Best Scenic Drives in Canmore

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Written by Madison Valois posted on Friday, July 31st, 2009

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Seeing the Scenery in Canmore

Combine rolling prairie meadows with spectacular views on a scenic drive from Canmore, Alberta.

Combine rolling prairie meadows with spectacular views on a scenic drive from Canmore, Alberta.

CANMORE, Alberta – One thing you are bound to notice while on vacation in Canmore and Kananaskis: all of the drives are simply beautiful.

Picking out the best of them is not the easiest thing in the world to do! But we here at gave it a shot and have recommended a few we think are the best of the best.

The Smith-Dorrien Spray Trail

Route: Canmore to Highway 40 near Lower Kananaskis Lake.

Condition: Lots of gravel; rough in sections; steep winding grade near Canmore

Time: 1 ¼ hours

This road gives you back way access to Peter Lougheed provincial park and Spray Lakes, popular for ice fishing, skating and boating. You’ll enter moose territory, pass Mt. Engadine Lodge (which we recommend for lunch or just a tea/drink break) and emerge out on Highway 40 by the winter gate.


Highway 40 to Kananaskis Village

Route: As labeled

Condition: Paved, maintained

Time: 45 minutes

Simply beautiful driving. You’ll find a lot of places to picnic and stop for the views. You’ll also find a world-class golf course at Kananaskis Village, two ski hills (Fortress Mountain and Nakiska), and thousands of kilometers of hiking trails.


Highway 40 South to Longview

Route: As labeled (closed Dec. 1 through June 14 inclusive)

Condition: Paved, maintained when open

Time: 2 hours

A summer drive you simply must take. You’ll start from the winter gate and traverse huge, broad valleys with deciduous trees; the alpine splendor of Highwood Pass, followed by narrow canyons, mini-waterfalls and then open prairie.

Turn around and go back through again; it’s definitely worth it. You’ll have two options: Turn south on Highway 22 and continue to Waterton Lakes National Park; or turn north and drive back through ranch country. You may think it looks familiar – and you are right. The area acted as the “set”  of the Clint Eastwood western “Unforgiven”.


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