night for a Saturday morning flight.

Is it unrealistic (worth it) to leave Banff for Jasper Wed morning and do only 2 nights in Jasper? My husband thinks maybe (too much driving?) we should just stay in Banff and head up the highway for a few hours each way (covering Lake Louise). Our aim on our trip is to see the beauty and do moderate half-day hikes (no bears!).

Jasper, Canada
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9. Re: When is the best time to visit Banff/Jasper NP ?

If you don't drive to Jasper, you will miss one of the highlights of the area. The Icefields Parkway, which runs between Lake Louise and Jasper, has been rated by National Geographic as one of "Twenty Drives of a Lifetime". I think it is very worthwhile for visitors to drive it twice, because the views are different in each direction, and you may have different weather conditions each time. Blue sky days are always spectacular in the Rockies but sometimes the most incredible views (and photographs) come on days with clouds or even storms moving through.

Driving straight through, it's only about 3 hours from LL to Jasper (225 km/140 miles) but there are so many stops you can make - lakes, waterfalls, canyons, viewpoints etc. - that most people plan a day of it. Pack a picnic lunch and some beverages, and you can stop whenever you like at one of the many scenic picnic sites. On your way back to Calgary, plan for five hours.

Two nights in Jasper means you will have one full day to sightsee - you could visit the Maligne valley (Athabasca Look-Out, Maligne Canyon, Medicine Lake and Maligne Lake), or Miette Hot Springs in the east end of the park. Perhaps you might like to drive into neighbouring BC to Mt. Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies, or visit Jasper Tramway. You could also fit the tramway or a visit to Mt. Edith Cavell in the morning on your way back south.

La Jolla, California
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10. Re: When is the best time to visit Banff/Jasper NP ?

Thanks krp329. That helps a lot. .... yes, we have one full day in Jasper, and a day to get there and a day to get back to Calgary. I am so excited. I was in Banff/Lake Louise decades ago, but never made it to Jasper. This time we'll make it; we're already booked, but I was getting second thoughts. Appreciate your experience!