Canmore is a resort town located in the Canadian province of Alberta. It is situated about 20 minutes outside of Banff. It is located within the Bow Valley and offers amazing views of the Canadian Rockies from every possible part of the city. Much of the Canmore area has been designated a wildlife corridor which allows animals such as bears, cougar, wolves, and elk to move between habitat patches. This article gives you a quick guide to Canmore.
Living so close to Canmore allows me to make this place my go-to location for quick weekend getaways.
Canmore is also my favourite as its a pedestrian-friendly town. The town centre or the “Main Street”, which was a residential road before has some of the oldest architecture in town. Now you can find the main street lined with amazing shops, cafes, restaurants and galleries.
Quick Info on Canmore
Nearest Airport: Calgary International Airport is closest to Canmore. From Calgary, Canmore is about 1 hour 10 minutes by car or airport shuttle.
Where to stay: Being a resort town, there is a lot of accommodation options in Canmore. You can book a motel, hotel or hostel. They range from CAD$ 79-350. During peak seasons, its advisable to either plan ahead or plan to stay in Calgary or Kananaskis.
Best Time to Visit: The best time to visit Canmore are June to August and December to March. If you love nature and love to spend time outdoors – camping or by lake side, visit Canmore when the weather is warm and welcoming. (Consider the Canmore hotel rates, when booking during peak seasons). If you love to ski and enjoy playing with snow, visit Canmore in winter, when it’s very beautiful too.
Good to Know: You have access to amazing views of the Canadian Rockies, from any part of the town – from a fast food chain to hotel balcony to any parking lot and I think this makes Canmore very special.
Also you don’t pay any park fees to visit through or stay in Canmore (you can thank me later :)).
Things to see in Canmore
The Three Sisters
The Three Sisters is the name given to a range of mountain peaks in Canmore, Alberta. The mountain range has 3 peaks and hence the name “three sisters”. The 3 peaks are individually marked for – Faith (Big Sister), Charity (Middle Sister) and Hope (Little Sister). They are stunning to look at and can be viewed from most parts of the town.
One of my favourite spots in the city! The Policeman’s Creek is a short hiking trail located very close to the main street of Canmore. There is a wooden boardwalk that runs through the creek, connecting the main road to a residential block. It’s a beautiful spot and you can photograph amazing shots of the Canadian Rockies.
The Policeman’s Creek is located by the North West Mounted Police (NWMP) Barracks.
The NWMP Barracks was built-in 1893 and was served until 1929 as the lodgings, office, and jail for the police officers of Canmore. The Barracks was declared an Alberta Provincial Historic Resource in 1990. It is the oldest NWMP site in Western Canada to still stand on its original location. This historic resource is open all year around.
Learn About Policeman’s Creek
Bow Valley Provincial Park
Just 30 kilometres east of the town-site of Canmore, is the largest camp ground of the Bow Valley Provincial Park. The park was established in 1959 in the arch of Bow River, at the confluence with Kananaskis River.
Canmore Civic Centre
Located in the heart of Canmore, on 7th avenue, the Canmore Civic Centre is a two-storey facility that houses the town Municipal offices and the Canmore Museum and Geo-Science Centre.
Canmore Nordic Centre
If you love to ski, the Nordic Centre is the place for you. Located immediately west of Canmore, the Nordic Centre was the host site of the 1988 Olympic Winter Games Nordic events. Currently the Park offers a variety of recreational activities including cross country skiing, biking, hiking, disk golf and orienteering. It also hosts regional, national and international events year round.
Learn Canmore Nordic Centre
Big Head Sculpture
Located on the 8th Street, at the Northeast side of the bridge over Policeman’s Creek, you will find this striking sculpture of a human head, half buried and in deep thought. This sculpture is called the Big Head. The name Big Head is a variation of the town’s name, Canmore. The town’s name originated from its namesake town in Scotland (called Ceannmore which means “Big Head” in Celtic)
Popular Canmore Activities include – horse riding, rafting, hiking, fishing, rock climbing, canoeing, mountain biking, wildlife viewing, bird-watching, windsurfing and of course camping.
Canmore maintains over 70 kilometres of trail network. It is really a paradise for trail lovers – with easy to difficult levels, all accessible within the town’s boundaries.
Some of the popular trails include
- Canmore Trail Network.
- Benchlands Ridge Trail And Hoodoos.
- Three Sisters Pathway.
- Bow River Loop.
- Larch Islands Interpretative Trail.
- Benchlands Ridge Trail And Hoodoos.
- Three Sisters Pathway.
- Grassi Lakes Hiking Trail.
- Grotto Canyon Hiking Trail.
- Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk (easy & one of my favourites)
Read More Canmore Trails
Food & Restaurants
Canmore promises you amazing food and beautiful views. That’s why its one of my favorite weekend getaways. The downtown area has tons of restaurants, bars and cafes. Let me start with my favorites:
- Spice Hut – Located in the Ramada Hotel complex, Spice Hut is an East -Indian restaurant. I love their delicious Chicken Masala and rice. Give it a try!
- JK Bakery Café – Started by a German man and now locally owned by 3 operators, they serve the best baked items – cakes, pastries, samosas, sweet pies and also artisan breads. I love their creamy earl grey (black) tea. If you sit outside the café, you can see amazing views of the Rockies. That is why this is my go-to Canmore Breakfast place.
- The Rocky Mountain Bagel Co – The RM Bagel Co is located on 1306 Bow Valley Trail. If you love bagels, they can find a lot of varieties here.
- Good Earth Café – Another coffee joint – but it deserves a mention because of its lattes and sandwiches!
- Aroma Mexican Café – The interior of this café, takes you to the beaches to Tulum. Well, at least their shack does. Authentic Mexican food and Jarritos to go, you can also try-on their hats and blankets and click some interesting photos!
- The Wood Lounge – The Wood Lounge and Restaurant offers great draft selection, beef and beautiful patio views.
Resorts & Incredible Stays
Canmore has incredible accommodation options and they come with incredible views. You can find budget hotel options like Ramada hotel (CAD $79 average/night) or luxury stay like Falcon Crest Lodge & Solara Resort & Spa (CAD$155-390+)
This picture was taken during my stays at the Falcon Crest Lodge. You can indulge in hot tub or book a spa with amazing mountain backdrops.
There are motels and resorts located by the Bow Valley Trail area as well as the Kananaskis Way. Of course, look for balcony views, if possible. Most resorts have fireplace, pool and/or hot tub. (If you find a hard time booking accommodation during the peak seasons, you can always stay in Calgary, another popular Canadian city and its located just an hour or so away from Canmore/Banff. The extra drive is worth it, because sometimes you might sight some wildlife or Northern lights greeting you!)
Due to its amazing views, a pedestrian friendly place and its laid-back environment, Canmore is one of my favorite places on earth.
If you are in town, next time, look for their events calendar Canmore Events and Activities