Banff is a beautiful mountain town tucked away in the Canadian Rockies. Located about an hour-and-a-half drive away from Calgary, Banff (and the surrounding area) is known for incredible views, breathtaking mountains, and, during the winter, skiing and snowboarding.
I’m not a skier/snowboarder myself and hate cold weather, but I’ve been dying to go to Banff for years. After finding an amazing deal (more on that below) and a willing friend to accompany me, I was lucky enough to stay there for most of the second week of May. After visiting, I’m convinced that Banff – known more for its winter-time activities – is also the perfect spring getaway.
1. Beautiful scenery
The drive to Banff from Calgary is stunning. When you land, you can already see the snow-capped Rockies in the distance and, in no time at all you’re soon taken away to a majestic winter-ish wonderland.
It’s a “winter-ish” wonderland because, depending on when you go in the spring, some of the snow has already started to melt away. This means that the rivers are starting to fill back up, that some of the lakes no longer are covered in ice, and that you may even be able to catch an avalanche (I did!). Of course, and this probably goes without saying, you should be careful if you’re searching for avalanches, as a number of tourists have died hiking in the area in the last few months.
Something that drew me to Banff was pictures of snow-covered mountains and lakes with crystal-clear blue water. While some lakes, like the famous Lake Louise, were still covered in ice, we were able to find other lakes that had the iconic clear water.
2. Enjoy the snow/ice, but without the cold
Although it’s impossible to predict the weather in advance, May weather in Banff is often between 50-65 degrees farenheight for the high. When I was there, the weather was actually around 65-70 degrees. Because it was the first really warm days of spring, I got to enjoy one of my favorite activities – laying by the pool while staring at snow-covered mountains.
It also made hiking a lot easier, particularly if you’re woefully prepared for winter activities like myself. One word of advice, though – be very careful when hiking up mountains because melting snow can be slippery (so be sure to invest in a pair of hiking shoes, if you can).
3. Spring is one of Banff’s shoulder season
If you read Josh Trips regularly, you know that I love a good shoulder season. The most popular times to visit Banff are winter and summer. While in the winter you can take advantage of the slopes and during the summer you can play on the lakes, some major benefits to traveling to Banff during the spring are lower hotel prices, less crowds, and better availability for popular activities, like dinner at the top of Sulphur Mountain (the latter usually books up weeks in advance, but I was able to grab tickets only a few days before).
The entire time I was there, we didn’t experience one traffic problem (except for needing to stop for a few minutes to let a train pass), were able to get a table at every restaurant we went to, and were always able to easily find parking.
While it’s worth visiting Banff any time of year, I think I may have a found a new favorite spring-time destination.