Banff may have better name recognition, but its neighbor to the southeast is every bit as charming. Canmore is the first mountain town you’ll encounter, as you drive into the Rockies from Calgary. And just like Banff, Canmore offers a tourist-friendly downtown, filled with restaurants and gift shops.
There are also plenty of hotels in Canmore — and your odds of finding a good price are much better here. Banff is only about 25 kilometers up the road, so you’ll be able to get to Banff within 20 minutes.
Canmore’s Main Street stretches for several blocks, and just like Banff, it’s surrounded by mountains. During my visit in March, the streets were clear of snow, and it didn’t appear that any of the businesses had shut down for winter. That’s not surprising, since several ski resorts are just a short distance up the road. Also, Canmore is home to the Canmore Nordic Centre Provincial Park, which stays busy throughout winter with cross-country skiing (and during the summer, with mountain biking, roller-skiing, and disc golf).
While in downtown Canmore, I’d recommend you make a stop at the candy store, located under the clock tower. It has the most impressive collection of Pez candy dispensers that I’ve ever seen. The walls, and even the ceiling, are covered with Pez.
Jumping ahead a bit, as I headed back to my hotel in Canmore at the end of Day 6, I happened upon some of the town’s wildlife. Just off Trans Canada 1, on the Palliser Trail frontage road, I came upon a huge herd of elk. They were moseying along the side of the road, mostly oblivious to the handful of tourists who had stopped to take pictures.
I felt like I was in a drive-through zoo. I didn’t need to get out of the car, instead I just rolled along the side of the road, taking pictures out the window.
The herd went about its business of munching on grass…
… and strutting along, occasionally challenging one another.
It wasn’t until later, that I realized my Drivelapse camera had been rolling the entire time.
Check out the time-lapse video, especially the final 1:30 or so.