visiting Banff

3 Days in Banff In The Fall

This post was most recently updated on April 16th, 2021

Whether you have 2 days in Banff, or 3 days in Banff, you’ll want to make the most of your time. We’ve been wanting to go to Banff for years, and were excited to finally make it there.

The town of Banff is actually located inside the Banff National Park, so be prepared to pay a fee to enter. Daily it will cost you $10. There’s a gate as soon as you get to the park to pay. Or you could purchase a pass a head of time online.

If you plan on staying for a while, purchasing a Parks Canada Discovery Pass is the way to go. The Discovery Pass is valid for 12 months and costs around $69. Plus it gives you unlimited admission to all national parks and historic sites in Canada.

Cascade Mountain in Banff

How To Get To Banff From Calgary

Most people coming into Calgary will have landed at the Calgary Airport. The best way to get to Banff from the airport is to rent a car. It’s an easy 1.5 hour drive on the Trans Canada Hwy #1 when the weather is ideal.

But if you’re arriving in October or onward like we did, be prepared for any weather. Just a few minutes out of Calgary, the snow started coming down in buckets, and we had a beautiful winter wonderland more than two months before Christmas.

Since we were making a two week road trip of it, we decided to rent a camper from Karma Campervans. They are completely self sufficient, and kept us nice and cozy when the temperature dropped to -8 C (17 F) our first night in Banff.

Karma Campervan

Another choice is to take the On-It shuttle bus for $10, or the Rocky Montaineer train from Calgary to Banff. But keep in mind, they only run from around April/May to September/October.

Sundog Tours is a great option if you don’t want to rent a car. They offer bus transportation in the winter month. Plus daily package tours with everything planned for you.

If you decide to take a Taxi, or Uber, plan to spend around $250 one way.

How To Spend Your Days In Banff

Downtown Banff in the Fall

No matter what season you decide to visit Banff, there is always something to do. The actual town of Banff is a quaint, nordic style place with a population of less than 9000. But since it’s located in the National Park, there are lots of outdoor activities to enjoy year round.

Snowboarding & Skiing With 3 Days In Banff

Banff Scenery

When Does The Ski Season Start In Banff?

The ski season in Banff generally runs from the middle of November and can run into the end of May some years depending on the weather. There are 3 ski resorts in the Banff National Park for the snow enthusiasts.

Mount Norquay is the closest ski resort to Banff being just minutes out of town. It’s the perfect family friendly spot providing both beginner and advanced slopes. They are also the only one to offer night skiing. If you aren’t into skiing, they have 8 tubing hills to try out.

Mount Norquay Ski Resort

Banff Sunshine Village is the second ski resort located 15 minutes from the town. They offer 137 runs with the majority being intermediate.

Lake Louise Ski Resort is your third option and is located 45 minutes away from Banff. This is the largest ski resort of the 3. They have 143 runs with a fairly equal amount for all skill levels.

Wildlife Viewing

wildlife viewing in Banff

One of our favourite activities wherever we go is seeing the wildlife of the area. And no matter how many days in Banff you have, you’ll be sure to see some wildlife.

Deer roam freely everywhere, and can be seen crossing the street anytime of the day. Take a drive up to Mount Norquay and you can see big horn sheep, elk, and mountain goats.

big horn sheep banff

If you’re lucky, you could even spot a moose, grizzly bear, wolf, or mountain lion.

Gondola In Banff

The gondola in Banff is located a short drive off of Banff Avenue. Your ride up to the top of Sulphur Mountain will take about 8 minutes. The cars are small and fit up to 4 adults.

gondola lift Banff

The Banff gondola tickets cost anywhere from $37 and up depending on the day and time of year. At the top is a beautiful view of Bow Valley below, and 6 different mountain ranges.

Take a walk on the boardwalk for unforgettable views, then grab something to eat at the Sky Bistro after.

Hiking in Banff

There are plenty of must do hikes in Banff. And some are easily accessible right from downtown Banff.

You can get on the Bow River Trail at the Bow River Bridge. Then it’s a 1.2 km (.7 miles) to the stunning view at Bow Falls.

bow falls trail

Farther down the road you come to the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel. There are several easy hiking trails right behind the hotel.

The Tunnel Mountain Trail is right off Tunnel Mountain Drive in Banff. This moderate hike is 4.5 km (2.7miles) and takes you through the forest and up the mountain for an amazing view of the town below.

hiking in Banff in October

For the more adventurous, there’s the Sulphur Mountain Trail which will take you up to the top of the mountain. It’s the same mountain where the gondola goes. The trail is approximately 6 km (3.7miles) one way and will take a couple hours.

You can hike up and ride down. But either way you’ll still have to pay for a round trip ticket.

Banff Museums

Buffalo Nations Luxton Museum

Buffalo Nations Museum

Take some time to visit the Buffalo Nations Museum with your 3 days in Banff. You’ll learn a great deal of history and culture of the First Nations people in the area.

The museum is small, but it only cost $10 to enter, and the displays and artifacts are very interesting. There’s a gift shop to wander around after where you can pick up some unique native souvenirs.

Whyte Museum Banff

Whyte Museum of the Canadian Rockies

A great activity for a rainy, wet day is to visit the Whyte Museum. Located right in town, this museum is full of beautiful art displays, and does a great job at depicting how life would have been living here years ago.

There are exhibits on the history of the railroad, the First Nations people, the early settlers, and plenty more.Admission costs $10.

Banff Park Museum

Banff Park Museum National Historic site

This heritage museum was built in 1903 making it the oldest natural history museum in western Canada. There are over 5000 specimens of plants and animals on display that make this area their home. It’s something to do for an hour if you don’t mind viewing stuffed animals. And you’ll learn more about the nature that can be found in the Banff National Park.

The Banff Park Museum admission is $3.90 for adults, and under 18 are free. For the Banff Park Museum hours click here.

Historic Sites In Banff

Cave And Basin National Historic Site

Cave and Basin National Historic site Banff

Located on the edge of Banff is the Cave and Basin. This became the birthplace of Canada’s National Park system. There’s a short film to watch that gives you the history of the Cave and Basin site.

You can wander around out on the deck that used to be the pool, and read all the interesting displays.

Cave and Basin Banff

Then take a guided tour into the cave, view the natural hot springs with it’s strong sulphur smell, and lastly take a walk along the boardwalk for a great view of the marsh and Sulphur Mountains in the distance.

Sulphur Mountain Banff

The Cave and Basin National Historic Site price is $7.90 for adults and youth are free.

Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel

Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel Canada

This gorgeous Banff hotel is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The hotel first opened in 1888, and boasts 764 rooms. There have been a few movies filmed at this iconic location over the years.

Even is you aren’t staying here, it’s well worth coming to see. You could go on a hike on the trails around the hotel. Take a walk through the Mountain Galleries located inside.

Or you could have dinner at one of the many restaurants in the Fairmont. They’re also lucky enough to have the largest natural hot springs in Canada. But, at the moment it’s only open to guests staying at the hotel.

Banff Upper Hot Springs

The Banff Hot Springs are just up the road from the Banff Gondola, and not far from the Rimrock Resort Hotel. Unfortunately, weren’t able to go since it was closed because of covid. But if you love hot springs, the price is really reasonable.

What To Do On A Rainy Day In Banff

3 days in Banff

Lux Cinema Banff

Located right downtown on Bear Street is the independently owned Lux movie theatre. We came here one night to get out of the cold, and enjoyed it. They have movie screens showing all the latest new releases. And your typical theatre food like candy and popcorn.

Shopping In Banff

Shopping in Banff, Alberta is another option to get you out of the rain or cold. Even though the town is small, they still have some great quality stores. Here’s a few options:

  • The Spirit of Christmas – sell Christmas decorations and ornaments all year
  • Canada House Art Gallery – original paintings, sculptures, jewellery & more
  • Rocky Mountain Soap Company – 100% natural products produced in the Rocky Mountains
  • Banff Candy Store – a sweet collection with some vintage candy you haven’t seen in years

Live Music In Banff

For your 3 days in Banff, you’ll come across some delicious eateries that have live music nightly. Just another choice when the weather outside isn’t cooperating.

If you enjoy great scenery, check out our post on Things To Do In Whistler For Non Skiers.