When Is the Best Time
In general, the best months for a hike in the Banff National Park are from mid-May to late September. Hiking to the Consolation Lakes is possible from mid-May until September/October; the end of the hiking season. To enjoy these magical lakes without tour buses come here off season in May or October or early morning. The car park fills up quickly. The road to Moraine Lake car park gets opened from mid-May to roughly mid-October depending on snow conditions and avalanche risk.
Weather and Hiking Conditions
Hiking Season from earliest mid-May until latest mid-October. Many passes are covered in snow until late June. Around mid-July they become accessible, but hiking trails on higher elevation are still muddy. It’s often wet in the Rockies and depending on the amount of rainfall in spring there are tons of mosquitoes from June on until the first frost in September or October. 2015 was one of the worst years where you usually got a hundred bites and more on a weekend while camping. In 2017, it was vice versa. It was such a dry summer that you experienced very few mosquitoes in September. Unfortunately, many wildfires occurred and it was smoky most of the time with poor visibility. Many Provincial Parks and hiking trails in Alberta were closed. If planing to visit in May, September, October check trail conditions and closures first.
Pleasant day temps in July and August but still below 20°C / 68°F. Night temps are freezing cold on average 2°C / 36°F. Rain and snow occurs throughout the year depending on the elevation. September is a transitional month it can be nice and sunny but snow can happen as well. Check the weather forecast before hiking. Weather can change quickly.
It is very busy during the summer months and at weekends in the Larch season, but you can do some fantastic hikes that will take you away from the crowds. If you start early morning, you definitely do not share the trails with many other visitors. Even around midday only very view people hike the trail to Consolation Lakes. Moraine Lake is overrun almost the entire day but in the afternoon the tour buses already left the area.
The 14 km long road to Moraine Lake where the hike starts is closed when the car park is full. Queuing for up to an hour at the next picnic area is the only option to get there by car. Free and privately-operated shuttle buses are offered from Lake Louise.
Time of Day (Photography)
You get the best shot of the vibrant turquoise Moraine Lake before midday.
(Updated by When to be Where)
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Where and Tips
Banff National Park is an outstanding place of truly beautiful nature. It is a stunning scenery and has some of the most iconic Canadian landscapes. It's only a short walk of about an hour or less from Moraine Lake car park (2.9 km / 1.8 miles one way). It's a great hike for the whole family and offers views of glacier-clad mountains, sparkling lakes plus a rich array of wildflowers in spring and wildlife.
Carry a bear spray and be aware of ticks and Lyme disease.
It is very busy during the summer months, but you can do some fantastic hikes that will take you away from hustle and bustle of camera-crazy tourists trying to get the best "selfie". One of these hikes is Consolation Lakes. If you start early morning, you definitely do not share the trails with many other visitors. It's amazing how such a short walk to Consolation Lakes can take you away completely from all the other tourist. Darryl and I walked up there last July and were the only ones there yet Moraine Lake was packed full of people. Well worth the short walk. Take a picnic with you and enjoy the peace and quiet while watching the wildlife :-)
reviewed by 3185 Adventures Ltd