Never been here before & want some local beta?
If you’re coming to the Canadian Rockies to ride for the first time, here’s some info to jump-start your planning.
No matter the season, remember that this is a wild area in more ways than one. We have deep respect for our wildlife neighbours and encourage visitors to follow suit. Please make noise when riding, carry bear spray (and know how to use it) and ride with your canine pals leashed. If you’d like more info on recreating in the Rockies, please click here.
Where to stay: Canmore
During Plaid Goat, we have a number of great hotel partners looking forward to hosting you and are offering festival discounts. Check out the list here and contact them directly for booking details.
Where to stay: Kananaskis
Before, during or after Plaid Goat, sneak out to Kananaskis and stay at the foot of the trails in one of Alberta’s most spectacular gems. Not only will you enjoy the mellow vibe of K-Country, but the trails and views will knock your socks off. Be sure to book your stay with Pomeroy Kananaskis Mountain Lodge, which is a beautifully situated hotel who loves mountain bikers (therefore, we love them!).
While in Kananaskis, check out Prairie View/Jewel Pass, Cox Hill, Jumpingpound Ridge or Baldy Pass and if you need riding supplies or other recommendations, Kananaskis Outfitters has got your back winter or summer.
Where to stay: Camping
There’s not a ton of camping right in the town of Canmore, but you’ll find more close by. Here’s a list across the immediate Bow Valley:
Canmore and area:
- Spring Creek RV Campground
- Bow River Campground
- Wapiti Campground
- Three Sisters Campground
- Spray Lakes West Campground
Banff National Park:
Managed by Parks Canada, ride and stay in Canada’s first National Park:
- Two Jack
- Main or Lakeside
- Tunnel Mountain Village
- Lake Louise
Managed by Alberta Parks, here are some beautiful campgrounds to consider:
Peter Lougheed Provincial Park
- 6 Campgrounds
- 2 Group Camps
- 1 Campground
Spray Valley Provincial Park
- 2 Campgrounds
When you ride here in the summer, remember we have a lot of wildlife, so here are some quick tips:
- Ride with bear spray (and know how to use it)
- Bear call your butt off (human voice is better than anything)
- Bear bells don’t work, so ditch the annoying ding-a-lings
- Ride in groups when possible
- Carnivores are more active during dawn and dusk
- Off leash dogs are a no-no hear, so please don’t go there
- Riding with earbuds or having music playing isn’t the best practice as you can’t hear
- Leave no trace
- Have fun in our beautiful area!
Many shops rent bear spray if you’re just here for a short while. Get more great info via Bow Valley WildSmart.
The style of mountain biking in our area is generally all mountain or cross country. Though there are a couple of shuttle-able areas [Moose Mountain (West Bragg Creek), Reclaimer (Canmore), etc.] we mostly ride up to get our downs.
Canmore and area (Kananaskis and Banff included) have a reputation for steep ups. The level of technical difficulty will vary depending on your riding style and experience. There’s a great deal of intermediate riding with different distances. In Canmore, shorter to mid-length loops can build into long endurance laps (Nordic Centre) and in Kananaskis Country you’ll be sure to enjoy some phenomenal lung busting alpine gems.
Riding in Banff National Park is its own awesome experience and though there are less km of trails, the variety of riding experiences is sure to satisfy most any rider.
One thing to note is that the signage in the area is improving and seeing ongoing developments… bare with us as the area’s mountain bike groups continue working with land managers to enhance way finding. Trailforks is surely to be your navigation weapon of choice or feel free to pop by any of our local bike shops to get beta or jump on a group ride.
If it rains, be sure to enjoy some of our awesome culinary options or check out our quaint local shops. In our climate, trails tend to dry out quickly so if moisture comes, you’ll generally be back at it in no time. Note: exposed tree roots can be very slippery here, so heads up if it rains.
Fat biking has exploded and enabled the two wheel obsessed to ride all year round. If you don’t have a fat bike, be sure to rent one at any of our local shops and keep an eye out for group rides to tag onto. These happen year round in our area! Note: where riding all winter long is possible, we do suggest studded tires for best traction.
Where should I ride?
Though you can always check out Trailforks, we strongly recommend coming into the shops for some mountain bike specific beta and local riding tips! Here’s who to talk to depending on where you’re riding:
Jasper & Hinton:
How to get around
Though some people prefer to be independent in their own car, if you want to freewheel it, remember the Bow Valley has one of the best local airport shuttle companies going. The Banff Airporter will pick you up in style and has drop offs in Canmore and Banff, all with great Canadian Rockies customer service. Can you tell we’re big fans? Click here to check them out.
Once you get here, the regional bus service is fantastic and you guessed it, is bike friendly. The name of the transit service is Roam and it will easily and comfortably move you around the Bow Valley. Click here to learn more.