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Banff Canada

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Key West, Florida
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Banff Canada

Is the end of october or beginning of november a bad time to visit banff?

Calgary, Canada
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for Calgary
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1. Re: Banff Canada

Welcome to the TripAdvisor forums, Webbear!

Really, there is no "bad" time to visit Banff. There are pros and cons to every time of year. Late October, early November means you'd be visiting during low season, so you will find good pricing on accommodations (some of the best all year) and probably good promotions in restaurants and shops. There won't be crowds anywhere, unless you're visiting during the world-famous Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival (Oct 27-Nov 4, 2012 - www.banffcentre.ca/mountainfestival/ )The snow will just be beginning, so the mountains will be very beautiful, with a light dusting of snow to show their contours quite distinctly, compared to being mostly bare in summer, and snow-covered and smoothed over in the winter. This is a great time to do photography in Banff!

On the negative side, the weather will be getting cold, but ski season doesn't get into full swing until late December (Banff ski areas open in early November, if the weather cooperates). Moraine Lake will be closed to visitors due to avalanche hazards on the access road, but Lake Louise is open year-round. Part of the Lake Minnewanka loop will be closed for the winter, along with the lake cruisese, but the road to Lake Minnewanka will still be open. Almost all hiking trails will be inaccessible due to snow, but the valley bottom trails (e.g. Fenland Trail, Marsh Loop) will be accessible. The Banff Gondola operates year-round (except for a week of maintenance in January), but the Lake Louise gondola will be operating as a ski lift. The Sunshine Gondola will be operating once Sunshine Village opens for skiing, but they use unheated cabins for skiers and it's not really sightseeing-oriented.

And there is a risk of winter driving conditions; since you probably don't have winter driving experience, this could reduce your ability to get around until the roads are well-cleared.

Edited: 08 January 2012, 15:56
Key West, Florida
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2. Re: Banff Canada

thank you. very helpful. so we would need a car. we would like to sightsee and look around because i am a photogrpaher and i don't want to be indoors much. so the first of november wouldn't be horrible? is it freezing then?

Jasper, Canada
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for Jasper, Jasper National Park, Canadian Rockies
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3. Re: Banff Canada

We went on a quick get-away to Banff from Oct. 30 to Nov.1 this year (Sunday through Tuesday), so the conditions then are fresh in my mind. It had already snowed down to valley bottom level, but there wasn't much snow in town. The weather was a bit on the "grey" side, as it often is at that time of year. Temperatures were just a bit below the freezing mark during the day (but there was quite a raw wind on the one day we hiked) and about -10C at night. (It was a bit colder than the average for that time of the year when we were there.)

While the film festival was on, and had had events the day before we arrived, and more the day after we left, there was a lull while we were there, with nothing on. It was very quiet in town (but busier than here in Jasper) and we spent time hiking (from town to the hoodoos), did some window shopping and wandering around town, drove out to Lake Minnewanka and had another walk there, visited the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies, went for coffee, had two fabulous dinners out, and went out for drinks. Many hotels had specials on; I checked them out online before we went but didn't book anything in advance ... we wound up staying at the Caribou Lodge (beautiful hot tub!) where we got the advertised special rate ($99 plus tax) *and* they upgraded us up one room level.

The Icefield Parkway between Jasper and Lake Louise was in "poor" winter driving condition when we drove down (a day or two after a snowstorm had come through), and had been upgraded to "fair" winter driving conditions on our return home a couple of days later. There were a few dicey sections on the way down, mostly at the highest elevations (Bow Summit and Sunwapta Pass/Columbia Icefields areas) which made for some very slow driving (and we were in an AWD vehicle with winter tires) - it wasn't just the snowy/icy road surfaces, but there were also snow squalls and very poor visibility at times. there was one vehicle that had gone in the ditch. Even when it wasn't snowing, there were very low clouds and we didn't see much of the mountains on the way down; luckily, the day we drove home to Jasper was bright and sunny so we had great views then - quite blindingly bright with all the new snow!

It's not always a given that there is snow at valley bottom level by Hallowe'en in the towns of Banff and Jasper, but you can reliably depend on snow at the higher elevations along the parkway by then, so I wouldn't recommend driving the Icefields Parkway in similar conditions unless you have winter driving experience and have a propertly equipped vehicle (winter tires, not all-season ones). Take the Sundog shuttle instead.

Northbound, we also drove the Bow Valley Parkway, which was very icy. There was a "traffic jam" near Johnston Canyon - there were about three cars and a small tour bus which was stopped in the middle of the road - admiring a very large elk buck which was bedded down right beside the road.

The weather could be a bit warmer next year but you can't count on it - and even if it were 10C, coming from Florida, you would probably find that chilly. If you want to spend any any amount of time outside, I'd come prepared with layers of clothing, a warm winter hat, and mittens or gloves.

Key West, Florida
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4. Re: Banff Canada

thank you for the info. i live in the south so that sounds cold and driving a bit dicey. sounds like you were still able to do things but just bundle up. thanks for the help

Calgary, Canada
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5. Re: Banff Canada

One other note re timing: Nov. 11 is a statutory holiday in Canada (Remembrance Day, similar to US Veteran's Day?). If you're here then, expect some store closures or reduced hours, and perhaps a slight increase in visitors from Calgary taking a 3-day weekend in Banff. (Nov. 11 falls on a Sunday, and some people will have the Friday or Monday off in lieu of the holiday).

Edited: 08 January 2012, 18:58
6. Re: Banff Canada

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