Banff is a wonderful place to visit at all times of the year. But Banff in November is special as Santa is in town and he brings with him all the holiday season festivities and snowy chilly weather. So if you are planning a trip to Banff in November, keep reading for all the winter activities, festivals, shopping and food that awaits you in our favorite national park.
Banff in November Travel Guide
Banff in November is like a cross-over month in the Rocky mountains where the summer activities come to a close, and winter adventures have yet to begin.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click one of them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.
Temperatures in Banff in November
Starting from October, Banff begins to experience colder temperatures and occasional snowfall. Come November, it experiences shorter days and more snowfall.
In our visits to Banff in November from the past 5 years, the weather has been a bit unpredictable. This is especially something to keep in mind, if you are driving to the national park from Calgary (nearest Banff airport) or from Edmonton. The unpredictability in weather, means traffic issues on the highway, accidents and road blocks due to weather warning.
Temperature wise, as you can see from above – it ranges from – 8 degrees to 1 degree Celsius. So needless to say, wear warm winter clothing. November is not the dead of winter here in Banff, but it can get quite cold at night and early morning hours.
Travel tips for Banff in November
Banff in November in the recent years have been filled with snow, so it is perfect if you wish to experience a white – vanilla like background. At the beginning of November the snowfall is lighter and expect constant flurries and snowfall towards the end of November (November 22-24 on wards). Past 2 -3 years we have celebrated Salil’s birthday in Banff and it’s already Christmas-like, in the city.
In November, the focus of the town moves more towards indoor activities like food, drink, shopping and events inside the Banff town. For outdoor lovers, guided winter hiking tours are available but skiing, ice skating opportunities varies each year. For the most part in November in Banff, there is not enough snow in the valleys for snow-shoeing or cross country skiing in the park.
Keep in mind, the usual summer time activities are already closed in Banff in November (some of them are unavailable from mid-October actually). So here is what you can’t access in November in Banff National Park and adjoining areas –
- Moraine Lake drive and access to the lake will be closed for winter.
- Peyto Lake is closed as well due to slippery conditions.
- The Columbia Icefields or the Ice fields Explorer is closed for the season. The road from Lake Louise to Jasper is not closed, just the Icefields Parkway attractions. They re-open in mid April.
- Jasper Tramway is closed in November, but Banff Gondola is open.
- Takakkaw Falls and spiral tunnels viewpoint in Yoho National Park, Field BC is closed. In fact, in October it was impossible to see due to snow this year – 2019.
- Summer activities like canoeing and kayaking in Lake Louise and Moraine Lake are closed.
- The camping season is over.
- Various hiking trails are closed.
- Occasionally you might find road closures – on a particular day – due to avalanche, heavy snowfall or just poor road conditions. Refer to the Canada weather website for local warnings and alerts before you start your day in Banff.
Packing tips for Banff in November
We have written a detailed guide to pack for Canadian winters here, and the same applies to Banff National Park.
Here is a quick run-down of items you should pack for Banff National Park in November.
- Parka or winter jacket up to -25 degrees – With a temperature of – 8 degrees or lower, you have to wear a warm parka or winter jacket. Check out this winter jacket from North Face
- Winter boots – Because Banff in November is more of a cross-over month, you can expect slippery and slushy grounds depending on the day temperatures. Wear winter boots to keep yourself warm. Ensure your boots are at-least ankle length, waterproof, and has a good grip. Get these Ugg boots for Banff
- Warm/woolen socks
- Scarf – I LOVE blanket scarves. They will keep you warm and cozy. Check out this warm plaid scarf here.
- Beanie or warm hat – Super important to keep your head and ears warm (and also for cute pictures). We call them ‘toques’. Get your ‘toque’ here ‘eh
- Thermal pants and tops (or long johns) – Thermal inner top and pants aka long johns are super handy during Banff winters. Carry a pair or two if you are visiting Banff for a feww days. Shop our favorite from Amazon
- 1-3 pretty sweaters (depending on the length of stay)
- Carry moisturizer with up to 24 hour hydration – Shop my favorite Body Shop Vitamin E moisturizer
- You can rent ski equipment in Banff National Park for skiing
Why visit Banff in November?
Due to the unpredictability of weather and temperatures in Banff in November, the town’s focus is on gearing up for the winter and in a way it is the BEST time to visit if you are looking for some pampering in the mountain town!
Cheaper accommodation and hotels
For one the hotels are reasonably priced and there shouldn’t be a problem in finding accommodation. Read our detailed guide to where to stay in Banff.
In November, we celebrate Remembrance Day all over Canada (which also falls on a Monday). It is observed on the 11th day of the 11th month (November 11). So if you are heading to Banff around this time, hotel prices might be slightly higher on Sunday of that long weekend. But the rest of the days, finding accommodation is not a problem.
In fact, we say check out the luxury hotels of 4+ stars with hot tub and ones that offer great views, they should average around $135 CAD+, and during peak seasons, they go up to $300 CAD a night.
If you always fancied staying right in the heart of Banff town and never found a hotel to your liking or were TOO expensive, well no better time than November and you don’t have to warm up your car, just walk down to Banff Town.
Fairmont Banff Springs – Fairmont Banff Springs is always a delightful place to stay in Banff. Prices during November are a tad cheaper, but they still hover around the $300 CAD+ price range for the night. Check prices for November here
Here are our favorite Banff hotels to book November (with good prices, reviews, and the extra pampering) –
- Rimrock Resort Hotel – This hotel is located in the heart of Banff town
- Great rooms, perfect winter stay-cation
- Has a spa and restaurant & bar on-site
- Book your stay here
- Hidden Ridge Resort – Stay here for the hot tub with amazing Banff mountain views
- Condo style resort, great for groups and families
- Ideal for long term stay – a home away from home
- Room are equipped with a kitchen. Laundry and pool are on-site.
- Book your stay here
- Banff Caribou Lodge and Spa – Located in the heart of Banff town
- Quick and easy access to restaurants and Banff Avenue
- Restaurant, pool, and spa on-site
- Book your stay at Banff Caribou Lodge and Spa
- Need more Banff Hotels option? – View hotels Banff and compare prices here
Banff in November is off-season
In November in Banff, the hotels and restaurants won’t be overly crowded. It is quite easy to find a café or a restaurant without having to wait for a table. Local businesses would have already geared up for Christmas and the festive season in November, but the crowds have not hit the market yet. So it is a good time to shop and lay your hands (dips) on the winter goodies.
November is PERFECT for non-skiers
November is a perfect time to visit Banff for those who don’t indulge in heavy winter activities like ice skating or skiing. As the town is warming up for the winter season, Banff becomes heaven for slow travel. Walking the Banff town – with fewer crowds, getting into a café for hot cocoa and cookie, eating a nice-relaxed meal, getting pampered at a spa or hot tub, watching flurries fall from the hotel window – well, you get it – the perfect-winter-experience-
Banff Holiday Festivities start in November
November is also the month that rings in festivities for the holiday season. The national park celebrates the – Banff WinterStart Festival – on November 15th, 2019 to welcome winters and the holiday season in the mountains, including the opening of the ski resorts.
The Santa Claus Parade happens in November in Banff and not on December 25th. This year the Santa Claus Lights Parade is on 16th November 2019.
Other festivals include –
- Banff Center Mountain Film and Book Festival – October 23 – November 3 2019.
- Venue: Banff Center for Arts and Creativity.
- This is an annual 9-day film and book festival in Banff.
- Celebrate Remembrance Day in Banff – November 11 2019.
- Parade and activities in Banff town and Sunshine Village.
- Banff Craft Beer Festival – November 21 to 23 2019
- Considered as the world’s most beautiful beer fest in the most amazing location-ever – Cave and Basin Historic Site in Banff.
- Shuttle Service pick-up and drop-off behind Banff Ave Brew Pub (included in the event ticket)
- Banff Christmas Markets – November 21 to 24 2019
- Canmore Artisans Christmas Market – November 24 2019
Banff Tours in November
One of the amazing ways to explore Banff in November is to take a guided tour. Tours with a local guide will keep you safe and pamper you in the midst of mountains and snow. Check out some of the finest tours to take in Banff in November this year!
- Go on a Johnston Canyon Icewalk in the afternoon or morning – If you have never done ice-walking before, take this guided tour and explore the Johnston Canyon. Check out this tour here.
- Ice walk at the Grotto Canyon – Go on Grotto Canyon Icewalk – find out more about this tour here
- Experience snowshoeing in the Kootenay National Park – This is a guided snowshoeing tour in the Marble Canyon in Kootenay National Park Banff – book it here
- Go on a scenic helicopter tour plus a snowshoeing tour – Book it here
- Take a helicopter tour over the Abraham Lake and explore the water bubbles – find all about this heli tour here
- Go on a romantic horse-drawn carriage ride in Banff – Book this tour for 2 here
- Winter tour to Lake Louise from Banff town – find more about the tour here
Banff in November Activities and Events
There are tons of things to do in Banff in November. Every year we add something new to our experiences in Banff and as I write this I have also booked a wonderful stay-cation for us in Banff!
Santa Parade in Banff – Ringing the holiday season
Santa Claus comes to Banff town early – in November. Banff downtown streets come alive with the magical lights of Santa Claus parade, wherein locals join the procession with Santa himself. The parade begins at the Banff Avenue and Elk St intersection and continues down Banff Avenue to the Buffalo Street Intersection.
Try to find a spot near a candy store, coffee shop or mall, so that you can walk in if you are cold. Or grab a warm beverage while waiting for Santa!
Walking on frozen Lake Louise
Lake Louise is beautiful in the winter. And in November there is snow already and it covers the mountains and the lake is slowly freezing up, no more kayaking or summer activities. But the fun part of visiting Lake Louise in November is that you will find very few people on the lake-side. You can have the place to yourself, play and photograph this winter wonderland.
Keep in mind that the lake may not be ideal for ice skating at this time of the year. There will be warnings in and around the lake so pay heed to the information before going further into the lake. When we visited the lake in late November in Banff, we could only walk up to a certain distance and there was a warning of “thin ice”. Lake Louise Tourism
Dining during the festive season in Banff November
In the month of November Banff is gearing up with its winter festivities. There will be tons of events around food like the Banff Craft Beer festival and restaurants will be welcoming guests with special winter decorations and menu.
Banff Gondola’s Sky Bistro has tons for events for foodies. Also if you wish to experience castle food, then head to Fairmont Banff Springs hotels and take a food tour – explore this tour here
Banff Christmas markets and shopping
If you want to buy something for Christmas celebrations and from Banff locals – November is a great time. In November, Banff Christmas markets will be open. This year the markets are open from November 21 to 24 2019. There is a Canmore Artisans Market as well, which is about 20 minutes from Banff town (November 24th 2019).
In the heart of Banff town, there is a permanent Christmas store which sells tree ornaments, gifts and souvenirs at all times of the year as well.
Cozy romantic stay-cation in hotels Banff November
November is a great time to run away into the lap of nature and enjoy a stay-cation in Banff. We have already listed our best November hotel Banff picks above. Choose a room with great views and because the national park won’t be busy in November, you should be able to find a nice room at an amazing price.
If your resort has a hot tub, a fireplace and a restaurant you are golden -to enjoy a romantic stay-cation in Banff.
Experience hot springs and spa in Banff
Hot springs are a great way to experience winters in Banff. You will be welcomed with mesmerizing mountain views and warm healing waters in a tub. Hot springs in Banff are open only during specific times in November. We added the dates for the 3 hot springs in Banff
- Banff Hot Springs – Open all of November (Adult entry $8.50)
- Radium Hot Springs – Closed for the first 2 weeks in November (Adult entry $7.50)
- Miette Hot Springs – Open all of November (Adult entry $7.30)
Spa packages are available in Banff from all of the premium resorts including the Fairmont Banff Springs, Rimrock Hotel, Banff Caribou Lodge and Spa and Lake Louise Fairmont Chateaux. Hidden Ridge Resort has an outdoor pool.
Chase Northern Lights in Lake Vermillion or Minnewanka Lake
Banff in November is a great time to chase northern lights. And if you are driving into Banff town or leaving for the airport or another city in the early hours you will be lucky to see the green dancing lights in the city.
We have witnessed northern lights while driving out of Banff national park in the early morning hours. For chasing northern lights in Banff town, head to Lake Vermillion or Lake Minnewanka in November.
Walk the Banff Avenue
When we stayed in downtown Banff in November, it was such an amazing experience, being surrounded by mountains. We had underground parking at the Banff Caribou Lodge and Spa and just walked down to Banff Avenue for food and drinks. Downtown Banff looks amazing with the beautiful lights in the evening and the mountain views – so so stunning!
Admire the snow-capped and covered mountains
One of the benefits of visiting Banff in November is to admire the snow-capped mountains and valleys. So whether you are driving into Banff or sipping a cup of hot chocolate take the best seat in the house and absorb those MESMERIZING rocky mountain views!
If you are outdoors, scenic drive along the Bow Valley Parkway will melt your heart. And those views are priceless.
Take a Gondola ride to Sulphur mountains
November is a great time to visit the Banff gondola. This month kicks off the winter activities, but it’s in the inaugural stage and not super crowded as schools and offices are still open in Canada.
Here are the events happening at the Banff Gondola in November
- Local’s night at Sky Bistro – Banff Gondola
- Go dining at Banff Mountain top – Open from Wednesday to Sunday- Sky Bistro at Banff Gondola
- Mountain Top Christmas – This event starts on November 16th 2019 and you get to celebrate Christmas with Santa on Sulphur mountains. (open from 10:00 am to 05:00 pm)
Watch wildlife on the go
It is very common to see wild animals in Banff in November. You will see them soaking some sun and uninterrupted in their natural habitat. Most often you will see elk and bighorn sheep, and November is the last month to see wildlife out in the open before they hibernate for winters.
Winter hiking or Ice walking in Banff
Hiking is possible all year round in Banff. However, certain trails won’t be open during winters. We have included the full list in our Banff activities guide for winter.
For a more adventurous time in Banff in November, why not go ice walking. Johnston Canyon and Grotto Canyon are perfect for that.
Skiing, Ski resorts, Snowshoeing
Banff Sunshine, Lake Louise Ski Resort, and Mt. Norquay are the most popular places to enjoy the ski season. Although resorts will be open, depending on the amount of snowfall in that year for November you may or may not experience a great skiing season. December on-wards, the snow accumulated in the mountain valley is perfect for ski-related activities.
The same goes for snowshoeing.
This year the Lake Louise Alpine Ski World Cup will begin on November 30th 2019.
Final thoughts on Visiting Banff in November
In November, because of snowfall, you can experience fewer crowds on the streets and the lakes. The hiking trails that are open will be covered in snow (and can be slippery when the temperature warms up during the day).
As we mentioned above, use this time in Banff for pampering yourself in the mountains, relax in a spa, soak those views minus the crowds and go on rejuvenating winter hikes and ice walk tours.
Banff is one of our favorite places to visit. We hope you enjoyed this post on our experiences in Banff in November.
Here are some additional resources for Canadian Rockies trip planning in general – Canada destination expert!
- Best time to visit Banff – Get the BEST time to visit Banff National Park
- Banff itinerary – Read 5 day Banff itinerary for all seasons
- Canmore – The ultimate guide to the town of Canmore
- Banff travel tips – Banff Traveling Tips
- Jasper – Extend your stay to include Jasper National Park Itinerary
- Calgary Guide – Get the Calgary essential guide
- Calgary Downtown – Get the guide to Calgary Downtown tourist spots
- Hotels in Calgary – Find the best places to stay in Calgary here
- Edmonton in winter – Get all the scoop on winter activities in Edmonton – Alberta’s Capital City