Curious how to get from Calgary to Canmore? We’ll break everything you need to know. The Calgary International Airport (YYC) is an excellent gateway to the Canadian Rockies. Many visitors to Banff/Canmore and the Canadian Rockies will find this is where their trip to the region starts. A Calgary to Canmore journey begins in the bustling city before driving through the Alberta prairies and finally getting to the beautiful Rocky Mountains and the Bow Valley.
Many people might pass through Canmore on their way to Banff, but we promise it’s worth the stop. If you’re arriving in Calgary before your trip to Canmore, the good news is there are many ways to get from Calgary to Canmore and Banff. These options include rental cars, private transfers, shuttle buses, and public transport.
So, let’s dig into the best ways to get from Calgary to Canmore (and Calgary to Canmore), as many don’t realize a car rental isn’t always necessary. Although, we suggest most visitors would best be served by one.
What Is The Closest Airport to Canmore?
There is no airport in Banff or Canmore; the closest airport is the Calgary International Airport (YYC), a 1.20 hr drive from Canmore. YYC is an excellent airport and is often very pleasant and quiet to travel through. If you arrive late at night or have extra time in your schedule, there are some awesome things to do in Calgary!
How Far is it From Calgary to Canmore?
The distance between Calgary and Canmore is not far, and it’s fantastic that there are mountains so close to a major city. You can drive from Calgary to Canmore in less than 1.5 hours, but you’ll start getting great views of the mountains as you drive around the 45-minute mark.
- The Fastest Route from Calgary to Canmore is on the Trans-Canada Highway. From YYC to Canmore takes 1 hr 20 min across 122.0 km via the Trans-Canada Hwy/AB-1 W. This route isn’t very scenic but gets very pretty once you pass the Stoney Nakoda Casino and the entrance to Kananaskis on your left-hand side. Before reaching Canmore, you’ll see famous mountain peaks like Yamnuska. If you pass the Banff park gates, you have gone too far, though it would be near impossible to miss the exits for Canmore.
- The Scenic Route doesn’t take much more time than the fast route, so I recommend it if you have an extra 20 minutes in your schedule. Driving from Calgary to Canmore, you’ll exit towards Cochrane and take Highway 1A from Cochrane to Canmore. It’s a slight detour with different views. To make it a little quicker, get on the 1A in Cochrane and get off near Morley before continuing to Canmore on the TransCanada. If you genuinely want scenic drives, we recommend spending time on the Bow Valley Parkway and Icefields Parkway.
Important Calgary to Canmore Routing Notes
- If time allows, consider driving each route to and from Calgary. When driving from Calgary to Canmore, take the 1A, and when going from Canmore to Calgary, take Trans Canada, or vice versa.
- Expect the drive to take longer during winter, especially after a big snowstorm. Drive carefully; the roads can become treacherous, especially with chinook winds.
- During the weekends in July and August, the TransCanada can become very congested, with a large portion of the city entering the mountains. This means it may take longer to get to Canmore on a Friday night, and on Sunday evening, it will take longer to get back to Calgary. Keep this in mind if you have flights during these times.
- As mentioned above, take extra care as you approach the mountains as Chinooks, gusts of warm air that descend from the mountain, have blown unsuspecting drivers off the road. This is a real threat in the winter when gusts of snow can make the road disappear. If it’s a terrible storm, consider spending the night in Calgary. Other than that, the drive from Calgary to Canmore is straightforward.
Transportation Options from Calgary to Canmore
Calgary to Canmore by Shuttle Bus
Several companies offer shuttle bus transfers to Canmore from the Calgary International Airport. The Calgary to Canmore bus operates on a schedule and runs multiple daily transfers. The two most popular bus options are Banff Airporter and Brewster Express.
They are excellent options with different offerings, so your travel plans may be better suited for one over the other.
Calgary to Canmore Bus Option 1: Banff Airporter
The Banff Airporter is a year-round service between Calgary, Canmore, and Banff. They have many scheduled times, so you rarely have to wait more than an hour after your flight has landed unless you land at an odd hour. Only one location is available for pickup/dropoff in Calgary at the airport and one in Canmore at the Coast Hotel.
The staff is always friendly, with modern buses with power points, comfortable seats, blankets, and water available. The journey takes about 1:15 hrs to reach Canmore. You can also use them to get from Calgary to Banff. They do not offer a service to Lake Louise. We’ve used them often as we like leaving our car in our garage at home when we travel abroad and they always provide good service.
Calgary to Canmore
|Kid Under 5
Calgary to Canmore Bus Option 2: Brewster Express
Brewster Express is the largest operator of group tours and bus services in and around the Canadian Rockies. Pursuit’s parent company also operates attractions like Banff Gondola, Jasper Skywalk, Golden Skybridge, and the Lake Minnewanka Cruise.
Brewster Express is a shuttle service that connects Calgary with Kananaskis, Canmore, Banff, Lake Louise, and Jasper. There is an excellent selection of pick-up and drop-off points with the Brewster Express. In Calgary, you can request pick-up or drop-off at the Calgary International Airport and at these downtown hotels:
- Marriott Downtown Hotel
- Delta Hotels by Marriott Calgary Downtown
- Fairmont Palliser International Hotel Suites Calgary
- Sandman Hotel Calgary City Centre
- International Hotel Suites Calgary
- Westin Calgary Hotel
In Canmore, you will be picked up or dropped off at the Coast Canmore Hotel. There are multiple departures throughout the day, so you’ll have to find the best time for you here. The bus service also allows you to purchase point-to-point tickets. You can hop on a shuttle bus from Canmore to Lake Louise or Banff to Jasper.
Calgary to Canmore
Calgary to Banff Shuttle Option 3: Discover Banff Tours
Discover Banff Tours runs shuttles between Banff, Canmore, Downtown Calgary, and the Calgary Airport. These coach cars run daily and start at $78 a person. This shuttle service offers pickups from select Lake Louise locations, including the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise and most hotels in Banff. They offer only pick-ups and drop-offs in Canmore at the Coast Hotel and will drop off in Calgary at YYC.
YYC to Canmore
Option 4: On-It Public Bus
This is only available in the summer months, but a public bus route can get you from Calgary to Banff. On-It is a regional transit company that connects the towns of Banff and Canmore to Downtown Calgary. The bus is not as luxurious as shuttle buses, and there is no ample luggage storage in the back, but it only costs $10. The bus also operates only on weekends.
It’s designed more for Calgarians to take public transport to the park and vice versa. However, if you’re traveling to Banff on a budget, it’s a great way to save some money.
The weekend buses sell out pretty quickly, so make sure to book your tickets well in advance. The Buses depart from Downtown Calgary, Bridlewood / Somerset LRT, and the Crowfoot LRT Station drop off in Canmore at Benchlands & Bow Valley Trail.
Option 5: The Banff Express
The Banff Express offers great value fares to Canmore. Buses leave from Calgary Eau Claire Market (Good Earth Coffeehouse), Calgary – Foothills Hospital McCaig Tower (West Entrance), and the HI Calgary City Centre Hostel.
Passengers are dropped off at the Canmore – Visitor Information Centre. Drop-off at your hotel or home is available in Banff but not in Canmore. Compared to the airport options, The Banff Express is pretty affordable and charges the following one-way fares:
|Calgary to Canmore
|Children (12 and Under):
Calgary to Canmore by Private Transfer
If you’re not looking to drive but prefer more flexibility, consider a private transfer from Calgary. You can leave at any time or from any address in Calgary. Rates vary, but the pricing may work out better for you if you are a larger group.
The local Calgary taxi companies include:
Many companies offer a private shuttle service, and you’ll likely get the best rate booking directly rather than your hotel/resort. Banff Sedan offers several luxury vehicles that you can book. If you’re a large group, these services can work out cheaper in the long run or are similarly priced to the shuttle bus service with the added bonus of your own schedule.
Other Private Transfer Companies
- Banff Transportation Group: This popular transportation group will take you from Calgary to Canmore or vice versa.
- Banff Private Charters: This is a good option for a large group, like a wedding party, as they cater to up to 24 people.
- Limo To Go: If you want to arrive in Canmore in style, be it a luxury dean, luxury SUV, or even a limo, Limo to Go has you covered.
Get a Rental Car and Drive from Calgary to Canmore
Driving from Calgary to Canmore is very straightforward. Once you leave the city, it’s a straight shot on Trans Canada until you get off in Canmore. Renting a car or driving your own vehicle is one of the best ways to explore the Rockies and provides many advantages over public transport. There’s no need for a shuttle with a rental car, and you don’t have any time to adhere to.
A vehicle allows you to avoid crowds, make up your own schedule, and explore all of the various parts of Banff. If you have plans to do a lot of hiking around Canmore, in Kananaskis, or in Banff, you’ll need your own rental car.
Of course, if you don’t want to drive, you can book tours or use public transport around the park. If you plan to visit the more popular sites, using tours and public transport might make more sense. Roam Transit has routes to Lake Louise, Johnston Canyon, Lake Minnewanka, Sulphur Mountain, and more.
Parking at sights like Lake Louise and Johnston Canyon can be far more complex than a public option, and there are public transport options to get there. However, anything, even vaguely off the beaten path, will require your own wheels.
All major car rental companies operate at Calgary International Airport with a large fleet of options. You do not need a truck or SUV in the summer months, and it’s questionable in the shoulder seasons when snowy roads are infrequent. If you are on a budget, renting a car from Downtown Calgary rather than the airport may be worth it, as prices are typically $50-$100 cheaper.
If you plan to visit Canmore in the winter, you must rent a car with winter tires. If you are visiting between November and April, you should get a car with winter tires or, at the very least, all-season tires. Inform your rental car company you are driving to the mountains, and they should know what to do. Renting a car in the winter does not mean your rental will automatically come with winter tires.
If you plan on driving on the Icefields Parkway, winter tires are necessary for the winter. Snow tires or chains are required by law for travel on Hwy #93N / Icefields Parkway) and Hwy #93S / Banff-Windermere Highway (Banff and Kootenay National Parks) between November 1 and March 31.
Canadian Rockies Car Rental Resources
- Our Guide for everything you need to know about renting a car for Banff.
- Travel Alberta: For road laws and driving guidelines
- 5.11 Alberta: For up to date road conditions
- Bow Valley Road Conditions Facebook Group: For pictures and first-hand info about the roads. Especially handy in the winter.
- Rentalcars.com and Discover Car Hire: These are what we use to rent cars worldwide.
- Turo: Check out the car-sharing website, Turo. They have many filters so you can rent vans and larger vehicles for big groups.
- If you want your set of wheels, kitchen, and bed all in place, we recommend booking a campervan for your trip to the Rockies. Campervans are a popular form of travel in Banff come summertime! You can compare van rates here!
Other Options to Get Between Calgary and Canmore
- There is no Calgary to Canmore train, but there are talks of it happening in the future.
- There’s always Uber. However, I wouldn’t rely on this service as many drivers will require a return fare to justify the drive and cost of taking you from Calgary to Canmore.
- Like BlaBlaCar in Europe, PopaRide is a rideshare company where you can find drivers already driving between Calgary and Canmore. Prices vary, but typically, it’s not much more than the fuel cost. The only issue is that these drivers have a strict schedule that likely won’t align with yours.
- Plenty of Bow Valley Facebook groups with drivers and passengers often seek others to ride with.
- Hitchhiking is not common between this route, and you will likely be waiting a while to find a ride by hitchhiking between Calgary and Canmore.
Local Transport While in Canmore
Once you arrive in Downtown Canmore, you can do many things without a car. If you are staying Downtown, like at The Malcolm Hotel, you can walk Downtown, enjoy all the fabulous Canmore restaurants, go shopping, and stroll the Policemen’s Creek Boardwalk. Renting a bike at Rebound Cycle will also help get around.
Public Transport in Canmore
Although the towns of Banff and Canmore are not the typical size you’d expect to find an extensive public transport network, Roam Transit serves the area reliably. It can get visitors between Banff and Canmore quickly. You have the option to buy your fare individually, multiple foods at once, or a daily/monthly card. Fares are pretty affordable, too, with local routes starting at just $2.
It may be best to check out the Brewster Express that connects Kananaskis, Canmore, Calgary, Lake Louise, and Jasper for transfers with luggage. You can book individual legs for an accessible hotel transfer between Banff and Jasper or Lake Louise.
Several tour providers will pick you up and take you to all the hotspots in Canmore and Banff. You can book private tours, extensive group tours, or unique experiences like dog-sledding or white water rafting.
Going on a tour offers more than just transport as you gain a knowledgeable guide who can share facts and history and share the park’s natural wonders.
This all means you don’t need a car to visit Banff. Discover Banff Tours and the Pursuit are two of the biggest operators in the region, but there are many different operators, so shop around for the tour that best suits you. You can see our recommended tours in the Rockies here.
Other Options for Getting Around Banff
- Taxi: There are only a handful of taxis in Canmore, and they are not the cheapest option, but they are there if you need them! Try Three Sisters Taxi and Canmore Cabs.
- By Bike: In the summer, I get almost everywhere by bike. I love riding my bike from Banff to Canmore and vice versa on the Legacy Trail. There’s also a fabulous pathway in Canmore called the Three Sisters Pathway. If you are driving from your home, I recommend bringing bikes to explore the park. Rebound Cycle and Gear Up have bike rentals in Canmore.
- Canmore Parking: Parking in the Town of Canmore can be challenging during peak summer months. Paid parking is in effect in the Town Centre and Quarry Lake starting and will be in effect seven days per week from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. You can find Canmore parking info on the Town website.
Do You Need a Parks Pass for Canmore
You do not need a Parks Canada Pass to visit Canmore; however, you will need one if you intend to cross into Banff National Park (which you likely will). If you have plans to hike in Kananaskis, you also need a Kananaskis Conservation Pass. The Parks Canada Pass prices are as follows:
Parks Canada Day Pass Rates
|Youth (up to 17)
|Family/Group (7 Persons)
You can buy them from Parks Canada in advance online, or you will be able to purchase a Parks Canada pass when you drive into Banff from the park gates.
A Parks Canada Discovery Pass, which gets you entrance to all Parks Canada destinations for the year, is only $145.25 for a family. Again, day passes are $10 per person, so depending on how many days you are staying and if you have plans to go to Banff, you may want to consider the Discover Pass. Discovery Pass fees are as follows:
Parks Canada Discovery Pass Fees (Yearly Pass)
|Pass Type (Yearly Pass)
|Youth (up to 17)
|Family/Group (up to 7 Persons)
Hotel Recommendations in Canmore
Best Restaurants in Canmore
- Communitea: Awesome lunch spot with delicious salads and light fares. Their pad Thai is exceptional!
- Rocky Mountain Bagel: The most iconic place in Canmore to grab breakfast!
- Sauvage: One of the most excellent restaurants in Canmore.
Things to do in Canmore
There are plenty of things to do in Canmore, no matter the season. A few recommendations:
- Walk the Policemen’s Creek Boardwalk: One of the most beautiful walking paths, perfect for all.
- Watch the Sunrise at the Rundle Bay Reservoir: It’s here you’ll watch the first rays of light hit Ha Ling Peak.
- Canmore Nordic Center: In the summer, this is where you’ll want to go mountain biking, while in the winter, there are plenty of stunning cross-country ski tracks.
If you are looking for the best things to do in Canmore in winter make sure to check out our full article!
Plan Your Trip to the Canadian Rockies
- Hiking in the Rockies: Purchase an AllTrails subscription to have a mobile map on you as you hike.
- Tours (New in 2024): The Banff Blog is partnering with one of the leading tour companies in Western Canada so readers can experience the magic of the Rockies with other travelers – without having to think about a thing. See all our 2024 tour offerings here!
- Hotels in the Rockies: There are many places to stay, from luxury hotels to wilderness cabins. See all our favorites here.
- Pack for the Rockies: See our complete Alberta packing list here.
- Get Around: We suggest renting a car to get around. You can search for rental cars on Rentalcars.com. Or embark on an epic campervan trip. We like to compare prices on Motorhome Republic and Outdoorsy.
- Fly For Free: Turn your spending into airline miles and points with travel credit cards (that’s what we do!). See our favorite travel credit cards. We also use Going to watch for cheap airfare deals!
- Hop On, Hop Off: This tour is taking Banff by storm. It’s exactly what it sounds like, hop on and off a bus bound for all the best attractions at your own pace!
- Travel Insurance: We don’t recommend traveling without travel insurance. We recommend checking out HeyMondo, which offers competitive rates for all travelers.
↓ Join the community ↓
The Banff Blog Facebook Group is your headquarters for the Canadian Rockies’ travel advice and information. Including hike info and off-season travel information. You can also meet new adventure buddies.