Banff and Jasper in mid-October

Jul 31st, 2018, 05:01 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jan 2007
Posts: 243
Banff and Jasper in mid-October


We are set to go to Banff and Im now debating adding on Jasper. Were going mid-October, so that would include the Dark Sky Festival. Anyone have experience with that? Good for my 7 & 8 year olds? Is it worth the 3.5 hour drive (twice)? I know it might snow (no problem), but could roads and trails potentially get shut down?

Also, any recommended hikes to do with kids at that time of year in Banff? Or any other must-do activities? Well be renting a car and know its off-season, so well explore on our own.

pijeta is offline  
Aug 5th, 2018, 01:27 PM
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 93
Hi Pijeta
I would not recommend a drive to Jasper for your kids in October just for the Dark Sky Festival - as much as you would likely love it. Yes, snow is entirely possible, especially at higher elevations like Bow Summit, although not inevitable.
Some suggestions for your kids - the Banff Gondola is a fun ride up and down, the interpretive centre is hands-on, and the board walk very doable. A dip in the hot springs can be especially nice on a cool fall day, but not for hours of course. Trail rides may still be happening in October, depending on weather, eg In Canmore, there a climbing wall in Elevation Place if they would like to try that experience which is not weather-dependent.
Not sure when you are visiting in October but note that Canadian Thanksgiving weekend is Oct 6-8th, with Thanksgiving holiday on Monday Oct 8.
Hope this is helpful.
out_and_about is offline  
Aug 13th, 2018, 12:21 PM
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 578
As mentioned, Canadian Thanksgiving is October 8 and after that day, seasonal roads and many seasonal attractions will shut. That includes the roads to Moraine Lake, Takkakaw Falls, Miette Hot Springs, as well as attractions like the glacier tours (which shut usually the week after Thanskgiving). The Banff gondola is open year round, but the gondolas at the ski resorts and things like hot springs can sometimes have a shut down period right after Thanskgiving. Trail rides would end at Thanksgiving.

Hiking season can run into October, but at that point it becomes very weather dependent and days will be fairly short. So you need to do your research, and keep a close eye on weather and conditions. Plus, be prepared for anything from sun to snow -- I've hiked in knee deep snow over Thanksgiving weekend and also had sun and warm.

As to hikes - it really depends on your fitness and desired length/elevation gain. Probably too late for higher hikes at Lake Louise and Moraine Lake, but I'd at least do the lakeside trail at Lake Louise, and possibly go farther if conditions permit. Note that the teahouses will be shut. Around Banff, things like Tunnel Mountain will be fine.

Agreed that going to Jasper just for the Dark Sky Festival in mid-October is probably not be best use of your time. Not very likely to have any issues with snow, but we can early season big dumps that temporarily make a mess of the parkway. And by that point, there will be no open stores/hotels/gas stations on the parkway, and higher elevation hiking may be snowy/icy. So your options for things to do are more limited to basic sightseeing. It's also a longish drive by the time you make lots of sightseeing stops, so you really want at least two nights in Jasper. And the festival only works if the weather is good - if it's cloudy/bad weather, you are out of luck.
kgsneds is offline  
Aug 17th, 2018, 05:35 AM
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 1,619
Hi pijeta. I was wondering the same thing. DH has a conference in Banff until the 12th, and we were initially going to add three nights to go to Jasper. All the advice we’re getting is that it’s pretty late in the season and to beware of possible snow. We wanted to see the Columbia Icefield since we’ll already be in the province.

I was hoping that the weather will be good enough to enjoy basic sightseeing, maybe not even do any hikes, just enjoy the scenery, but I’m not even sure about that.

It’s a commitment to book hotels and flights and have it go sideways if there’s a big snowfall.
sugarmaple is offline  
Aug 17th, 2018, 06:28 AM
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 10,009
Rather than driving it yourself consider taking a Brewster bus tour (Google it). My favorite way of arriving/leaving Jasper is on the ViaRail Canadian (3 days/week).
There are several rental car agencies within walking distance of the Jasper train station.
tomfuller is offline  
Aug 17th, 2018, 12:31 PM
Join Date: Oct 2013
Posts: 578
While we can get a dump in early October, it's not very common and would almost always be of the kind that would melt off quickly. It's certainly at the end of the "tourist" season, but it can also be a very lovely time for hiking. I've had some of the best hiking weather in early to mid October. At worst, some of the highest hiking trails would be out of condition. But the trails in and near the townsites would still be just fine - as long as you are prepared for cooler temps and less stable weather.

It would certainly not be a problem to do basic sightseeing - in fact, with the crowds gone, it's often the best time. The glacier tours continue to about mid October (usually through the week after Thanksgiving). And you can walk to (but NOT on) the toe of the glacier without a tour. And do various stops along the parkway.

If you have three nights, I think that's plenty of time for Jasper. Just give yourself a buffer by having at least one night back south (Banff, Lake Louise, Canmore, Calgary etc.) before your return flight. If you do really get a weather surprise, then you have time to drive to Calgary via Edmonton. And see you can find accommodation with a good cancellation policy - should be no problem after Thanksgiving.

I would not suggest the bus -- it's now Pursuit, not Brewsters. At that point, it will still be a tour and it means fixed stops and you're likely tied into doing the various Pursuit owned things. Which can be OK, but are also quite pricey and weather dependent. MUCH better to drive yourself - that way you can go on your own schedule, stop when you want to, have a car to do things in & near Jasper.
kgsneds is offline  
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