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5 Fun Things To Do In Canmore, Alberta, contributed by Pari who blogs at Traveling Pari, is the eighth small town exposé in the series Small Town Explorer. You can find Pari’s bio and social media links at the end of this post.
The villages and towns we visit in our travels are often the hidden gems of a country or region. In this series readers are introduced to small centers around the globe, from travel bloggers who have experienced the location firsthand; featuring their uniqueness, their history, what to see and do, and often where to stay and where to dine.
Previous towns featured in the series:
Canmore, Alberta: Things to Do
Every summer for the past four years, I have traveled from Toronto to the Rockies in Banff National Park. On the way, I usually stop at Canmore and get a coffee at the Tim-Hortons on the Trans-Canada Highway. Beyond the cup of coffee, I had never paid any attention to this small town until a year ago, when all the hotels in Banff were fully booked. Fortunately, some Canmore hotels still had rooms left. So, I chose a room at the Drake Inn, a good low-budget option right in downtown Canmore, beside the Policeman Creek.
During my stay, I discovered that Canmore, Alberta is more interesting than I initially thought. There are a range of activities that you can do in Canmore itself and a major advantage is, it is far less touristy and less crowded than Banff. If you visit Canmore, consider trying out the following activities:
Canmore, Alberta is located in the midst of the Rockies. Needless to say, there are some great hiking trails in this area. Another advantage is, Canmore has hiking trails suitable for all levels. If you are looking for some easy trails with no increase in elevation, hike the Policeman’s Creek Trail and the Bow River Loop. Both these trails are scenic and have great views of the Rockies. If you want a more challenging hike, try the Power Line Trail or the Grassi Lakes Hiking Trail. Beware of Grizzly bears on these trails. Always carry a bear spray with you and make enough noise while hiking so that you don’t surprise a bear. If you are a looking for a difficult trail, try hiking to the Ha Ling Peak. For this hike, make sure you have proper hiking boots and a hiking stick as the trail is dangerous at times. For trail maps, check out this website.
Many of the hiking trails mentioned above lend themselves to biking as well. However, in my opinion, the best biking trail in Canmore is the Rocky Mountain Legacy Trail. This paved biking trail connects the town of Canmore to Banff. The 26.8 km trail runs along the Trans-Canada Highway and has amazing scenery along the way. The trail also passes through some forested parts of Banff where you may come across wildlife. At the entrance and exit of these parts, electrified mats have been placed to contain the wildlife to those regions. Be careful to stay on the cycle and ride continuously through the parts with the electric mats without getting off. Pedestrians are not allowed here, and there is a dedicated pedestrian path. You can rent a bike at the bike rental shop at the corner of 8th St. and 8th Avenue in Canmore.
#3. Explore A Cave
If you are not afraid of cold dark tight spaces, then you may enjoy exploring the Rat’s Nest caves in Canmore. Access to the caves is managed by Canmore Cave Tours. They conduct two types of tours – “The Explorer tour” and the “Adventurer Tour”. If you just want to explore the cave, then go with the first option. The Adventurer tour is for the more experienced adventurer who likes rappelling, crawling for extended periods in the cave and squeezing through tight spaces.
#4. Shop and Eat
Canmore is a small town so the shopping area is not extensive. Most shops and restaurants are on 8th Street between 6th and 8th Avenue. However, there are a couple of art galleries and shops that sell local art that are worth visiting. Also, don’t forget to visit the home decor and souvenir stores. They have some unique items that will make cool collectibles. There are plenty of restaurants along 8th Street as well that serve a variety of cuisines. My favorite was the Mexican restaurant right at the corner of 8th St. and 8th Avenue. They had good food along with a festive atmosphere.
#5. Indoor Fun
Canmore, Alberta is all about outdoor fun. However, on a day you want to relax and spend some time indoors, then Canmore has a few options for that as well. There some great spas in the downtown area that offer facials and relaxing massages. Another great place to spend some time indoors with your family is Elevation Place, which has an indoor aquatic playground, climbing gym, a library, and even child minding services. Many facilities are available on a drop-in basis. Check the schedule of the activities here: Elevation Place.
Getting to Banff From Canmore
As I said, many people visit or stay in Canmore because of its proximity to Banff. So, how do you get to Banff from Canmore?
By Public Transit
You can get from Canmore to Banff within a half hour, on public transit. Roam Transit, the regional bus service offers the Banff-Canmore route. The bus service runs every 60 minutes from 6 AM to 9 AM and 3 PM to 7 PM. During Peak tourist season, the bus runs every 30 minutes, and since September 2017 has been extended to 10 PM.
Getting to Banff by Car is pretty straight-forward. Get on the Trans-Canada Highway from the Palliser trail. Follow the Trans-Canada Highway to Improvement District no.9, then take the exit to Banff. Turn left onto Banff Avenue.
As mentioned before, you can also bike from Banff to Canmore using the Rocky Mountain Legacy Trail. If the 26.8km ride is too tiring to do a roundtrip, you can bike one way and then load the bike on the Roam Transit buses to get back to Canmore.
I hope this post inspires you to visit Canmore and try out the activities I have listed here. Feel free to contact me on social media or my blog if you need any advice or tips on Canmore.
Have you been to Canmore, Alberta in the Canadian Rockies? Let us know in the comments.
Author Bio: Pari is a former academic who realized that she was more interested in the places she visited during conferences rather than the subject of the conference itself. So, she decided to take the plunge and make travel her full-time job. Now, she writes a travel blog on travel, food and fashion.
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