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Calgary, Banff and Jasper in April

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My wife and I are thinking of travelling from Ireland to Calgary, Banff and Jasper in April 2015 for 10 days and I am wondering is it a bad time to go? I have read that the roads may be blocked with snow and ice etc at that time of the year. Any help or advise would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks,

Ronan

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    Welcome!

    April is not an ideal time of year to visit the Rockies - tends to be too late for most winter activities, but too early for most spring/summer activities. In the higher elevations April is still very much winter - most ski resorts are open until late April or mid May, conditions depending. Lower down in the town sites, the snow should be gone, but snow is still quite possible (Calgary has a big snowstorm this May!).

    You can still see the gorgeous views/sites and get some great deals for accommodation, but your choice of activities could well be limited. If you are here early enough, there might be some good skiing, but it will likely be too early for hiking on any but the lowest of the trails in the town sites. However, most of the lakes will still be frozen and the season roads to places like Takkakaw Falls, Moraine Lake and Edith Cavell will be shut.

    As to driving - you are fine around the townsites, but April can still be interesting along the Icefields Parkway. You could have anything from bare pavement to tons of snow. As well, roadside pullovers will likely not be plowed and especially around the southern half, trails will be snowbound. As such, there won't likely be many options for stopping or exploring. The Icefields Explorer tours do open sometime in April, but that's about it.

    I think snow tires are still required in April, and the road will not be maintained or patrolled between 3:30pm and 7am. Also there is no gas available between Jasper and Lake Louise at that time of year, and cell reception is pretty much nil. So if you venture out, you need to have a properly stocked car and check the road conditions first. Chances are you'll be fine, but don't go out if the weather or conditions have the potential to be iffy.
    It's really a choice - you can get some great deals and have the chance to see the mountains. But most likely you won't have the range of activities or be able to see the range of places as if you came late or during peak winter. If you can come in May or earlier in the winter, it might be better.

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    We skiied there during a late March spring break. Gorgeous sunny skies, lots of snow--one day we had an absolute white out. If you like to ski, it is great that time of year. It is avalanche season.

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    Technically one can get snow & white out any time of year in the mountains :o) It just depends on the altitude, the weather and your luck. This past weekend I was hiking/climbing in snow & white out clouds/snow, but way up at over 3000m.

    Your March skiing sounds like Easter this year - tons of fresh powder and blue skies!! This year we got an unusual amount of late season snow, but over that long weekend in April I was able to go skiing, rock climbing and get turned back on a hike due to knee + high snow & avalanche risk.

    Linda is right in that April can be avalanche season. Avalanches can happen year round where there is snow (still happening now at higher elevations), but the risk tends to be higher in the late winter/early spring as temperatures begin to warm up. Probably wouldn't affect you too much, but it can mean that even if there is sufficient snow, it may not be a good time for snowshoeing or even walking on trails around places like Lake Louise that are OK for short hikes in the winter.

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