The town of Canmore (12,500) lies in the Bow Valley, 103 kilometers (64 miles) west of Calgary, 28 kilometers (17 miles) southeast of Banff, and on the northern edge of Kananaskis Country. Long perceived as a gateway to the mountain national parks, the town is very much a destination in itself these days.
Its ideal mountain location and the freedom it enjoys from the strict development restrictions that apply in the nearby parks have made Canmore the fastest-growing town in Canada, with the population having tripled in the last 20 years.
The surrounding mountains provide Canmore’s best recreation opportunities. Hiking is excellent on trails that lace the valley and mountainside slopes, with many high viewpoints easily reached. Flowing though town, the Bow River offers great fishing, kayaking, and rafting; golfers flock to three scenic courses; and nearby Mount Yamnuska has become the most developed rock-climbing site in the Canadian Rockies.
Canmore also hosted the Nordic events of the 1988 Winter Olympic Games and is the home of the Alpine Club of Canada.
The best source of pre-trip information (apart from this book, of course) is Tourism Canmore (403/678-1295 or 866/226-6673, www.tourismcanmore.com). A Travel Alberta Information Centre (403/678-5277, May–Sept. 8 a.m.–8 p.m., Oct. 9 a.m.–6 p.m.) is just off the TransCanada Highway on the west side of town.
© Andrew Hempstead, from Moon Western Canada, 3rd Edition