Canmore  is spread across both sides of the TransCanada Highway, with downtown Canmore occupying an island in the middle of the Bow River. Although development sprawls in all directions, large tracts of forest remain intact, including along the river, where you’ll find paths leading beyond built-up areas and into natural areas.
The most expansive of these is 32,600-hectare (80,550-acre) Bow Valley Wildland Provincial Park, which has been designated in pockets along the valley floor as well as most of the surrounding mountain slopes along both sides of the valley.
The downtown core of Canmore, on the southwestern side of the TransCanada Highway, has managed to retain much of its original charm. Many historical buildings line the downtown streets, while other buildings from the coal-mining days are being preserved at their original locations around town.
The first building of interest at the east end of the main street is Canmore’s original NWMP post (609 8th St., 403/678-1955, summer daily 9 a.m.–6 p.m., the rest of the year Mon.–Fri. noon–4 p.m., free), built in 1892. It is one of the few such posts still in its original position, even though at the time of its construction the building was designed as a temporary structure to serve the newly born coal-mining town. The interior is decorated with period furnishings, while out back is a thriving garden filled with the same food crops planted by the post’s original inhabitants.
Just off the main street, inside the impressive Civic Centre complex, is Canmore Museum and Geoscience Centre (902 7th Ave., 403/678-2462, Mon.–Tues. noon–5 p.m., Wed.–Sun. 10 a.m.–6 p.m., adult $3, senior and child $2). This facility highlights the region’s rich geological history and its importance to the growth of the town and related industries.