Albertans are so lucky! We live in a such a stunning province. Seriously.
Someone recently told me they were looking up nice lakes around the world and found almost every list on the Internet includes several lakes located right here in Alberta—in our Canadian Rocky Mountains!! (I did verify that this is true, it is true! lol)
I love travelling and some of my favourite places to travel are right here in my backyard (because there is SO much to see and do, right here!!) If you live in Calgary, some of the most beautiful places in the world are *literally* in your backyard (via Canmore Kananaskis, Banff, and Lake Louise)—I’m often jealous of how close the mountains are to Calgarians!!!
This summer I partnered with Coast Canmore Hotel to experience a week in the Rocky Mountains with the little mountain town of Canmore as my gateway to adventures!
If you’re an Albertan, taking a weekend trip down to the area is such a wonderful and easy vacation you can do to inject more mountains in your life. (That mountain air, it’ll do you so good—really!!)
If you’re visiting Alberta from afar, well you are in for a treat! Alberta’s Rocky Mountains and glacial-fed lakes are even more beautiful in real life than they look in photos!!
I hope my blog helps guide you on some amazing adventures + incredible photo opportunities, because as some social media person once said, if you didn’t take a photo of it, did it really happen? lol.
And so I present:
Explore Alberta: Adventure Guide (Things to Do) in Canmore & the Rocky Mountains + Where To Say (Coast Canmore Hotel)
+ enter to win a $100 gift card towards your Coast Canmore Hotel stay!
We’ll start with WHY you should pick Canmore, Alberta as your base / gateway to mountain adventures and in particular, why you should pick the Coast Canmore Hotel!
Where is Canmore, Alberta?
Canmore is such a lovely little mountain town located just 20 minutes east of Banff. If you’re coming from Calgary, Edmonton, pretty much anywhere else in Alberta and east of Alberta, you’ll either hit Canmore first (or drive right past it) on your way to Banff. It’s just outside the National Park zone, so you don’t need to pay to enter Canmore, as you would to enter Banff (or any Canadian National Park).
If you want to explore Banff and Lake Louise, why should you stay in Canmore, Alberta?
There’s a few reasons why Canmore is a better place to stay when you’re planning Rocky Mountain adventures in the general area. Three big ones for me are:
- Hotel prices will likely be cheaper in Canmore. Because of historic and let’s face it, pricier, hotels like the Fairmont Banff Springs and Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise (please don’t get me wrong, they are STUNNING and literally ICONIC and I love them but they are definitely bigger monetary investments lol), you’ll find other hotels in those immediate areas are naturally, competitively, pricier too. As well, because you’ve also got National Park land and construction restrictions in Banff and Lake Louise, it’s quite rare to get new accommodations pop up in the area, so your hotel options are more limited and you kind of have to take what you can get at the prices they set—whereas in Canmore (just outside the National Park zone), new hotels are able to crop up more freely so you’ve got far more choices for accommodations and therefore (typically) better rates too!
- It’s not as crowded (and it’s quaint)! I don’t think I can properly articulate just HOW crazy busy Banff and Lake Louise get in the summer months in particular. You have to witness it yourself to believe it. Like, cars backed up at the Banff Town sign or turning into the first gas station in town, or cars backed up down the Trans-Canada Highway 1 or on the hill going up to the lake (Lake Louise), where RCMP officers have to tell you to turn around, you ain’t getting to the Lake today, it’s too busy. It’s just SO popular (understandably so). But Canmore is not that busy. And it doesn’t feel *as much* like a tourist town because a lot of people actually live in Canmore (versus primarily tourist traffic in Banff/Lake Louise). And it’s really just a lovely, quaint little town that is also surrounded by glorious mountains!
- There’s lots to do before you even get into the National Park. If you’re looking for a mountain getaway and didn’t want to spend the entire time inside the National Park, there’s lots of beauty and adventure to be seen and had in and around Canmore! Your weekend mountain getaway could include a day or two in the National Park, so you still get that Banff, Lake Louise (and area) experience that you might be looking for, but then you can spend the rest of your time in and around Canmore outside of the park. By not spending your entire trip inside the National Park, you’d also save on park pass costs (if you’re looking for some options to save on your mountain adventure!)
You’ve decided to make Canmore your gateway to mountain adventure, now where should you stay? The Coast Canmore Hotel, of course!
(Note: this post was created in partnership with the Coast Canmore Hotel, but I fully loved my stay and highly recommend it for your Canmore visit, due to the many reasons listed below!!)
Why stay at the Coast Canmore Hotel?
I loved my stay at the Coast Canmore Hotel and I know you will too. Here’s why:
- It’s pet-friendly! Okay, so I didn’t actually take advantage of this fact during my particular trip (lol) but typically people love to bring their pets with them on their mountain adventures and finding pet-friendly accommodations is top priority. The Coast Canmore Hotel pet fee is $25 per pet, per night and they allow up to two pets per room!
- They offer a ‘refreshingly green’ program. Coast Hotels are environmentally-conscious hotel. Keycards are made from 70% recycled plastic. They use energy efficient lighting and appliances, low-flow toilets and showerheads, biodegradable cleaning supplies, and 100% recycled tissues, toilet paper and paper towels. And at the Coast Canmore Hotel in particular, you can also skip daily housekeeping!! And with each night you skip housekeeping, they let you pick a soap or chapstick gift from the local Rocky Mountain Soap Co. when you check out! So awesome!
- It’s got a great restaurant. Table Food + Drink is the Coast Canmore Hotel’s restaurant and it dishes out some amazing breakfast, lunch and dinner. During my stay, my friends and I tried *almost* everything on their menu. We were totally pleased with our meals!
- Some of our favourite bites at Table Food + Drink include:
- Housemade waffles topped with maple-stewed apples, chantilly, fresh berries and whipped cream – $13. A perfect breakfast! Their banana bread French toast and Heuvos Rancheros is also great. My friend also enjoyed her eggs benny (eggs were cooked more than I would have liked but she asked for them to be less runny so it was perfect for her!)
- Charcuterie board, featuring a rotating selection of house preserves, pickled vegetables, artisan cheeses and cured + cooked meats, plus some greens from their patio garden – $20 for a small, $34 for a large. I basically had a charcuterie board every day of my stay! And they also serve a seafood board I should’ve tried, lol.
- Arancini (parma ham, black pepper and truffle rice balls in a roasted garlic tomato sauce with baby arugula and fresh Grana Padano cheese – $13 for four, $17 for six). My friends and I politely fought over who got the last ball, lol.
- Pork Belly and Seared Scallops (maple braised and seared, with a vanilla parsnip puree, crisp apple chips and watercress – $18). Perfectly cooked.
- Fried Brussels Sprouts (does anyone else think it’s weird that brussels is plural? lol) This was an appetizer favourite for my vegetarian friend Ashleigh, and comes with candied walnuts, dates, aged balsamic and lemon-scented ash goat cheese emulsion! It’s also a HUGE order and for $14, one of the best value dishes.
- Canmore Pasta Co. Pappardelle Pasta with pulled bison, wild mushrooms, green peas, red wine truffle sauce and shaved parmesan ($28). My friend substituted the bison for vegetables and the chef chose asparagus and broccolini. She thought it was great!
- Duck Two Ways (confit leg of duck plus duck breast, and duck fat-roasted ‘smashed’ fingerling potatoes with cranberry, roast heirloom carrots, pan jus and braised swiss chard ($29).
- Truffle Fries (order this as a side for $6—it’s a HUGE order!)
- Any of their mocktails! I loved the virgin berry mojito and the basil collins (these would likely also be good alcoholic, as would their other alcoholic drinks lol).
Table Food + Drink also offers some great weekday specials including:
- Monday Dinner for 2 including a bottle of house wine and 3-course 14oz chateaubriand tenderloin dinner for $99
- Tuesday Roast Chicken night ($20 for a half chicken or $30 for a whole chicken, slow roasted, served family style with fresh vegetables and potatoes)
- Wednesday $16 small Charcuterie and Cheese or $30 with 2 glasses of house wine, and
- Thursday Oyster + Mussel deals ($19 per dozen/large mussels, $11 per half dozen/small mussels or $2 per oyster).
Table Food + Drink also boasts one of the best patios in Canmore! It’s seriously so cute.
And its interior is also lovely—featuring lots of wooden tones and big, bright windows & natural light.
- There’s a pool and hot tub with a view of the mountains. And the pool is actually getting renovated in 2020 and will get even more windows added so you can see the mountain view even better.
- Rooms include Instagrammable Walls! All Coast Canmore Hotel rooms include a feature wall behind the bed(s). I thought it was pretty perfect this hotel has Instagrammable Walls. It’s very pretty. Another room perk I like is all their extra storage benches that totally go with the look and feel of the room but are very functional too. The rooms are also all renovated (within the last 5-ish years). The hotel itself is continuing to get upgrades (hence the soon-to-be-even-better pool). It’s a really nice, clean hotel!
- It’s really reasonably priced. In October/November/December for instance, you can book rooms for as low as $92/night! In high season (summer), rates are a bit higher (but comparable to other Canmore area hotels, and generally cheaper than what you’d find in Banff/Lake Louise).
- There’s a beautiful courtyard. The back/side of the hotel includes a lovely courtyard, the restaurant patio, a little decorate bridge, some benches, and garden pond water features. It’s really so lovely!
And finally, the Coast Canmore Hotel is just super conveniently located to MOUNTAIN ADVENTURE!
So that’s a huge perk.
Also, here’s a booking / money-saving tip for your Coast Canmore Hotel stay:
Be sure to check rates online (and like, on a dekstop—their mobile site can be sometimes be glitchy).
You’ll get a “Smart-Pants Web Saver” option that is usually the cheapest, in addition to Member-Only Rates if you sign up for a Coast Canmore (free) membership online!
SO, with Canmore / the Coast Canmore Hotel as your base,
Here’s just a few adventures you could do in the Rocky Mountains:
1. E-bike through Canmore
Ah. I can’t rave enough about e-biking! They are so EASY. Mike and I have gotten into a habit of renting e-bikes for at least one of the activities we do everywhere we travel, there’s nothing quite like experiencing a town, city, or region than by bike. It’s definitely not the same as driving around town!
I was so thrilled to rent e-bikes from Rebound Cycle, an awesome Canmore-based company hat specializes in bike rentals, guided bike tours, stand-up paddle board rentals and custom adventure suggestions.
Hi yes, that view above is REAL.
But it doesn’t look real does it?
Right in the town of Canmore you’ll find incredible views like that one at Policeman’s Creek, looking out at the Three Sisters Mountain Range. It was a breeze to get to this lookout on my Rebound Cycle e-bike (okay, we did hit a few dead ends in the forest but we eventually found our way lol).
There’s a few different bike paths in and around town and bike lanes down the main town centre. Rebound Cycle rents out mountain bikes too so you can certainly go for more intense, rugged bike adventurin’ but I was pretty happy to just cruise around town on the e-bike.
These e-bikes can go up to about 33 km/h. That’s fast!! It’s very thrilling (and because it’s electric assist and you don’t have to pedal as hard, it’s so easy to go longer distances at faster speeds, without all that much exertion! lol) I got mine up to about 28 km/h. We went for 2 hours and only lost one battery bar (of six bars), so I’d highly suggest you rent for a full day of fun!
The e-bike rentals at Rebound Cycle are also super reasonable (even cheaper than mountain bike rentals!) at $45 for a half day or $75 for a full day. In case you’re wondering, they also rent out board, paddle and lifejackets for paddle boarding for just $30 for a half day or $50 for a full day!
E-biking is definitely a wonderful way to explore, and a wonderful way to explore Canmore region.
Thanks to the Coast Canmore Hotel for setting us up with Rebound Cycle e-bike rentals!
2. Visit Lake Louise
Yes, *the* Lake Louise! If you time it right, your visit to Lake Louise *might* not be overcrowded, lol. My visit to this incredible lake happened to fall on a rainy, overcast day, which at first you might think is a bummer, but it actually meant far less people venturing out!
If clouds and rain happen to be in your forecast, you should actually take that as a good sign to visit!!
Even with the on and off rain the day I went for my friend Kayla’s beautiful wedding (coincided nicely with mountain adventure week lol), there were still people doing canoe rentals out on the lake. I bet their photos looked extremely epic and moody!
I was grateful for the breaks in the rain because I could pop out and get a few photos taken literally without any other people in my shots!! (and isn’t that the social media tourist’s dream? lol)
3. Hike a Mountain (like Ha Ling)
Oh boy, there are so many mountains you can choose to hike in the Canmore Kananaskis / Banff National Park region, it’s legitimately a hiker / outdoor enthusiasts’ dream. Check out AllTrails’ Best Hiking Trails list, or this Explore Magazine article that lists 10 of the best hikes you can do in the Canmore area alone. Or read this blog post detailing 14 day hikes in Canmore and Kananaskis Country.
Be sure to check difficulty levels and read AllTrails’ comments about the hikes before you choose to hike them. If you’re like me (ahem, NOT a remotely seasoned hiker at all lol) than something like a Ha Ling Peak hike may be too difficult for you (although admittedly I passed a lot of kids and elderly folks doing the hike when I went up so how difficult was it really… lol).
Ha Ling is nice though because they’ve recently upgraded the trail making it a lot safer and creating some clearer lookouts spots, but it is technically considered a difficult hike (and steep, gosh).
My friend Kathy hiked with me (she is a far more seasoned hiker than I am, as are my other friends James and Ashleigh, who do Ha Ling hike like a casual post-dinner jaunt lol) and she was very kind and understanding of my requirement to take it nice and slow. Ha Ling though is one of the most popular hikes in Canmore Kananaskis area, so on a weekend you might find it bumper to bumper hiking traffic! If you’re more inclined for a quieter, private walk, there certainly is no shortage of those in the area as well.
Kathy and I made it about halfway up Ha Ling to the first lookout spot before I decided to call it a day, namely because I was already almost out of water and because my legs were killing me and I would rather not hate my first mountain hiking experience. Know your limits, there’s no shame in that! And being able to make it to one of the official lookouts was a huge milestone for me!! And sets a nice benchmark for when/if/when (lol) I attempt to hike Ha Ling again. (But seriously I probably would’ve pushed myself to continue if I had more water, but hiking without water is dangerous so don’t do that lol).
There are tons of different hikes you can do around Canmore though, you can also find less elevated / inclined routes if you prefer. You’ll still get some damn nice views, I promise!!
4. Visit Peyto Lake
One of the most iconic lakes in the world (OK well you could say that about Lake Louise, and a lot of the other lakes in the area lol), Peyto Lake was quite busy when we went (sensing a trend…) but we went first thing in the morning and were able to snag some decently empty spots at the View Point to take in the incredible blue-green water, and snap some photos. It takes a bit of maneuvering but we did it!
The photos below you’d be surprised at how we were able to take them because if we did one of those ‘Instagram versus Reality’ unveiling shots you’d say crowds of people all around the Gary and me lol.
Peyto Lake is actually closing Fall 2019 for refurbishments so depending on when you read this, it may still be closed. It’s such a popular spot, I think they’re planning on making the trek up to the View Point a bit smoother. Hopefully they make the View Point bigger as well. There’s a fenced area of the lookout that most people don’t stay within, lol because the trail also takes you out to these rocks that we stood on (safely!!!) for our photos. There’s also apparently a hike you can do to get a different view of the lake (but it isn’t the iconic view with the height pictured here). But if you’re into hikes that’s a great option for you too, especially if you wanted to spend more time in the area.
Now please watch my slow-mo, truly patriotic, Peyto Lake video below!
5. Stumble upon a ‘Secret Lake’
So one of the coolest things about the Canmore Kananaskis, Banff, and Lake Louise region is that there are literally so many scenic spots literally everywhere you turn, you don’t need to go to one of the well-named (or well-marked) locations.
As my friends live in the area, they’ve been spending a fair bit of time hiking, biking, and exploring all the nooks and crannies of our Canadian Rocky Mountains and as a result, have been able to find some pretty cool, ‘secret’ spots that take a bit more effort to get to (like bushwhacking and swamp crossing level effort), but are certainly well worth it when you get there.
Case in point, a ‘secret lake’ in Banff National Park where we spent hours kayaking, paddle boarding, swimming, and sunbathing all to ourselves on on a long weekend Sunday. They’ve asked I don’t share this specific location for obvious enjoyment reasons… locals will likely recognize it. (But seriously you need to bushwhack and trek through a swamp to get there so you probably wouldn’t want to do that anyway lol).
My point is more that, if you’re up for the adventure (and do it safely), there’s likely a ton of different secret paths, trails, view points and lakes you could discover if you give yourself a day to freely (and safely) explore!
We packed a picnic for this particular day of adventure so after our several hours of water fun, we sat down on some rocks overlooking the mountains and ate our wraps. It was really quite lovely.
Bonus tip: get an inflatable kayak off Amazon to carry out with you for water adventures!!
6. Explore Yoho National Park (Takakkaw Falls & Emerald Lake)
From Lake Louise, Yoho National Park in British Columbia is just a 20 minute drive away! Not much farther from Canmore (and certainly doable within a back and forth day trip!) During my week in the Rocky Mountains, my friends and I took a quick drive over to B.C. for a day of adventures visiting Canada’s second highest waterfall, Takakkaw Falls, and the gorgeous, blue-green glacial-fed Emerald Lake.
We hiked, photographed and marvelled at the beauty of Yoho National Park from about 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. that day. It was so much fun I even wrote a separate blog post detailing our day trip to Yoho National Park, Takakkaw Falls and Emerald Lake.
7. Take a yoga break (with a mountain view)
Finally, if you need a bit of a break in between all your outdoor, Rocky Mountain adventure, consider taking in a yoga class!!
The Coast Canmore Hotel were kind enough to set me up with a Flow class at The Yoga Lounge as part of my week of adventures and it was honestly really nice to sit, lie, and stretch for an hour. The yoga class actually ended up kicking my butt (you know when your entire body shakes because it isn’t used to the movements you’re suddenly making it do? lol) but it was a really great class and a nice break from all the mountain terrain trekking.
So there’s my Adventure Guide recommendations for what to do in Canmore, Alberta (and area), and where to stay (Coast Canmore Hotel) + why! Now I’m excited to give away a $100 gift card towards your Coast Canmore Hotel stay!
** GIVEAWAY **
To enter to win a Coast Canmore Hotel $100 gift card (can be used for meals or your hotel stay):
- Leave a comment on this blog post telling me what Canmore area adventure you’d most like to do!
Note: leaving a blog comment is a mandatory entry!
You must leave a blog comment in order to qualify for a chance to win! Blog comments are moderated so don’t worry if your comment doesn’t show up right away!
For additional, bonus entries:
- ‘Like’ my Facebook Page Lindork – Linda Hoang and follow the entry instructions on my Coast Canmore Hotel Facebook post
- Follow me on Instagram @lindork and follow the entry instructions on my Coast Canmore Hotel Instagram post
- Follow me on Twitter @lindork and retweet my Coast Canmore Hotel tweet!
I’ll randomly select a winner by Sept. 22. Good luck!!
And thank you to the Coast Canmore Hotel for partnering with me on this amazing Canmore Rocky Mountain adventure experience!! This is one of my favourite places to v
Here are some related Travel Guides you may also be interested in:
- Travel Guide: A Few Things To Do in Canmore, Alberta
- Explore B.C: Day Trip to Takakkaw Falls & Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park
- Travel Guide: 15 Things To Do in Jasper, Alberta
- 24(ish) Hours in Vernon, B.C: What To Do + Where to Stay
- Travel Guide: What To Do in Kelowna, B.C + Broad Trip Stops Along the Way
- A Weekend in West Country: Horseback Riding and White Water Rafting near Sundre, Alberta
Disclaimer: I worked with the Coast Canmore Hotel on this sponsored partnership to experience the hotel and all the fun adventures the Canmore has to offer! This does not impact opinions stated in this post. I would stay at the Coast Canmore Hotel again, would recommend it to others, and had such an incredible week of mountain adventures!