There’s a chill in the air, and the elk who call Banff National Park home are now in the rut; fall is here! Locals and visitors alike know that while we wait for the snow to arrive and for the hills to open, there’s a magical month-long event that makes waiting worth it: larch season.
What is a Larch?
Larch trees are a group of deciduous conifer trees that grow and thrive well in cooler temperatures, making them right at home in Banff National Park.
Unlike other coniferous trees, larch trees shed their needles every fall. In the spring, larches grow new green needles and slowly turn orange and yellow in the early stages of fall. Once they turn, they shed and prep for another year. In Alberta, prime Larch Season is mid to late September.
Best Places for Larch Viewing
Lake Louise Ski Resort
The easiest way to take in the larch views without the work of hiking is to hitch a ride on the Lake Louise Sightseeing Gondola. Until September 19, you can catch a chair or gondola up the mountain for golden views. While you’re there, grab lunch at Whitehorn Bistro and soak in the feel of autumn atop the mountain.
Famous for its teahouse, Lake Agnes is one of the most popular hikes in the Lake Louise area. Though you wouldn’t know it by looking at it in the summer, the lakeshore of Lake Agnes is dotted with beautiful orange spots come the autumn. The teahouse will be open until Thanksgiving weekend, so you can also look forward to relaxing at the teahouse while enjoying the views.
Although the gondola is closed until ski season, hopeful larch viewers are still welcome to hike the service road up the mountain to access the meadows. Known for its blankets of beautiful wildflowers in the summer months, Sunshine Meadows becomes ablaze with the golds and yellows of the larches during fall. The reflection of the larches in Rock Isle Lake makes for a breathtaking photo opportunity.
It’s not called Larch Valley for nothing! Start your journey at the beautiful Moraine Lake and make your way to the ever-impressive Larch Valley that is photographed year after year for its impressive golds and yellows. Moraine Lake’s parking lot is small, so make sure you head out early, use the overflow lot, or book at Parks Canada shuttle. If you want to challenge yourself, tack on the extra 5.8k Sentinel Pass hike after the end of the valley.
Ready to witness Larch Season for yourself?
Our Reservations Team is always happy to share their local knowledge and experience to help you find the best autumn package for your style and budget. You can reach them via Live Chat (scroll up for the Live Chat link at the top of our website), or by calling 1-844-754-2443.