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But besides the great outdoors, the bustling town’s streets are filled with cute cafes, gourmet restaurants, and of course, boutique shops which make escaping the cold possible too. After a day of winter hiking in Canmore or hitting the slopes, hanging out fireside with a cold beer or delicious meal is perfect.
But not all of the best winter activities in Canmore are super obvious.
It took me actually living in Canmore for a winter season before I was able to find out about all of the best things to do in Canmore in the winter – things that many people don’t even know about!
If you’re planning to visit Canmore this winter, then you’re in luck. In this blog, I’ve outlined 33 different things to do in Canmore in winter. Some of the items I’ve included are common activities, attractions, and top Canmore tours, and some are a little more unique. But I’m sure that you’ll definitely be able to keep busy and have an enjoyable time!
- Things to do in Canmore in the Winter
- 1. Hit the slopes
- 2. Grotto Canyon icewalk
- 3. Cross-country skiing
- 4. Drive the Bow Valley Parkway
- 5. Walk Johnston Canyon
- 6. Day trip to Lake Louise
- 7. Go shopping on main street
- 8. Visit the Kananaskis Nordic Spa
- 9. Drink local craft beer
- 10. Cozy up by a fire with mountain views
- 11. Relax at Banff Upper Hot Springs
- 12. Try dog sledding
- 13. Go snowshoeing
- 14. Lake (wild) ice skating
- 15. Breakfast at Rocky Mountain Bagel Co.
- 16. Distillery tour
- 17. Ice climbing
- 18. Hike Ha Ling Peak
- 19. Hike to Grassi Lakes
- 20. Visit the Canmore Museum
- 21. Attend the Canmore Winter Carnival
- 22. Go fat biking
- 23. Winter camping
- 24. Go caving
- 25. Go tobogganing
- 26. Visit a frozen waterfall (or two!)
- 27. Eat everything at Le Fournil Bakery
- 28. Wander the local art galleries
- 29. Enjoy Banff town
- 30. Party the night away
- 31. Drive the Icefields Parkway
- 32. Go on a scenic flight
- 33. Walk the Hoodoo Trail
- Where to Stay in Canmore in Winter
- Before you go…
- Why We Book Tours with Viator
- Renting a Car in Alberta
Things to do in Canmore in the Winter
1. Hit the slopes
Let’s start out with the most obvious and popular Canmore activity in winter – skiing and snowboarding! I myself ski and Dan snowboards, and we love hitting the slopes. In fact, moving to Canmore was purely to escape a boring winter in Edmonton – best decision ever!
Here are some popular ski resorts that are close by Canmore:
- Nakiska: Located about 55km away from Canmore (45-minute drive), Nakiska is a popular ski resort known for its long seasons due to lots of snow. It has 64 trails with four chairlifts and costs $98 CAD for a day pass. Nakiska is the closest ski resort to Calgary, and therefore is a popular winter activity for those in Calgary (which makes it especially busy on the weekends.)
- Sunshine: Sunshine Ski Resort is located in beautiful Banff, 25km from Canmore. As the name suggests, they’re known for the sunny weather and have a wide variety of runs for beginners and experts alike. A lift ticket costs $127 CAD for the day.
- Norquay: Norquay is another ski hill in Banff, located close by Sunshine. It offers some of the best views out over Banff and also is open for night skiing. The price for a full-day lift ticket is $74 CAD.
- Lake Louise: As the furthest ski hill from Canmore on this list (81km), Lake Louise might be a bit of a trip. Good thing there is a lot to see and do around Lake Louise! Make a full day of it and enjoy the amazing views from this awesome ski hill. Prices are $129 CAD for a full day.
I have been lucky enough to ski at all the ski resorts above. So, which one is my favorite?
Well, in all honesty, I love Lake Louise the most. The ski area is huge and I love the terrain. Plus the gondola really saves you from the cold!
Next would have to be Sunshine Village. It also has great terrain and the views are spectacular – both on the runs and riding up on the Banff Sunshine Gondola. For beginners though, I don’t recommend it. Many of the green runs have flat spots and if you snowboard you’ll get really frustrated.
I do enjoy Nakiska, especially during the week because it’s much less busy than the others. However, the terrain is not as good as the other two.
Mt Norquay is a really small resort and my least favorite, unfortunately. It’s nice because it’s close to Canmore, so for convenience’s sake it’s a great option, especially for beginners. They also have a tube park so those who don’t ski or snowboard can still enjoy themselves at Mt Norquay! The price is also the cheapest, so that’s something to take into consideration.
Related Read: Heading to Canmore for a ski holiday? Read out blog about where to stay in Banff National Park for skiing!
2. Grotto Canyon icewalk
Grotto Canyon is one of the best easy hikes in Canmore. But truth be told, I think it is a hike that is best hiked in the winter months! It’s one of those hikes that is just way more beautiful in the winter, and therefore, is worthy of its title as one of the best things to do in Canmore in winter!
The Grotto Canyon Icewalk is a 4-kilometer long (2.5 miles) out and back hiking trail that starts at Grotto Pond just 10-minutes outside of Canmore. It’s a fairly flat trail that only gains just over 200 meters in elevation.
The beginning of the trail is an ascent to a viewpoint over the canyon and valley before you descend into the canyon. From here on out, you walk within the canyon itself sliding on the frozen creek!
Eventually, you’ll come to a couple of frozen waterfalls. To me, this is the highlight of the trail in winter – it’s so pretty!
One important thing to note is that walking Grotto Canyon in the winter can be very slippery. You should wear crampons or mini-ice spikes; it honestly can be impossible without them. You can rent these in Canmore from one of the sports shops.
Alternatively, you can always just book a guided winter tour from Banff that comes with all your gear included! This particular tour includes crampons, poles, and a guide. The great thing is that the guide knows the way and can also point out where the pictographs are (they are super easy to miss!)
The tour offers pick-up in Banff or you can meet them at the trailhead (be sure to make a note of this with the tour operator when you book.) It lasts for about 4 hours and costs $98 CAD. You can read all the details about the tour and book easily online here.
3. Cross-country skiing
Canmore is world-famous for its Nordic Centre, where some of Canada’s best cross-country ski trails are located.
The Nordic Centre in Canmore was actually where cross-country ski events were held for the 1988 Olympic Games, and since then, they’ve maintained the facility for recreational and training uses. That’s right, you can go cross-country skiing here and maybe even see some professionals practicing for the next Olympic games too!
The Nordic Centre is located right in Canmore just along Three Sisters Parkway. You can find the location easily on Google Maps and there is a large parking lot once you get there. It’s open daily in the winter.
Cross-country skiing at the Canmore Nordic Centre is not only a fun winter activity, but if you have your own gear, it’s cheap too! The day-use pass for cross-country skiing only costs $15 CAD for an adult! But don’t worry if you need to rent gear, you can at the Nordic Centre too. Rentals for the day cost $35 CAD.
4. Drive the Bow Valley Parkway
Scenic drives are one of my personal favorite winter activities. Sometimes, I get really tired of the cold and want to enjoy scenic views in the warmth and comfort of my car. The Bow Valley Parkway scenic drive is just that – beautiful views while staying warm and cozy in your car!
The Bow Valley Parkway is 48 kilometers long (30 miles) and starts about 35 minutes from Canmore. Along the way, there are tons of viewpoints including Morant’s Curve and Castle Mountain. These stunning attractions make the Bow Valley Parkway one of the absolute best places to visit in Alberta!
The road goes all the way to Lake Louise, which is worthwhile checking out too (more on Lake Louise further on in this blog.)
Johnston Canyon is also located on the Bow Valley Parkway and it’s definitely a place you’ll want to explore in the winter months (more on this stop next up in this blog!)
5. Walk Johnston Canyon
While you’re driving the Bow Valley Parkway, you might as well head to Johnston Canyon! The canyon is explored via a short hiking trail that leads to lower and upper falls. It’s a short 1.2-kilometer-long walk to the first falls and another 1.3 kilometers to the upper falls.
In the winter months, Johnston Canyon turns into a winter wonderland with frozen falls, icicles everywhere, and incredibly beautiful scenery.
Like Grotto Canyon, you’ll need crampons to complete Johnston Canyon in the winter safely. Guided tours are also available that include this gear.
From Canmore, it is a 45-minute drive to Johnston Canyon. Allow a couple of hours to complete the trail, and then consider continuing to drive along the Bow Valley Parkway all the way to Lake Louise before returning. This makes for a really fun and scenic day trip!
6. Day trip to Lake Louise
Lake Louise is located at the very end of the Bow Valley Parkway, or about 80 kilometers (50 miles) from Canmore. In the winter months, a trip to Lake Louise from Canmore is a must because here you’ll find one of Canada’s most famous winter scenes – the frozen lake and the Chateau Fairmont Lake Louise (that really looks like a castle!)
There are lots of different things you can do at Lake Louise. Head into the Fairmont for a bite to eat (one of the best restaurants in Lake Louise) or a coffee with a view. You can also walk one of the many trails including the Lake Agnes Tea House Hike, or for a bit of excitement, go ice skating on the iconic Lake Louise itself!
Ice skating is free to do at Lake Louise but you will need to bring your own skates. If you don’t, be sure to rent them in Canmore prior to leaving or at Alpine Social Rentals at Lake Louise. The ice skating rink usually opens in mid-December until mid-April. It is maintained by the Fairmont, so the ice is always in good shape.
Another popular reason to visit Lake Louise in the winter is to visit the Ice Castles. These beautiful ice sculptures are made every year and sit on the frozen lake. Kids love them and they are also completely free. On top of that, you can cross country ski around the lake (also free), enjoy a horse-drawn sleigh ride ($45 for adults and $35 for children), have a coffee or meal at the hotel, or just enjoy the magnificent views!
It takes around an hour to reach Lake Lousie from Canmore but the drive itself is beautiful so be sure to stop along the highway at all the pull-over bays and viewpoints.
If you don’t have your own car, then you can book this tour to Lake Louise which offers pick-up from Canmore. The tour is a full-day experience that takes you to a few of the best places in Banff National Park (including Johnston Canyon!) before making your way to Lake Louise.
The tour includes a friendly guide as well as a comfortable vehicle. You’ll have free time to explore at each stop and take in the winter wonderland that is Lake Louise! The tour costs $148 CAD per person. You can read all about it and book easily online here.
Note: Parking at Lake Louise is free during the winter months (from May until October it is $21 CAD per vehicle.)
7. Go shopping on main street
8th Street is considered “Main Street” in Canmore and it’s full of unique stores to shop! Here, you can find everything from art to clothing to candy. It’s a great way to spend a couple of hours and buy some things for souvenirs or just to treat yourself.
Personally, I never miss stopping at one of the candy stores when I visit Canmore. I always pick up some fudge to bring home with me!
Plus, most of the stores on 8th Street are small locally-owned businesses. You can feel good about shopping locally in Canmore!
Related Read: If you love to shop, be sure to make the drive from Canmore to Edmonton to check out the West Edmonton Mall – there are over 80 stores and plenty of other attractions too! The mall is especially popular in Edmonton during the winter months.
8. Visit the Kananaskis Nordic Spa
Nestled in the heart of the Kananaskis, Kananaskis Nordic Spa is famous for luxury and relaxation. Here, you’ll find various different pools, saunas, and spa treatments with their hydrotherapy sessions being the most popular. With a hydrotherapy session, you get to visit all of the different hot pools (there are sooooo many!) and enjoy the views of the mountains for hours on end!
This spa is very popular in the winter months and it’s important that you book well in advance to secure your spot.
Also, this type of luxury doesn’t come cheap and prices start from $119 CAD per person for their basic hot pools (hydrotherapy) sessions.
Kananaskis Nordic Spa is located 35 minutes from Canmore. It is right in Kananaskis Village only a couple of minutes from Nakiska Ski Area. So if you plan it right, you could have a morning ski and then relax at the spa right after!
9. Drink local craft beer
After enjoying all the outdoor winter activities, you’ll want to warm up inside with a good brew! Luckily, Canmore is one of the best places to try amazing craft beer and there are lots of local breweries in Canmore to visit!
One of my favorites is The Grizzly Paw. They have a bar on 8 St and their brewery is located on Old Canmore Road on the outskirts of town (called Tank 310). The beer is delicious and the hearty food even better so be sure to stop in for a bite to eat too.
If you want to try an even wider selection of craft beers then head to Mixed Culture Beer Shop. This hole-in-the-wall takeaway beer market sells a huge variety of craft beer from all over Canada. You can even bring your growler for fresh tap beer to-go!
Related Read: If you love craft breweries, be sure to visit Kelowna, BC. You’ll find tons of amazing brewies in Kelowna – seriously, you could spend an entire day brewery-hopping and still not visit them all!
10. Cozy up by a fire with mountain views
I highly recommend booking a nice place to stay when you’re visiting Canmore this winter. Somewhere with a fireplace and mountain views is a must in my books! This way, after a long day of exploring in the cold winter weather, you can come back to your accommodation and heat up next to a fire with a glass of wine and a snowy mountain view – it’s perfect!
Alternatively, there are lots of restaurants in Canmore that have both indoor and outdoor fireplaces where you can warm up. The Grizzly Paw on 8th Street is just one of many, and here you’ll find a fireplace both indoors and outdoors.
11. Relax at Banff Upper Hot Springs
While we’re on the topic of relaxing and cozying up, why not visit the Banff Upper Hot Springs?! Although located in Banff, the Banff Upper Hot Springs are only a short 20-minute drive from Canmore and easily one of the best places to visit in the winter months.
The Banff Upper Hot Springs offer incredible views from their outdoor hot pool. You can warm up and enjoy the view at the same time!
It’s not only beautiful but also reasonable, costing $16.50 CAD per adult with discounted child and family rated available too! The pools are open daily from 9 am to 10 pm in the winter months. They also can be very busy, so I recommend visiting one hour before they close in the evenings to have the most relaxing visit. At this time of day, I normally find it to be the quietest.
12. Try dog sledding
Dog sledding is an iconic Canadian winter activity, and you can do it right from Canmore! Located in Spray Provincial Park just on the outskirts of Canmore, you can choose between a range of dog sledding tours and experiences!
Howling Dogs Tours is who we went with and we loved this tour! It involved a short drive out of Canmore before we helped our guide with getting the dogs ready and had our first introduction. After that, we were off on our adventure which took us 5 kilometers to a campsite for a hot chocolate and more time getting to know the dogs (our favorite part) before making our way back.
The dogs are so friendly and it’s not hard to see how excited they are. It was amazing to see and the experience is hard to put into words.
When searching for a company the most important factor was that they were ethical and the dogs were treated well. Howling Dogs Tours stands out when compared to others. In fact, the majority of their dogs are adopted – which I love! If you want to read about how they care for the dogs, you can check it out on their website.
Our tour was their cheapest and it involved a 2-hour (10 kilometers) ride. That will cost you $270 CAD for adults and $137 for kids, but seriously, it’s totally worth it! They also have a half-day tour if you want a longer, more in-depth experience.
Dog sledding is one of those things that can only be done in the winter months in Canada typically from December to April. However, the season can start and end at different times depending on the snowfall each year.
Related Read: Visiting Canmore over the holiday season? Read our blog about visiting Canmore in December for info on the best activities and events during this festive time of year!
13. Go snowshoeing
Snowshoeing is one of the most popular things to do in Canmore in winter and allows you to go on hiking trails that are covered in snow. This opens up a whole new world of possibilities! Some trails in the area will actually require snowshoes, especially in the Kananaskis area.
Some snowshoe trails to check out are Chester Lake Trail, Rawson Lake Trail, or in Canmore, the Benchlands Trail. Trails such as Grassi Lakes are so well-trodden that snowshoes are not required. There are a few places to rent snowshoes in Canmore, including Gear Up and Chateau Mountain Sports.
If you’re a little nervous to go snowshoeing independently, you can join up with a tour such as this half-day snowshoeing tour through Kananaskis Country! With an experienced guide, you won’t have to worry about a thing and you’ll learn lots along the way. It’s a safe alternative for any new snowshoe.
Why We Book Tours with Viator
Viator is a trusted online booking system for tours around the world! We almost always book our tours using Viator for a couple of reasons:
- Free cancellation on most tours – Most of the tours on Viator allow you to cancel and get a full refund up to 24 hours in advance. This is handy in case plans change, or if booking an outdoor activity, the weather forecast is looking grim.
- Reserve now and pay later – You can secure your spot on some of the most popular tours well in advance and not pay until closer to the day of the tour.
- Pay in your chosen currency – Avoid costly international transaction fees by choosing to pay in your home currency.
- Peace of mind – When booking with tour operators you find in person on the street or in small booking offices, you are often promised one thing and given another. This online platform holds tour operators accountable with a written description of inclusions as well as the opportunity for customers to leave reviews.
14. Lake (wild) ice skating
My absolute favorite thing to do in Canmore in the winter is wild ice skating (or skating on a frozen lake!) Going skating is just plain fun, but on one of Canmore’s nearby frozen lakes, it’s even better! The thrill of being on a frozen lake mixed with incredible mountain views make this a must-do Canmore winter activity.
There are a few different lakes you can go skating on in and around Canmore. The first is the Canmore Pond which is located right in Canmore on 7th Avenue at Mallard Alley. The ice here is actually maintained daily by Alberta Parks and there are even floodlights installed for skating after dark.
For something a little more natural, head out to Gap Lake. Gap Lake is located about a 10-minute drive from Canmore near Grotto Canyon. This lake is not maintained for ice skating, but that’s not to say you can’t do it. The wind often blows all the snow off this frozen lake making it perfect for skating. Do be aware that it is a little rough to skate one since there is no Zamboni making rounds here.
Vermilion Lakes in Banff is another popular natural ice-skating spot. It’s one of the really beautiful lakes in Banff but a little bit further from Canmore than Gap Lake.
Of course, you can always make the drive to Lake Louise and skate there too!
Skating is free everywhere in and around Canmore as long as you have your own skates. Skating is best during the winter months from mid-December to March generally.
Safety note: Skate at your own risk at unmarked and unmonitored frozen lakes such as Vermilion or Gap Lake. If the lake isn’t totally frozen, it can be very dangerous. If you’re unsure, it’s best not to skate. I recommend asking the Visitor Centre in Canmore which lakes are suitable for skating before heading out.
15. Breakfast at Rocky Mountain Bagel Co.
Rocky Mountain Bagel Co is my favorite breakfast place in Canmore and a must-visit during any winter holiday. With their delicious warm coffee and bagels, it’s the perfect spot to start your day off right.
Rocky Mountain Bagel Co. is so popular in Canmore that they actually have two different locations. One on 8 Street and one on Railway Ave. Both cafes are warm and inviting, filled with plants and local artwork. It’s one of those places where you go for the food but stay for the ambiance.
The bagels served are delicious. They have a ton of breakfast sandwich-style bagels including my favorite, the Greek which comes complete with eggs, feta, onions, and spinach! Seriously, it’s so good that my mouth is watering right now just thinking about it!
16. Distillery tour
Does the winter make you want to drink whisky? What about delicious cocktails? Well, in winter in Canmore one of the best places to visit is the local distillery, Wildlife Distillery.
Wildlife Distillery makes a ton of different spirits for you to either buy and take home or try in one of their crafted cocktails at their onsite cocktail bar. Alternatively, you can also join one of their distillery tours and learn all about how they make everything from whisky to vodka!
Wildlife Distillery is located right in Canmore in the industrial area only a 5-minute drive from the main street. They are open daily from 1 pm to 9 pm, but you’ll need to book a distillery tour ahead of time on their website if that’s what you’re interested in!
17. Ice climbing
If you like rock climbing in the summer, then you’ll love ice climbing in the winter! I mean, what’s cooler than climbing up a frozen waterfall with crampons, ropes, and ice axes?!
Well, in Canmore, one of the best winter activities is ice climbing! The cold temperatures and many frozen waterfalls make for the perfect combination for this extreme sport. You’ll often see locals out and about climbing on their own, but if you don’t have any experience, then a tour is the only way to go.
This particular tour is the best option near Canmore. It starts in Banff, and you’ll have a professional guide really teach you the ropes – quite literally! No experience is necessary for these tours and all of your gear is provided. In no time you’ll be making your way up a frozen waterfall – how cool!
It’s really one of the more unique things to do in Canmore in winter that I highly recommend!
This particular tour lasts for about 7 hours and comes highly rated. It costs $215 CAD per person. You can read all the details and book with free cancellation online in advance here!
18. Hike Ha Ling Peak
Ha Ling Peak is my favorite hike in Canmore. Most people think that hiking Ha Ling Peak is a summer-only activity, but they are wrong. During the right conditions in the winter, you can also hike to the summit of Ha Ling Peak!
The trailhead of Ha Ling Peak is located about a 15-minute drive out of Canmore along Smith Dorrien Trail. From here, you start the 4-kilometer-long trail (one way) as you climb over 800 meters in elevation. It’s an out-and-back trail, so you come back down the same way you went up.
The snow does add an extra element of challenge to this hike, though. Staying on the trail is easy because it is well marked and so heavily trafficked that you can find it with no problem. But it can be slippery and winter weather can make visibility a problem.
I’d say to only attempt hiking Ha Ling Peak if you have winter hiking experience. Be prepared with warm outdoor winter clothing, sturdy boots, crampons, and maybe even an ice ax. Also, plan your day to hike to the weather conditions.
My best advice is to check with the visitor center in Canmore before you go for mountain conditions and hiking tips.
During bad snowstorms, Smith Dorrien Trail road often closes. You’ll need this road access to be open in order to reach the trailhead.
19. Hike to Grassi Lakes
If Ha Ling Peak seems like a little much, consider hiking to Grassi Lakes instead. At only 4 kilometers long there and back in total, this trail is much shorter. Plus, it only climbs 125 meters in elevation, so it’s not overly steep either!
In the winter months, Grassi Lakes becomes a winter paradise. The lakes freeze and it is a stunning winter hike. During the summer months, there are two different trails you can take to hike to Grassi Lakes, but in the winter, the more difficult trail closes for safety reasons.
Like Ha Ling Peak, the Grassi Lakes trailhead is located on Smith Dorrien Trail. This road sometimes closes during bad weather in the winter months, which will restrict your ability to hike to Grassi Lakes.
Also, during certain conditions, Alberta Parks also closes Grassi Lakes hiking trail. This isn’t all winter long, though so do watch out for signs and closures before starting the hike.
20. Visit the Canmore Museum
Located right in downtown Canmore, the Canmore Museum is the perfect place to escape the cold winter weather for a couple of hours.
In the museum, you’ll find over 10,000 different artifacts all from Canmore’s history. You can learn about building the railway, the mining days, and of course, about the development of Canmore itself. They also feature rotating exhibits too which are often interactive.
The museum is cheap to visit, costing only $5 CAD for an adult, with discounted child and senior rates too. Their opening times vary, so check their website for updated hours.
21. Attend the Canmore Winter Carnival
Canmore hosts an annual event called the Canmore Winter Carnival. It’s a weekend-long festival with a variety of activities including ice carving, skating and street hockey, log sawing competitions, and so much more!
The Canmore Winter Carnival is typically held on the last weekend of February, however, the dates do change annually so check their website for more details.
This free event is one of the best things to do in Canmore in the winter.
22. Go fat biking
Fat biking is the newest winter adventure sport, and in Canmore, it’s never been more popular than it is now. With hundreds of bike trails in and around Canmore, it’s no surprise that summer cyclists have now found a way to ride in winter too!
Fat bikes have oversized tires that, to put it simply, are fat – sometimes up to 4 inches wide! These tires allow for riding on snowy trails where traditional bikes would sink or slip around.
There are several designated fat biking trails in Canmore, with some being easier than others. For beginner trails, check out Bow River Loop, Quarry Lake Recreation Area, and the Canmore Nordic Centre. The more advanced riders should try Cougar Creek / Horseshoe Loop or the Highline Trail.
If you consider yourself an experienced fat biker, try the Goat Creek Trail. It travels from the Goat Creek Parking lot (where Ha Ling Peak starts from) through the valley to Banff finishing at the Banff Springs Golf Course. All up, it’s a 20-kilometer (12.4-mile) journey.
Head to Rebound Cycle in Canmore to rent your own fat bike and explore for the day. They only charge $90 CAD for a full-day rental and will even give you advice on which trails to try out.
If you are not experienced with fat biking but still want to try it, then it is probably best to book a guided tour for your first time. This guided fat biking tour starts from Kananaskis Village (a 45-minute drive from Canmore) and actually takes you to a frozen waterfall – how cool! The guide will teach you all the tricks to fat biking and riding on the snow, and all gear is included too.
The tour lasts for about 3 hours, includes all of your gear and guide, and costs $95 CAD. You can easily book your spot online here.
23. Winter camping
Did you really experience a Canadian winter if you didn’t go camping?! As a Canadian myself, I can say that camping in the harsh Canadian winter is a must-do!
Right in Canmore, you can camp at Wapiti Campground. This central campground offers powered and unpowered campsites for only $40 and $30 CAD per night. Sites are all first come first serve.
If you want to, you can also go somewhere a little more off the beaten path in the Kananaskis. For a list of campgrounds open in the winter, click here.
Not only is camping in Canmore in the winter fun, but it’s also a lot more budget-friendly than staying in a hotel!
24. Go caving
One of the most popular tours in Canmore is this caving tour that takes you deep into Rat’s Nest Cave (don’t worry, there aren;t actually any rats!) And yes, this is an activity that you can do even in winter. Despite the cold outside temperatures, the cave maintains a temperature of 4.5 °C (40.1 °F).
All caving gear was included, such as coveralls, helmets, and climbing gear, but be sure to wear good running shoes and dress for the cooler underground temperatures (although, it’s likely colder outside than in the cave if you’re actually visiting during the peak winter months.)
You will start your experience underground with a 59-foot (18-meter) rappel into the cave. You then spend an impressive 4.5 hours exploring underground.
In the end, you will be rewarded with an area called The Grotto which has a stunning clear pool of water and a bunch of impressive stalactites and stalagmites.
If you’re looking for a slightly shorter tour, this Canmore Explorer Tour is another great option. Run by the same company, this 4.5-hour tour is slightly cheaper at $138.47 CAD for adults and $117.95 CAD for youths aged 10 – 15 years old. Less rugged but still very thrilling, this tour explores the same Rat’s Nest Cave but skips the rappel and some of the more advanced sections in the tour.
The full 6-hour tour costs $179.49 CAD for adults and $148.72 CAD for youths aged 12 – 15 years old. You can choose between two departure times and have up to 3 days before the experience to cancel with a full refund if your plans change. You can book your caving adventure tour here!
25. Go tobogganing
No list of the best things to do in winter is complete without tobogganing (or sledding as you may know it)! So, gear up and grab a sled for some fun sliding down the hills around Canmore.
Most people head to the Nordic Centre to go tobogganing. They have designated tobogganing hills that are actually free to use! Otherwise, there are a few other places you can go tobogganing around Canmore.
Just swing by Canadian Tire and Canmore and pick up a couple of sleds. You can find some for pretty cheap there!
26. Visit a frozen waterfall (or two!)
Chasing waterfalls is typically a summer activity, however, I love getting out on a snowy trail to explore frozen waterfalls during the winter. One of my favorites near Canmore is Troll Falls.
Troll Falls is located around a 35-minute drive from Canmore in the Kananaskis Valley. From the parking lot just off Mt Allen Drive, it’s a 1.7-kilometer walk to the falls via a well-trodden trail. The walk to the falls is considered easy and although crampons (ice cleats) do help, the trail can be completed with a good pair of hiking boots.
Once at the falls, you can enjoy a waterfall frozen in time and if you have crampons, you can explore the ice and get some very cool photos. There is also another 15-minute hike to the upper falls, however, you need crampons for this part of the trail in winter.
This is a short hike with magnificent views suited to most fitness levels. It’s also a popular fat biking and cross-country skiing route.
27. Eat everything at Le Fournil Bakery
Winter is the time of year for comfort food. Let’s face it, the cold really takes it out of you, so be sure to recharge with some treats at Le Fournil Bakery in Canmore.
This cute French Bakery is the perfect place to grab yourself a bite to eat regardless of whether you have a savory or sweet tooth. I myself love the chocolate croissants!
Coffee lovers will also enjoy Le Fournil Bakery. As a self-confessed coffee snob, I can confirm Le Fournil Bakery serves some of the best coffee in town. The cappuccino is my go-to and it blows the rest out of the water – it’s easily one of the best coffee shops in Canmore!
Be sure to visit in the morning when the baked goods are fresh and plentiful. By the afternoon, you won’t find much left on the shelves!
28. Wander the local art galleries
If you’re looking for an indoor activity in Canmore on a cold winter’s day, make sure to check out some of the amazing art galleries around Canmore! There are many talented artists in the area with their artwork open to the public. A few recommendations include Fallen Leaf Art Gallery, Elevation Gallery, or Avens Gallery.
If you’re more into photography, check out The Ken Hoehn Gallery. His work is magnificent and he captures some of the best photos of wildlife in the Rockies! Even if you’re not in the market for a print, stop by the gallery to see just how magical this area is.
Better yet, take a walk down 8 Street and just stop in at every gallery you pass – there are tons to explore!
29. Enjoy Banff town
Banff is a very popular town in the Rockies, attracting thousands of visitors each year. And it’s no wonder why – it’s absolutely beautiful in the winter and there are tons of things to do in Banff in winter.
Banff is 25km away from Canmore, so close enough to visit for an afternoon. The downtown area is very quaint and there are many awesome options for places to eat, drink, and shop. Spend some time wandering around town before heading up to the Banff Upper Hot Springs. This magical Alberta hot springs is run by Parks Canada and costs less than $9 CAD to visit.
Afterward, take the gondola up Sulphur Mountain. The views from the top are out of this world and have to be seen to be believed (although the photo above should be enough proof to book your gondola ticket!)
Of course, Banff is a destination all on its own so I highly recommended spending a few nights in a gorgeous hotel there. However, those short on time should at least visit for the day from Canmore!
30. Party the night away
Canmore might not have a reputation as a party city, but it’s a fun place for a night out! Apres-ski (“after ski” drinks!) is super fun in Canmore. You will definitely be able to find lots of places in town to hang out, but I recommend checking out The Drake.
The Drake has a huge dancefloor and it gets pretty wild late at night. It’s a great place to enjoy live music and hang out with friends or meet new ones because it’s always busy, and the drinks are cheap!
Aside from the Drake, there aren’t many places that cater to the late-night party crowd. However, Apres Ski can be enjoyed just about anywhere in Canmore, especially at the breweries or bars on 8 Street.
31. Drive the Icefields Parkway
Up for a bit of a winter road trip? The Icefields Parkway is one of the most scenic roads in Canada (and possibly the world.) This 232km stretch of highway travels from Lake Louise to Jasper. It takes around 3 hours to drive the whole thing without stopping in winter, however, I’d allow an entire day if you plan on stopping along the way.
Some of the best places to stop on the Icefields Parkway include Crow Foot Glacier Lookout, Bow Lake Viewpoint, Peyto Lake, Weeping Wall, Big Bend, Athabasca Glacier, Sunwapta Falls, and Athabasca Falls.
If you’re not driving all the way to Jasper, then I recommend only driving part of the highway. A great section is until you reach Peyto Lake. This is only 35 minutes from Lake Louise and after visiting, you can turn around and head back, visiting Bow Lake and Crowfoot Glacier on the way.
Winter tires are a must and you need to be careful and alert while driving this highway in winter. Parks Canada will close the highway over the pass during bad weather, so check ahead of time for road closures. Also, Athabasca Glacier tours and the Skywalk are closed in winter.
A Canada Parks Pass is necessary to travel through this region regardless of whether you plan on stopping or not.
32. Go on a scenic flight
Want to see the Rockies from the best seat in the house? Then a scenic flight is a must. In winter, there are a few different tours you can do with Banff Adventures over the Rockies. The cheapest is the Three Sisters Helicopter Flight which takes you from Banff over to the famous Three Sisters Mountain Range in Canmore. This tour lasts for 20 minutes and costs $290 CAD.
If you want a longer tour, the Royal Canadian Helicopter Flight is a great option. At 40 minutes long, you’ll get to take in breathtaking views for twice as long as you pass over Banff National Park, the Sundance Valley Mountain ranges, and the Goat Pass Range.
There are also lots of other tours available depending on your budget but personally, I’d pick a flight longer than 30 minutes so you can truly enjoy this once-in-a-lifetime experience!
33. Walk the Hoodoo Trail
Did you know Canmore has its very own hoodoos?!
In all honesty, the hoodoos themselves aren’t that amazing, however, the trail there gives you breathtaking views of Canmore. It’s the reason I often go for walks here in both winter and summer.
To reach the trail, you need to either park at this parking lot and walk up the hill until you reach a T junction. Here, turn left, continuing to walk up but in the other direction – it’s like one big switchback. From here, the trail leads along the edge of the cliff (pictured above) until you eventually see the hoodoos on your left.
The other option is to park on 100 Benchlands Terrace and walk through a vacant lot to the trail. This cuts almost all the uphill walking off the trail.
Although only a short walk, I believe it’s one of the best views of Canmore!
Related Read: There are also hoodoos in Banff. Visiting them is one of the best things to do in Banff!
Where to Stay in Canmore in Winter
Canmore is one of those mountain towns with so many hotels it’s honestly hard to choose simply because there’s are so many options. On top of that, it’s hard to find good-value hotels because in Canmore, what you pay does not equal what you get. Luckily I’ve spent a lot of time in Canmore over the years and stayed in lots of hotels. In that time I’ve found some really great places to stay for all budgets.
For budget travelers, I love the Canmore Rocky Mountain Inn. This hotel is priced really well (especially in winter) and the property and rooms are beautiful for the price. The hotel’s location is also close enough to town to walk, however, if it’s really cold, a cab might be better.
If you don’t mind spending a little more, you can certainly get a nice hotel closer to town. Coast Canmore Hotel is still a short walk from town (but it only takes 5 minutes) and the hotel itself is beautiful. Dan and I have stayed at Coast the last few times we’ve visited Canmore simply because it is such a great hotel. After a cold day on the slopes, the hot tub is a huge bonus! Plus, the outdoor firepits are really fun!
Now, if budget isn’t really your concern or you just want to spoil yourself, then I recommend the Malcolm Hotel by CLIQUE. Surprisingly, this hotel isn’t that expensive in winter, and it’s only a 2-minute walk from the hustle and bustle in Canmore. The hotel has hot tubs, a fitness center, a pool, and the property sits along the Bow River.
For more detailed info about where to stay, check out our guide to the BEST hotels in Canmore!
Renting a Car in Alberta
If you’re arriving in Alberta via plane then I can’t recommend getting a rental car enough. Canada is a large country and traveling between cities and even just getting out to some of the best places to visit in Alberta requires transport. Although you can use public transport, on some occasions, it means your trip will not only require more time but more planning.
Renting a car will definitely make exploring all of the fun things to see and do in Alberta easier.
Car rental in Canada isn’t super cheap, but it isn’t overly expensive either, especially if you get a budget car. The cheapest car with pickup and drop-off in different locations is around $100 CAD per day. The price does vary though depending on the time of year and the type of car that you rent. For car rentals, I use the website DiscoverCars.com. It’s a search engine with lots of deals with good customer service. In fact, I’ve used them all over the world including in Chile, New Zealand, and Australia.
Another popular option is to rent a campervan or motorhome (only for the brave in winter.) Using Motorhome Republic you can search hundreds of deals across multiple companies to pick a great vehicle and the cheapest price. Having a motorhome is a stunning way to see Canada, and using crown land and campsites, you can often camp for free or very cheap in the most beautiful places imaginable!
Parks Canada Pass Quick Info
If you plan on spending time in Canada’s national parks (including Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Mount Revelstoke, Glacier, Kootenay, and more) then you’re going to have to pay for a Parks Pass.
Single Daily Admission:
This type of pass is valid for one person for one day. It is ONLY the best value if you are traveling alone and only plan to visit a national park for a couple of days.
- Adult (ages 18-64) is $11 CAD
- Senior (65+) is $9.50 CAD
- Youth/Child (17 or younger) is FREE
Group Daily Admission:
If you’re traveling in a group or with family, you can buy a single-day admission for your entire vehicle (up to 7 people in one vehicle.)
- $22.00 CAD gets your entire vehicle entry for one full day
Parks Canada Discovery Pass
The “Discovery Pass”Discovery Pass” is what Parks Canada calls their year-long (365 days from the purchase date), multi-park entry pass. This pass will give 365 days of access to all participating national parks in Canada. This includes the most popular parks like Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Kootenay, Glacier, Mount Revelstoke, and so much more.
- Adult (age 18-64) – $75.25 CAD
- Senior (65+) – $64.50 CAD
- Group/Family (up to 7 people in one vehicle) – $151.25 CAD
Hot Tip: Although more expensive up front, if you plan on spending more than 7 days in different parks in Canada within a 12-month period, then the Discovery Pass is actually the better deal!
Parks Canada Passes can be bought online here or at one of the Visitor Centers or booths at the entrance to many national parks.
Before you go…
And there you have it, an epic list of 33 different things to do in Canmore in the winter! I hope this list keeps you busy and helps you have the best time possible in Canmore this winter!
Of course, if you have any questions then just comment below so we can get back to you.
Be sure to check out some of our other blogs about Canada including some related articles below:
Have a great time in Canmore!