50 UNIQUE Things To Do in Canmore, Alberta (Locals Travel Guide)

Before we moved to Canmore, we researched all the best things to do in Canmore like you! Canmore has many attractions, great restaurants, and stunning views to offer visitors, especially for such a small Canadian mountain town. It is one of the most beautiful towns we’ve ever visited in the entire world, and that’s why we chose to move to Canmore. Seriously, every time I just walk out of the grocery store here, I am blown away by the in-your-face mountain views.

Nestled in the Canadian Rockies, Canmore is any outdoor fanatics’ dream. There are just so many things to do in Canmore and the surrounding region that it’s hard to ever get bored. It also has managed to retain some down-to-earth charm that Banff lost years ago as it sees millions of tourists a year. If you’re heading to the area, then read on for our list of favorite things to do in Canmore.

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Where is Canmore, Alberta?

Canmore is a beautiful town in Alberta, Canada. It’s just 81 km west of Calgary, just about an hour’s drive. Canmore, Alberta also neighbors the famous Banff National Park but is far less heard about internationally. It’s a stunning town in the Canadian Rockies well worth a visit.

  • Calgary to Canmore: 1 hr 15 minute drive – 105 km via Trans-Canada Hwy/AB-1 W.
  • Banff to Canmore: 20 minutes drive – 25km via Trans-Canada Hwy/AB-1 E
  • Vancouver to Canmore: 9.5 hour drive – 869 km via Trans-Canada Hwy/BC-1 E
  • Edmonton to Canmore: 4 hour drive – 390 km via AB-2 S
  • Fernie to Canmore: 4 hour drive – 363 km via AB-22

A Brief History on Canmore, Alberta

In the 1880s, Canmore was known as a mining town and remained that way throughout most of the 20th century. It wasn’t until recently that the town became a tourist destination.

Donald A Smith was an employee of the Canadian Pacific Railway and in 1884 named the town Canmore, which originates in Scotland.

In 1887 the first mine was opened in Canmore, and it wasn’t until 1965 that Canmore was incorporated into a town with just 2000 residents. In July of 1979, Canmore Mines Ltd. closed their last mine. In 1988 the Olympic Winter Games were held in Calgary, which marked a change for the town of Canmore. The town would be the site of the Nordic events. The Canmore Nordic Center was developed to host the events.

The town of Canmore was put on the map as a Canadian tourist destination and now is becoming well known as another destination to visit in conjunction with Banff National Park.


Fun Things to do in Canmore


Take in the Three Sisters Mountains

Three sisters canmore, Alberta

Faith, Hope, and Charity, the individual mountains that make up the Three Sisters Mountain, are majestic and easily recognizable icons of Canmore (called the Big Sister, Little Sister, and Middle Sister, respectively).

At nearly 10,000 feet, they’re hard to miss, and that’s a good thing because experiencing these stalwart giants is one of the best things to do in Canmore, Alberta, that you won’t want to pass up. 

Three-Sisters-Canmore

The mountain’s bare, rocky peaks make a dramatic contrast with the lush, green pine forests that envelope them at lower elevations.

You can scramble up the Middle Sister and Big Sister; however the Little Sister is for serious rock climbers only. These are long and hard scrambles that should not be attempted unless you have experience hiking and scrambling in the Canadian Rockies.

If you want to get up close to the mountains, you can enjoy a helicopter ride in Kananaskis, though be aware it is expensive, but it will give you a unique view that most will never get to appreciate. Or you can always do what most people do and snap plenty of photos and enjoy the view. We consider ourselves lucky, and we see them every day since we live at their base.


Hike in Kananaskis Country

Tent Ridge in Kananaskis

Not everything takes place in Banff National Park. Canmore is situated between Banff and the Alberta Park called Kananaskis. Kananaskis is often thought of as the foothills to the Rockies, but there are some tremendous hikes in Kananaskis. Don’t make a mistake and underestimate them as there are some massive mountains and hikes in the park.

It’s also great for fewer crowds on the weekdays and finding wildlife. On the weekend, it is very popular with Calgarians having fun in the mountains, still far from the madding crowds of Banff.

If you’re looking for two of our favorite hikes, check out Tent Ridge or Wasootch Ridge. You can also check out Sarrail Ridge, Burstall Pass, East End of Rundle – There are too many to name!


Scramble Up East End of Rundle

EORR Hike

East End of Rundle (EEOR) is one of the most popular hikes in Canmore. It’s a beautiful hike that provides visitors with astonishing views over Canmore, the Bow Valley, and Ha Ling Peak. Although, just because East End of Rundle (or EEOR, or “Eeyore” as locals like to call it) is close to town doesn’t mean it’s an easy climb up to the summit.

EEOR trail is a 5.8 kilometer out and back trail. It’s certainly a steep and strenuous uphill battle for almost the entire hike. There are hardly any flat parts, and the climb starts right from the car park.

There are moderate exposure and some scrambling required, but nothing too scary or difficult for the average to the advanced hiker. We are reasonably fast hikers and completed the trail in four hours with a 45-minute summit beer stop at the top and about 15 extra minutes for sunset photos. If we were really moving with no long stops, we could have done EEOR in under three hours.

The average hiker will probably be able to summit in two hours and descend in 1.5 hours. If you are slower, five hours round trip is probably a safe time to estimate.


Canmore Highland Games

Canmore Sunset

The first Highland Games were held in Scotland in the 11th Century. It’s no small coincidence that they were the brainchild of King Malcolm III, whose nickname was ‘Canmore.’ The games’ strenuous events were used to test the physical prowess of local men to determine which of them would make the fittest and suitable royal mail carriers.

Drawing visitors from around the world each year, the event has been held since 1991 and occurs during the first weekend of September. With a mandate to promote Scottish ancestry and heritage, the event includes lots of kilts, bagpipes, and a caber toss too. You can purchase tickets in advance online, sign up to volunteer, and even apply for a vendor spot if you’re so inclined.


Stretch At Wildheart Yoga

Canmore Wildheart Yoga

Natasha loves to take yoga classes when we travel and has taken lessons in at least two dozen countries. Naturally, when we’re at home, she tries to get in as much yoga as possible between hikes. Her favorite yoga studio in Canmore is Wildheart Yoga.

They have a beautiful modern studio and wonderful instructors with a variety of classes and times. You can find more information along with a schedule on their website.


Grab a Beer at Grizzly Paw Brewing Pub

Grizzly Paw Brwery

Our favorite apres ski ritual is to check out the local brewery, something you can only find in North America. It doesn’t matter the season, but to end any day with a local beer in the stunning Rockies is the perfect day.

The drink and food here are great, and we loved their Grumpy Bear Honey Wheat and Rundlestone IPA. There are also seasonal draughts on offers, like gose, wheat, specialty IPA, and other guest brewers.


Catch Some Fresh River Trout

Spray Valley

The amazing Canadian Rockies are home to an abundance of streams and rivers. All of this means some of the best fishing you can find in North America. It’s one of the best ways to spend some time in the great outdoors.

Some of the most popular spots that are easy to visit are Spray Lake, Bow River, Grotto Mountain, Quarry Lake, and Lake Minnewanka in Banff. It’s best to verify the local regulations in effect as it changes by season. The upper Bow River in the park is catch and release.

You don’t need to know the area because there are two fishing guide companies to take you to all the best spots and get you outfitted. You can check out Wapiti Sports & Outfitters and Banff Fishing Unlimited, based in Canmore, for more information. They also offer ice fishing on Spray Lakes in the winter.


SUP Paddle Board on the Canmore Reservoir

Stand up paddle boarding in Canmore
Paddleboarding at the Canmore reservoir

There is no secret that Canada has some stunning lakes, more than any country in the world. Canmore has a wide selection of waterways itself, and there are so many water activities that visitors can do in the area.

One of those things that have made their way from the coast is stand up paddleboarding. Bow Valley Stand Up Paddleboarding has been operating in Canmore for the past five years and offers rentals, lessons, and sales.

It’s an amazing way to take in the stunning waterways around Canmore and one of the best things to do in Canmore in the summer. Of course, if you don’t want to risk a very brisk swim in the water, you can opt for a traditional canoe from Banff Canoe Club


Canoe at the Canmore Reservoir or Goat Pond

canoeing on Goat Pond

One of the best things to do in Canmore is paddle on a canoe in one of the nearby ponds. I particularly like to bring our canoe to either the Canmore Reservoir or to Goat Pond off of Spray Lakes Road. Both aren’t very wind-affected and make for a great place to have a serene paddle.


Morning Coffee At Eclipse Coffee

Eclipse Coffee

If you’re looking for the best coffee in the Rockies, then you need to head to Canmore and visit the Eclipse Coffee Roasters. They now have two locations one downtown and the original at the main intersection off Bow Valley Trail.

At the shop, you can find artisan roasts made in-house or order a range of specialty coffees. Expect to find the usual ranging from a flat white to a latte and even a nice pour-over for true coffee aficionados. This is our favorite spot and where we like to pick our coffee roast for home.

It’s also a great place to pick up a local roast for camping or a coffee before tackling a hike in Kananaskis off Smith Dorrien Trail or on your way to Banff.


Walk Through Grotto Canyon

Grotto Canyon

An easy hike in Canmore that’s good year-round is Grotto Canyon. Even in the winter, this famous canyon with rock art is possible to walk along the frozen creek. In the summertime, it’s popular for families seeking to enjoy the narrow slot canyon and climbers looking to scale its walls. At only 4km in length, you can check this one off the list in an hour or two.


Canmore Museum and Geoscience Center

Canmore Civic Center

One of the best things to do in Canmore on a rainy day is to visit the Canmore Museum and Geoscience Center. With many fascinating exhibits about Canmore’s historical and geologic past, the Canmore Museum and Geoscience Center is a place you should plan to visit.

The museum’s most popular exhibit, ‘From Coal to Community,’ will give you an interesting insight into the area’s native people, the expansion of the railway system, and the overall importance of coal to the region.

If you’re game for more after you’ve seen the museum, guided tours of two of the area’s most productive mines are given by a local historian. Approximately four hours in duration, the tours are very popular, so if it sounds like something you’d like to do, book in advance, so you don’t miss out. It’s great if you’re a family and looking for things to do in Canmore if it’s raining. 


Hit the Mountain Bike Trails

Fall in the Canadian Rockies

Once the snow melts in May and June, so do the trails, and there are myriad trails for mountain biking that cater to any skill set. That could mean a nice mellow bike ride through a field with gorgeous views or screaming down a ridgeline on a white-knuckle ride. The Canmore Nordic Center transitions in the summertime to a network of trails for mountain bikers with a wide range of difficulties.

Mountain biking has caught on all over North America, and the opportunities and trails continue to grow every season. For the most current information on trails in the area, stop in a local shop or check out the tourism board’s website.


Hike Ha Ling Peak

Ha Ling Peak Summit

Head to the top of the most notable mountain in Canmore, Ha Ling Peak. It also happens to be the most approachable mountain in the region, with a recently revamped trail that includes steps, informational signs, viewpoints, and a clear trail.

The downside of Ha Ling is its popularity; on a nice summer weekend day, the parking lot and trail are packed with thousands climbing the short trail to the peak. It’s still a pretty difficult hike as you gain over 800m in just under 4km.


Canmore Uncorked Festival

canmore uncorked

The Canmore Uncorked Festival runs for more than a week and draws food and drink enthusiasts from all over the world. There are individual mini-festivals too, which are great for those specifically interested in a particular type of cuisine, wine, beer, and whiskey – some of which are made right in Canmore.

In addition, local restaurant tours, cooking classes, and over 40 specialized events at local restaurants are held, so it won’t be difficult to fill up your schedule. The festival’s key event is the Long Table Dinner, which features eight courses, eight chefs, and 150 guests. What better way to fill your stomach with wonderful food and drink and meet other like-minded epicureans.

Head over to their website for more details and the future dates once they’re announced. 


Drive Down Smith Dorrien Trail

Smith Dorrien Highway

The dirt road that leads up past Grassi Lakes and the Canmore Nordic Center is Smith Dorrien Trail. It’s an unpaved road that is open year-round, avalanche conditions withstanding. As you make your way up the pass between Mount Lawrence Grassi and Rundle, you’ll find some impressive views. You can even stop for high tea at Mount Engadine.

Along the drive, you pass some superb lakes and impressive mountain vistas. Keep your eyes peeled as you’ll likely spot some wildlife too; we’ve seen just about everything, such as bears, moose, elk, deer, goats, bighorn sheep, and coyotes.


Grab a Burger at the Tavern 1883

restaurants in canmore

If you’re looking for the best burger in the Canadian Rockies, you can find it at Tavern 1883. It’s our go-to spot for some beers in a relaxed atmosphere along with great pub food. They also host a ton of entertaining events such as a Jam Night, Trivia, and Bingo. Check out their social channels for the latest times and dates.


Take a Helicopter Flight

Helicopter Tour Canmore

Alpine Helicopters is based in Canmore and offers helicopter tours that provide a spectacular bird’s eye view of the surrounding mountains. While it’s certainly not a cheap thing to do in Canmore it is undoubtedly an unforgettable one. Tours begin at $150 per person and can reach as high as $600 for a 45-minute tour.

You’re pretty much guaranteed some of the jaw-dropping views as you circle around some of the region’s most notable peaks, such as the Three Sister or Mount Assiniboine.


Hike to the Lady Mac Teahouse

Lady-Mac-Teahouse

Several famous peaks around Canmore are well known for locals to summit. Lady Mac is a wild challenger for scramblers as the ridge walk to the true summit that will make your hairs stand.

However, any average hiker can make it to the Lady Mac Teahouse point, which gives you the most spectacular views of Canmore.


Indoor Rock Climbing at Elevation Place

Though rock climbing isn’t for the faint of heart, you don’t have to put your life at risk clinging to a sheer rock face thousands of feet up to experience it. That’s just what they had in mind when they created Elevation Place – the place to go in Canmore to see what the climbing hype is all about. It’s also a great place for expert-level climbers to practice their moves in the off-season.

There are climbing areas suitable for nearly every age and physical ability; lessons are available for those with little or no experience.

If you’re still not game for being strapped into a harness and grasping for an artificial wall while amused onlookers laugh at the terrified look on your quivering face, fear not because there is a swimming pool and water slide too.

Professional daycare, staffed by fully qualified and experienced employees, is available on site as well.


Have A Sunset Picnic

Canmore sunset
Sunset on Quarry Lake

This is one of our favorite things to do in Canmore in the evening. After a full day of work or hiking, it’s tough to find a better way to end our day than by one of the many lakes for sunset.

We rarely get a great sunset because of the height and scale of mountains here, but it’s tough to complain about sitting alongside a gorgeous lake. Some of our favorite Canmore sunset spots are Quarry Lake and along the Bow River.


Walk the Historic Railway Bridge

railway bridge canmore

The Railway Bridge is one of the most iconic sights in Canmore. I love to walk across it and take in the views. Sometimes if you get lucky, they’ll be some resident elk hanging out below on the Bow River.


Walk Along the Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk

If you want to spend a quiet morning or afternoon strolling through nature, head to the Policemen’s Creek boardwalk. The elevated walkway presents year-round opportunities without a need for waders, boots, or snowshoes. It’s accessible from downtown, and the trailhead is near the intersection of Main Street and Spring Creek Drive.

The four-kilometer trail is well marked, easy to follow, and will bring you right back to your starting point, so you won’t have to drop bread crumbs or call for an embarrassing helicopter rescue. The boardwalk’s pleasant mix of town and country is the best of both worlds, and you’ll think you’re much farther away from civilization than you really are. 


Walk To Grassi Lakes

grassi lakes hike

With water clear and mesmerizingly blue Grassi Lakes is remarkable and easy to reach on a short hike.

About five kilometers south of town, the lakes are easy to get to, and you may want to consider packing some food for a picnic, as it’s one of the most picturesque places around Canmore. Stunning views of a nearby waterfall and the town of Canmore below present plenty of photo opportunities, so grab your favorite travel camera before going.

Though there are other fantastic Canmore hikes and walks, I really love Grassi Lakes as they’re clearly marked and easy in winter and summer.


Rat’s Nest Cave Tour

things to do in canmore

If spending a few hours of your vacation groping around in a dank, subterranean cave named after rats sounds like an adventure for you, then a Rat’s Nest Cave tour may be just what you’ve been seeking.

The nice people at Canmore Cave Tours will gladly guide you through the pristinely natural and undeveloped cave regardless of the season or weather, and your knowledgeable and enthusiastic guide will give you a fascinating glimpse into Canmore’s geology.


Head into Banff National Park

sunset at vermilion lakes

Though not technically in Canmore, Banff National Park is a must for anyone in the region. The park is world-famed and easily considered one of the most beautiful places on earth. It’s one of the most majestic parks you’re likely to set foot in your lifetime.

With more activities to occupy your time than could possibly be listed, Banff is a natural wonderland that will take your breath away, regardless of the season in which you visit. The town is noted for its gourmet cuisine, world-class golf, fishing, hiking, and even a hot spring that will soothe your soul when you ease your weary bones into the balmy, therapeutic water after a long, activity-filled day.


Spot the Bunnies of Canmore

Ask any resident of Canmore, and they’ll likely have an opinion on the town’s most controversial residents – bunny rabbits. For the last four decades, a population of feral pet rabbits has hopped around town.

Many speculate the rabbit is easy prey and draw predators such as cougars, coyotes, and bears into town. In recent years the town council and mayor have waged an expensive war on the rabbits at the cost of $300 per rabbit. Judging by the number of young rabbits we’ve seen this year, it’s having mixed success.


Check out Canmore’s Art Galleries

Gallery

For some strange reason, beautiful and quaint towns nestled into breathtaking mountains attract artists. Perhaps it’s the natural majesty that inspires them to dig deep and create works more memorable. Whatever the case may be, you’ll get the point when you stroll through the many galleries located within Canmore’s town limits.

Though not a place to pick up works on the cheap, you’ll be amazed at the things human hands are capable of creating. If you’re an artist yourself, struggling with motivation or inspiration, then a trip to where successful artists display their work will work wonders. My favorite place to find local crafts is Stonewaters, though plenty of others are on Main Street.


Have Tea at Mount Engadine Lodge

Mount Engadine Lodge is one of the only cabin accommodations close to Canmore. Nestled deep in Kanakaskis near Spray Lakes and Tent Ridge is this one-of-a-kind accommodation. Of course, I recommend staying there for a real back to the wilderness experience, but one of the most popular things to do in Canmore is head there for a cup of afternoon tea.

They have an amazing patio with views out to Commonwealth Peak. There’s a beautiful swing for children to play on, and an awesome walking path on their grounds.


Walk Across the Blackshale Suspension Bridge

A super fun and short hike in Kananaskis is the Blackshale Suspension Bridge. At just 1 km in distance and 52 meters in elevation gain, it’s a fantastic hike for the entire family.

It’s certainly not the most exciting hike in the Rockies, but I love walking across suspension bridges – it’s like a trip back in time! If you time it right, you can get the entire bridge all to yourself. The photo above was taken in late September around sunset, and there was no one else around!

Because it’s such a short hike, it’s best done in conjunction with another objective, like paddleboarding on nearby Kananaskis Lakes or hiking to Chester Lake.


Chester Lake Hike

Speaking of Chester Lake, this is an awesome easy hike to take the kids on! Located about an hour away from Canmore down Spray Lakes rd is this beautiful hike to a lake. It’s under 10 km in distance with under 500 meters of gain. Most of the trail is pretty boring with few views, but once you get to Chester Lake, the surroundings really open up, and your jaw will likely drop!

Because of the larches in the area, Chester Lake is a fun hike to do in fall when the larch trees turn a golden yellow.


North West Mounted Police Barracks

NWMP Historic Building

One of the best ways to get an idea of what makes the town you’re visiting tick is to put your itinerary away, put on your walking shoes, and head out and see where you end up.

If you try that in Canmore, one of the gems you may run into is the Northwest Mounted Police Barracks, located on Main Street in downtown Canmore. The barracks were constructed in the 19th Century from logs, mud, and straw.

One of the oldest and best-preserved buildings of its kind, it originally housed the brave men whose job it was to keep law and order in a rough and tumble town full of tired and inebriated roughnecks who worked the local mines.


Canmore Nordic Center

Mountain Bike Canmore Nordic Center

The Canmore Nordic center is what put Canmore on the map for tourism. For the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics, the center was constructed and brought in international visitors worldwide.

The center still operates today with trails for cross country skiing, mountain biking, and hiking. The trail system for cross country skiing is world-class ready to hold international events with 60km of trails and 6km that have lights for nighttime skiing. They offer rentals in both the summer and winter for whatever sport you’d like to try.


Complete The Triple Crown / The Quad

EORR Summit

A right of passage for locals, trail runners, or anyone who likes physical suffering. The challenge leaves from the Georgetown Inn and has participants climb Lady Mac, Ha Ling Peak, and the East End of Rundle all in one day!

No cars are allowed, so you have to climb to the base of Ha Ling Peak and Rundle then across town to Lady Mac. The Quad is an even more daunting task and throws Grotto Mountain into the mix (so that’s four mountain summits in a day!)


Relax at Quarry Lake

Quarry Lake CAnmore
fall in canmore

Quarry Lake is another one of those locals lakes in the Canadian Rockies. It’s where you’ll find people walking their dogs and just enjoying the scenery. There are picnic benches and park benches to sit and look up at Ha Ling Mountain. Quarry Lake sees many visitors, especially on weekends, and sadly many of these visitors don’t clean up after themselves. Make sure to pack out what you bring in and always Leave No Trace.


Enjoy the Shops of Main Street

downtown canmore

Main Street, or 8th Street, is well…the main street of Canmore. It’s where you’ll find many of the boutique shops, cafes, and restaurants that make up the town. I love walking up and down the main street in both the winter and summer. It’s much quieter than nearby Banff.


Canmore Folk Music Festival

If you haven’t noticed, festivals are a common theme among things to do in Canmore. As the longest continuously running festival in Canmore – dating back to 1978 – The Canmore Folk Music Festival is held over the long weekend in August that coincides with Heritage Day.

Drawing over 20,000 visitors annually, the festival is held in scenic Centennial Park, wonderfully set against the majestic Rocky Mountains in the background. Though not as inexpensive as many other festivals, it’s a must for lovers of eclectic music. If your weak heart skips a beat or two when you’ve seen the prices, don’t fret because the Friday evening kicking off the event is free. 


Ride the Legacy Trail

Legacy Trail

If there is a style of biking, you enjoy you’ll find an abundance of scenic places to get on a bike in Canmore. It doesn’t matter your skill level either as there truly is everything in the area.

One of the best things to do in Canmore come May is ride the Legacy Trail to Banff. The Legacy Trail connects Canmore to Banff long a fantastic paved trail for 26 km. One of my favorite things to do on a sunny day is ride to Banff for a drink and then head back home! You can rent bikes from Rebound Cycle downtown. The Legacy Trail is typically not free of snow until May, and is usually good to ride until October.


Enjoy the Views of Ha Ling From Below

things to do in canmore
Ha Ling from the Canmore Reservoir

Ha Ling is one of the most iconic mountains in Canmore. Its peak stands out among all the others. One of my favorite places to sit and enjoy the views is the Canmore Reservoir, Grassi Lakes, and Whiteman’s pond.


Things to do in Canmore in the Winter


Canmore Christmas Artisan’s Market

Things to do in Canmore

As you’ll find out, this town takes its festivals seriously, and they’re one of the most prevalent things to do in Canmore. Occurring at different times throughout the year, you’ll need to time your visit, depending on which you’d like to experience. To many, Christmas is the undisputed king of holidays; imagine how it would feel experiencing it in a quaint town nestled in the scenic Canadian Rockies.

If I’ve piqued your interest, get your calendar out and tell the in-laws they’re on their own this year. For 23 years, Canmore has hosted the Christmas Artisan’s Market, which features nearly 100 artists and artisans who specialize in clothes, paintings, and natural body products, to name just a few. Plenty of food and drinks will be on hand, and the small admission fee benefits the Canmore Preschool Society.


Ice Skate on the Canmore Town Pond

canmore town pond winter

The town of Canmore maintains a nice natural ice skating pond just outside of downtown. It’s serviced daily and resurfaces three-five times a week, so you have a reliable surface, and it’s great for vacations who choose Canmore as their base.

It’s even lit at night, so if you feel like enjoying some nighttime skating it’s a great place to head. The only downside is there are no views as the pond is surrounded by trees and in a neighborhood. There are several frozen ponds around the town of Canmore; you can find those on the site here.


Ice Skate on One of the Many Frozen Lakes

spray lakes winter

There are plenty of lakes to ice skate on in the Canadian Rockies and many around Canmore. The trick is to catch them just at the right time. That’s when it’s gotten cold enough for them to freeze over enough to allow safe skating (over 4 inches) and before the first big snowfall.

My favorite places to ice skate around Canmore are Gap Lake, Spray Lakes, and Goat Pond. Seriously, rent a pair of ice skates and get out there; it’s one of the best things to do in Canmore in the winter.


Canmore Winter Carnival

Frozen Bow River

Every winter in Canmore, a carnival takes place in the first two weeks of February to celebrate the coldest months. The carnival is a wonderful and quirky mix of events, games, races, and activities, all of which are somehow associated with winter.

There are lots of activities to participate in. If you’re not in the mood, you can take a casual stroll, eat and drink to your heart’s content, people watch, and take in events like hockey, ice carving, the lumberjack competition, and even the dog parade.


Dog Sled Tour

Dog Sled Tour

Dog sledding is a quintessential winter experience and will easily be a highlight of any vacation. It’s been a highlight of our winters around the globe. Bundling up in a sled as a team of dogs rushes through the woods is sensational, and Canmore certainly is a winter wonderland come December.

Or if you feel like doing it yourself, you can even be a musher! Howling Dog Tours is an experienced and small family operation that’s been in operation since 1995. If you want to book a dog sled tour in Canmore, and you definitely should, head over to their website for their contact details.


Ski at Nakiska

nakiska ski resort

This was our first introduction to ski the Canadian Rockies, and we are happy we made the stop. Many people skip over Nakiska for its bigger and more intimidating Lake Louise Ski Resort and Banff Sunshine counterparts. While the surrounding region of Kananaskis may not be as world-renowned as Banff, it is every bit as stunning.

To get to Nakiska, you will most likely start in Calgary, only an hour’s drive away. The drive into Kananaskis Country instantly makes you feel small as the Canadian Rockies, making you forget you were just in a major city. Read all about Nakiska Ski Resort here.


Ski/Snowboard at Lake Louise

snowboard at lake louise

There is arguably no ski resort in the world with a better view than the Lake Louise Ski Resort. Although it’s not in Canmore, it should be added to any winter bucket list in Canmore for ski enthusiasts/


Things to do in Canmore Map

Click for an interactive map

Do You Need a Parks Canada Pass to Visit Canmore?

A National Parks Pass is not required to visit Canmore. However, if you decide to venture into neighboring Banff National Park (which you likely will), you will need to purchase a Parks Canada Pass either online or at the Park entrance gates as you leave Canmore and enter Banff.


How to Get from Canmore to Banff

Canmore
  • There is only one way to drive from Canmore to Banff, and that is via Trans-Canada Hwy/AB-1 W. It is approximately 25 km and will take about 20 minutes to drive from town to town.
  • Roam Transit operates a public transit service that connects the two towns. The cost of a bus ticket is $2 one way. See the schedule here.
  • If you have a bike you can connect Canmore to Banff via the Legacy Trail, which is a blissful paved 26km trail that connects the towns. Confident cyclists can make it to Banff in under an hour on a road bike, while it will likely take two as a leisurely bike ride on a mountain bike.

Visiting Canmore vs. Banff

Canmore, Alberta
Quarry Lake at sunset in Canmore

Canmore and Banff are both popular tourist towns but have very different vibes and things to offer. Canmore is a town of nearly 15,000, while Banff is around 8,000. Banff is located in Banff National Park and thus has more building and development regulations.

Banff is geared more towards tourism with more shops, hotels, activities, and sights. The town is surrounded by the National Park and provides amazing access to outdoor activities. Of course, all of this draws in a massive crowd, and there are several kitschy things like Starbucks, cheap souvenir shops, McDonald’s, Ruby Tuesdays, Chilis, and candy shops.

Some great independent retailers, restaurants, and big brand name outdoor shops are hard to find like FjallRaven, Patagonia, The North Face, and Helly Hansen.

Canmore is a more liveable town with two large grocery stores, a drug store, Canadian Tire, and more independent retailers. Many also prefer the food scene in Canmore as it is geared towards locals and Calgarians. Downtown Canmore is popular on summer weekends, but it’s much more manageable with far fewer crowds. If you want a low-key vibe, then Canmore is a great choice. However you truly should plan to visit both when you’re completing your Canadian Rockies itinerary.


Where to Eat in Canmore

  • Communitea: For a quick and fresh bite to eat at lunch I typically turn to Communitea. They offer up delicious salads, breakfast bowls, and the best Pad Thai in the town.
  • Where the Buffalo Roam Saloon: Epic spot on Main Street for cocktails and a dinner out with friends.
  • The Drake: For yummy pub food with outdoor patio dining right on Main Street The Drake is a classic spot to eat.

Where to Stay in Canmore

canmore in the winter

While you’re enjoying all these things to do in Canmore you’ll need a great base to stay at. Here are a few of our favorites.

  • Basecamp Resorts: One of the best places to stay in Canmore is Basecamp Resorts in Downtown Canmore. There are multiple apartment styles to stay in, many can accommodate larger groups of people. Complete with a hot tub to be enjoyed in the winter or summer.
  • The Malcolm: The Malcolm Hotel is the nicest hotel in Canmore and sits right along Policemen’s boardwalk just far enough away from the hustle of Downtown. It’s a fantastic place to stay and have a unique experience in Canmore.
  • Solara: Solara is a resort community that offers small apartments to visitors. It’s well located right next to the Trans Canada and Downtown Canmore. Book here.

When is the Best Time to Visit Canmore?

airbnbs in canmore
Canmore in early November – brr

For most people, the best time to visit Canmore and the Canadian Rockies, in general, is in the summertime. Late June to early September will provide the most pleasant weather. However, that doesn’t mean to arrive in Alberta with just shorts and a t-shirt; it’s never that warm in these mountains!

July and August are the busiest times of the year and are when you will face crowds and high accommodation prices. September is my favorite time to visit, especially when the larch and aspen trees turn yellow.

If you are into winter sports, the best time to visit the Canadian Rockies is between December and March. I particularly love Canmore around Christmas time as it’s almost always a white Christmas, and there is so much joy in the air!


↓ 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. This is also a place where you can meet one another when you need adventure buddies. 

Plan Your Trip to the Canadian Rockies

  • Hotels in the Rockies: From luxury hotels to wilderness cabins, there are plenty of places to stay in the Rockies. See all our favorites here.
About Cameron

Cameron Seagle is a resident of Canmore, Alberta. After traveling the world for six years, he settled down in the beautiful Bow Valley with Natasha. He has been featured as a travel expert with numerous publications worldwide and has spoken on several occasions about the power of travel. He has a passion for all things in the Canadian Rockies and loves to spend his time snowboarding, scrambling, camping, biking, and trail running. Conservation is a deep fundamental in his life, and he aims to inspire others to care about our natural world.

You can learn more on the about us page.

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