Bow River

It often strikes me how different modes of travel affect my experience of a place. Walking down a street for the first time after having driven the same street countless times opens up an entirely new world. This is valuable to keep in mind when making travel plans, too. If you really want to experience a place fully, how you go is as important as where you go.

This realization hit me with full force during my recent trip to the Canadian Rockies, when I stayed in the resort town of Canmore. Canmore lacks the name recognition of sister towns Banff and Jasper, but it offers a lot if you seek to enjoy the wonders of the Canadian Rockies.

This post will explore this remarkable corner of the Canadian Rockies and how your choice of transportation will enrich your experience. Here are five different ways to get around and enjoy Canmore.

Do you want to know current weather conditions in Canmore? Check out this live webcam to see if the snow is thick or the skies are clear.

On Foot

The intimacy you develop with a place when you walk the streets, stroll through leafy parks and wander aimlessly along hidden backways cannot be underestimated. For a small town, Canmore packs a big punch. Here are just a few of the highlights:

Creekside Rambling

South and east of downtown are the Policeman’s Creek and Spring Creek. Wander among mighty pine trees and modern mountain villas. The highlight is the Policeman’s Creek Boardwalk, which is 4 kilometers long and transports you into the midst of natural splendor only a stone’s throw from the town center.

A bridge along Spring Creek

The Mighty Bow River

For Canmore’s best views, head west of downtown to the Bow River.  Several excellent trails line the riverbank: the Bow River Loop Trail, the Hishigawa Friendship Trail and the Three Sisters Pathway.  Here, admire peaks that loom gracefully over Canmore, including the breathtaking Three Sisters.

Downtown Canmore

After taking in the natural highlights of Canmore, don’t forget to return to town and enjoy it’s increasingly vibrant Main Street. Leisurely ramble past small shops while you sip a latte from a local coffee shop.

Main Street Canmore: Source

On Two Wheels

Banff Legacy Trail

The Banff Legacy Trail starts at the Travel Alberta Visitor’s Center near the Trans-Canada Highway and leads all the way to Banff, 26-kilometers away. If you are going from Canmore to Banff, expect many uphill sections.

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But if you are up to the task, you will be rewarded with glorious mountain views, quiet picnic areas and hidden spots missed by those speeding by on the nearby Trans Canada Highway. For a good account of the trail’s high and lows, check out this blog: 

Cycling the Banff Legacy Trail from Canmore to Banff

Canmore Nordic Centre Mountain Biking Trails

Mountain bikers will find that Canmore also hosts world-class biking trails. A legacy of the 1988 Winter Olympic Games, the Canmore Nordic Centre features 80-kilometers of challenging but exhilarating trails to explore.

Many of the trails are cross-country trails in the winter, but once the snow melts, a biker’s wonderland emerges.

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On Four Legs

Experiencing Canmore and vicinity on two legs is great, but don’t discount the idea of seeing the sights on four legs. A whole host of horseback riding opportunities await you in and near Canmore.

Cross Zee Ranch, located conveniently on the east side of Canmore, guides guests and their steeds through beckoning forests, over gentle streams and under towering monoliths. No matter your skill level, your helpful, knowledgeable guides will see that you have a great time.

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Canmore and nearby Kananaskis Country present a  generous variety of trails that meander peacefully through the valleys and ridges of the area. Horseback riding connects you to a time before planes, before cars, even before the railroad. Experience the Rockies the way the first inhabitants and explorers did.

Ride the Waves

The Bow River near Canmore

The turquoise waters of the lakes near Canmore are enough to make the heart leap for joy. Water provides an exhilarating means for exploring the multi-faceted wonders that lurk behind every corner.

For the more adventurous, Canmore offers rapids that thrill both beginners and skilled mariners. Canadian Rockies Rafting offers, among other options, half-day journeys that navigate the rapids of the Kananaskis River.  Even if you are a beginner, you too can experience the heart-pounding thrills of whitewater rafting in the Rockies.

If you seek a calmer waterborne adventure, consider floating down the Bow River while you admire the clear waters, abundant local wildlife and towering crags that surround you.

Canmore provides a great base for viewing all sorts of wildlife. Find out more here.

By Automobile

An automobile will most likely bring you to Canmore, and your car gives you access to limitless possibilities for scenic views, unexpected wildlife encounters and dear, lifelong memories.

One highly-recommended world-class drive commences and concludes in Canmore.  You will venture deep into the mountains of Kananaskis Country, off the pavement and into the back country,  before returning to Highway 40.

Kananaskis Country: Source

You begin by navigating the Smith-Dorrien Spray Trail. The road through this section is unpaved, but still accessible to most vehicles. You will pass through a fairytale landscape of calm streams, magical meadows and snow-capped mountains over 3,000 meters (10,000 feet) tall.

Kananaskis Village provides a convenient stopping point for a snack or a drink before you return to the comforts of Canmore. This drive promises non-stop beauty. Take your time and savor the sights.

Spray Valley Meadow: Source

Each of us has a favorite way of getting around. For me, that is walking. Canmore is a thoroughly rewarding place to walk (and jog).

But my Canmore adventure wouldn’t have been complete without exploring by other means. A balanced diet of transportation choices guarantees the most rewarding and satisfying trip.

Even if you lack the time to see Canmore and the Canadian Rockies in the five ways mentioned in this article, try to vary your modes of getting around. It will give you a richer experience and help you to connect in a deeper way.

Start planning your next Canadian Rockies vacation now and think about how you move will enrich your time.