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Calgary and Banff in Late November

Montgomery, Alabama
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Calgary and Banff in Late November

I'm flying to Calgary in late November and then either taking a bus or driving to Banff(most likely taking a bus because I'm not experienced with winter driving at all). I'll be there for about five days.

Is there usually enough snow for skiing by this time? And are there any other activites like dog sledding available in the area?

Also, I imagine the northern lights are hit and miss so far south but are there any areas that are best for catching a glimpse of them?

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Calgary
Calgary
Alberta, Canada
Banff
Banff
Banff National Park, Canada
4 replies to this topic
Calgary, Canada
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for Canadian Rockies
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1. Re: Calgary and Banff in Late November

Skiing would certainly be a possibility, though snow conditions can be mixed that early. Some years there's great early season snow, other year it's thin for a while. This year looks to be good, but it's too early to really tell.

Sunshine is usually the first to open - early to mid November, followed by Lake Louise. Quite often not all runs are open right away - the higher trails open first, with lower and/or steeper/rockier trails opening as conditions become safe. Note that there are world cup downhill ski races in Lake Louise the last week of November and first week of December - fun to watch, but there will be some run closures.

There are dog sled companies that run out of Lake Louise and Kananaskis Country, though November is likely too early for them to yet be operating. Your best bet that early would be Kingmik, which runs out of Lake Louise. I'd call them closer to the date to see when they are opening for the season. It's likely too early for skating on the lakes, though there's usually xc skiing and snowshoeing to be had around Lake Louise by then.

Note that while there are ski shuttle to Lake Louise, getting between Banff and Lake Louise (the lake, not the resort) is more challenging in the winter. I think Kingmik offers pick up for the most expensive package, but if you're looking for that kind of activity, having a car will make it a lot easier. Up to Lake Louise, the roads are well plowed and maintained -- just get snow tires, drive to the conditions, and if it's bad, you just don't drive.

As to the northern lights - they are very much visible from this area. There were some spectacular ones last month. You just have be around when they happen (and we're in a lower chance cycle), when they happen - normally in the wee hours of the morning, and in a place that's dark enough and not obstructed. Anywhere in the mountains where you can see north is good - Lake Minnewanka seems to be a popular spot. To find out when the chance of seeing them is good, sign up for one of the aurora alerts via e-mail. There's one out of the University of Alberta, I believe, which is specific to Alberta.

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Lake Louise
Lake Louise
Banff National Park, Canada
Kananaskis Country
Kananaskis Country
Canadian Rockies, Canada
Banff
Banff
Banff National Park, Canada
Lake Minnewanka
Lake Minnewanka
2,993 Reviews
Banff, Canada
University of Alberta
University of Alberta
131 Reviews
Edmonton, Canada
Alberta
Alberta
Canada
Banff, Canada
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for Banff, Lake Louise
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2. Re: Calgary and Banff in Late November

Hello!

Both Sunshine and Lake Louise are hoping to open for the season around November 10, but like ksneds said the quality of the snow is going to be really hit or miss at that time of year. Both hills have a bunch of webcams all over their mountains though, in case you wanted to keep an eye on live conditions from their websites.

Kingmik has announced opening dates in early December, but if the snow is good they may open earlier. Snowy Owl in Canmore hopes to start their operations on November 1, in case you wanted to keep them as a contender. There is easy regular transit via the local ROAM busses that run between Banff and Canmore.

In addition to the ski hill shuttles, Greyhound runs buses from Banff to the Village of Lake Louise and Brewster runs buses to the Chateau Lake Louise on the lakeshore. From the Calgary airport you can catch either a Brewster bus or the Banff Airporter shuttle.

The snow conditions really will determine what will be available, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing are great options (you can rent equipment from a bunch of places in Banff and from Wilson's in Lake Louise), plus there will also most likely be the ice walks at Johnston Canyon (projected start around November 16), not to mention indoor ice skating at the Fenland Recreation Centre if the lakes aren't solid enough.

AuroraWatch is the name of the UofA website that monitors the likelihood of aurora on any given night.

We look forward to welcoming you to Banff soon!

Kate, Banff & Lake Louise Tourism

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Canmore
Canmore
Kananaskis Country, Canada
Banff
Banff
Banff National Park, Canada
Calgary
Calgary
Alberta, Canada
Banff Airporter
Banff Airporter
580 Reviews
Banff, Canada
Johnston Canyon
Johnston Canyon
1,705 Reviews
Banff National Park, Canada
Calgary, Canada
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for Canadian Rockies
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3. Re: Calgary and Banff in Late November

At this point only the 10km sled ride (at Spray Lakes) from Snowy Owl is scheduled for November. That said, up at Spray Lakes, even that would likely be subject to conditions that early. There's some snow now, but sleds need a fair amount to make it a go. I have to wonder if they may have some sleds equipped with wheels to use early in the season. It's certainly possible that area could be a go by end of November, but I would probably wait to book and try to get a clear explanation of what the tour will include (i.e. can they do the whole 10km etc.).

You would certainly need a car to get to Spray Lakes, and with a rental, you'd need to go the long way round via TCH to Hwy 40. A good part of the road between Canmore and Spray Lakes is not paved, so is essentially off limits with a rental contract, and even if you were willing to risk it, it's not recommended unless you are very comfortable driving in winter conditions and on poorly maintained roads.

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Canmore
Canmore
Kananaskis Country, Canada
Saskatoon, Canada
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4. Re: Calgary and Banff in Late November

If you are not experienced with winter driving it will be best to limit your activities to those with transportation.

You could return to the rockies in the summer and rent a car.

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