Penticton, Lake Louise and Whistler

By  Hostelling International

Travelling During Shoulder Season in Western Canada

When summer does a whirlwind tour like it does in Western Canada, everyone tries to cram holidays in at the same time, producing what the tourism industry lovingly calls the high season.

It’s the fall season that unfortunately gets the cold shoulder, despite the perks of the autumnal change of seasons: smaller crowds, lower prices and a nice glow to everything. Here are some of the best shoulder season draws in the region, featuring Lake Louise, Penticton and more excellent destinations in Western Canada.


This resort town touts itself as an all-season resort so you can rest assured that there will be plenty to do even in the autumn. You never know when the snow will fall, but in the meantime, some of the country’s best mountain bike trails operate until the waxed planks take over. Before it gets too chilly up top, there’s still plenty of hiking and sightseeing to do on all levels of the mountain. This is a good wildlife spotting time as animals prepare for hibernation.


Fall is a nice respite after scorcher summers in the Penticton. This is an ideal time to explore the Kettle Valley Trail by bike, as cooler temperatures put less of a strain on your body. Kill two birds with one stone and take the northbound route toward Naramata, which passes by 10 wineries. How convenient. You can rent bikes from HI-Penticton.


Summer likes to linger in Vancouver, something the locals never fail to appreciate. Vancouverites will spend evenings on the many local beaches until the rainy season officially rolls in, which isn’t usually until late November. That’s when plenty of festivals step in to keep the city entertained covering things like film, comedy, writing and fringe arts.


With one of the most pleasant climates in Canada, Victoria leans ever so slightly into autumn. The real change comes in the city streets as cruise ship season wanes and the small city’s universities and colleges gear up for a new academic year. Tourists disappear from Government Street and downtown’s nightlife comes alive, at least until mid-terms.

Banff & Lake Louise

Take in some nice fall colours as the larch trees around Lake Louise turn bright yellow, and then enjoy the area for a little early-season cross-country skiing. This is where the Canadian national team comes to get a jump on training. If you’ve always fancied a season as a ski bum, this is the time to head to Banff to snag a good job. Ski season gets underway as early as the beginning of November.


September to November is prime wildlife spotting time up in less busy Jasper National Park. Black bears can spend up to 20 hours a day eating in the weeks leading up to hibernation, which means they’re out and about, but also not to be messed with. By mid-September, breeding season is in full swing for elk in the parks, when males wield their impressive antlers to fight off competition and win the attention of potential mates.

The Rockies

The Icefields Parkway can become a ghost road in the depths of winter, which is why some of Hostelling International’s wilderness hostels along the picturesque highway close down or reduce their hours in the low-season. Autumn is an excellent time to get one last kick in off-the-grid places like Mount Edith Cavell, Yoho National Park, Mosquito Creek and Kananaskis.

Like what you read? Never miss the latest updates with our monthly newsletter


Weekly Travel Updates

Outpost Travel Center

Outpost Travel Deals and Discounts