Alberta in shoulder season
By Laura Gelder | October 2019 | 3 minute read
Quieter and great for deals, Alberta in the low season offers affordable options for clients looking to avoid the crowds.
Reasons to go off-season
While many choose to go to Alberta at the height of summer or winter, spring and autumn are great-value alternatives with plenty to see and do.
One of the benefits of flying in the shoulder season is more choice and availability. And because demand is lower you’ll find more affordable deals for your clients and savings on airfares and accommodation will allow you to enhance their experience, whether that’s upgrading their room category or adding a once-in-a-lifetime experience such as a helicopter trip over the Rockies.
From late April to mid-June (excluding the local bank holiday weekend in May), and late September through to the end of November, the parks quieten down considerably and seasonal attractions, such as the must-see Columbia Icefield Glacier Adventure, are less busy.
Late ski deals
Alberta’s resorts enjoy some of the longest ski seasons in North America, with Banff National Park-area resorts like Lake Louise and Sunshine Village boasting powder well into May. Sunshine Village has the longest non-glacial ski season in North America – an impressive seven months of skiing and snowboarding.
While European visitors may find the Rockies a tad colder than Europe's slopes, the later they go the warmer the conditions. Spring skiers will enjoy an average of seven hours of sunshine a day in April, with average daytime temperatures in Banff, for example, 8°C in April and 14°C in May.
Clients visiting in April may be treated to a bear sighting as the bears emerge from their hibernation.
Rising temperatures can also mean a better chance of seeing wildlife in the beautiful National Park surroundings. Spring brings with it sightings of grazing young in the lower valley elevations with calving season in May for elk, deer and bighorn sheep. Mid-September into October brings large concentration of elk during the rutting season.
In autumn there's Larch Season to consider. This is a magical but brief period, usually from the middle of September through to the beginning of October, when the needles of the Larch trees turn a dramatic golden copper hue before dropping.
Top places to see this fall phenomenon include Kananaskis country, in particular Chester Lake; Jasper National Park, the Skyline Trail or the Jasper Sky Tram are great viewing points; and Banff National Park, most notably Larch Valley.
Starting by Moraine Lake, the Larch Valley and Sentinel Pass trail takes hikers through sweeping larch meadows and past rocky spires for a sky- high view of the colours.
Top shoulder-season events include the Jasper Dark Skies Festival with little light pollution making for some of the brightest starry skies, and Banff Mountain Film & Book Festival with its stories of ground-breaking expeditions told by global explorers.