Best time to travel to Banff & Jasper National Parks

Wildlife in Banff National Park, Banff & Jasper National Parks 2024-2025

Over 50 different species feel at home here

Best time: all year round

Wildlife in Banff National Park
Wildlife in Banff National Park

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.

Practical info

When is the best time to visit Banff National Park to see wildlife?

Wildlife spotting opportunities in Banff National Park are available throughout the year. The spring season is an incredible time to witness the arrival of newborns while the fall season is perfect for observing the elk rutting season. Hiking and observing elusive species are best during summers. To maximize the visibility of animals during winter, hungry mammals tend to lick mineral deposits present in the rocks along the road. However, remember that different species are present in different seasons, so plan accordingly. Show more

Where can I see black bears and wolves in Banff National Park?

While black bears and wolves are present in Banff National Park, their frequency of appearance is lower than that of other animals like elks, chipmunks, ground squirrels, and pikas. It is best to spot them early in the morning or just before sunset, depending on their feeding, behavior, or resting patterns. You might have better luck seeing them by driving along the Icefields Parkway. However, these animals are potentially dangerous and should not be approached, especially with cubs or pups around. Show more

What is the most common mammal species in Banff National Park?

Banff National Park is home to multiple mammal species. Columbian ground chipmunks, squirrels, and pikas are the most commonly sighted. Elks are often spotted in town, especially around the golf course. Though bears, wolves, cougars, or lynxes are also present, they are rarer and require more luck to spot. Show more

How can I increase my chances of spotting bighorn sheep in Banff National Park?

Sulphur Mountain is one of the best places to maximize the likelihood of spotting bighorn sheep in Banff National Park. However, they are a sensitive population and any disturbances could alter their behaviors. Hence, it is safer to maintain distance and watch from afar to avoid endangering them. Show more

Are there any areas in Banff National Park where animals can be seen year-round?

Wildlife observation in Banff National Park is possible throughout the year, but the activity may vary for different species depending on the season. Spray Lakes Road is a promising area to observe coyotes and cougars, while Lake Louise is a great spot to witness year-round grizzly bear activity. Many species hibernate during winter, so they may not be visible in this season. Show more

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