When in Canmore, explore some of the surrounding areas as well. You will really learn to appreciate the outdoor lifestyle the residents enjoy. If you did not drive to Canmore, rent a car in town for a day or two and take advantage of what the town has to offer. Here are some of the areas to check out:
Built for the 1988 Calgary Olympic Winter Games, the Canmore Nordic Centre is now a training site for Olympic athletes and a year-round playground for local families and sports lovers. After the complete upgrade in 2005, the Centre has strengthened its position as one of the world’s top-level cross-country, biathlon and mountain bike destinations. It features well-lit, beautifully groomed cross-country trails for all levels and styles, more than 100 kilometres of mountain biking and hiking trails, and a Day Lodge with a café, fireplace, changing rooms, showers and lockers, plus equipment rentals in a separate building. The Day Lodge’s banquet rooms, with unbeatable views from the vast windows, are very popular for weddings.
Along the route to the Nordic Centre is Quarry Lake, the locals’ favourite swimming area. With is views of Ha Ling Peak, Mount Lady MacDonald and the Rundle Mountain Range, the Quarry Lake Park is a popular location for outdoor weddings and picnics. The hiking paths and the off-leash dog area make this a great place for the entire family.
Past the Nordic Centre, the road becomes a gravel road as you drive up the mountain to the trailhead for Ha Ling Peak. You will have driven halfway up the mountain by car, and you can hike the rest. It is a demanding but rewarding day hike. When you reach the top, you feel like you are in the sky with the panoramic view of the entire Bow Valley below you.
Spray Lake is dammed above Canmore and the 55-mile (88-kilometre) lake reservoir is a playground in itself. The turquoise water draws parasailers and boaters in the summer and dogsledding tours in the winter.
The Three Sisters area and the Stewart Creek Golf Course are built around abandoned coalmines and some of the shafts are still visible on the golf course. The Three Sisters area – named after the Three Sisters Mountains – is a large, fast growing development with beautiful condominiums and single-family residences. The area has great hiking trails as well.
The campground’s sites by the Bow River are favoured because they make you feel as if you were deep in the woods when, in fact, you are just minutes from the TransCanada Highway. This is also a safe place to put a canoe on the Bow River and paddle all the way to Exshaw.
The Silver Tip area is another gorgeous, fast-growing, high-end residential area that features magnificent residences plus great dining and event facilities. The spectacular 18-hole Silver Tip Golf Course features GPS-equipped golf carts and 185-meter (600 foot) elevation change.
Close to Silver Tip Village is the old pioneer Cemetery with some amazing Hoodoos – pillars of glacial rock left standing after erosion – towering over it. Nearby, the Cougar Creek hiking and biking trails are worth checking out, as is the new BMX (bicycle motocross) track.
When you head back to the downtown Canmore area, do not miss the wonderful Bow River Pedestrian Bridge converted from a railway bridge. Paths on both sides of the turquoise Bow River are perfect for a stroll, with benches to relax on during or after a hearty walk or run.
The North West Mounted Police Barracks is one of downtown’s many historical sites. The park beside it is a popular spot for summer events such as Art in the Park. The boardwalk leads to the marshes of Policeman’s Creek and additional trails. The Canmore Museum and Geoscience Centre is small, but offers a glimpse into the railway and mining history of the area. Check the gift shop for unusual souvenirs.