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Best Time for Banff?

 Poster: A snowHead
Poster: A snowHead
Hi there

I was wondering what time of year, generally, is best for a trip to Banff?

If we're looking for off piste, does the snow usually stay good into March? I understand it can be very cold at the start of the year, is it better to hold off until later? Also, are there any holiday weeks to avoid that impact on price and crowds?

We're weighing up whether to go with a tour operator or organise ourselves, are there any big considerations when making that choice (cost being a major one!) any tips on flights, accommodation, passes etc gratefully received!

Thank you.
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 Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
Obviously A snowHead isn't a real person
The locals talk about Magic March. When the temp has risen and great snow.
The resorts stay open till end May so will be plenty of snow in March

It’s never busy Europe style but spring break (end of March) wil be a bit busier
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Well, the person's real but it's just a made up name, see?
Personally I would say late season is generally better than early, because they get less snow there than the coast, but it's colder. So you're pushing your luck early season, but it stays around longer.

Last year I drove through there for a week in mid April and conditions were good - no fresh powder, but plenty of snow and all accessible & stable and not at all mushy. The snow off-piste ought to be good through March, but check the records yourself. There ought to be plenty of depth, but if you're chasing powder, that depends on the weather. Last season was exceptional in that the interior at least had a cold end-of-season, with "winter conditions" widespread. The week after I was in Banff I was up in Terrace and we had blower powder, but I don't expect it again this year wink

I never really found crowds in BC.

I've never used a tour operator, but I would say that you can probably get things significantly cheaper that way. The Banff Springs, for example, is pretty expensive on a room-night basis (check it online), and I'm sure any tour operator guests using that aren't paying the rack rate. There are better hotels, but that's an obvious place to try at least once. If you like "resort atmosphere" then you'd probably want to stay in Banff because there's more there and it's accessible.

It's easy to get from Calgary to Banff. One flight gets in around 16:00 or so and it's easy to drive across after that. If you drive and stay "in the park" you need a pass for your vehicle which they'll sell you on entry. There are standard buses which will take you to the town, plus their used to be the Greyhound but someone told me that's changed. Anyway, you can walk from the Greyhound station to any of the Banff downtown hotels, or of course use a taxi. The "transfer busses" probably stop by most hotels front doors. The ski buses also pick up from all of those. You don't need a car (and some hotels will charge for you to park it), but it's a bit more flexible as you never need to wait for a bus etc.
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March.
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 Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Anyway, snowHeads is much more fun if you do.
Yep, March is a good bet. Some schools/colleges are on spring break in March, but the pistes are really only busy at the weekends. Accommodation could be busy in Banff, so keep an eye on it. One thing people don’t consider about Jan/early Feb is that not only can it be very cold, it’s dark ( much more of a consideration that skiing in the Alps).. The daylight gets longer as you get into late Feb/March.

We come to Banff every year for a few weeks, usually last week of Feb into March, however we have been known to be skiing at Lake Louise in early May! Often snowy in March, equally we have had weeks of sunshine which is what next week is looking like...we arrive on Tuesday.
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Because of school holidays the last few years we’ve been the first couple of weeks of April. The first week was unseasonably warm - we were walking round Banff in t-shirts and BBQs - but the slopes were great. No powder but everything open, just a bit slushy at the bottom at the end of the day.
The last two years have been much colder with plenty of fresh snow. Never busy on the slopes or in town (it’s a big summer resort so no problems with restaurants etc).

We weighed up the prices and for a typical 3 or 4 star hotel and flights it seemed cheaper to organise independently. And much more choice about hotels and room types. So easy to organise yourself, and of course no language barrier!
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We usually go for UK Easter holiday, when Easter falls early (eg end of March). Easter weekend itself is crowded, but as it's halfway through our break we take a day or two off skiing and see something else while the lift lines are so long. For the rest it seemed fine.

We also use jet lag in our favour, to get up at silly o'clock and be first on the mountain, then come off around 2.30-3pm as the lower front of LL is getting a bit slushy in sunshine - but if we were dedicated uni students I'm sure we'd find a way to keep skiing until last lift Smile
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 After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
After all it is free Go on u know u want to!
we tend to go mid to late February, slightly warmer than January, but not into freeze/thaw territory (that's what we're aiming for). We've mainly done DIY, but did go first with "Canadian Affair", which worked out cheaper because of their tie up with Air Transat. With DIY the hotel choice/room type/date flexibility was nice. You don't need a car as others have said the buses are great, but you are obviously on someone else schedule (busses seemed to be pretty frequent and well run though). Transfer busses, I can thoroughly recommend Banff Airporter. Nice vehicles, free water, great service, on time, hotel drop and pick up, the driver has you by name and will come into the lobby to meet.
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Thanks for the tips everyone.

It looks like, logistically, it's easier for us to go late February and from what people are saying that sounds like a good time to be there. Does the Skibig3 lift pass have any tie ins with other resorts? I see it has a limited amount of days with the Ikon pass, but was wondering if it had any more extensive links with other Canadian areas.

Thank you!
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Ski the Net with snowHeads
The SkiBig3 pass only covers Sunshine, Lake Louise and Banff's nearest ski area Mount Norquay.
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Rocky mountain passport has more resorts, but its pricey.

March is generally best I think. Good snow coverage, less risk of frigid temps, lighter evenings and good chance of pow
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