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 exploring 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 Things to do in Canmore In Winter
1. Go Dog Sledding
Dog sledding has been a Canadian tradition for years, and there are several companies in Canmore offering this thrilling and exciting experience. I like Snowy Owl Sled Dog Tours because of their commitment to Sled Dog Welfare.
You’ll meet the guides and doggos and 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 give some love to the hard-working dogs. I loved this experience – it’s one of the most unique things to do in Canmore in winter!
2. Snowshoeing through Kananaskis Country
Nearby Kanakaski Country is one of the most beautiful places in Alberta. I love hiking here, but with the trails covered in snow the best way to experience it is on snowshoes. You can see the latest trail reports here to confirm what’s accessible before heading out.
You can also join a guided snowshoeing excursion which will take you to through of my favorite 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, this hike ends at a beautiful alpine lake surrounded by cliffs.
3. Scenic Helicopter Ride and High Alpine Hike
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 last summer was the highlight of my time there!
4. Search for Wildlife
Alberta has a plethora of amazing wildlife, and Canmore is a great place to go looking. Some animals you can see here are black bears, grizzlies, big horn sheep, elk, wolves, eagles, and ospreys.
While you can go looking on your own, I’ve always guided wildlife experiences to be a much more memorable experience. While there’s never a guarantee with wildlife, you greatly increase your chances by going with an expert. The guides are incredible at finding the animals, plus they can tell you about them when they do!
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 can be found here!
5. Take a Historical Town Walking Tour
If you’re interested in learning more about the area, join this Canmore historical town walking tour. This immersive experience will take you 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 had caves? On this thrilling caving all-day adventure tour, you’ll get to explore Rat’s Nest Cave. This Canmore cave tour starts with a short hike up the cave, where you may see bighorn sheep! Along the way, the guide will tell you about the geological history of the area.
Once at the cave, you’ll rappel down 18 meters (59 feet) and begin exploring, which includes climbing, crawling, squeezing, and sliding through the cave. This tour is not for the faint of heart!
The journey is worth it though, as at the end you’ll reach a grotto where you can enjoy the crystal-clear pool with stalactites and stalagmites.
This is the perfect Canmore winter activity if you don’t like the cold, since the caves stay around 4ºC year-round.
7. Search for the Northern Lights
One of my favorite parts about living in Alberta was that you could see the northern lights! While it’s easier up north in Jasper National Park, 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 lights because of how dark it is. Check on Aurora Watch to see the current geomagnetic activity – you can even set up alerts!
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, there are also guided night hikes you can join.
For more tips on viewing the northern lights, check out this post.
8. Canmore Winter Activities: Grotto Canyon Ice walk
The Grotto Canyon Ice Walk 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 with a guided tour. One benefit of going with a guide is that they will you ice cleats to put over your winter boots, which makes 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 they will tell you about this fascinating First Nation history in the Bow Valley. Plus, they will give you hot chocolate and maple cookies!
9. Go Fat Biking Through The Mountains
Another 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.
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 a number of 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 on many of the hikes.
Some of the best Canmore winter hikes are Grassi Lakes, Johnston Canyon (Banff National Park), 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 a great option. There’s an aquatic center, fitness center, and rock climbing gym!
13. Go Skating on Canmore Pond
One of the best things to do in Canmore during the winter is to go outdoor skating on one of the many ponds and lakes in the area.
You don’t have to go far to go skating in Canmore either – 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 don’t have your own skates, you can rent them from nearby 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 each 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 amazing ski towns in British Colombia like Revelstoke and Whistler.
15. Photograph the Three Sisters
One of the things 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 go for a stroll and photograph these majestic mountain peaks. You can even join a guided walking tour of the three sisters pathway where you can learn from a local guide 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! Beginning around November, there are dozens of frozen waterfalls that 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. Relax in the Spa
After all these fun Canmore winter activities, there’s no better way to soothe your muscles than by relaxing in one of Canmore’s amazing spas. Bodhi Tree Spa looks like the perfect place to do just that!
Where to Stay in Canmore
Budget: Downtown Canmore Hostel is a great option for those on a 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 drive from Calgary, so if you are coming internationally 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 Canmore winter activities? With so many opportunities for adventure right outside your door, Canmore is the perfect place to embrace winter this year in Canada.
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