martin
From the expert Martin Tough

Canada’s mountain sports destination

Known as Alberta’s giant backyard, Canmore/ Banff is the home of an impressive mountain landscape offering limitless outdoor activity across an expanse of provincial parks, wild land reserves, emerald green waterways, unspoiled wilderness and snow-capped mountain peaks. Both rustic and luxurious experiences abound with a variety of dining and accommodation choices.

Just an hour west of cosmopolitan Calgary await Canmore and Banff. The charm of two historical towns is surrounded by 6600 square kilometers of Banff National Park’s pristine mountain peaks and trails.

Winter and early spring offer the unmatched variety of four ski destinations, Banff Mount Norquay, Nakiska Mountain Resort, Sunshine Village and Lake Louise. Dog-sledding, snowshoeing, and hiking are also a must on the list. The Canmore Nordic Centre played host to the 1988 Winter Olympics and while it is still maintained as a world-class training facility, it is also perfect for the everyday Joe to get in some exceptional cross-country skiing. After working up an appetite, families will love to indulge in any one of the refreshing mountain bistros in the area before taking a step back in time with a visit to the Sweet Shoppe or the Fudgery.

Spring, summer and fall feature hiking and biking through the vast network of trails the majestic Canadian Rockies. Explore alpine meadows and turquoise waters all amongst the elk, bighorn sheep, black and grizzly bear, and over 260 species of birds. Canada’s oldest National Park boasts the spectacular historic experience of the Banff Springs Hotel and Golf Course, Cave and Basin Historic Site, Upper Hot Springs Pool and the Sulphur Mountain Gondola.

Canmore’s Main Street becomes a Cross Country Ski Track, with tons of snow covering 2 blocks during the National and World Cup Cross Country ski events and the Canmore Winter Festival. During the summer months, downtown is transformed as the town hosts many music and arts events including a weekly outdoor market with fresh produce and locally-made lunches, dinners and treats.

Whether it’s the Canmore Winter Carnival or the Banff Summer Arts Festival, the region offers unique year-round events. The Canmore Folk Music Festival has been entertaining crowds since 1978 with a line-up of performers from around the world and the Canmore Highland Games invite anyone with a little celtic blood to toss a caber, cheer on the sheepdogs and join in the rousing ceilidh every Labour Day long weekend.

For anyone looking to try something new, there are plenty of guided outdoor adventures available. Challenge yourself with a little rock or ice climbing, enjoy a float trip down the Bow River or paddle a canoe across iconic Lake Louise. Guided hikes in Banff’s glorious Sunshine Meadows provide easy access to high alpine meadows filled with glorious wildflowers throughout July and August.

Both rustic and luxurious experiences abound with a variety of dining and accommodation choices. Family camping fun or a romantic five-star endeavour – the exploration never ends in Alberta’s biggest backyard.