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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:

  1. Harvest Festival: During weekends this fall (October 6 – November 4), the Banff Gondola brings the harvest season to the top of Sulphur Mountain. There’ll be family fun activities, live entertainment, seasonal treats to sample and a local market featuring a wide selection of hand-crafted gifts. Step outside and take in the breathtaking views of six stunning mountain ranges with fall colours that sweep the Bow Valley.

An above view of multi-coloured gourds and leaves in autumn colours.

  1. Deluxe dining: In the evening, the pace slows as the sun sets and our culinary team puts on a savoury show in Sky Bistro. Choose from one of six winemakers’ dinners featuring Canadian wineries paired with harvest-inspired menus. And with the darker evenings, it’s prime time for sunsets and stargazing!

Sky Bistro

  1. 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.

Larch Valley

  1. 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.

Biking on the Legacy Trail

  1. 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!

Skier on Mt. Norquay

  1. 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 and rub shoulders with world-class adventurers.

Climber on Mt. Assiniboine

  1. 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. Until October 8, that’s every day before 10 AM. Then, starting October 9 the offer is extended until 12 PM, daily.
  • Check out our packages and great rates at the Elk + Avenue hotel and the Mount Royal Hotel.

Girl at Surprise Corner overlooking the Banff Springs

  1. 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.

A small peninsula with tall trees on a crisp mountain lake. A small boat is nearby.

What do you most love about October in the Canadian Rockies?

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