Banff National Park boasts a variety of mammals, the most common being the Columbian ground chipmunks, squirrels, and pikas. If the timing is right, you may even come across black bears, wolves, rarer cougars or lynxes.
You can witness some wildlife right within the town of Banff, especially elks. Animals are usually more active either as the sun rises or just before it sets, depending on their feeding, behaviour, or sleep patterns. Sulphur Mountain is a place worth heading to, to maximize the chance of seeing bighorn sheep, while Spray Lakes Road is home to coyotes and cougars. Lake Louise is considered a prime grizzly bear breeding area and the Chateau Hotel Property is home to chipmunks and Ground squirrels.
The best way to discover wildlife is by driving along the Icefields Parkway. This is where you’ll undoubtedly spot an abundance of species not far from the road.
In Banff National Park, you may watch wildlife all year round. Spring babies and fall elk rutting seasons are often presented as the best time. However, summer is the most favourable time for hiking remote areas and meeting some of their elusive inhabitants. Bear season is April through November before they hibernate. Winter gives you the best visibility as you may spot hungry mammals licking mineral deposits in the rocks along the road.
Wildlife can be experienced year round at Banff. If you're set on seeing a specific species, check what the best time of year is to see them as some might be out of sight in certain seasons such as the bears and squirrels that hibernate during winter.