Canmore Travel Guide
The town of Canmore lies in the Bow Valley, 103 kilometers (64 miles) west of Calgary, 28 kilometers (17 miles) southeast of Banff, and on the northern edge of Kananaskis Country. Long perceived as a gateway to the mountain national parks, the town is very much a destination in itself these days. Its ideal mountain location and the freedom it enjoys from the strict development restrictions that apply in the nearby parks have made Canmore the fastest-growing town in Canada, with the population having tripled in the last 20 years. The permanent population is 12,500 and there are 5,800 nonpermanent residents (folks who own a home in town but whose permanent address is elsewhere).
The surrounding mountains provide Canmore’s best recreation opportunities. Hiking is excellent on trails that lace the valley and mountainside slopes, with many high viewpoints easily reached. Flowing though town, the Bow River offers great fishing, kayaking, and rafting; golfers flock to three scenic courses; and nearby Mount Yamnuska has become the most developed rock-climbing site in the Canadian Rockies. Canmore also hosted the Nordic events of the 1988 Winter Olympic Games and is the home of the Alpine Club of Canada.
Planning Your Time in Canmore
You can include Canmore in your itinerary in a variety of ways. The most obvious one is to make the town a base for your Canadian Rockies vacation. The advantages are less-crowded streets, better-priced accommodations, a choice of family-friendly lodgings, and a central location (Banff is a 15-minute drive to the west and Kananaskis Country is a 40-minute drive southeast). Campers should keep in mind that there are much nicer campgrounds elsewhere in the region. If you decide to stay in Banff instead, there’s no reason to relocate to Canmore for a night or two–simply visit the town as part of a day trip (or two).
Regardless of whether or not you stay in Canmore, there’s plenty to do in the town itself for one day. Plan on two or more if you enjoy being outdoors. A two-day stay might include a morning tee time at Silvertip Golf Resort or a horseback ride at Cross Zee Ranch. After lunch at Crazyweed Kitchen, spend the afternoon exploring the main street, the museum, and the historic buildings west of town. The next morning, lace up your hiking boots for the walk to Grassi Lakes. Golfers will probably want to squeeze in another round of golf, this time at Stewart Creek Golf Course, but there are plenty of other choices–fishing on Bow River, a rock-climbing lesson, or a helicopter flightseeing trip. Your two evenings could be spent at Oh Canada Eh! and the Sage Bistro.
Coal-Mining History: Explore Canmore’s coal-mining history by walking through the residential area west of downtown. Continue up Canmore Creek, past sealed mine entrances, for the full effect.
Grassi Lakes Trail: A short hike is required to reach these two lakes, which are natural highlights of the Canmore region.
Ha Ling (Chinaman’s) Peak: Feeling fit? Follow the hiking trail to this summit for valley views that are unsurpassed.
Golfing: The town’s three golf courses all offer something a little bit different, but they do have one thing in common — spectacular mountain scenery.
Oh Canada Eh!: Slightly tacky, but good fun nevertheless, this dinner theater production at the Cornerstone Theatre brings Canada’s best-known symbols to life.
SIGHTS AND RECREATION