Traffic, Trains and Tracks

In 2013, the residents of the Bow Valley, where the Bow River passes through, found out in a pretty spectacular way the nature of a Valley.  Even today, the cleanup and restoration of the valley after the 2013 flood is still underway.  At the time of the flood, all transit through the valley was at a standstill.

It’s important to understand the narrow channel that a valley represents.  Flowing through this narrow channel is the original means of valley creation, the river.  Sometimes powerful in Spring flood flow as the snow melts on the peaks and flows down into the river channel through many pathways.  Most of the time, the river provides a pleasant place to picnic, to float down on tubes, or an incredible sight as it tumbles down the mountain sides as stunning waterfalls.

Water in the valley continues to form the valley, slowly, over time, widening the passageways.  However, what we face today are some very narrow passageways and so many uses of those passageways.  The most obvious one people encounter is the Trans Canada Highway.  Often referred to with the phrase “follow the only road”, it is the one and only East/West roadway through the valley.  Travel on this road is pretty much a must for visitors to the valley.  You may choose to bike on it, tow your trailer or boat behind your car on it, truck commercial goods down it, hike it or view the mountain scenery from it, stopping along the way to take photos of the incredible views. Understand that since it is the only road into and out of the mountains, the traffic here can be quite heavy.  Be patient with each other and use the overflow parking lots and shuttle service to get to your destination.

Beside the highway, mostly traveling right next to it, is the railroad.  I don’t know why, but just watching the massive, red engines pulling a train of cars in one direction or the other puts a smile on my face.  Driving beside the train, you can catch up with it and pass it or watch it pass you as both forms of transportation travel in tandem through the valley with mountains on either side, twisting and turning around the base of these mountains along the curves first cut by the river waters.

Although, in Canmore, if you have to stop at one of the railroad crossings you may scowl at the time it takes for one of these long trains to pass by, keeping you from crossing from one side of the town to the other.  The good news is that the trains don’t often stop in Canmore and just breeze through as quickly as possible, keeping the wait times to a minimum.  Although at Christmas time, the CP Holiday Train usually makes a stop, featuring live music and fun for the whole family.

Transit through the valley is not for the exclusive use of humans either.  With the train and the highway traveling lengthwise through the valley, it is tricky for our local animals to cross from side to side of the valley.  This used to result in quite the carnage on the highways, until the fences were put up on either side of the highway and the brilliant animal bridges were built!  Now, although you don’t see them, our animal friends travel through the same valley we all use, leaving behind only tracks.

What is most fascinating in the local towns in the Bow Valley is driving through the town or waiting at a railroad crossing for a train to pass and standing nearby is a herd of Elk or other wildlife also waiting for the train to pass. You may even get to watch the wildlife cross at the walkways when the lights change!

Our roadways lie at the end of the rainbow! Come and visit our magical mountain town and experience life in the Bow Valley.

Sea in the Sky!

Gazing up in awe at the majestic lofty peaks of Mt. Rundle, The Three Sisters and others surrounding Canmore, who would imagine let alone believe these summits were once the bottom of ancient tropical seas!  Indeed, if one were to climb to the top, one would find the fossils of sea creatures 350 million years old! What tumultuous forces and how much time would be required to pull off such a feat?

To begin, understand that the age of the rocks and that of the mountains are not the same.  The Rocky Mountains are divided up into three sections from west to east – the Western Main Range extending from Golden, BC to just west of Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park.  The Eastern Main Range continuing from there to Castle Mountain in Banff National Park, and the Front Range extending from Castle Mountain to the eastern edge of the mountains including Banff and Canmore.  The even younger foothills extend east from the mountains to about Cochrane.  The Main Range mountains are composed of very hard 500 million year old flat-lying quartzite rock layers, while the Front Range mountains are severely tilted and largely composed of softer limestone and shale.

Mount Rundle and The Three Sisters are classic tilted Front Range mountains.  If you look closely, the mountains are comprised of three distinct layers, stacked one atop the other like a sandwich (see diagram below).  The lowest and oldest layer is the Palliser Formation formed as tropical sea sediments 366-363 million years ago.  This massive, thick layer is composed of Devonian age fossil-rich limestone and dolomite.  Being erosion resistant, it forms the steep cliffs that mountain climbers love to tackle.  Back then, these rocks were coral reefs like those in the Caribbean we see today.  Above this layer is The 360 to 350 million year old Mississippian – age Banff Formation of dark grey shale.  Because they are softer and weaker, this layer forms a more jagged stepped-back appearance.  The top and youngest layer is the 350 – 300 million year old Mississippian-age Rundle Formation of fossil-rich (mainly corals) limestone and dolomite.

Far to the West at the Pacific Ocean, new land was added to North America.  With continued pushing and rippling, the Front Ranges were thrust up over a period from 85 to 75 million years ago, 10 million years before the great sudden mass extinction of the dinosaurs.  Originally the Rocky Mountain chain extended over 500km wide but were “telescoped” together to less than half that width!  The rock had to go somewhere and was thrust up in a series of buckled and fractured earth shaking events.

At the top of our summits you will experience the youngest layer.  You can actually walk among, explore and touch an ancient 380 – 365 million year old Devonian age coral reef if you visit the Grassi Lakes above Canmore on the Spray Lakes Road.  This massive dark grey limestone dolomite complex known as the Fairholme Formation lies below the Palliser Formation and was formed in ancient clear warm tropical sea when this area was near the equator and at the edge of a continent.  These cliffs that surround the Grassi Lakes are over 300m thick and were subsequently buried by younger sediments that eventually turned to rock.  Note the unusual porous nature of the rock that resembles Swiss Cheese or a giant sponge.  These bubble cavities used to hold the oil and natural gas that is still present in the same rock layer under the prairies today. The petroleum here at the Grassi Lakes is now long gone so you won’t strike it rich unfortunately.  But if you look closely, you will discover other rewards such brachiopod, coral, snail and sponge fossils and First Nations pictographs can be seen.  Be sure you take only photos of these home with you.

Close-up of the ancient Devonian-age tropical reef complex of the Fairholme formation.  Note the coin in the lower left for scale

This is one of the best areas in the Rockies to observe such dramatic layering and subsequent differing erosion and is the reason visitors from all over the world come to Canmore to experience the majesty of the mountains. Whether you are here to experience the incredible scenery or up to deeper explorations of why it became what it did, those who take time to look will find the geological clues that explain the story of how seas became summits!

Photographer’s Passion

I once read from a famous photographer that to take beautiful photos, go to a beautiful place and wait for the right light conditions.  Well you can’t get a much more beautiful place than the Canadian Rocky Mountains and the spectacular views found all around.

There’s a multitude of subjects to photograph here: sunrises and sunsets, events, nature photos including animals, flowers, canyons, rivers, waterfalls, ground cover, clouds, and the incredible peaks that form the valley we enjoy.  There are seasonal photos, mood photos, and photos of people participating in various events and activities.  And there’s weddings.  Almost every weekend in the summer at least one or more weddings take place, most in outdoor locations and at venues around town.  There’s always something going on and always new eyes to see it.

When I first travelled to the Rocky Mountains of Canada, I took endless numbers of photos.  And yet, each of the results was flat and looked two-dimensional, only a mediocre representation of the breathless wonder I was trying to capture.  Over the years, I’ve learned techniques that use the light to generate shadows, the use of telephoto lenses to increase the depth of field and a focus on my subject that creates mood and illuminates what you are seeing and your unique perspective.  And I’m not the only one.  The Rocky Mountains attract large numbers of professional and amateur photographers.  Ask around and you will find someone to provide advice, someone to hire to capture your special event, someone to recommend places and spaces to take incredible shots and someone to share your photographic skills with.

Living in this unending beauty that is in constant change, provides new perspectives.  As a photographer it is your point of view that is critical to generating phenomenal photos.  How you frame the photo, the angle you take the photo from, the micro vs. macro view of your surroundings, the depth of perception with the use of foreground and background distances to generate dimensions, the lighting you use to highlight shadows or create a sense of the breathless magnificence surrounding you.  There’s an endless supply of advice, learning opportunities and places to practice while you are exploring or experiencing the activities or events of the season.

Whether you take your photos with your iPhone or Android device, or use a DSL camera with sophisticated lenses and filters etc., your photos can record a memory, be posted globally across the Internet, or can become something truly special.  So bring your camera when you travel to Canmore, you will be forever grateful that you did.  Just be careful when you use your selfie stick that you don’t walk off the edge of the cliff you are standing on or fall over a bridge!  And please, please, please respect the wildlife around you, they are wild and this is their wilderness. Be safe out there!





360 Degree Views

Here in Canmore, if you want to order a mountain view, you might have to specify which mountain you are interested in.  There are the iconic Three Sisters, a major landmark view to the South of the highway and East of downtown Canmore.



There is Lady MacDonald, to the North of the highway and East of downtown.  Then there is one part of Mount Rundle to the South of the highway and West of downtown.  Ha Ling South and West, Mount Shark and Mount Lougheed tucked in behind the Three Sisters to the South and East are in the Kananaskis Valley, and all of the other peaks in between these major sentinels.  Stand on any corner and turn around to see peaks in all directions!

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Each mountain has a unique personality and viewpoint.  Each one has crags and crannies, slopes to climb and explore and many, many ways to enjoy them.  From the Canmore Nordic Centre on the Spray Lakes road to Kananaskis, South of town, lies the pathway to Grassi Lakes and the pathways to climb the Three Sisters.  A little further down south on the same road, you can find the access points to hike Mount Shark and Mount Lougheed.  You can climb many of these on foot, on horseback, dogsled, or snowshoes, cross-country skis, or jog through the area.  Every season (360 degrees) brings new opportunities to explore in all directions.  Some of the slopes are easy to climb like the mountain roadway up to Grassi Lakes to see the incredible green lakes at the top.  Mountain climbers meet there and you can often see them scaling the sheer sides of the cliff looming above the Grassi Lakes.  Others bring picnic lunches and enjoy the lakes.

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Many families enjoy the pathways and if you go early in the morning, later at night or during the off-season, you may experience the utter serenity of the zen beauty to be found beside these amazing lakes.  In this way, 360 degrees can be vertical as well as horizontal!  Don’t forget to look down at your feet.  The layers of rock and vegetation can be as beautiful as the vast vistas.

If you are lucky, along the way, while you are enjoying the mountain views from a distance or up close and personal, you may also experience an encounter or two with our local wildlife.  They live in the mountains and we are the visitors to their home.  Sometimes they come down into the town or you may surprise them around a corner as you climb, drive through or get up and close with the mountain landscape.  The key here is to respect their space, their distance and help to keep them wild by refraining from feeding them.

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If you want more adventure and a serious climb, try Ha Ling or Lady MacDonald, or hike up the challenging route to the Grassi Lakes and experience the beauty of the massive waterfall.  If you want to stick with canyons and river valleys, try the river walk right from downtown Canmore.  A beautiful boardwalk has been built for your pleasure walking on water along the wetlands of the river valley.  Take a short drive to Chester Lake along the Spray Lakes road to climb to the shores.  Whatever direction you choose to go in, you will find beauty and an endless supply of mountain vistas.  Come and enjoy our 360 Degree views!


The Triple Crown of Canmore 2015 Season Begins!

Ha Ling PeakIt is officially time to kick off the 2015 hiking season and The Georgetown Inn’s Triple Crown of Canmore hiking challenge.

The Triple Crown challenges hikers to reach the summits of Lady MacDonald, Ha Ling Peak and the East End of Mt. Rundle. Hikers that do all three in one season, take their photos at each summit, and post those photos to The Georgetown’s Facebook page, win a pint glass that gets you discounts on refills from The Georgetown, a fantastic Triple Crown Conqueror tee shirt and bragging rights amongst your friends.

The Georgetown is also partnered with the Rocky Mountain Adaptive Sports Centre (RMASC) on this initiative. The RMASC is a Canmore organization that helps those with disabilities enjoy the incredible outdoor activities the Canadian Rockies have to offer. The Georgetown asks that once you complete the challenge, you donate to this wonderful organization at

If you happen to be participating in or checking out the Rocky Mountain Soap Women’s Run & Walk on May 23rd and 24th at the Canmore Nordic Centre, stop by The Georgetown’s booth to say hi and find out more about the Triple Crown challenge.

Experience Canmore Photo Contest – Summer 2015

Well it’s that time of year again!  The snows have gone (hopefully), the birds are singing and the smell of summer is in the air, which means that it’s time to launch the 2015 Experience Canmore Photo Contest. We had a number of fantastic submissions last year and can’t wait to see the photos start coming in for this season.

New this year, we will be accepting submissions via Facebook and Instagram.  Post your images to our Facebook page identifying them as contest entries or submit a pic via Twitter or Instagram using #experiencecanmore. As always, you can submit your pics by emailing them to with the subject line “Experience Canmore Photo Contest 2015”.

The Grand Prize Winner will be awarded a gift certificate for a two-night stay at any Waymarker Hospitality hotel. We will also be awarding a Secondary Prize to the best “Triple Crown of Canmore” picture; this picture must be taken on one of the three Triple Crown of Canmore day hikes (Lady MacDonald, The East End of Mt. Rundle or Ha Ling Peak). The Secondary Prize Winner will be awarded a $75.00 gift certificate for the Miner’s Lamp Pub in the Georgetown Inn.  We will also hand out a few runner-up prizes.

All images need to be from the Canmore/Kananaskis area but there is no restriction on when the photo was taken; there is also no restriction on the number of photos you can submit. The contest deadline is October 31, 2015 and winners will be announced on November 6, 2015.

Check out the Photo Contest page for more info and start submitting those pics!

Coffee to RAVE about in Canmore

I wouldn’t call myself a coffee connoisseur by any means but after travelling all over the world and tasting everything from espresso from the best cafes in Rome to hot coffee in a can from the vending machines of Hong Kong, I would say that I can probably identify a quality cup of coffee. After a long day of meetings in Canmore a few weeks ago, my boss and I decided to stop by the new coffee shop in town, RAVE Coffee.  From the moment you step inside, it’s apparent that RAVE is more than just a coffee shop.

RAVE Coffee in Canmore, AB

This roastery and cafe features a glass partition separating the coffee bar from the roaster allowing patrons to see the roastery in action. RAVE offers up a broad global selection of coffee beans sourced in small batches from small farms; this means that the farmers are paid more for their coffee and RAVE gets premium quality product.

RAVE Coffee in Canmore, AB

The business itself is a branch of RAVE Coffee based in Cirencester in the United Kingdom. Dean Smolicz, an eight-year resident of Canmore, worked with the owners, his aunt and uncle, at the U.K. location before deciding to set up the sister roastery in Canmore in August 2014.

With single origin coffee, blends, espresso and more, not to mention a coffee subscription where you can receive a bag of freshly roasted coffee on a monthly basis delivered directly to your doorstep, RAVE is sure to become a staple for all of the Bow Valley’s coffee lovers.

Although the cafe was minutes away from closing when my boss and I stopped in, the staff were friendly, helpful and knowledgeable.  This is a big part of RAVE’s vision, a commitment to supporting their staff and providing exceptional customer service. Overall, my experience at RAVE was great, and they definitely delivered a quality cup of coffee.

RAVE Coffee in Canmore, AB

RAVE is open Monday to Friday from 8:00 am until 5:00 pm and Saturday to Sunday from 9:00 am until 3:00 pm.  They are located at 113-702 Bow Valley Trail in Canmore, Alberta. For more info on their coffee, location, subscriptions and more, check out their website at


Experience Canmore Photo Contest 2014

Another photo contest wrapped up! Thank you to everyone who submitted an image and special congratulations to the winners. We will be launching a new photo contest soon so stay tuned for details.

We received a number of submissions this year and the judges had quite the time selecting the winners. You can check out all of the photo submissions on our Facebook page. Here are the winners:

Grace Lim and The Stand Up Paddleboard

First Place: Grace Lim and The Stand Up Paddleboard

Antar Fuentes and The Hike

Second Place: Antar Fuentes and The Hike

The View

Third Place: Melissa Faulkner and The View

Meagan Oneil and The Wolves

Honourable Mention: Meagan Oneil and The Wolves

Al Barr and The Triple Crown of Canmore

Triple Crown of Canmore Category: Al Barr and The Triple Crown





Experience Canmore Summer 2014 Photo Contest

First, we would like to congratulate Jeff Laidlaw who was our Fall 2013 Photo Contest Winner.

Jeff Laidlaw Image

Jeff Laidlaw Image

We are very excited to announce the beginning of our Summer 2014 Photo Contest.  The Grand Prize Winner will be awarded a gift certificate for a two-night stay at any Waymarker Hospitality hotel. We will also be awarding a Secondary Prize to the best “Triple Crown of Canmore” picture; this picture must be taken on one of the three Triple Crown of Canmore day hikes (Lady Macdonald, Mt. Rundle, South and Ha Ling Peak). The Secondary Prize Winner will be awarded a $75.00 gift certificate for the Miner’s Lamp Pub in the Georgetown Inn.

Ha Ling Peak

Ha Ling Peak

The submitted photo(s) must be from the Canmore/Kananaskis area but there is no restriction on when the photo was taken, so scour through those old albums and send us what you have.

Email your pictures to with the subject line “Experience Canmore Photo Contest 2014” by October 31, 2014. We will announce our winner on Facebook, Twitter and on the blog on November 10, 2014.

We can’t wait to see all the amazing images you submit. The mountains are calling, and you could win great prizes if you take pictures of them!

Get the elastic waist pants out and come to Canmore!

Canmore is kicking off the first annual Canmore Uncorked Food and Drink Festival April 3rd to 12th. So much to see, drink and eat for the whole family, you’re not going to want to miss this.

Kicking things off, starting every night from the 3rd of April, with 26 of Canmore’s best restaurants offering 3-course meals from $19-$39 per person.  See what the locals are always raving about at their favorite eatery. Don’t forget to pick up your passport to be stamped at each location; your passport will be your entry into the Grand Prize Draw with over $4000 in prizes available to win. You can pick up your passport at the visitors centre.

Want to get a little fancier? Try this crazy idea with your friends and partners. Canmore is offering a Progressive Dinner Tour. There are three tours to choose from, and each tour is guided by a local celebrity AND you are provided with transportation. Each progressive dinner tour hits up 4 local restaurants with their signature dish, and paired with their signature drink or wine. What an amazing opportunity to see the town, eat delicious food and drink responsibly. You need to go online to purchase your tickets for this event ASAP as tickets are limited at the Tourism Canmore website.

Feeling like you want to indulge more in beer and wine? On April 5th there will be a Craft Beer Festival with over 30 unique beers to taste and vote on your favorite. Held at Stewart Creek Golf Course, an easy walk downtown will get you access to the complimentary shuttle to and from the event. The bus runs back and forth every 10 minutes. As for your wine cravings, the Radisson will be hosting the Canmore Wine Festival April 12th. 60 different wines, 10 different scotches and gourmet appetizers await! Both events require you to book ahead online at the Tourism Canmore website. The Craft Beer Festival is $35 and the Wine Festival is $45, both require you to bring Government Issued Photo ID and no minors will be permitted.

For a fun night of laughter and community togetherness, on April 11th, bundle and cozy up next to your friends and people you’ll soon make friends with, as Canmore unleashed the Long Table Dinner. 150 people, 6 courses and one fun night under the stars and maybe a little rain or snow to celebrate and sample some local favorites. Tickets again will be sold online on the Tourism Canmore website. Make sure you bring your camera and wear warm boots as this is outside at Millenium Park with no shelter.

And last but not least, looking for an intimate night of cooking with friends, join chefs from around the Bow Valley as they take over the Paintbox Lodge and demonstrate their style of cooking, and secrets to their craft. The Gourmet Cooking School will take place every night during the Uncorked Festival. You need to make reservations and purchase tickets online at the Tourism Canmore website.

For more details and for tickets please visit the Tourism Canmore website and ENJOY!!