The Famous Burmis Tree, near Crowsnest Pass


There is quite a bit to see, as you travel along the Crowsnest Highway, especially when you reach the final 30 kilometers or so (19 miles) before Crowsnest Pass.  You’ve officially entered the historic Crowsnest Heritage area, when you see the Burmis Tree at the side of the road (on the right, when you’re westbound).

The Burmis Tree has been dead for decades.  This Limber Pine tree probably survived some 300 years, before its needles breathed a last gasp of carbon dioxide, sometime around 1978.  Thanks to its location on a small ridge, with an impressive mountain backdrop, the Burmis Tree became a popular subject for photographers.  It has been said to be the most photographed tree in Canada.

I’m not sure if the dead limbs nearby are part of the Burmis tree, or perhaps some less-famous plant.

The town of Burmis is nearby, although very little is left of this coal town, that sprang up around 1910. Lumber operations helped revitalize Burmis from the 30’s into the 50’s, but now only a few homes and structures remain.
You might notice that the Burmis Tree needs a little support, which is understandable for a tree that’s been dead for more than three decades.  In 1998, the wind blew it down, and volunteers propped it back up.  Then in 2004, vandals sliced off one of its branches.  Again, the tree was repaired.

For westbound travelers, there’s plenty of room to pull off of Highway 3 near the Burmis Tree. Eastbound travelers should pass the tree, then make a u-turn. You’re free to climb up to the tree, just be careful if it’s snowy. You can go from a rock to a deep drift with little warning.

Once you leave the Burmis Tree, headed west, you’re almost at the town of Bellevue – our next stop. We’re also getting close to a clearer view of those mountains, which surround the Crowsnest Highway for the next few kilometers.

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