Hidden away in the heart of the Canadian Rockies of Alberta is the charming town of Canmore. Once a booming mining town, Canmore is now an excavator of Olympic gold. However, one needs to only roam the streets of Canmore to walk amongst some of the best athletes in the world.
Skiers, cyclists, rock climbers, and fellow athletes will find themselves in heaven in Canmore. With beautiful scenery, mountains for days, and great weather, it’s the perfect arena for Olympic dreamers and novice outdoor enthusiasts alike. The Nordic Centre caters to a wide assortment of athletes, with a grab bag of terrain to appease cyclists, skiers, and even disc golfers. If you’re looking for a supervised outdoor experience, look no further than Yamnuska Mountain Adventures. With guided mountaineering, rock climbing, and skiing excursions, Yamnuska is happy to introduce everyone to the beauty of the great outdoors.
If you want to mingle with Olympians without breaking a sweat, you can stay at the Paintbox Lodge, owned by Olympic medalist Sara Renner and husband, World Cup champion, Thomas Grandi. Located in the heart of downtown Canmore and within walking distance of most of the town, the Paintbox Lodge is the perfect place to truly get a feel for the town.
What’s incredible about Canmore is that there is literally something for everyone. It’s home to a great brewery, countless unique dining experiences, and a laundry list of extreme activities. Canmore has also been designated as a wildlife corridor. The area offers local wildlife, such as bears, wolves, elk, and cougars, a protected place to breed, hunt, and escape predators. That in turn makes for great animal spotting for us humans. Take notice of the ubiquitous bear-proof receptacles. Remember that if you do encounter wildlife, keep your distance. They can attack if they feel threatened. Be smart and stand in awe at a distance.
The beer connoisseur needs to look no further than the brand spanking new Grizzly Paw Brewery. I dare say that the brewmaster should rather be labeled as yeast shepherd. He corrals, monitors, and cares for the yeast, hops, and barley that will eventually be served to you in a glass. The Grizzly Paw treats their guests just as lovingly as they treat their beers. A tour of the new brewery will have you using all of your senses. You’ll literally walk through the entire brewing process, smelling the hops, tasting the surprisingly delicious barley, and sampling some of the best beer in the province. If beer isn’t your forte, The Grizzly Paw also offers their homemade sodas, such as a black cherry cola or a refreshing ginger beer. Go for the experience, but stay for the beer.
Dining in Canmore is an art in and of itself. With many unique restaurants along the main road, it’s a foodie paradise. We were lucky enough to eat at the Grizzly Paw, owned by the same management as the brewery. When ordering your burger you get the choice of your meat preference. While you can’t go wrong with Alberta beef, I’m definitely going to try the bison next time. The house salad with beets was a great recommendation by our server and I could have made a meal out of that alone.
Viewfinder Tip: Mix and mingle at Zona’s Late Night Bistro for a taste of Canmore.
After asking a handful of locals where we had to eat while in Canmore, we found ourselves at Zona’s Late Night Bistro. Don’t let the name fool you. We were starving and wandered in a little after 5 o’clock in the evening. The menu offers a wide array of brilliant flavor combinations. After much deliberation, we decided on the Thai coconut chicken lasagna along with the mushroom strudel.
Canmore deals in extremes. Between the intense outdoor activities, supreme food, and sovereign beer, this mountain city has it all. The next time you find yourself in Alberta, be sure to swing by this magical town.
What’s your favorite outdoor activity?