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While Banff often steals the spotlight when it comes to the Canadian Rockies, the nearby town of Canmore has plenty to offer visitors too. Especially during the winter months when the mountains get covered in snow to play in. Grab your boots and let’s go – these are the best Canmore winter activities.
From dog sledding to frozen waterfalls, there are so many amazing things to do in Canmore in winter. I loved coming here on weekend trips while I was living in Alberta – it’s such a beautiful part of the province.
The Best Winter Activities In Canmore
1. Go Dog Sledding
There are several companies in Canmore offering this thrilling and exciting experience. I chose to go with Snowy Owl Sled Dog Tours because of their commitment to Sled Dog Welfare.
At the start of this tour, you’ll meet the guides and doggos get strapped into the sled. You then head off for a two-hour ride scenic ride through the Rocky Mountains.
The tour stops halfway to give you a chance to warm up with hot chocolate and show some love to the hard-working dogs. I loved this experience – it’s one of the most unique things to do in canmore in the winter!
2. Snowshoeing through Kananaskis Country
Nearby Kanakaski Country is one of the most beautiful places in Alberta. I love hiking here, but the best way to experience it in winter is on snowshoes. You can see the latest trail reports here to confirm what trails are accessible before heading out.
You can also join this guided snowshoeing excursion which will take you to through some of the most beautiful hiking trails in Kananaskis Country.
This tour starts at the Canmore Visitor Centre, where you’ll take a 45-minute drive to the trailhead. It’s a 3.5-kilometer hike at almost 1000 feet, so it’s a moderately difficult hike. While worth the journey, though, as this hike ends at a beautiful alpine lake surrounded by cliffs.
3. Scenic Helicopter Ride and High Alpine Hike
If you’re looking for a thrilling adventure in Canmore this winter, grab your camera and book this scenic winter helicopter ride.
The tour starts at the Canmore Heliport, where you’ll meet your guide and take off for a scenic flight through Cougar Creek canyon, with stunning birds-eye views of the Canadian Rockies from above.
The helicopter will drop you off on a high alpine meadow, where you’ll spend the next few hours hiking along with a professional mountain guide. Along the way, you might see mountain animal residents!
While going on a helicopter isn’t the cheapest activity, I’ve always found it well worth doing. Flying over the Cabot Trail in Cape Breton was the highlight of my time there!
4. Search for Wildlife
Alberta is one of the only places in North America where prairie, boreal forest, and mountain ecosystems meet. As a result, it’s home to an abundance and variety of wildlife. More than 90 mammals live here!
Canmore is a great place to look for the unique wildlife you can see in Alberta. Some animals you can see here are black bears, grizzlies, bighorn sheep, elk, wolves, eagles, and ospreys.
You can go looking on your own, but I’ve always found guided wildlife experiences to be a much more memorable experience. While there’s never a guarantee with wildlife, you significantly increase your chances by going with an expert. The guides are trained and skilled at finding the animals, plus they can tell you fun facts about them!
5. Take a Historical Town Walking Tour
If you’re interested in learning more about the town of Canmore, check out this Canmore historical walking tour. This immersive experience will take you on a journey through time where you can learn about the history of western Canada through a local historian, all while admiring the beauty of the surrounding mountains.
6. Go Caving
Did you know Canmore has caves? On this thrilling caving adventure tour, you’ll get to spend a day exploring Rat’s Nest Cave.
The tour starts with a short hike up the cave, where you may spot bighorn sheep. Along the hike, the guide will tell you about the fascinating geological history of the area.
Once at the cave, you’ll rappel down 18 meters (59 feet) and begin exploring, including climbing, crawling, squeezing, and sliding through the cave. This tour is not for the faint of heart!
At the end, you’ll reach a grotto with a crystal-clear pool full of stalactites and stalagmites. This tour is the perfect Canmore winter activity if you don’t like extreme cold, as the caves stay around 4ºC year-round.
7. Search for the Northern Lights
One of my favorite parts about living in Alberta was seeing the incredible northern lights. While it’s easier to see them further north in places like Jasper National Park and Yellowknife, it’s still possible to see them in Canmore when the aurora is strong. And there’s no experience like seeing the northern lights over the Rocky Mountains.
Winter is a great time to see the northern lights in Canmore because of the long, dark nights. Check out Aurora Watch to see the current geomagnetic activity – you can even set up alerts to send you a notification when the aurora is strong.
If you want to see the northern lights, it’s best to drive out of the main town where there is no light pollution. If you don’t have your own car, you can join one of these guided night hikes.
For more tips on viewing the northern lights, check out this post.
8. Canmore Winter Activities: Grotto Canyon Ice walk
The Grotto Canyon Icewalk is one of the most popular Canmore attractions in winter – and it’s only ten minutes from town! You can visit it on your own, or on a guided tour. One benefit of going with a guide is that they will give you ice cleats to put over your winter boots, making winter hiking a lot easier.
This 2.1-kilometer hike follows the frozen creek bed through a narrow canyon, all the way to the spectacular frozen waterfall. Before the falls on the left at eye level, you can see ancient native Hopi pictographs painted between 500 and 1,000 years ago.
Another benefit of going on the guided tour is that you’ll gain insight into the fascinating First Nation history in the Bow Valley. Plus, they will give you hot chocolate and maple cookies to stay warm!
9. Go Fat Biking Through The Mountains
A great way to enjoy the winter scenery in Canmore is to explore the trails on fat bikes. There are several approved Fat Biking Trails that offer a wide variety of riding from beginner to expert level.
10. Cross Country Skiing
One winter activity in Canmore that you won’t want to miss is cross country skiing in Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park.
Even if you’re a beginner, the park is the perfect place to try for the first time, with trails for all levels. You can also rent skis at the Nordic Centre!
There are several other incredible cross-country ski trails to try out in the Bow Valley and Kananaskis area. You can see them all here!
11. Canmore Winter Hikes
Hiking is one of the best things to do in Canmore, and even during the winter months, many of the trails are still accessible. That said, ice cleats will be your best friend. They are an essential Canadian winter accessory!
Some of the best Canmore winter hikes are Grassi Lakes, Johnston Canyon (Banff National Park), Bow River Loop, Troll Falls, Heart Creek, Grotto Canyon, and Barrier Lake. Always check the trail reports before heading out.
12. Rock Climbing at Elevation Place
For those days when it’s just too cold to be outside but you want to stay active, Elevation Place is an excellent option. There’s an aquatic center, fitness center, and rock climbing gym! For specific operating hours, please visit the online schedule.
Note that effective Nov 15., 2021, anyone aged 12 or older who enters Elevation Place is required to provide proof of full vaccination.
13. Go Ice Skating on Canmore Pond
One of the best things to do in Canmore during winter is to go outdoor ice skating on one of the many ponds and lakes in the area.
You don’t have to go far to skate in Canmore – right in the heart of downtown Canmore on 7th Ave is the Canmore pond outdoor skating rink. There’s even a heated Gazebo for warming up! If you have time, you could also drive up to Lake Louise, one of the most iconic places to go winter skating in Canada.
If you don’t have your skates, you can rent them from Gear Up Mountain Sports.
14. Downhill Skiing and Snowboarding
Canmore is just an hour away from some of the best downhill skiing and snowboarding in the world! With easy access to Nakiska, Sunshine Village, Lake Louise Ski Resort, and Sunshine Village, your options are unlimited.
If you’re craving more adventure, you can even take a Canadian Rockies road trip to the famous ski towns in British Colombia like Revelstoke and Whistler and make a weekend out of it.
15. Photograph the Three Sisters
One of the landmarks Canmore is most associated with is the three sisters mountain ranges, referred to individually as Big Sister, Middle Sister, and Little Sister.
While visiting Canmore, take the time to photograph these majestic mountain peaks. You can even join a guided walking tour of the three sisters pathway, where you’ll learn all about Canmore’s past, present, and future.
16. Go Ice Climbing
Canmore is home to some of the best ice climbing locations in the world during the winter months. Around November, dozens of frozen waterfalls become accessible to climb, and some are just five minutes from Canmore.
If you’re new to the sport, check out Yamnuska Mountain Adventures who run ice climbing classes in Canmore for all skill levels.
17. Museums and Art Galleries
If you need a break from being outside, head to one of these art galleries and museums in Canmore. The Canmore Museum & Geoscience Centre shares the stories of the area’s mountains and local communities, which can give you a deeper appreciation of the area while you’re out viewing it.
18. Fuel up with a Rocky Mountain Bagel
For all this adventure, you’re going to need to fuel up with some good food! A great place to grab breakfast in the morning is Rocky Mountain Bagel Co. Every night, they make between 60 and 120 dozen artisan ‘Mountain Style’ bagels, which are lighter than traditional New York bagels because they are baked in a steam injected oven, rather than boiled then baked.
The bagels are made in 9 different flavors, and they also sell a mix of muffins, cinnamon buns, and scones. They have two locations on the Bow Valley Trail and 830 Main Street in downtown Canmore.
19. Relax in the Spa
Make sure to buddle up with the right Canadian winter gear before any of these activities to ensure your time is an enjoyable one!
Where to Stay in Canmore
Budget: Downtown Canmore Hostel is a great option for budget or solo travelers looking to meet others. This new, modern hostel has private rooms and dormitories and is steps away from restaurants and cafes.
Mid-range: The Stoneridge Mountain Resort is a beautiful place to stay in Canmore, with an outdoor hot tub and pool, mountain views from the deck, and proximity to downtown. There are various sized apartments to choose from, so it’s perfect if you’re a group.
Luxury: If you want to relax on your trip to Canmore, stay at the Solara Resort. Inside the hotel is a spa with a cedar-wood sauna, an aromatherapy steam room, a fitness studio, and spa services.
Getting here: Canmore is less than an hour’s drive from Calgary, so if you visiting from abroad, the easiest way is to fly into Calgary International Airport. From there you can rent a car or take a bus to Canmore.
Ready to get outside and try all these incredible winter activities? With so many opportunities for adventure right outside your door, Canmore is the perfect place to embrace winter in Canada.
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