The Best Things to do In Canmore in Winter

While Banff often steals the spotlight in the Canadian Rockies, the nearby town of Canmore has plenty to offer visitors, especially during winter when the mountains get covered in snow. 

From dog sledding to frozen waterfalls, there are many amazing things to do in Canmore in winter. I loved coming here on weekend trips while living in Alberta – it’s such a beautiful part of the province.

Canmore is located just a mere 25 minutes from the town of Banff, one hour from Lake Louise and one hour from Banff National Park

So grab your boots, and let’s go – these are the best Canmore winter activities.

Dog Sledding in Canmore

white and brown dogs
Image Credit: Lora Pope

For years, dog sledding has been a Canadian tradition and is now a big bucket list item for visitors coming to Canada during the winter.

There are several companies in Canmore offering this thrilling and exciting experience. I chose Snowy Owl Sled Dog Tours because of their commitment to Sled Dog Welfare.

At the start of this tour, you’ll meet the guides, and doggos get strapped into the sled. You then head off for a two-hour scenic ride through the Rocky Mountains.

The tour stops halfway to allow you to warm up with hot chocolate and show some love to the hard-working dogs. I loved this experience – it’s one of the most unique things to do in Canmore in the winter!

Snowshoeing through Kananaskis Country

view of lake and mountains in canmore bc
Image Credit: Lora Pope

Nearby, Kananaskis Country is one of the most beautiful places in Alberta. I love hiking here, but the best way to experience it in winter is on snowshoes. You can see the latest trail reports to confirm accessible trails before heading out.

If you don’t have snowshoes, you can rent them at GearUp Mountain Sports or Trail Sports at the Canmore Nordic Centre.

Scenic Helicopter Ride and High Alpine Hike

If you’re looking for a thrilling adventure in Canmore this winter, grab your camera and book a scenic winter helicopter ride.

Glide over breathtaking Banff landmarks such as Bow Valley, Mount Lougheed, and Wind Mountain. Your knowledgeable pilot will share fascinating details about the area’s history and indigenous inhabitants.

While going on a helicopter isn’t the cheapest activity, it is a spectacular landscape and was a highlight of my time living here!

Search for Wildlife

mountain goat
Image Credit: Lora Pope

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 live here.

Canmore is a great place to look for the unique wildlife you can see in Alberta. Some animals you can see here are black bears, grizzlies, bighorn sheep, elk, wolves, eagles, and ospreys.

You can go looking on your own, but I’ve always found guided wildlife experiences to be a much more memorable experience.

While wildlife is never guaranteed, you significantly increase your chances with an expert. The guides are trained and skilled at finding the animals, plus they can tell you fun facts about them.

Take a Historical Town Walking Tour

town of canmore bc
Image Credit: Lora Pope

If you’re interested in learning more about the town of Canmore, check out this Canmore historical walking tour.

This immersive experience will take you on 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.

Go Caving

Did you know Canmore has caves? On this thrilling caving adventure tour, you’ll spend a day exploring Rat’s Nest Cave.

The tour starts with a short hike up the cave, where you may spot bighorn sheep. Along the hike, the guide will tell you about the fascinating geological history of the area.

Once at the cave, you’ll rappel down 18 meters (59 feet) and begin exploring, including climbing, crawling, squeezing, and sliding through the cave. This tour is not for the faint of heart!

At the end, you’ll reach a grotto with a crystal-clear pool full of stalactites and stalagmites. This tour is the perfect Canmore winter activity if you don’t like extreme cold, as the caves stay around 4ºC year-round.

Search for the Northern Lights

northern lights from canmore in winter
Image Credit: Lora Pope

One thing I miss now that I’m living in Puerto Vallarta is seeing the incredible northern lights. It was one of my favorite parts about living in Alberta.

While it’s easier to see them further north in places like Jasper National Park and Yellowknife, 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 northern lights in Canmore because of the long, dark nights. If you want to see the northern lights, it’s best to drive out of the main town where there is no light pollution.

Grotto Canyon Ice Walk

The Grotto Canyon Ice Walk follows a frozen creek bed between tall canyon walls, taking you to a gorgeous frozen waterfall. It’s one of the most popular Canmore attractions in winter – only ten minutes from town!

You can visit it on your own or on a guided tour. One benefit of going with a guide is that they will give you ice cleats to put over your winter boots, making winter hiking much 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.

Go Fat Biking Through The Mountains

A great way to enjoy the winter scenery in Canmore is to explore the trails on fat bikes. Several approved Fat Biking Trails offer a wide variety of riding from beginner to expert level.

Cross Country Skiing

One winter activity in Canmore 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 several other incredible cross-country ski trails in the Bow Valley and Kananaskis area.

Canmore Winter Hikes

hiker in winter on trail through forest in canmore
Image Credit: Lora Pope

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.

Some of the best Canmore winter hikes are Grassi Lakes, Johnston Canyon (Banff National Park), Bow River Loop, Troll Falls, Heart Creek, Grotto Canyon, and Barrier Lake.

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 an excellent option. There’s an aquatic center, fitness center, and rock climbing gym.

Go Ice Skating on Canmore Pond

One of the best things to do in Canmore during winter is outdoor ice skating on one of the many ponds and lakes in the area.

You don’t have to go far to skate in Canmore – 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. You could also drive up to Lake Louise, one of Canada’s most iconic places to go winter skating.

Downhill Skiing and Snowboarding

Canmore is just an hour away from some of the best downhill skiing and snowboarding in the world. With easy access to Nakiska, Sunshine Village, Lake Louise Ski Resort, and Sunshine Village, your options are unlimited.

Photograph the Three Sisters

view of three sisters mountain
Image Credit: Lora Pope

One of the landmarks 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 photograph these majestic mountain peaks.

Go Ice Climbing

ice climbing wall
Image Credit: Lora Pope

Canmore is home to some of the best ice-climbing locations in the world during the winter months. Around November, dozens of frozen waterfalls become accessible to climb, and some are just five minutes from Canmore.

For those new to ice climbing, Canmore and its surroundings offer a variety of beginner-friendly locations. The Junkyards, right in Canmore, is a popular starting point. Nearby, Grotto Falls offers an immersive experience with its scenic backdrop.

For a bit more adventure, King Creek in Kananaskis and Johnston’s Canyon in Banff provide breathtaking views and thrilling climbs.

If you’re looking to learn ice climbing, Yamnuska Mountain Adventures comes highly recommended. They offer courses for all skill levels, from beginner to advanced, ensuring a safe and exhilarating experience under the guidance of expert instructors. 

Museums and Art Galleries

If you need a break from being outside, head to one of the many art galleries and museums in Canmore.

Don’t miss the Canmore Museum & Geoscience Centre. Since its inception in the early 1980s, this museum has become a cornerstone of Canmore’s cultural scene. It tells the fascinating stories of the local mountains and communities, enriching your appreciation of the area.

Another gem is the Carter-Ryan Gallery and Live Art Venue. Here, you can immerse yourself in the world of Jason Carter, a renowned Aboriginal soapstone sculptor and painter. The gallery showcases his vibrant and thought-provoking works, offering a unique insight into Aboriginal art and culture.

Fuel up with a Rocky Mountain Bagel

You’ll need to fuel up with good food for all this adventure! 

Rocky Mountain Bagel Co is a great place to grab breakfast in the morning.

Every night, they make between 60 and 120 dozen artisan’ Mountain Style’ bagels, lighter than traditional New York bagels because they are baked in a steam-injected oven rather than boiled and then baked.

The bagels are made in 9 different flavors and sell a mix of muffins, cinnamon buns, and scones. They have two locations on the Bow Valley Trail and 830 Main Street in downtown Canmore.

Relax in the Spa

After a day filled with exhilarating winter activities in Canmore, there’s nothing quite like unwinding in a serene spa. Bodhi Tree Spa stands out as an ideal retreat for soothing those tired muscles and rejuvenating your spirit.

What sets Bodhi Tree Spa apart is its holistic approach to wellness. They offer a range of services, including chiropractic care, massage therapy, and facials, all tailored to your individual needs and wellness goals. 

Plus, their team is committed to offering valuable education and advice, ensuring you can continue optimizing your health even after you’ve returned home.

Where to Stay in Canmore

exterior of hotel in canmore bc
Image Credit: Lora Pope

Budget: Downtown Canmore Hostel is a great option for 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, 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. The hotel has a spa with a cedar-wood sauna, an aromatherapy steam room, a fitness studio, and spa services.

Ready to get outside and try all these incredible winter activities? With so many opportunities for adventure right outside your door, Canmore is the perfect place to embrace winter in Canada.

While I’ve traded snowy Canadian winters for the warm, sunny weather of Puerto Vallarta, I do admittedly miss playing in the snow in Canmore.

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Lora is a full-time digital nomad on a quest to visit every country and pet as many dogs as possible. Over the last 15 years, she has traveled solo to 70+ countries and six continents. She currently calls Puerto Vallarta, Mexico home, where she runs the website Take Me To Puerto Vallarta.