There are so many amazing things to do in Canmore in winter! This stunning mountain town is located only 25 minutes from Banff National Park and just under an hour and a half from Calgary International Airport. Canmore is a great place to spend some time on your way from Calgary to Banff, or if you’re looking for a more budget-friendly place to stay while exploring the Banff area – Canmore is the place!
Exploring the area around Canmore in the winter is beautiful because everything is dusted in snow, and some activities are only possible to do in the winter. Keep reading to find out the best winter activities in Canmore!
Canmore Winter Tours at a Glance
- Canmore Cave Explorer Tour or Cave Adventure Tour
- Winter Day Trip to Lake Louise and Johnston Canyon
- Canmore Grotto Canyon Ice Walk (Request to be picked up in Canmore in advance; doable without a tour if you’re comfortable and have the equipment)
- Head to Banff for a Sunset and Stars Evening Walking Tour
Things to do in Canmore in Winter
1. Explore Downtown Canmore
If you’re staying in Canmore this winter, wandering down Main Street (8th street) is a great way to spend part of your day. Grab a coffee from a local shop, shop for souvenirs, or check out my favourite store, The Olde Tyme Candy Shoppe! Look for the Three Sisters Mountain Range while exploring Canmore as well.
2. Cross Country Skiing
A popular activity amongst locals, Canmore is a great place to go cross country skiing. The Canmore Nordic Centre was built as an Olympic Nordic Skiing Venue for the 1988 Winter Olympics. If you’re wanting to try out cross country skiing, it is an amazing thing to do in Canmore in winter!
3. Ice Skating – my favourite thing to do in Canmore in winter!
If you are visiting Canmore in the winter, ice skating in the mountains is the perfect activity! Great places to skate in and around Canmore are:
- Gap Lake – About an 8 minute drive from town, this lake is located on the Bow Valley Trail. It can get pretty windy here so make sure to dress warm, even if the weather seems nice! A Kananaskis Pass is required to park in this area.
- Lac De Arcs – Another windy lake to skate on, Lac De Arcs is located on the Trans Canada Highway and is the first lake you’ll come across that has mountain views. Only 11 minutes from Canmore, you can stop here on your way into town if you have time to kill before checking into your hotel.
- Canmore Skating Pond – Located in the Town of Canmore, this pond is the perfect place to skate if you don’t want to drive on the highways out of Canmore, or you’re looking for a quick activity to do in town.
Willing to drive a little farther? Check out the 12 best places to skate around Banff and Canmore!
4. Grotto Canyon Ice Walk
The Grotto Canyon Icewalk is a very popular hike to do in Canmore in winter, but it is beautiful! Pack ice cleats/crampons and hike in the Grotto Canyon, seeing frozen waterfalls and icicles along the way.
Parking can be limited so make sure to arrive early, as parking along the highway is prohibited. A Kananaskis Pass is required to park in this area. I would recommend purchasing your pass online upon arrival (the pass is digital anyway), because if there is no parking when you arrive, you may not want to buy the day pass at all!
You can also sign up for a Grotto Canyon Ice Walk tour, which will provide you with ice cleats, hiking poles, hot chocolate, and a guide who can point things out that you may otherwise miss (like pictographs)!
Tip: If parking is limited, Gap Lake is just 5 minutes down the road. Pack your skates and go skating as a backup plan, as long as the ice thickness is safe 🙂
5. Dog Sledding
A bucket list experience for many – dog sledding is an amazing winter activity in Canmore!! I highly recommend dog sledding with Howling Dog Tours, which is based in Canmore. Their shuttle picks you up directly from their office and takes you to the site where your dogsledding tour begins. The views are amazing and you get to hang out with sled dogs for a couple of hours – it’s the perfect way to spend a morning in Canmore!
Renting a pair of snowshoes and going on a hike in the mountains is such a peaceful activity to do. Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park has a dedicated 3km snowshoe loop which makes a great trail. If you’re looking for a nice lake trail to snowshoe in Canmore, check out the Quarry Lake Recreation Area (depending on trail conditions).
Cost: Renting a pair of snowshoes usually costs around $20 per day. Rent them in town at Gear Up Sports or at the Canmore Nordic Center.
7. Breakfast at Rocky Mountain Bagel Co.
The Rocky Mountain Bagel Co deserved its own spot on the “Things to do in Canmore in Winter” list because it cannot be missed!! They make their bagels and cream cheese fresh in-house daily. It can get extremely busy here, but it’s because it’s one of the best restaurants in Canmore. Stop at this locally owned shop for breakfast before heading out on your day of adventure!
Location: 102 830 8th (Main) Street or 101 1106 Bow Valley Trail.
Each location has different hours due to Covid, so check this out before heading to a specific location.
8. Ice Climbing
Take an ice climbing class and learn how to ice climb up frozen waterfalls. Yamnuska Mountain Adventures offers these ice climbing classes. Yamnuska Mountain Adventures offers 2 day beginner ice climbing classes starting at $425. They require no previous experience to participate and makes a great adventurous winter activity in Canmore!
Yamnuska Mountain Adventures is located in Canmore, right beside the Stoneridge Mountain Resort.
9. Canmore Winter Carnival
If you’re visiting Canmore in February, then the Canmore Winter Carnival is a perfect winter activity to check out. Embrace the snow and chilly mountain air with the locals and visitors in this outdoor festival.
If you’re looking for more photo inspiration – check out Tourism Canmore Kananaskis on Instagram!
10. Explore Kananaskis
Kananaskis Country is a region in the Rockies that Canmore borders. It is filled with incredible mountain views and amazing hikes – Kananaskis is an amazing place to explore if you’re looking to get out enjoy nature, whether you’re driving, hiking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, or dog sledding!
Kananaskis requires a Conservation Pass if you are parking and spending time here! Purchase it online or at a visitor center when you arrive.
Are you planning to return to Kananaskis this summer? You cannot miss the Blackshale Suspension Bridge – a free (and easy!) hike to an incredible suspension bridge in the mountains.
11. Canmore Winter Hikes & Walks
There are so many great winter hikes around Canmore to do. Some of them you can classify more as walks instead of a hike, but nonetheless it’s a great thing to do in Canmore in winter.
It can get icy in the winter. I would recommend carrying a pair of crampons on you just in case or checking recent reports on alltrails.com if crampons are a good idea.
Policeman Creek – This trail leaves from Downtown Canmore, winding through trails and ponds complete with a boardwalk and mountain views. There is relatively little elevation gain on this hike, making it a good choice if you’re looking for a leisurely hike.
Bow River Loop – This is a great walk along the Bow River and on the outskirts of Canmore. Part of the Bow River Loop hike crosses the Canmore Engine Bridge, which is a really fun place to take photos and explore. The path is relatively flat, making it another great choice for an easy winter hike close to Canmore.
Grassi Lakes – The Grassi Lakes is more of a hike, with around 178 m in elevation gain. This hike will give you nice views of mountains and lakes. I highly recommend crampons on this trail as it can get icy in the winter, and due to the elevation gain, you don’t want to be sliding around the trail!
Ha Ling Peak – A more difficult hike that will give you amazing views of Canmore and the surround Canadian Rockies, Ha Ling Peak is an Out and Back Trail in Kananaskis with 755m of elevation gain and is 7.4km in length. It is steep, and depending on trail conditions crampons would be beneficial to have!
12. Head into Banff National Park
Canmore is just a 25 minute drive to Banff. If you’re in this area, I highly recommend making the trip over to Banff National Park! While there, check out Lake Louise when it has frozen over, making it the perfect spot to skate. Or, grab a pair of crampons and hike Johnston Canyon to see frozen waterfalls and snow covered trees. While visiting Johnston Canyon, drive the length of the Bow Valley Parkway (the road Johnston Canyon is on) for pretty viewpoints and picnic areas. There are so many things to do in Banff this winter!
13. Go Fat Biking on the Snowy Trails
Fat Biking is essentially riding a bike with large, fat tires that are perfect for riding on snowy trails. There are many different spots to fat bike around Canmore, for all skill levels! Rent a fat bike from one of the many adventure stores in Canmore and Kananaskis, including Trail Sports, Kananaskis Outfitters, or Rebound Cycle.
Winter in Canmore Frequently Asked Questions
During the wintertime in Canmore, it can get very cold and even dip into the low -30°C’s. Typically, the weather in Canmore in winter is around -12°C to -23°C.
If you want to enjoy some indoor activities in Canmore, you can check out the art gallery, a brewery, do a cave tour, or check out the climbing gym.
Yes! Around Christmas and New Years, both Banff and Canmore are very busy and crowded.
Exploring the Canadian Rockies and Canmore in the winter is definitely a bucket list adventure! There are so many great Canmore winter activities to do, what’s at the top of your list?
More on the Canadian Rockies:
- Abraham Lake: The Frozen Ice Bubbles 2 Hours From Banff
- Things to do in Jasper in The Winter
- Maligne Canyon Ice Walk: Don’t Miss This in Jasper
- Biking to Moraine Lake in the Spring
Hey! I’m Kat. Based in Alberta, Canada I love to travel to the Rockies and explore new places around the world. Follow along on my adventures and find inspiration and tips for your own travels.