Tombstone Mountain

Page Type
Alberta, Canada, North America
9957 ft / 3035 m
11224 Hits
81.84% Score
Log in
to vote
Page By:
Tombstone Mountain
Created On: Jul 27, 2005
Last Edited On: Mar 31, 2013


Tombstone Mountain (not to be confused with a mountain of the same name in British Columbia) sits in behind the Opal Range and specifically Mount Elpoca located in the Highwood Pass region of Kananaskis Provincial Park which encompasses over 4,000 square kilometers of foothills and mountains bordering Banff National Park in the central Canadian Rockies. Six officially named mountains share this small range. Dr. Dawson officially named Mount Tombstone in 1884 as he perceived the slabs near the summit resembled tombstones.
Dow Williams Dow Williams Dow Williams Dow Williams Dow Williams
Tombstone Mountain has a double summit and the only published route is a moderate scramble that ascends the southern (true) summit, unofficially named Tombstone South. The approach into this climb via the Big Elbow Trail is one of the most scenic sub-alpine areas I have traveled through in the Canadian Rockies. You are afforded good views of the Mount Rae Glacier from this approach as well. This scramble can be a full if not long day. The summit view includes close ups of Mts. Assiniboine, Sarrail and the Royal Group as well as tarns in the lush valley behind Tombstone.

Getting There

Take the Kananaskis Trail (Highway 40) exit off of the Trans-Canada Highway between Calgary and Canmore. Drive 12 km+ south of the Kananaskis Trail-Kananaskis Lakes junction (gate) to the Elbow Pass parking area on your left. Kananaskis Trail is closed from December 1 through June 15, and I do mean with a gate. The closure is at Kings Creek (Canyon), meaning no access to any of the Highwood area mountains prior to June 15th, except by ski or bike.

Red Tape

There are no permit requirements to enter, climb and/or park in Kananaskis Provincial Park. This is active grizzly country however. Take bear spray. As of July, 2005, we have current trail closures in this area of Kananaskis due to a mountain lion (protecting its kill) and grizzly with cubs (bluff charge). Therefore it is prudent to check recent notices posted on the bulletin board outside of park headquarters which you drive by on Highway 40 (Kananaskis Trail). If they are open, check in with the ranger staff, they have tons of beta and are always friendly. Horses are allowed and common on the trails used for this approach.

When To Climb

As with most climbs in the Canadian Rockies, the driest time is from June through September. I climbed Mount Tombstone in August and it was in dry condition. There are no published backcountry ski routes up Mount Tombstone nor would I suspect this to be a mountain worth trying to put up a ski route due to the narrow ridge.


The closest camping is a backcountry site on approach at Elbow Lake, 1.3 km from the parking area on Big Elbow Trail. There is another campground 6.8 km from the parking area on Big Elbow Lake Trail called the Tombstone campsite. There are tons of camping options further north at Kananaskis Lakes. You cannot camp outside of the marked specific camping areas in Kananaskis. Refer to the Kananaskis Provincial Park website for more information regarding camping and/or lodging.

Mountain Conditions

The Kananaskis Provincial Park website is a very thorough park website, including trail conditions or closures, wildlife notices, weather conditions, avalanche conditions, camping permits, whitewater conditions, etc. It is an excellent source if you are going to spend any time here and comparable to any National Park website I have used. Outside of the parks web site, Canadian Avalanche Association is also useful, particularly for winter travel.

External Links

  • 100’s of Canadian Rockies multi-pitch rock climbs, ice climbs, alpine climbs and scrambles, just scroll down to routes
  • OR: Best True Technical Clothing and Accessories in the Outdoor Industry
  • Scarpa, has surpassed La Sportiva in terms of quality, function, value
  • Osprey Backpacks, Not a Second Choice
  • Great Outdoors Depot
  • Mont-Bell
  • Cascade Designs (MSR; Thermarest; Platypus)

  • Tombstone Mountain

    11 Images 3 Climber's Log Entries 4 Comments 0 Additions & Corrections


    1 Routes


    Nearby Mountains & Rocks Interactive Map Mountains & Rocks in Canada


    Opal RangeMountains & Rocks
    Canadian Rockies ScramblesMountains & Rocks
    Highwood PassMountains & Rocks
    KananaskisMountains & Rocks
    Kananaskis 3000+ ’ersMountains & Rocks