There are never-ending ways to explore Canmore and the surrounding wilderness on foot, but consider discovering the beauty of the Rockies from a different vantage point. Pack up the car and hit the road this spring on one of the many scenic drives that wind throughout Canmore and Kananaskis. Read on to learn more about some of the area’s best scenic routes to explore throughout the warmer months.

Kananaskis Valley via Highway 40

One of the most popular scenic drives in the Canmore area—also known as the Kananaskis Wildlife Drive—can be broken into two parts. Following the Kananaskis River, Highway 40 cuts through the valley between the TransCanada Highway and Peter Lougheed Provincial Park. Highway 40 branches south from the TransCanada Highway, and Canoe Meadows is the first noteworthy stop along the route. This day-use area includes a picnic site, a white-water rafting slalom course as well as man-made obstacles and gates for kayakers.

South of Canoe Meadows is the Barrier Lake Information Centre and Barrier Lake, which offers a picnic area, an official trail that winds across the dam and opportunities to walk along the southern lakeshore. Highway 40 continues past the south end of Barrier Lake—and a lesser-known picnic area—on to Mount Lorette Ponds.

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Four kilometres south of the ponds lies Kananaskis Village, which was the heart of the action during the 1988 Winter Olympics. Continue travelling 15 kilometres from the village to reach Wedge Pond, surrounded by a one-kilometre trail that offers stunning views of Mount Kidd.

Smith-Dorrien/Spray Trail through Spray Valley Provincial Park

The second-part of the Kananaskis Wildlife Drive extends from Peter Lougheed Park up the Smith-Dorrien/Spray Trail through Spray Valley Provincial park. From Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, the road passes Mud Lake and Mount Engadine Lodge before entering Spray Valley Provincial Park. The Smith-Dorrien Spray Trail passes lakefront picnic areas, breathtaking mountain views such as Mount Sparrowhawk and winds past Goat Pond before making a steep descent into Canmore.

Beginning at Three Sisters Mountain Village, the Kananaskis Wildlife Drive takes approximately three hours to complete when travelling at a leisurely pace.

Highway 546 through the Sheep River Valley

Immediately south of the Elbow River Valley is the Sheep River Valley, an area between sprawling open ranchlands and mountain peaks bordering Elbow-Sheep Wildland Provincial Park. The route can be accessed from Turner Valley along Highway 546, and the Kananaskis Country boundary is 25 kilometres west of Turner Valley. The highway follows Sheep River for 21 kilometres to Bluerock Creek, and attractions along the route include Sandy McNabb Campground, interpretive trails, Sheep River Provincial Park—ideal for bighorn sheep sightings—and Sheep River Falls. This scenic drive takes approximately four-and-a-half hours to complete from Three Sisters Mountain Village.

Highwood/Cataract Creek

This route stretches from Peter Lougheed Provincial Park to the southern border of Kananaskis Country, with its most dominant feature being the Highwood Mountains. The alpine meadows of the area are home to bighorn sheep, elk and grizzly bears. The higher elevations of the route are protected by Don Getty Wildland Provincial Park, and Highway 532, branching west from Highway 22 approximately 37 kilometres south of Longview, winds past Indian Graves Campground before climbing to Plateau Mountain.

Forestry Trunk Road, also known as Highway 940, heads south towards Crowsnest Pass. Keep in mind this road is unpaved, but it’s worth the drive to see Livingstone Falls. If the drive is started at Three Sisters Mountain Village, it will take approximately five hours to complete.