How to Get From Calgary to Canmore

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 explore the best ways to get from Calgary to Canmore (and back to Calgary). Many people don’t realize that a car rental isn’t always necessary, although we think most visitors would be best served by one.

What Is The Closest Airport to Canmore?

how to get from calgary 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 have extra time in your schedule, there are some awesome things to do in Calgary!

How Far is it From Calgary to Canmore?

Natasha at Grotto Canyon in April
Grotto Canyon

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

By Shuttle Bus

Canmore Engine Bridge
The Canmore Engine Bridge

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.

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
TicketOne WayReturn
Senior (65+)$69.49$138.98
Child (6-17)$31.49$76.98
Kid Under 5FreeFree

Brewster Express

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
TicketOne WayReturn

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
TicketOne WayReturn

On-It Public Bus

On-It 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 costs less than $15. 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.

** Good news! On-It riders can connect with Local Roam Transit Routes 1, 2, 4, and 6 for free, which can get you to the Banff Upper Hot Springs and the Banff Gondola (Route 1), Bow Falls (Route 2), the Cave & Basin (Route 4), and Johnson Lake, and Lake Minnewanka (Route 6).


New is the option to book the Flixbus from Downtown Calgary to Canmore. There are multiple daily departures, and the bus rides take between 1.30 and 2 hours. Rates start at $12, which is an absolute steal. Buses have free WiFi and outlets. Every time we ride Flixbus, we’re reminded of how comfortable the seats are!

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):$22

By Private Transfer

canmore in the fall

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

Icefields Parkway Morning Light And Fog

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.

tent ridge hike kananaskis

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.

Lake Minnewanka

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 Park) between November 1 and March 31.

Canadian Rockies Car Rental Resources

Other Options to Get Between Calgary and Canmore

  • There is no train connecting Calgary to Canmore, 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

roam transit in canmore
The Roam Transit Bus 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 you 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.

Shuttle Buses

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.

Booked Tour

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 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?

Natasha with the Three Sisters behind her

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
Pass TypeRate
Youth (up to 17)Free
Family/Group (7 Persons)$22.00
Day passes expire at 4 pm the following day.

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 $151 for a family. Again, day passes are $11 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)Rate
Youth (up to 17)Free
Family/Group (up to 7 Persons)$151.25

Hotel Recommendations in Canmore

Things to do in Canmore

walking policeman's Creek
Walking policeman’s Creek in the fall

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 Forebay 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

  • Get to Banff or Canmore Without a Car: The Banff Airporter provides fantastic service connecting you from the Calgary International Airport (YYC) to Banff or Canmore.
  • Get Around: We suggest renting a car to get around. You can search for rental cars on Or embark on an epic campervan trip, we like to compare camper prices on Outdoorsy.
  • Cheaper Airfare: We also use Going to watch for cheap airfare deals and like to use travel credit cards to hack our way into free flights and hotels! Our favorite cards are the Capital One Venture X and Chase Sapphire, which both work well in Canada and have no foreign transaction fees.
  • 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!

↓ Join the community ↓

The Banff Blog Facebook Group is your headquarters for Canadian Rockies travel advice and information, including hike and off-season travel information. You can also meet new adventure buddies.

the banff blog facebook group

About Natasha

Natasha calls Canmore, Alberta home. After traveling across seven continents and 90 countries with Cameron, she settled down in the stunning Canadian Rockies. She loves to help others travel and make their planning easier. She is a winter enthusiast and loves to snowboard, ice skate, and snowshoe and enjoy all the fantastic summer opportunities in Banff like hiking, scrambling, and biking. You can find her in the mountains or enjoying a coffee by the river. Learn more on the about us page!

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