Head north for snow, steak, and odd underground adventures.
Canmore, Alberta, abuts a stunning jigsaw skyline of local summits and sits just 16 miles east of 1.6-million-acre Banff National Park, making it adventure central in the Canadian Rockies. All those nearby peaks make the town the stomping grounds of hardcore icons like climber Will Gadd, but you don’t have to climb WI16 to find fun in this region ringed by wilderness—mere mortals can enjoy everything from fat biking to hot toddies on a deck here come winter.
For a taste of classy Canadian cuisine with no attitude, head to the 22-year-old bistro, Crazyweed Kitchen (crazyweed.ca). Don’t be fooled by the casual atmosphere—the 10-ounce grass-fed ribeye with gorgonzola, pickled mushrooms and cripsy onion strings outdoes showstoppers in far snobbier eateries.
For a mellow vibe and space to play outside, book a room at the Pomeroy Kananaskis Mountain Lodge (lodgeatkananaskis.com), south of Canmore, near Boundary Ranch and Fortress Mountain. Wind down from a day of adventure in the warm-cold plunge pools, heated hammocks, exfoliation huts and oil-infused saunas at the lodge’s Kananaskis Nordic Spa, which opened in 2018.
Jumpstart the morning climbing columns of ice in Johnston Canyon via ice climbing with Yamnuska Mountain Adventures (yamnuska.com), followed by afternoon fat biking on Canmore’s snowy singletrack with Ryan Draper, the General Manager of Rebound Cycle (reboundcycle.com). Draper, a former professional endurance cyclist and owner of Cycling 101 Coaching, knows the goods. The next day, explore the Rat’s Nest Cave, which is home to 2.5 miles of tunnels. An Alberta Provincial Historic Site, the cave protects 3,000-year-old prehistoric tools, the bones of dozens of creatures and geological wonders like speleothems, scallops and 900,000-year-old nub rocks that absorb and refract light. Canmore Cave Tours (canmorecavetours.com), the site’s sole commercial operator, guides spelunkers through the Bone Bed Pit, Laundry Chute, Hose-Pipe Passage, the Grand Staircase—with crystal clear pools—and the Grotto, where soda straws glimmer with purple and neon-green minerals above bright blue water. When you get back above ground, families and kiddos can head south to steer dog sleds with Mad Dogs & Englishman tours at Boundary Ranch (boundaryranch.com), owned by hunting guide Rick Guinn—star of the film “Buffalo Rider”—or snowshoe with White Mountain Adventures (whitemountainadventures.com) on Fortress Mountain.