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Canmore, Alberta: the quintessential mountain vacation destination
A former coal mining town with a picturesque setting amid the Canadian Rockies, Canmore, Alberta enjoyed international fame in 1988, when it welcomed cross country skiers from all over the world to the Winter Olympic Games. Though many former (and future) Olympians make their home in Canmore today, the town has far more to offer than world-class skiing and snowboarding. Its spectacular alpine scenery provides as great a backdrop for mountain biking, camping, hiking, and canoeing in warmer months, while the art galleries, gourmet restaurants, and boutique shops in its vibrant, yet laid-back downtown welcome travellers in every season.
It’s snow big deal.
While Canmore’s reputation as a premier destination for winter sports is well deserved, you do not need Olympic ambitions to enjoy its incredible snow. The Canmore Nordic Centre’s impeccably groomed network of trails includes routes well suited to beginners as well as terrain that challenges Canada’s National Cross Country and Biathlon Teams. Downhill skiers at all levels are similarly spoiled for choice: at Sunshine Village, the pioneer ski resort in Banff National Park, you’ll find everything from gentle bunny hills to Delirium Dive, one of the top ten off-piste destinations in the world. The resort is also home to Sunshine Mountain Lodge: it is one of the most luxurious hotels in the park, and only reachable on skis. The Nakiska Ski Resort, 30 minutes east, is popular for its extended season and brand-new tube park, while Mount Norquay, a 20-minute drive west, offers the only night skiing in Banff-Lake Louise. Though not (yet!) Olympic sports, ice climbing and dog sledding also await adventurous travellers here.
Happy trails and raging rivers.
Outdoor adventure does not end when the snow melts in Canmore: travellers simply swap their skis for a mountain bike before heading back to the Canmore Nordic Centre. It offers over 60 miles of trail to explore on two wheels, as well as the Mountain Bike Skills Park, where you can practice dirt jumps, bridges, drops, and skinnies. Spring, summer, and fall are also spectacularly scenic times of year for hiking or climbing in the Canadian Rockies, and the Canmore area has trails to suit all levels. Beginners love routes such as the Grassi Lakes Trail, which winds past a stunning waterfall, while experts can enjoy incredible views of the Bow Valley from the summit of Lady MacDonald, or scramble among the boulders of Mount Yamnuska. Canoeing and stand-up paddleboarding are two of the most popular ways to experience the pristine Bow River, which runs through the heart of downtown Canmore, while the nearby Kicking Horse River offers some of the most exciting white water in the Rockies.
The great indoors.
Though heart-pumping, outdoorsy pursuits are undeniably a big part of the mountain lifestyle, Canmore’s incredible natural beauty is also a rich source of artistic inspiration, and the town is home to a thriving creative community. The rich array of original art galleries downtown includes works in just about every medium, from jewellery and sculpture to photography and painting. There is something here to suit almost every taste. Canmore tempts hungry travellers with award-winning gourmet eateries as well as casual pubs, trendy cafes, and the “most Romantic Restaurant in the Rockies”. And it will probably not surprise you to learn that accommodation options here are as diverse as the menus: with everything from luxurious penthouse condos and cosy cabins for romantic getaways to campgrounds and mountain resort hotels that practically guarantee an unforgettable family vacation, Canmore has a place for everyone.
Bright lights, big city.
Though it may feel entirely removed from the hustle and bustle of urban life, Canmore is located just 55 miles west of Calgary, the glittering centre of Canada’s booming oil industry and the capital of Alberta. The city is perhaps most famous for the Calgary Stampede: affectionately known as the “Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth,” the annual rodeo and celebration of western culture takes place over ten days in July. However, there are plenty of other reasons to visit Cowtown, such as a hockey game at the Saddledome, home ice to the Calgary Flames, a historic NHL team. Travelling as a family? Take your little ones to see animals from around the world at the Calgary Zoo, ride the rollercoasters at Calaway Park, or travel back in time at the Heritage Park Historical Village.