There's a lot of goodness in the "shoulder season" in Banff and Jasper—that time of year between summer and winter, when the rush of visitors from around the world calms. For locals, it's a time to catch up with friends, to enjoy the quieter side of life and to relax before the winter rush.
October days in the Rockies can be either sunny and warm or snowy and crisp. Or a combination! Regardless of the weather, Banff in October is full of fun.
Here are some of the things we most look forward to:
- Deluxe dining: A 16-day bonanza of good food, Banff's Taste for Adventure runs October 25 to November 9. Chefs from Banff and Lake Louise's top restaurants have created unique menus inspired by the mountains. At Toque, there is a "Poutine Palooza" featuring a 15-item poutine menu and 10oz craft beer for $23. At Sky Bistro, enjoy a five-course menu featuring farm-to-table Canadiana cuisine with an unrivaled view. Including the Banff Gondola admission, it's incredible value at only $85 per person. Plus, there are sunsets and stargazing!
- Last chance to see the larches: You can measure the progress of fall here by the number of golden needles left on the larches. Depending on weather, hiking season can stretch into the end of October. It's not too late to hike among golden trees, the only evergreens that change colour and shed their needles. Head to Taylor Lake, Healy Pass or Rockbound Lake. Be sure to check Banff National Park's trail report first, and bring hiking boots that'll stand up to snow and muddy conditions.
- Thanksgiving: Held on the second Monday of October each year, Canadian Thanksgiving is a traditional time to gather with friends and enjoy good food. In the mountains, it's also a chance to squeeze in one more bike ride on the Legacy Trail, one more climb at Guide's Rock or one more hike up Tunnel Mountain.
- Getting stoked for winter: As much as we're sad to say goodbye to the glorious days of summer, Banff simply excels at winter. Just about everybody who lives here is nuts about snow (why else would you live here?). That makes October the month for those pre-ski butterflies. We start talking about our favourite runs, buying our passes, sussing out new gear—and counting down to opening day!
- Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival: There's a reason Banff's biggest annual event is held at the end of October—when the Festival started more than 40 years ago, it filled in the 'slow weeks' when local mountaineers couldn't ski or climb. They decided to get together and watch movies instead. Now, it's the gathering of the clan—mountain lovers from around the world join die-hard local fans at Banff Centre to screen films, listen to authors, rub shoulders with world-class adventurers, and even do yoga at the top of the Banff Gondola.
- Quiet time: If you have the flexibility to travel outside of the busy summer months, you'll find better rates, fewer people and a more relaxed vibe in Banff in October. Some awesome deals include:
- Kids go free at the Banff Gondola before 10 AM until October 9, and before noon from October 10 onward.
- Banff Sunset Explorer package includes two attractions for $89
- Check out our packages and great rates at the Elk + Avenue hotel.
- Spirit Island in the Shoulder Season: At the Maligne Lake Cruise in Jasper, we’re staying open later into the autumn this year. Cruise the emerald waters of the world’s second-largest glacier-fed lake until October 8. With dustings of snow across the mountain tops, head out mid-afternoon for prime photo ops.
- Dark skies: For lovers of the night, October comes as a welcome reprise. After all, mid-summer sunshine can last until after 11 PM around here. The Canadian Rockies celebrate the return of nighttime with the Dark Sky Festival in Jasper. The Columbia Icefield Stargazing Tour departs from Jasper and rides the Ice Explorers out on to the Athabasca Glacier. After dinner at Altitude Restaurant, join astronomers from the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada and learn about our galaxy from the clear glass floor of the Glacier Skywalk. Limited availability—book now!
What do you most love about October in the Canadian Rockies?