1. Hike to the Lake Agnes Tea House This iconic tea house perched on the edge of Lake Agnes above Lake Louise may be closed for the autumn season in November, but the views are open year round. Plus, the crowds of summer are gone! Access this 7 km round-trip trail from the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, and plan to spend the entire day if the weather cooperates. Hikers can access the stunning vistas from the ‘Beehive’ from the far side of Lake Agnes, which offers views of blue Lake Louise, the Fairmont, and the entire valley. Check the forecast first: if the region is covered in snow during your visit, grab snowshoes or skis from the Fairmont and try a snow hike.
2. Check out the art vibe in Banff Banff isn’t just about the outdoors. It’s also a vibrant artist colony, with a long history of talented painters and sketchers. If the weather cooperates, check out the view that has inspired countless artists at Surprise Corner (with views of the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel and the Bow Valley), then head indoors to admire art from the past century at Whyte Museum, located in town. Whyte is run by donation-only, and offers a wonderful gallery as well as historical exhibits detailing Banff’s past.
3. Soak in hot springs: At any time of year, the Banff Upper Hot Springs are a treat, but in the late autumn, they’re especially welcome. For a low entry fee, visitors can soak all day if they’d like (though it’s not recommended, given the 104 temperature of the water!). Once your fingers are prune-y, drive the short distance to Cave and Basin, the site of the original springs that put Banff on the map (and began the Parks Canada movement). You can’t soak in these springs, but can see the source within a deep cave and the original bathhouse that drew the first tourists to Banff. Enjoy Banff and Lake Louise without the crowds in the autumn, and while you’re there, note the preparations for the winter ski season and plan your return!