Canmore, Alberta: Month-by-Month

Canmore, Alberta, located in the heart of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, is a perfect destination, year-round. As a year-round resident and owner of Active by Nature, an adventure tourism business specializing in walking and Nordic walking tours, let me share with you my thoughts about the month-to-month attractions of my mountain home:

January  (average temps: L = -13C  H = -4C)

January is usually the coldest month in Canmore so Nordic walking, Nordic skiing and snowshoeing are top activities because you generate a lot of internal heat by being so active.  There are endless trails to explore in and near Canmore! It is a great month to try the best activity IN the Rocky mountains: caving with Adventure Hub partner, Canmore Cave Tours.  The temperature inside is a constant 4.5 C, year round.  You might want to travel to Lake Louise to take in the Ice Magic Festival, a world-class ice carving event.  Jan 1 is when registration opens for the Rocky Mountain Soap Women’s Run/Walk that takes place in May at the Canmore Nordic Centre.  Of course skiing in all its forms is a big here from November through to May.  Canmore is a premiere ski town!  More about that later.

February (average temps: L = -11C  H = 0C)

Every February, Canmore folks come together to celebrate our unique winter lifestyle.  It’s Winter Carnival time!  Another HOT activity to check out during the middle of winter is fat biking.  Adventure Hub partner Kananaskis Outfitters has rentals and guided tours, including one that takes you to a frozen waterfall.  You can do a Nordic walk/snowshoe to a frozen waterfall with Active by Nature. You don’t have to restrict your exploring to daylight hours either.   Consider a stargazing snowshoe and photography tour, also with Kananaskis Outfitters, to see the wonder of a sky filled with endless stars, the milky way, or a full moon and perhaps, if you are lucky, the Northern Lights. The month of February is your time to book a bus trip to the famed Lake O’Hara hiking destination come summer time.

 

March (average temps: L = -7C  H = 5C)

There is still a lot of winter left in Canmore & Kananaskis in March!  Although the trails in Canmore may be icy, Active by Nature has ice cleats for your feet for walking and Nordic walking tours.  Why not consider a dog-sledding adventure with Adventure Hub partner Mad Dogs & Englishmen? After a full day of outdoor activity or not, a relaxing session at the Kananaskis Nordic Spa or a float session at Float Canmore may be just the thing for you.

 

April (average temps: L = -2C   H = 10C)

We are now into the shoulder season.  In Canmore, winter activities are winding down but summer activities like hiking and biking and activities are still a way off. Nordic walking is a perfect shoulder season activity!  However, there is still a lot of snow up in the mountains.  Indeed, April is my favourite month for alpine skiing. The crowds have gone and with it the lift line-ups. The temperatures are much warmer and you can still have some lovely powder skiing days as well as delightful spring skiing.  Check out Ski Big 3.  If you want to visit popular Banff National Park destinations of Lake Louise and Morraine Lake between May & October, note that April 1 is the first day you can book a shuttle ride with Parks Canada: https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/ab/banff/visit/parkbus/louise

If you are keen to go camping in the surrounding national or provincial parks in the summer season, now is the time to book your reservations.  Camping is such an incredible Rocky Mountain experience.  No gear? No problem!  Rent-a-Tent will completely outfit you from their Canmore location & provide you with lots of great advice.

May (average temps: L = 2C  H = 15)

In May, you can have it both ways: ski or golf, even doing both on the same day if you are ambitious! Yes, the golf season starts and Canmore has three stunning courses. I had my very best day of skiing ever on my birthday (May 7) at Sunshine a couple of years ago. Boundary Ranch trail rides begin in Kananaskis Country and Canmore Raft Tours begin a new season of scenic floats down the Bow River from Canmore.  Of course, it is always a good month for Nordic walking!  A lot of hiking trails are still snow covered or muddy, so Nordic walking around Canmore and on the sunny south-facing slopes surrounding is a great way to get ready for prime hiking season.  The Rocky Mountain Soap Women’s Walk/Run weekend happens in May and Nordic walkers are welcome in all categories. But if you didn’t register back in January, you will be out of luck as the events will be sold out.

 

June (average temps: L  = 6C  H = 19C)

All summer activities are in full swing.  Be sure to pack your bear spray and know how to use it.  June is traditionally Bike Month in Canmore.  Get details about Bike Friendly Canmore here.  The paved Legacy Trail connecting Canmore to Banff is swept clear, the roadways are in great shape and the mountain bike trails are drying up.  If you happen to have a rainy day, there is always lots happening at Elevation Place or ArtsPlace. Hiking is on!  Nordic walking is a more powerful way to hike.  Do you know the difference? If not, find out here.

 

July (average temps: L = 8C  H = 23C)

What’s not to love about July? It is mainly sunny and warm but not stifling hot. Canmore has a fabulous Canada Day celebration on July 1 with a huge parade featuring lots of marching bands.  Wildflowers are at their peak and so is visitation to our mountain town but in Kananaskis country, you can always find uncrowded hiking trails.  Active by Nature has a number of scheduled group hikes starting this month in addition to the year round-tours that happen in Canmore. Don’t forget to #JustAddPoles!  Schedule of hikes:  https://activebynaturecanmore.ca/guided-hikes-in-kananaskis-country/

 

August (average temps: L = 7C  H = 23C)

August is another month to enjoy spectacular hikes and the full range of summer outdoor adventure activities.   But always be prepared when venturing into the high back country, where it can be a lot colder than those average temps would indicate.  Snow is possible at any time at high elevations.  Always pack extra layers and hats and gloves. Consider a hike and dine day with Get Outside, or an introduction to backpacking, or a full moon hike. The long weekend in August is when the famous Canmore Folk Music Festival happens.  Why not come for the fantastic music and stick around for some outdoor pursuits?

 

September (average temps: L = 3C  H = 17C)

September in the mountains is awesome!  The cooler temperatures are perfect for many outdoor pursuits like Nordic walking, hiking, and biking.  Peak visitation has passed so the trails are quieter.  Near the end of the month, we have the larch viewing season, with the yellow-gold of the larch trees contrasting with the green of the coniferous forests, beautiful blue skies and the white mantle of snow that has usually returned to the mountain peaks.  In September you can also pair your love of outdoor adventure with the best dining experience in the Rockies:  Canmore Uncorked – a seven day food and drink festival.

 

October (average temps: L = -1C  H = 10C )

By October, we are back into the “shoulder season” when good deals can be found for accommodations.  Summer activities have wrapped up but winter ones have not started yet.  Except, the cross-country ski keeners begin skiing on the 2 – 4 kilometres of snow that are prepared for Frozen Thunder at the Canmore Nordic Centre. Most skiers wait a bit until Mother Nature delivers her first blankets of fresh snow.  Locals usually make first tracks up Morraine Lake Road.  This busy summer road closes to traffic in early October and is usually trackset for cross-country skiing by late October.  This is an excellent time for Nordic skiers to prepare for the upcoming season by you guessed it….. Nordic walking, which had its origins in Finland as off-season training for Nordic skiers.

 

November (average temps: L = -8C  H = 1C)

An annual early November highlight is the Banff Mountain Film & Book Festival that takes place at the Banff Centre: “Don’t miss nine epic days filled with stories of remote journeys, ground-breaking expeditions, and cutting-edge adventures told through the eyes of adventurers, authors, photographers, and filmmakers from around the globe.” By late November, the alpine ski resorts are opening up.  To find out when and where to go Nordic skiing, locals rely on Skier Bob.  As you have probably noticed by now, every month is perfect for Nordic walking and November is no exception!

 

December (average temps: L = -13C  H = -4C)

Winter is back and we love it!  Alpine skiing, Nordic skiing, back country skiing, ice climbing and fat biking are in full swing.  Christmas in Canmore is magical!  The winter scenery, coupled with the lively downtown vibe is irresistible.  The downtown decks itself out with Christmas lights and displays. Did you know that steps from the downtown core is the community skating pond?  Canmore Cave Tours is a happening place every month of the year and December is no exception when they host a series of Christmas concerts, “Spirit in the Mountain”, 100 metres underground in Rat’s Nest Cave.  A favourite Christmas activity of mine is a visit to the Malcolm Hotel for the spectacular Festival of Trees.

 

To book an Active by Nature experience, return to the Home Page. To book an experience with any one of my Adventure Hub partners including the companies mentioned here (Canmore Cave Tours, Canmore Raft Tours, Canmore Uncorked, Boundary Ranch, Float Canmore, Mad Dogs and Englishmen) you can use Active by Nature’s one stop shopping web portal:  Adventure Hub.

So concludes my selective overview of what do to in Canmore, month by month. This is simply scratching the surface! Canmore…. “we live it, you’ll love it” is the slogan of Tourism Canmore Kananaskis and I would add, “right on!” See you soon?

Mandy Johnson