Your Ultimate Guide to Experiencing Banff in March

Author: Celine Brewer

Last Updated:

One thing we love about Banff in March are the snowy adventures and the beauty of a winter landscape. If you had planned a trip to Banff expecting to experience the mountain scenery in transition to spring, you’ll be in for a bit of a surprise. March in Banff is still very much winter, though towards the end of the month us locals begin to dream of warm spring days, we know it’s not happening.

Within this guide on visiting Banff in March, you’ll find out why this month is the perfect time to experience the best of winter sports with the increasing daylight hours and the anticipation of spring.

Banff in March.

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Banff’s Temperatures in March

It’s impossible to know what to expect for weather in Banff in March, so its best to pack your winter gear with flexibility in mind. You can definitely expect some fluctuating weather.

Daily high temperatures in March are around 4°C (39°F) and nightly lows around -8°C (18°F). One thing we know for sure is that winter conditions will persist throughout the month and we will still see some snow falling.  

Keep in mind that the actual daily temperatures you may experience in Banff in March could vary quite a bit from these historical monthly average temperatures.

Another changing aspect in Banff in March is that daylight is gradually increasing throughout the month. Ending the month with 12 hours of daylight compared to 8 hours in the dead of winter, you’ll have more time to enjoy all the best winter activities! Remember to adjust your clocks when daylight saving time ends on March 10, as sunrise and sunset will occur one hour earlier than the day before.

Snow covered Johnston Canyon in Banff in March.
Dan and our son at Johnston Canyon in March

Why Visit Banff in March

There are some definite benefits to visiting Banff in March. It’s one of the best months for winter sports given that the snowpack will be at it’s deepest. Add to this that we get to see longer daylight hours, meaning there’s more time to spend outside!

While it’s still winter in March in Banff, we will start to see slightly warmer temperatures.

The lakes and waterfalls are still frozen, so there’s some pretty incredible sights to see. Wildlife is starting wake up and some of the larger male grizzly bears might emerge from their dens. Most likely you’ll get to see some elk, deer and bighorn sheep, but you should always be prepared for a wildlife encounter (carry bear spray!).

March is also quieter than peak summer months, so it’s a great time to enjoy the Canadian Rockies without the crowds.

What’s important to know about March in Banff is that you’ll get some variable weather conditions. It can still be quite cold and winter storms can cause havoc on the roads.

As the temperatures start to warm up, you’ll find that ice conditions on the lakes can be inconsistent and unreliable. Always check any ice before skating on it.

There can still be some busy times in Banff in March, especially during spring break, which will keep the ski hills busy and see some increase in costs for accommodations.

Finally, along with warming temperatures there are some activities that may not continue to operate like dog sledding, horse drawn sleigh rides and other activities that are depending on snow. This would be more typical towards the end of the month and into early April.

Johnson Lake winter hike in Banff in March.
Parks Canada Red Chairs that were once at Johnson Lake

Getting to Banff in March

Getting to Banff National Park in March is much like any other month, there are plenty of options to get from the Calgary Airport to Banff. Whether you are renting a car or taking a shuttle, it’s an easy drive along the highway.

While the TransCanada Highway that runs from the Calgary International Airport to Banff is well-maintained, you should still be prepared for winter driving conditions. Also be aware that conditions can change quickly, so it’s best to check the road conditions and forecast before heading out.

I always recommend having some flexibility in your schedule in case of winter storms. This might mean heading back to Calgary early to catch a flight or avoiding that scenic drive in a snow storm.

Local Tip

Driving the Icefields Parkway in March requires winter tires. From November 1st to April 1st each year, snow tires with either the M+S or snowflake symbol are required. This is also required in British Columbia from November 1st to April 30th each year.

Best Things to do in Banff in March

March in Banff is a winter wonderland adventure waiting to be explored! From hitting the slopes at world-renowned ski to snowshoeing through picturesque trails, there’s no shortage of Banff winter activities to enjoy.

Don’t forget to soak in the hot springs or better yet, your hotel’s private hot tub for a relaxing end to a chilly day.

If all the outdoor adventures aren’t your cup of tea, don’t worry because we share a ton of activities for all travellers. For those seeking a slower pace, scenic drives through the Rockies or a stroll through Banff’s charming downtown still offer breathtaking views.

Whether you’re an adrenaline junkie or a serene sightseer, Banff in March has something for everyone.

Local Tip

Every year is different and some Banff activities in March will be better in some years than others. The weather conditions and amount of snowfall can make a big difference to which activities are still operating.

Visit the Town of Banff

The perfect place to start a March Banff holiday is in the town of Banff. Even within the town, you’ll get impressive views of the surrounding mountains. Walk along Banff Avenue for that iconic view of Cascade mountain.

The town of Banff sign, as you enter the town of Banff, is a popular stop. The town of Banff also has a great pathway system for a walk along the Bow River to Bow Falls.

Banff avenue in the town of Banff in March.

Visit Lake Louise

One of the best places to spend a day in Banff National Park in March is Lake Louise. Lake Louise truly is a winter paradise. The frozen lake surrounded by snow-cap peaks is the perfect place to rent some skates and glide along the lake.

The lakeshore offers a leisurely walk or it can be enjoyed on a horse-drawn sleigh ride. From the lake, there are plenty of excellent snowshoeing or cross-country skiing opportunities.

In fact, if you plan a day in Lake Louise, you can probably fit in a few of these Lake Louise winter activities!

Local Tip

Moraine Lake is not a winter destination. The road is covered in snow and maintained for cross-country skiing, though it does NOT go all the way to the lake as this crosses dangerous avalanche terrain. Visiting Moraine Lake is only an option when the road is open after June 1st (with the possibility of earlier only if the road is cleared of snow).

Lake-Louise-in-Winter-960x720.jpg
Celine at Lake Louise

Skiing and Snowboarding in Banff

With March being an excellent time to hit the slopes in Banff, you’ll likely have some skiing or snowboarding planned into your Banff March itinerary. Even it you are new to skiing, the three world class ski resorts in Banff, Sunshine Village, Lake Louise Ski Resort and Mt. Norquay, cater to all skill levels.

When skiing in Banff, you’ll find each of the ski resorts has terrain suitable for everyone from beginners to advanced black diamond experts. You’ll also find excellent instructors at each of the resorts to help you improve your skills.

Top that up with some of the most breathtaking panoramic views of the Rockies, making skiing and snowboarding a must-do winter activity in Banff.

Sunshine Village Skiing in Banff in March.

Banff Gondola

The Banff Gondola is a must when visiting Banff any time of years. With the breathtaking journey to the summit of Sulphur Mountain, you’ll be greeted with even more panoramic views of the Canadian Rockies. At the top you’ll find an interpretive centre, restaurants (Sky Bistro and Northern Lights) with some of the best views around and an outdoor viewing platform.

If you are up for it, take a walk along the boardwalks to take in even more impressive views and visit the Sulphur Mountain Cosmic Ray Station (named a National Historic Site of Canada). Just be aware that the boardwalk can be slippery, and it will be much colder at the top of the gondola than it was down below.

Local Tip

If you prefer to be more active, you can hike Sulphur Mountain to reach the top of the gondola station. You can still enjoy everything at the top including the restaurants, boardwalk and incredible views.

Banff Gondola - Winter

Ice Skating on Frozen Lakes

Ice skating on Banff’s frozen lakes is a quintessential winter experience. Skating on Lake Louise is the most iconic spot for skating in Banff in winter, given the stunning mountain backdrop and famous ice castle.

Skating on other lakes in Banff or the surrounding area is really dependent on the weather and if the lakes are clear of snow. Lake Louise is the only lake where the snow is consistently cleared. For information about other lakes that might be good for skating in March, you can always ask in a local Banff Facebook group.

Travel Banff Canada Facebook Group

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We love answering questions in our Travel to Banff, Lake Louise, Canmore & Kananaskis Facebook group.

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Alternatively, the town of Banff and town of Canmore both have several outdoor ice surfaces that are maintained.

Skate rentals are available at Lake Louise at Chateau Lake Louise Rentals or at Wilson Mountain Sports in the village.

Celine Brewer and kids skating on Lake Louise
Celine and the kids skating at Lake Louise

Snowshoeing in Banff

Snowshoeing in Banff is an excellent way to explore the snowy landscapes! The best part is that you don’t need any experience to go snowshoeing. There are plenty of Banff snowshoeing trails to suit all abilities and of different lengths to fit in your Banff itinerary.

For an easy snowshoe trail in Banff, try the Johnson Lake trail. For a more difficult Banff snowshoe trail, try Taylor Lake (just don’t go any further than the shores of the lake as it enters avalanche terrain).

You’ll also find several excellent snowshoe trails in Lake Louise. Rent snowshoes in Lake Louise at either Chateau Lake Louise Rentals on in the village at Wilson Mountain Sports. In Banff, rent snowshoes from Snowtips-Bactrax.

snowshoeing Lake Louise

Recommended Tour

White Mountain Adventures offers snowshoe tours at the Sunshine Village Ski Resort. One of the best snowshoe experiences in Banff National Park!

kids snowshoeing past trail markers - best Lake Louise snowshoe trails (blue square 27)
Our kids snowshoeing at Lake Louise

Snow Tubing

Snow tubing at Mt. Norquay offers a thrilling way to enjoy Banff’s winter landscape, with no skill required. The resort provides specially groomed tubing lanes for a fun and safe sliding experience, perfect for families and groups. Mt. Norquay’s snow tubing park is the largest in Alberta, ensuring an exhilarating day out for everyone.

Alternatively, you can enjoy snow tubing at the Lake Louise Ski Resort. There are only 2-3 lanes that are shorter, but it’s not any less fun. It’s the perfect way to end a day of skiing or snowboarding.

Read More

Read all about our full experience snow tubing in Banff at both Mt Norquay and Lake Louise Ski Resort.

Snow Tubing in Banff at Lake Louise Ski Resort
Our son snow tubing at Lake Louise Ski Resort

Winter Hiking

Winter hiking is another excellent thing to do in Banff in March. After a big snowfall, we sometimes need snowshoes but the most popular trails get packed down pretty quickly. A good pair of microspikes are the best thing for a winter hike in Banff. We have been using the Kahtoola Microspikes[affiliate link]  for years and they are worth every penny on a slippery hiking trail.

While there are plenty of easy winter hikes in Banff that can be enjoyed in March, it’s important to do your research on the trail before heading out. Many summer trails are not good winter trails as they cross into dangerous avalanche terrain, especially anything at a higher elevation.

Here are a few good winter hikes:

View from Upper Stoney winter hike in Banff in March.
The view from Upper Stoney in March

Banff Ice Walks

Exploring Banff’s icy canyons, such as the popular Johnston Canyon, is a highlight during March. Guided ice walks, offered by companies like Discover Banff Tours, provide a safe and informative way to navigate these stunning icy landscapes, complete with cleats and poles.

I’m always in awe of the beauty of the frozen waterfalls. Grotto Canyon near Canmore is another popular ice walk that is well worth the time.

Frozen waterfalls at Johnston Canyon in March in Banff.

Cross Country Skiing

The expansive network of cross-country ski trails around Banff is a Nordic skier’s paradise in March. Canmore, Kananaskis, Banff and Lake Louise all have groomed ski trails for all levels.

The Banff Trail at the Canmore Nordic Centre offers well-groomed tracks suitable for all skill levels, with rental equipment available onsite. For a more secluded experience, the Spray River Trail in Banff provides a scenic route with views of the Bow River and the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, highlighting the peaceful beauty of the Canadian Rockies in winter.

Cross-country skiing at Lake Minnewanka - Winter
Our kids cross country skiing in Banff

Horse Drawn Sleigh Ride

Gliding through a winter wonderland on a horse-drawn sleigh ride in Banff is like stepping into a classic holiday card scene. Banff Trail Riders at Warner Stables in the town of Banff offers enchanting sleigh rides that take you through snowy meadows with stunning mountain views. This will only be possible if there is enough snow in the town.

Alternatively, enjoy a horse drawn sleigh ride along the shores of Lake Louise.

Snuggle under warm blankets and enjoy the breathtaking landscapes of Banff National Park in a truly unique way.

Horse draw Sleigh ride at Lake Louise at Christmas

Dogsledding

Dogsledding is an exhilarating way to experience the Banff wilderness, offering a mix of adventure and the chance to connect with nature. Feel the rush of gliding over the snow led by a team of enthusiastic huskies and learn about the traditional art of dog sledding from experienced mushers. It’s an authentic winter experience that combines thrill, scenery, and the joy of working with these incredible animals.

Kingmik Dog Sled Tours provide unforgettable journeys through the snowy trails of the Great Divide, near Lake Louise.

There are three operators that offer dog sled tours out of Canmore:

  1. Snowy Owl Dog Sled Tours
  2. Howling Dog Tours
  3. Mad Dogs & Englishmen Sled Dog Expeditions
dogsledding - banff things to do winter

Fatbiking in Banff

Fatbiking in Banff allows you to pedal through snowy landscapes on bikes with oversized tires designed for snow and ice. Trails like the Bow River Loop offer scenic rides with manageable terrain for all skill levels. For more intermediate riders, the Tunnel Mountain trails are groomed when there’s enough snow, making for a fun single-track fatbike ride.

Fat-Biking-Kananaskis-High-Rockies-Trail-Goat-Creek-to-Goat-Pond-1-960x640.jpg

Recommended Tour

Bikescape offers both beginner and intermediate winter fat biking tours in Banff.

Banff Fat Biking Trails

Visiting Frozen Waterfalls

If you are like me, you won’t be able to get enough of the frozen waterfalls around Banff. The blue color of the frozen waterfalls is truly amazing. The frozen waterfalls in Banff, such as Johnston Canyon, transform into stunning ice sculptures in March.

Johnston Canyon isn’t the only place in Banff to see frozen waterfalls. You can also see the frozen Louise Falls at the end of the lakeshore of Lake Louise.

In Kananaskis, there are several more opportunities to enjoy frozen waterfalls like at Troll Falls or Grotto Canyon. The longer and adventurous Green Monster hike in Kananaskis is perfect for anyone looking for a longer winter activity.

A female winter hiker looks up at the massive Green Monster frozen waterfall in Kananaskis Country
Celine on the Green Monster hike in Kananaskis

Ice Climbing

Ice climbing in Banff is an ideal activity for anyone looking for a unique winter experience. The frozen waterfalls and ice-covered rock faces providing the perfect terrain, even for beginners.

Companies like Alpine Air Adventures offer guided climbs and lessons, catering to all skill levels. Their Intro to Ice Climbing is an excellent way to give this sport a try.

ice climber at Johnston Canyon Upper Falls

Indoor activities (Cave and Basin, Museums)

For those seeking a break from the cold, Banff’s indoor activities offer a mix of education and culture. The Cave and Basin National Historic Site explores the birthplace of Canada’s national parks, complete with interactive exhibits.

The Banff Park Museum and the Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies provide insightful looks into the natural history and cultural heritage of the region, perfect for a leisurely afternoon.

The Cave and Basin is the birthplace of Banff National Park

Exploring Banff’s Scenic Drives

Exploring Banff’s scenic drives, like the Icefields Parkway, offers breathtaking views of the Canadian Rockies. The Icefields Parkway connects Banff to Jasper, showcasing glaciers, frozen lakes, and towering peaks.

Another must-see is the Bow Valley Parkway for serene forest landscapes. In Kananaskis, a scenic drive along Highway 40 or the Smith Dorrien will have you in awe of the rugged landscape. Towering snow-covered mountain peaks will be your constant companion.

Guide Along App

Recommended App

This GPS activated Canadian Rockies Audio Driving Tour is the perfect companion to your Banff vacation. It’s both entertaining and educational and will greatly enhance any drive in Banff National Park.

Get GuideAlong
Scenic drive in Banff in March.

Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary

Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary provides a unique experience to learn about and interact with wolfdogs. Located near Cochrane, just outside Banff National Park, it offers educational tours that provide insights into wolfdog behavior, conservation, and the sanctuary’s rescue efforts

Banff’s Upper Hot Springs

What better way to end a day of outdoor adventures. Soaking in Banff’s Upper Hot Springs is a quintessential experience, offering warm relaxation amidst snow-capped mountains.

It’s important to know that while the water is from a natural spring, you’ll still be in a large pool. The facilities surrounding the hot springs are not natural. While still worth it, it’s just best to show up with the right expectations!

Banff Viewpoints

You’ve already been up Sulphur Mountain and the Banff Gondola for breathtaking panoramas of the town and surrounding peaks, but there are plenty more Banff viewpoints that are worth a stop.

The Vermilion Lakes Drive and Tunnel Mountain Drive are popular for their scenic overlooks, easily accessible and offering stunning vistas of the Canadian Rockies. Within the town of Banff, you’ll find some stunning viewpoints at Bow Falls, Surprise Corner and the Hoodoos Viewpoint.

View of valley from hoodoo viewpoint - hiking banff winter

Snowmobiling

Snowmobiling in Banff offers an adrenaline-pumping way to explore the winter landscape. Many people come to Banff National Park hoping to try snowmobiling. While there is no snowmobiling in Banff National Park, it can still be enjoyed nearby.

Toby Creek Adventures offers snowmobile tours in Panorama, BC and they offer daily shuttles from Banff. This is approximately 2 hours from Banff.

Rocky Mountain Riders in Golden, BC also offer snowmobile tours and rentals. They also offer a shuttle from Banff and from Canmore.

Wildlife Watching Opportunities

A visit to Banff promises not only magnificent landscapes and outdoor activities but also distinct opportunities to observe wildlife in their natural environment. While not all common sightings, it is possible to see wildlife in Banff in March. Some animals that are possible to see include:

  • Moose
  • Elk
  • Deer
  • Owls
  • Sheep
  • Foxes
  • Wolves
  • Coyotes
  • Lynx

As the month progresses, bears, including the grizzly known as ‘The Boss’, may begin emerging from hibernation. Carrying bear spray while out exploring is always highly recommended.

Wildlife Spotting - winter Banff Activities

Best Banff Hotels for a March Visit

Banff offers a wide range of accommodations, catering to every budget and preference. Here are some options:

Baker Creek by Basecamp

For the perfect rustic stay in Banff, the Baker Creek Chalets are located along the Bow Valley Parkway in between Banff and Lake Louise. Guests may choose from elegant, rustic Banff cabins or a romantic suite in the lodge, many of which have a fireplace or private jacuzzi.

Some cabins have a kitchenette so you can make an easy breakfast or lunch. There is no restaurant onsite, so plan to eat out in either Banff or Lake Louise for dinner.

Baker Creek also has complimentary fat bikes and an outdoor rink onsite. So there will be plenty to do even after your day adventuring around Banff.

best lake louise area hotels

HI Lake Louise Alpine Centre

If you plan on spending most of our time out on the slopes, then you don’t need to spend a lot on a hotel. The HI Lake Louise Alpine Centre is a great budget option. As you’d expect with a hostel, there are shared rooms but you can also get private rooms and even private family-friendly rooms.

With two onsite guest kitchens, you can save money on eating out by preparing your own breakfast and lunch. As an added bonus, the Bill Peyto’s Cafe is also onsite giving you an option to eat out.

best cheap hotels in Lake Louise

Hidden Ridge Resort

What better way to end a day around Banff National Park than in your private outdoor hot tub! The Hidden Ridge resort has Premier King Condos with outdoor hot tubs on your private balcony. Not only that but you’ll enjoy the forest setting that feels like it’s miles away from the hustle and bustle of downtown Banff.

hotels with private outdoor hot tubs banff - Hidden Ridge Resort on Tunnel Mountain

What to Pack for Visiting Banff in March

As Banff continues to embrace winter during this month, it’s essential to pack warm layers to cope with the variable weather. We’ve written an entire post on what to pack for Banff in winter, which is worth a read. Here are a few of the key points:

  • Start with a breathable base layer and add warm sweaters or fleece.
  • Since winter conditions persist throughout the month, your outer layer should be a waterproof and windproof winter jacket to deal with snow or rain.
  • Waterproof footwear with good grip is a must to navigate the snowy, and sometimes icy, landscapes of Banff.
  • Don’t forget to protect your extremities with warm gloves or mittens, a winter hat or toque, and consider a buff for face and neck protection.
  • The reflected sunlight off the snow makes sunglasses and sunscreen essential for protection against UV rays.
  • Traction devices are a must in March, as the trails get icy from any of the freezing and thawing that happens while the days warm up. Even in the towns, the pathways can get covered in ice.
  • A camera is a must-have to capture the stunning scenery, and packing a portable charger can help keep your devices powered during your outdoor adventures​.

If you’re planning to engage in winter sports like skiing, snowboarding, or snowshoeing, ensure you have the appropriate gear. Rentals are available in Banff if you don’t have your own.

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Celine Brewer, a local Canmore resident, is the co-owner of Travel Banff Canada. She has a passion for being out in the mountains any time of year. In the summer, you'll often find her hiking or mountain biking. In the winter, she enjoys cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and winter hiking the most.

As much as she loves the mountains, she also loves travel! When she's not playing outdoors at home, she's either traveling the world with her husband and two kids or working on their other two travel sites: Family Can Travel and Baby Can Travel.