When planning a trip to the scenic destination of Alberta, Canada, there’s no better town to stay in than Canmore. With many hiking trails, outdoor activities, museums, art galleries, and more, Canmore has tons to offer in the sunny days of summer.
In this article, we will discuss everything you need to know about what to do in Canmore during summer. Keep reading to learn about key destinations and sights you can’t miss while in Canmore!
Where is Canmore?
Canmore is a mountain town located in Alberta, Canada. Located in the Bow Valley of the Rocky Mountains, Canmore is less than a half-hour from the southeast border of Banff National Park.
The town of Canmore has a population of approximately 14,370 residents (as of 2021) and is considered the ninth-largest town in the province of Alberta.
Why Visit Canmore?
Canmore is a picturesque town with many outdoor activities, shopping centers, scenic destinations, and cultural sites, such as museums and art galleries.
With its close proximity to Banff, Canmore and the surrounding area attract many visitors each year. For instance, the Kananaskis Country provincial land park – which directly borders Canmore – had more than 5 million visitors in both 2020 and 2021.
Along with Banff National Park, Canmore is also located near notable locations such as Mount Rundle, the Three Sisters peaks, and several stunning lakes.
Where to Stay in Canmore?
Canmore has many tourist accommodations within and just outside of its town limits including resorts, hotels, vacation rentals, and Airbnbs.
For a more walking-friendly experience, opt for a rental that is close to the downtown area of Canmore. On the other hand, for a more remote and nature-centric experience, you can select one of the many more rural rentals available within the town.
What is the Best Time of Year to Visit Canmore?
The best time of year to visit Banff is generally regarded as during the summer months between June to August. This time of year has some of the best weather, maintaining a cool average of 63 degrees Fahrenheit that is perfect for spending time outdoors in the sunshine.
However, aiming to visit during what is known as “shoulder season” can also be a great choice.
Shoulder season refers to the times of year between the busiest seasons in Canmore – the peak of summer for hiking and the peak of winter for skiing. For visitors wanting to travel to Canmore during the warmer part of the year, the shoulder season generally spans from late summer to early fall, when the weather is still warm enough for outdoor adventures.
Visiting Canmore vs. Banff
Being so close to Banff may bring some to wonder – why not just stay in Banff?
By staying in Canmore, you can experience all that the Alberta province has to offer while also avoiding the more costly rentals and prices found directly in Banff. Plus, you have greater access to various public transit systems and can explore more of the area surrounding Banff when you stay in Canmore.
Outdoor Activities in Canmore
There’s no denying that Canmore is a haven for lovers of the outdoors.
From hiking among scenic mountain ranges and idyllic views to visiting many of the stunning lakes in the region, the great outdoors of Canmore have a lot to offer.
Hiking in Canmore
Here are 5 excellent hiking destinations and trails in Canmore, Alberta:
Three Sisters Mountain
The Three Sisters Mountains are three of the most recognizable peaks in Bow Valley, towering above the forests and towns below.
As part of the Canadian Rockies, the Three Sisters Mountains are located towards the front of the mountain range in an area known as Kananaskis Country. The three mountains each have their own nickname – Big Sister, Middle Sister, and Little Sister.
Big Sister and Middle Sister both have summit hiking trails that can be completed in one day, with the Big Sister route considered the more challenging of the two. To access Little Sister, you must have strong technical climbing skills and the proper equipment for rock and mountain climbing.
These trails are all on the longer side, so it is recommended to plan these hikes as day trips and pack food, water, and snacks accordingly. Visit Explore Canmore to learn more and find a Google Maps link.
Kananaskis Country Hikes
Kananaskis Country refers to the front ranges of the Canadian Rocky Mountains and includes five provincial parks, four wildland provincial parks, and multiple provincial recreation areas.
According to AllTrails – a hiking-focused fitness and travel app – Kananaskis Country has more than 490 different scenic trails to visit, ranging from beginner-friendly to advanced difficulty levels. The top 3 trails listed within the Kananaskis Country area include:
- Tent Ridge Horseshoe: 10.1 km (6.3 miles) total, takes an estimated 3 hours 55 minutes to complete. This hike is graded as hard on AllTrails’ difficulty scale.
- Rawson Lake Trail: 8.7 km (5.4 miles) total, takes an estimated 3 hours 11 minutes to complete. This hike is graded as moderate difficulty. A secondary trail called Sarrail Ridge connects to Rawson Lake for a total of 11.2 km (7 miles) and a bump up in difficulty to hard.
- Ptarmigan Cirque: 3.5 km (2.2 miles) total, takes an estimated 1 hour 18 minutes to complete. This hike is graded as moderate difficulty.
East End of Rundle
The East End of Rundle – also called the EEOR trail – is a popular and beginner-friendly hike that rewards you with a breathtaking view of Spray Valley and Ha Ling peak. The trailhead to EEOR is located very close to the downtown area of Canmore, making it easy to walk from town to the trail.
The EEOR trail is roughly 4.8 km (3 miles) in length and is an out-and-back style of trail. Though it is considered relatively beginner-friendly, this trail can get quite steep, so prepare accordingly when selecting your footwear and gear.
Unfortunately, the EEOR trail is currently closed due to parking lot renovations, but will hopefully reopen soon for travel in 2023 and beyond.
Read’s Tower Hike
Read’s Tower is a 6 km (3.72 miles) out-and-back trail that takes hikers high above the Spray Lakes Reservoir to see stunning mountain views. The hike generally takes around 4 hours total to complete and is considered to be moderately difficult, with some steep inclines and scrambling required.
This trail is best to complete in summer, as this area remains snowy even in the heat of July. Thus, for safety and to have the best possible experience, Read’s Tower is best hiked in the summertime.
To access Read’s Tower Hike, you will need to travel into the Bow Valley Wildland Provincial Park. Parking in the provincial park requires either a day pass or a yearly pass. Find out more on how to get a pass on the Alberta Parks site.
Ha Ling Peak Canmore
Ha Ling Peak is located just south of Canmore and is one of the peaks of Mount Lawrence Grassi.
In total, the trail is 3.9 km (2.4 miles) to the summit in length and is an out-and-back trail style. The view from Ha Ling Peak is certainly worth the hike, overlooking the natural beauty of Alberta and the town of Canmore. Plus, this trail is super beginner-friendly, with the trailhead starting just 800 meters of elevation shy of the peak.
This trail is currently temporarily closed for construction as Alberta Parks works to add more parking areas and trailhead facilities for visitors. Visit the Alberta Parks website to learn more about this closure and when you can expect the trail to reopen.
Canmore Nordic Centre
Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park was originally created in 1988 to host cross-country ski events in the Alberta Winter Olympics. Following the end of the 1988 Olympic games, the Canmore Nordic Centre was transformed into a public space for visitors to come hike, ski, bike, and more.
Along with a wide range of recreational ski trails, Canmore Nordic Centre offers summertime visitors 80 different summer hiking trails. Plus, the centre also has a disc golf course, a paved roller skiing trail, and mountain biking trails as well.
To view all of the trails at Canmore Nordic Centre – as well as hike lengths and trail status – visit the Alberta Parks webpage today.
Lake in Canmore
One of Alberta’s best-known features is its icy-blue lakes. In Canmore, you have excellent access to some of these stunning lakes and all they have to offer.
Here are 2 lakes in Canmore that are worth your visit in the summertime:
Quarry Lake Canmore
Nestled into the mountains just 2 km southwest of Canmore is Quarry Lake Park. Along with a variety of lakeside accommodations such as picnic tables, sitting benches, and a swimming area, Quarry Lake Park also offers unforgettable views and an off-leash area for dogs.
Quarry Lake Park is one of the most popular parks in the town of Canmore, drawing foot traffic from tourists and residents alike.
In terms of hiking, Quarry Lake Park has more than 5 km total of trails used for walking, biking, and cross-country skiing in the winter. To learn more about this park and its rules, check out the park’s website.
Grassi Lakes Trail Canmore
For an easy summer day hike around the lake, there’s no better trail than the Grassi Lakes Trail in the Bow Valley Wildland Provincial Park. The trail is 3.4 km (2.1 miles) in total and includes two turquoise-colored lakes along its path.
Along with scenic views of Canmore’s brightly colored lakes, this trail also offers visitors the opportunity to see a waterfall on this short and easy hike. Grassi Lakes Trail is a loop-style trail, meaning you will always have new sights to see each step of the way.
Due to construction and trail improvements, this trail is temporarily closed as of May 2022. Check the Explore Canmore website to learn more about this trail and its plans to reopen.
Water Activiteis Canmore
When you see the beautiful turquoise waters surrounding the Canmore area, you may quickly find yourself wishing to jump in under the warm summer heat.
For any water-sports lovers visiting Canmore, here are 3 awesome water activities to check out.
SUP Rentals in Canmore
Located in Canmore are the Canmore and Spray Lakes Reservoirs, which have the perfectly calm water needed for stand-up paddleboarding, more commonly referred to as SUP.
SUP offers a great opportunity to not only get in a great workout but also see Canmore and the Alberta region from a more intimate perspective. Paddling in these waters is a fantastic adventure for a hot summer day – though this water stays chilly, so don’t be surprised by the cold if you fall in!
Most SUP rental companies will offer a variety of different trip options, ranging from a few hours to multi-day. Here are 2 SUP rental companies in Canmore to consider checking out:
- Radventures: Radventures has locations in both Canmore and Banff and offers half-day SUP rentals for $40 and full-day rentals for $55.
- Bow Valley SUP & Surf: Bow Valley SUP & Surf services the Canmore area, with half-day SUP rentals offered for $40 and full-day rentals offered for $55.
Canoe Rentals in Canmore
Canoeing can be a great group activity, requiring two people per boat. Canmore has many great rental companies that will send you on scenic paddles across the beautiful bodies of water found in the Canmore region.
Two of the best places for calm canoeing adventures are Lake Louise and Moraine Lake – both located just outside of Canmore. These are some of the best locations for self-led canoe trips.
Kananaskis.com is a great resource for discovering all the canoeable rivers in lakes in and around Canmore – including what season is best for these destinations and the difficulty level of each!
Canyoning in the Ghost Canyon
Ghost Canyon is a secluded canyon located just at the edge of Banff National Park and is part of the larger Ghost Wilderness area located to the north of the park.
As this area is incredibly secluded and wild, it is highly recommended to only visit this part of Alberta with an experienced guide. Bow Valley Canyon Tours is a great company for this kind of excursion, as they offer Ghost Wilderness as one of their signature tour destinations.
Golfing in Canmore
For Canmore visitors with a competitive spirit, take a golf trip on a sunny day to one of Canmore’s stunning golf courses.
Silvertip Resort is one of the most well-known courses in Canmore, offering a well-maintained course nestled into the surrounding mountains. Other excellent Canmore golf courses include the Stewart Creek Golf & Country Club, Brewster’s Kananaskis Ranch Golf Course, and Kananaskis Country Golf Course.
Yoga in Canmore
What’s better than practicing yoga in the sweet serenity of the Alberta mountains.
Any yogis visiting Canmore will be delighted to discover several different yoga studios worth visiting in the small town, including guided hot yoga sessions.
Here are 3 yoga studios to visit in Canmore:
- Canmore Hot Yoga: This yoga studio focuses specifically on the practice of hot yoga, which helps your body to find realignment and improve your breathing. Check out Canmore Hot Yoga’s website to view their schedule and learn more.
- The Yoga Lounge: The yoga lounge offers both in-person and virtual yoga classes in a wide variety of yoga styles, including Ashtanga and Yin Yoga. Find out more by visiting The Yoga Lounge’s website, where they list their classes and schedule.
- Positive Healing: Take a spa day in the mountains of Canmore at Positive Healing. This is a wellness center that offers not just yoga classes but also massage therapy and fire cupping. Visit their website to learn more and book your visit.
Canmore Caving Tours
If you are looking for a wild underground adventure in Canmore, you don’t need to look far. Nearby Canmore is Rat’s Nest Cave, one of the largest cave systems in Canada.
To safely explore this cave system, make sure to go with experienced guides such as the friendly guides at Canmore Cave Tours. This tour company offers a 4.5-hour explorer tour or a 6-hour adventure tour. Make sure you wear clothes you don’t mind getting dirty!
Wilderness and Wildlife Tours in Canmore
In a beautiful, natural location such as Canmore, you are bound to run into wildlife eventually. If you want a more intimate and up-close wildlife experience while you’re here, make sure to take a wildlife tour with one of the many tour companies in and around Canmore.
Canmore Trails and Tales, for instance, offers walking and hiking tours and is rated the number one adventure company in Canmore! The tours offered by Canmore Trails and Tales include adventures of 4 different lengths:
- Daily Adventures: Daily adventures have two lengths, depending on which tour you choose. These tours are either 1.5 to 2 hours long or 2 to 3 hours long.
- Half-Day Adventures: Half-day tours are 3 to 4 hours in length.
- Full-Day Adventures: Full-day tours are 5 to 6 hours in length.
Food and Drink in Canmore
On a hot summer’s day, it’s good to know where you can stop in for a refreshing drink and a tasty bite to eat before your next big adventure.
Here are 7 food and drink destinations to check out in Canmore:
- Beamer’s Coffee Bar: Operating in Canmore for more than 25 years, Beamer’s Coffee Bar is a must-stop while you are in this mountain town. Along with a full range of coffees and drinks, Beamer’s also has sandwiches, sweets, salads, wine, beer, kombucha, and more.
- Eclipse Coffee: Eclipse Coffee Roasters was established in Canmore in 2014 with a focus on quality and sustainability. As this coffee company roasts all its own brews, it will carry a special selection of 10 to 20 unique coffees at any given time.
- The Grizzly Paw & Brewing Company: Craft brew fans, rejoice! The Grizzly Paw & Brewing Company is located in downtown Canmore and offers both a restaurant space and a dedicated taproom. Additionally, this excellent brewery is adding BBQ to its menu soon!
- Sheepdog Brewing: If you’re looking for a small-batch craft microbrewery in Canmore, look no further than Sheepdog Brewing. Along with offering plenty of space for sitting and eating, Sheepdog also offers guided tours and tastings!
- Where the Buffalo Roam Saloon: Sophisticated drinks with a country flair – welcome to the Where the Buffalo Roam Saloon. At this cocktail-focused bar and restaurant, you can experience the best drinks and flavors Canmore has to offer.
- The Drake: If you want a lively setting for your next meal in Canmore, visit The Drake Pub. The Drake is one of the best local stops to grab a bite to eat, drink a local craft beer, and listen to live music while you do so.
Museums in Canmore
For history and science buffs visiting Canmore, the best place to visit is the Canmore Museum and Geoscience Centre. This museum explores the rich history of Canmore, including historic sites such as Canmore’s NWMP Barracks.
As part of the museum’s commitment to telling the story of Canmore’s history, the museum focuses heavily on the traditional lands of Indigenous people located in the Canmore area.
Additionally, the museum’s website offers an interactive map that highlights all the places of importance located within Canmore’s town limits.
Art Galleries in Canmore
Here are 4 awesome art exhibits and galleries to visit in Canmore:
- Big Head Sculpture: The Big Head Sculpture in Canmore is a stand-along, permanent art installation located just to the side of the Policeman Creek Trail. The sculpture was created by an Alberta resident named Alan Henderson and is crafted from blue granite.
- Carter-Ryan Gallery and Live Theater: The Canmore-Ryan Gallery and Live Theatre is located on Canmore’s main street, operating as a gallery during the daytime and a theatre during the night.
- Avens Gallery: The Avens Gallery is a more traditional art gallery, featuring paintings and similar artworks depicting mostly natural scenes in Canmore and Alberta. This gallery is located on Main Street, making it an easy stop to add to your Canmore exploration to-do list.
- The Hive Gallery & Gatherings: The Hive Gallery & Gatherings – also called Elevation Gallery – is focused on presenting artworks that are regional, relevant, and modern. The Hive is a part of this gallery reserved as a gathering space for events, ideal for a family reunion or wedding reception.