Canada is a massive and beautiful country with endless adventures to be had. It’s no wonder that The New York Times and the Lonely Planet named Canada the number one place to visit for 2017. To celebrate our country’s 150th anniversary, we rounded up the best Canada Adventures from our experiences criss-crossing the land. Plus, we recruited the help of several top Canadian travel bloggers to share their favourite Canadian adventures too!
To skip to your preferred area of Canada just click the links:
Canadian Adventures from Coast to Coast
Starting from the East Coast and then moving north, west and everywhere in between, these are the most epic adventures in all of Canada for outdoor lovers. Enjoy!
Nova Scotia: Tidal Bore Rafting
The Bay of Fundy is home to the world’s highest tides. One of the best things you can do to truly understand the power and magnitude of this rushing water is to ride the waves as the tide comes in with brute force. And how do you do that? You go Tidal Bore Rafting on zodiacs as the Bay of Fundy pours into the Shubenacadie River.
Nova Scotia: Circle the Cabot Trail
The Cabot Trail is one of Canada’s Ultimate Scenic Highways. Located on Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island, The Cabot Trail is a rite of passage for many Canadians hoping to explore the best scenic stops in the country. There’s hiking, kayaking, scenic views, and wildlife. You can rush around the Cabot Trail in a day, but it requires a week to truly see it all.
Newfoundland: Spy on Puffins
When visiting Newfoundland, aside from getting screeched in and going iceberg hunting, you should also be on the look out for adorable puffins. The best place to find these unique seabirds is in the small town of Elliston, Newfoundland, population 337. Once an active fishing community, tourism to see the puffins is the main business these days. The best time to see the birds is from May to September and they can always be found at the Puffin Viewing Site rain or shine. Admission is free to get on to the land to see these wild birds, however donations are accepted. See the video at Puffin Encounters in Elliston Newfoundland
Labrador: Visit the Torngats
Torngat Mountains National Park and the adventures that exist along Labrador’s scenic but stark and rugged coast, alongside ancient rocks 3.8+ billion years old, aren’t overwhelmingly well known. However, the destination deserves a spot high up on the wish list. Since becoming the country’s 42nd national park, visits to the remote park have increased thanks to the draw of spending time with Inuit elders who call the unspoiled landscape, home. Imagine a vast region where polar bears rule the treacherous but mightily beautiful landscape.
Surrounded by 3,000-foot sheer cliffs, magnificent fjords, rolling green hillsides and raging seas full of massive icebergs, it’s an incredible sight to behold, yet not to be underestimated. Adventure seekers stay at a basecamp connecting to ‘the place of spirits.’ The Torngats offers the maritime journey of a lifetime. While taking in immense tree-barren beauty, visitors can explore nearby islands, fish for char, hike for views and perhaps even learn to throat sing.
Newfoundland and Labrador: Hike The East Coast Trail
All of Newfoundland is fantastically rugged and beautiful, and one of the best things about even living in the city of St. John’s is having full access to the East Coast Trail—26 wilderness paths connecting 30 communities covering 300 kilometres of coastline. The trails vary in difficulty and terrain, but they all hug the Atlantic and give way to sea stacks, fjords, lighthouses, sheer cliffs, and more.
Unless you’re a super skilled long-distance hiker, it’s not exactly easy to go the distance all in one shot (although camping is fine). Amenities are sparse. But you can also explore the East Coast Trail in bits and pieces, like most locals do. Some of my favourite routes close to the city include the North Head trail to the top of Signal Hill, the Sugarloaf Trail from Quidi Vidi Village to Logy Bay, and the Father Troy’s Trail (pictured here) from Flatrock. I’ve lived here for over 10 years, and these views never get old. Read the Rest at From Quidi Vidi to Sugarloaf, Hiking the East Coast Trail
Newfoundland – Hike to Gros Morne Summit
This treasured UNESCO World Heritage site was formed more than 1.2 billion years ago and represents a rare example of a continental drift, a process where deep ocean crust and the rocks of the earth’s mantle are exposed. In other words, it’s incredible and one of the best things to do in Canada. One of the best ways to experience the park is to get a jaw-dropping view by hiking to the Gros Morne summit, which sits at 806 meters.
While this may not seem that high, the views are astounding. Plus, you may see a moose! In fact, my wife and I saw three during our hike. We saw the mama, papa, and the baby. I’ve never stood so close to a moose in my life and I grew up in Canada! While you should be in moderate shape to make this climb, we did see a variety of folks along the way including seniors, families, and people walking their dog. It takes about 1.5 hours to reach the summit and only about an hour to get back down. Read all about it at Live Limitless Gros Morne National Park
New Brunswick: Kouchibougua National Park
Kouchibouguac is the lesser-known of New Brunswick’s two National Parks, but this natural gem is well worth going out of your way to visit. Its tongue-twister name is pronounced Koo-she-boo-guac and means ‘river of long tides’ in Mi’kmaq, the local First Nation’s language. The diversity packed into the park’s 238 square kilometres is staggering. Bogs, forests, estuaries, and rivers are all teeming with plant and animal species, but Kouchibougiac’s most notable feature is its long stretch of pristine sandy beaches, flanked by dunes.
This part of the Northumberland Straight boasts the warmest salt water north of Virginia, making Kouchibouguac heaven for water sports. If swimming in the surf doesn’t get your heart pumping, hop on your bike and pedal the 60km of cycling trails. For adrenaline junkies, rent a Fat Bike and try the dedicated 6km mountain biking trail. Or, strap on a daypack and set out on one of the park’s 10 hiking trails. Camping at Kouchibouguac ranges from comfortable fully-serviced sites to off-grid, backwoods adventures, so there’s something for every style of traveller. Kouchibouguac’s slogan is ‘difficult to pronounce… impossible to forget,’ and if you make the trek to New Brunswick’s Acadian Coast for a visit, you’ll know exactly why. Read 8 Reasons to visit Kouchibouguac National Park
New Brunswick: Walk on the Ocean Floor at Hopewell Cape
Canada’s Bay of Fundy boasts the highest tides in the world, and there’s no better place to see the effect of this natural wonder than at Hopewell Cape, New Brunswick. Here, twice daily, the tide rises and falls an incredible 40 feet or so, and when the water recedes you can actually walk on the ocean floor around the exposed rock formations near the shore.
Sculpted by both water and wind, these “flowerpot” rock towers are dramatic and iconic, with names like Dinosaur Rock, Lover’s Arch, and Castle Rock. They are constantly being eroded by the forces of nature: in fact, in 2016 one of the largest formations (known as Elephant Rock) suffered a minor collapse that changed its silhouette yet again – testament to the power of the Bay’s tides.
See our video of Kayaking the Bay of Fundy on the Nova Scotia side
Visit Hopewell Cape at high tide and you can kayak around the flowerpots. Or, go at low tide and you can walk on the exposed ocean floor around them. Whichever you do, plan to visit this wonder of the world twice so you can see both extremes, and the dramatic changes these tides have on this unique Canadian shoreline. Read more at Jane’s: Going with the Flow on the Bay of Fundy
Prince Edward Island: Stay in a Lighthouse
It would be difficult to find a more iconic symbol of the Maritimes than the lighthouse. What then, could provide a more unique and authentically Canadian experience than to spend the night in one? The West Point Lighthouse Museum and Inn provides a very special Prince Edward Island stay, with its unique beachfront location within Cedar Dunes Provincial Park.
This active lighthouse was automated in the 60s and opened as a hotel in 1987. Lucky guests may score one of two coveted rooms within the lighthouse tower itself. Not to worry if you miss out on these, as there are plenty more rooms in the main building, all with balconies and picture-perfect sunset views of the Northumberland Straight. Every guest is also welcome to visit the museum and ascend the narrow staircase to the top of the 21 metre light tower. Learn more at Prince Edward Island Lighthouse Hotel
PEI: Enjoy the Greenwich Dunes
By: Tamara Elliot of GlobeGuide Instagram: @GlobeGuide
The shimmering sand dunes that dot the coastline in Prince Edward Island National Park are one of the province’s hidden gems. The parabolic dunes have a half-bowl shape, and are found at the end of the pretty Greenwich Dunes Trail that winds through a forest and over a wooden bridge surrounded by marsh. Eventually, visitors are greeted by the sight of a sprawling white sand beach, and chances are they’ll have the place mostly to themselves!
Parks Canada has also set up viewing platforms which are perfect for taking in the scene from above, complete with interpretive signs explaining more about the area. Visitors can relax in the soft sand, go for a swim in the ocean or simply lounge in one of the iconic red chairs. See the Full story at Best Beaches PEI North Shores
Northwest Territories: Explore the Mackenzie Delta
You don’t get much farther north than Inuvik, NWT, and the land around this tiny town is rugged and remote. Inuvik is the homeland of the Inuvialuit and Gwich’in peoples and they will welcome you with open arms. The best way to see this land is to take a scenic flight over the Mackenzie Delta. You’ll witness Canada’s largest fresh water delta, pouring into the Arctic Ocean from the Richardson Mountains. If you are lucky you may see hundreds of beluga whales migrating along the coast.
Northwest Territories & Yukon: Drive the Dempster Highway
The Dempster Highway is Canada’s epic drive. This 736 km road stretches from the Arctic in Inuvik, Northwest Territories, to Dawson City in the Yukon. It’s the ultimate road trip adventure. You can fly into Inuvik, which is located just 100 km (60 mi) from the Arctic Ocean. In the summer it averages 56 days of continuous sunlight. You can drive in the middle of the night and still wear sunglasses! It’s drivable in the winter too. Starting this year, you’ll also be able to drive all the way to Tuktoyaktuk, an Inuvialuit settlement located on the Arctic Ocean. Read more about it at Drive to the Arctic
Yukon: Spot Grizzlies in Ivvavik National Park,
Ivvavik National Park in the Yukon Territories receives less visitors than Mount Everest each year. Located on the northern tip of Canada, Ivvavik has opened its doors to visitors with a unique base camp experience run by Parks Canada. What makes this park so special is not only how remote it is, but the fact that it is a high traffic area for Grizzly Bears. Each day you’ll go on guided walks with park rangers, taking in the stunning views while searching for these majestic creatures. See our full experience at Wild Yukon Falling in Love with the Wild and Remote
Yukon: Explore Hershel Island’s Whaling History
Herschel Island is located above the coast of Yukon, Canada in the Beaufort Sea, a part of the Arctic Ocean. This island was once a whaling station and there are still relics and monuments from the old whaling days. There are whale bones, old boilers, bunk houses, and the Yukon’s oldest building. The RCMP was stationed here at the turn of the 20th century and the office is now used by Parks Canada as their base. You can camp on Hershel Island or take a day trip out to see the sights. Local guides will take you on a hike and you may spot some muskoxen.
Yukon: Kiss a Dead Toe in Dawson City
Dawson City, Yukon has a strange tradition where patrons of the Downtown Hotel sit with the captain and slurp up a strong spirit containing someone’s dead toe. For $5 you order a shot of your choice and listen to the captain’s orders. “Drink it fast, drink it slow, but your lips have gotta touch the toe!” See how we did at: A Dead Toe, Vodka and an Ounce of Courage
Nunavut: Across the Arctic Circle in Auyuittuq National Park
Auyuittuq National Park is one of four national parks in Nunavut and the most accessible of the lot. The park offers the adventurous traveler a chance to experience a frozen expanse of snow, ice and rock far removed from humanity over an 8 – 12 day backpacking trip. In that period you cross the Arctic Circle on foot, ford fast moving glacial streams and rivers, hike past lichen covered boulders the size of a Mack truck and gaze in awe at the sheer rock face of Mt. Thor rising 1,675 metres.
It boasts the largest vertical face on the planet. Spectacular Summit Lake is usually the turnaround point on a trip, though there’s an option to do a long day hike to see Mount Asgard, a cylindrical flat topped mountain made famous in the James Bond movie The Spy Who Loved Me. Exploring Auyuittuq National Park is physically demanding and the weather highly unpredictable. But with its raw, unspoiled landscape it’s one of the most memorable places you’ll ever visit in Canada.
Read all about Leigh’s backpacking trip on her travel blog.
Manitoba: Walk with Polar Bears
One of the most majestic creatures on earth can be viewed on the Hudson Bay of Northern Manitoba. Churchill Wild offers walking safaris where you can step out from behind the glass of your tundra vehicle and walk along the barren landscape in search of polar bears. We spent hours watching moms and cubs swimming in the bay, frolicking on the beach, and relaxing on the lush summer landscape of the great north. You will never have a more magical experience. See our entire trip including video at The Greatest Arctic Safari
Manitoba: Kayak with Beluga Whales
During the summer months, thousands of beluga whales migrate through Hudson Bay and hang out in the channel at Churchill Manitoba. Just a short paddle takes you offshore, where hundreds of belugas play in the water. Going by kayak allows you to get up close and personal with these cute creatures. They are curious and will bump your boat, chase your wake and rub their noses on your hull. The more you sing and paddle, the more they’ll come over to say hi! To see how you can experience it, read out post Paddling with Belugas
To Explore more Canadian Adventures, click on the map to take you to our provincial travel guides. Continue on for adventures in Central and Western Canada!
Saskatchewan: Grasslands National Park
Saskatchewan is an often forgotten & overlooked province for those traveling across Canada, but there are countless things to see and do. Southern Saskatchewan is widely known for its flatlands, frigid winters, and hot dry summers. The best time to visit Saskatchewan is between Mid-June and September. For lovers of the outdoors and wildlife, Grasslands National Park is the perfect place to see wild bison, prairie dogs, coyotes, rattle snakes, and countless bird species. Discover what the native prairies of central Canada looked like before settlement transformed the landscape into the farmlands you see today. Grasslands National Park is also a Dark Sky Preserve, making it one of the best places in Canada to camp out and star gaze.
Don’t forget to visit Castle Butte in “The Big Muddy,” Saskatchewan’s Badlands, a quick 3 hour detour but worth it in my opinion. Castle Butte is Canada’s very own Ayers Rock (Uluru)! While smaller than Uluru, this giant megalith, carved by the ice age, has been used for hundreds of years as a land marker for first nations people, as well as famous cowboy Butch Cassidy. Read more at Safari in Saskatchewan
Ontario: Whitewater Rafting in Ottawa
The Ottawa River is renowned for its big white water. Guides from all four corners of the earth come to play in its rapids. With amazing class V rapids to conquer and surprisingly warm waters, this adventure is a must when visiting Canada’s Capital. Located just 1 hour and 20 minutes from our nation’s capital, Owl Rafting and other tour companies offer one to multi-day whitewater rafting excursions. We even learned to whitewater kayak here!
Ontario – Search for Moose in Algonquin Park
It’s one of the best places in the world to see moose. Algonquin Park is one of Canada’s greatest provincial parks, covering an area of 7650 square km. Visitors take multi-day canoe trips into the Ontario Wilderness. You can paddle the many lakes and rivers independently, but if you want to see moose, it’s best to go with a guide who knows the area and can take you to hidden spots with the highest concentration. During our trip with Voyageur Quest, we saw 18 moose in two days!
Ontario – Scale the Edge of Toronto’s CN Tower
It’s the world’s highest skywalk around what used to be the world’s highest building. We may have lost our bragging rights as the tallest tower when we fell to number 4, but we still can say that nobody has an outdoor walk as high up as Ontario. When visiting Toronto, Canada, the CN Tower Edgewalk is the greatest adventure you can do. Harness up and teeter over the edge as you look at the exciting city below.
Ontario – Hike the Pukaskwa National Park
Situated on the wildest shore of all the great lakes, this is a remote hike in Canada. It is known as the toughest hike in the province, touting itself as Ontario’s answer to the West Coast Trail. With 35-40 pounds of gear in our backpack, we boarded a boat on a rough sea day for a 60km hike from the Park Headquarters at North Swallow to Hattie Cove. It was one of the most exciting hikes we’ve ever done; in the middle of the wilderness of our 6 day hike, we came face to face with a mother moose and her calf on the trail, and saw fresh bear prints in the mud. Read all about it at The Wild Coastal Trail
Quebec: Stay in an Ice Hotel
“If you’re in Quebec City during the winter months, you can’t miss experiencing the Hôtel de Glace, the only ice hotel in North America. Every year, the ice hotel is built using over 30,000 tons of man-made snow and 500 tons of ice. Ice blocks are brought in and shaped to create all the furniture pieces and LED lights are arranged throughout to illuminate the space and give it that pizzazz. It takes about 6 weeks to build and every year the hotel takes on a new theme. The ice hotel boasts a grand atrium, 40+ individually themed rooms and suites, a spa area, an ice slide and even a working ice chapel that you can get married in! Don’t leave without visiting the bar and grabbing a drink in a glass made entirely out of ice. If you’re really feeling adventurous, you can spend the night. Hotel guests get access to their rooms in the evenings and stay warm by sleeping in individual sleeping bags specially designed for cold temperatures.” Read more at Inside the Hotel de Glace and watch Arienne’s video
Quebec: Saguenay – Lac-Saint-Jean
Did you know that there is FJORD in Quebec? Scratch Quebec, for a minute. CANADA HAS A FJORD?! I know we’re not Norway, but damn, that is pretty incredible and on top of that, there’s a fjord route (so yay for fun road trips) that is one of the longest in the world and the only fjord in North America to be inhabited on both shores. A two hour drive from Quebec or an hour flight from Montreal, Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean is a paradise for adventurers and a great trip for the whole family. Kayak the fjord and stay in your own treehouse or suspended sphere at Cap St. Jaseux. Cyclists will rejoice among over 600 kilometers of biking trails, not to mention the opportunities to interact with wildlife are plentiful. View black bears in their natural habitat, search for more wildlife in a rabaska canoe and hike along waterfalls with Okwari Aventures. That said, the creme de la creme Canadian Safari experience (as our group dubbed it) would be at Zoo Sauvage St. Felicien. In the Land of the Caribou package, learn to seek out animal tracks and get up close and personal with caribou and other wildlife, including moose, black bears, bison, and more!
Quebec – Snowboard at Mont Tremblant
Located 1 1/2 hours north of Montreal in the Laurentian Mountains, Mont Tremblant attracts tourists from around the world. It may not be as big as the Rocky Mountain resorts, but Mont Tremblant has four distinct slopes, letting people spread out and break free from the crowds. With its gondola, eight chair lifts and even a magic carpet, the area can accommodate more than 27,000 skiers per hour. Mont Tremblant really does have the ultimate Après Ski culture with its village located directly at the bottom of the hill. You stay where you ski at Mont Tremblant, so it’s the perfect ski in ski out resort.
Alberta: Ice Climb in Canmore
Canmore, Alberta attracts ice climbers from around the world to scale its icy cliffs. It’s considered one of the top three spots on earth for ice climbing professionals, but amateurs can climb here too. Hiring a guide from Yamnuska Mountain Adventures gets you on frozen waterfalls high in the Rocky Mountains. For the ultimate adventure, this is it! See how we did at Ice Climbing the Canadian Rockies
Looking for more things to do in Canada? Read 9 Best Winter Activities in Alberta
Alberta: High Mountain Trail Ride
You haven’t taken a proper trail ride until you’ve ridden a horse in the Rocky Mountains. Just outside the town of Black Diamond, patrons can stay at the Anchor D Ranch and choose from several different riding excursions. Choose the high mountain trail ride because you are going to go way up into the Rocky Mountains, clinging to the side of cliffs on the most sure-footed horses on earth. It’s all worth it because you are treated to the most spectacular views. See them all here!
Alberta: Ski Sunshine Village and Snowboard Lake Louise
Alberta is blessed with spectacular ski hills. Home to the 1992 Olympics, it’s the perfect place to carve through many world class runs. Sunshine Village is a perfect place to stay for skiers to stay directly on the hill and catch fresh powder first thing in the morning. Lake Louise is more up our alley as snowboarders, because runs tend to continue downhill rather than flattening out. There’s no accommodation directly on the hill, but there is plenty in Banff and Lake Louise.
Alberta: Ride North America’s Fastest Zip Line
Reaching speeds of 140km per hour, you are going to feel a jolt when you hit the bottom and you need to slow down somehow. In fact, the Zip Line at Calgary’s Olympic Park is so fast that they give you a parachute to slow yourself down before you hit the barricade. Starting at the top of the 90 metre ski jump, your stomach lurches as you think about “How can anyone leap off these steep slides and fly through the air like Eddie the Eagle? I’d much rather do the zip line.” Read all about it and see our video here
British Columbia – Bobsled in Whistler
A round up of Canada’s West wouldn’t be complete without mentioning Whistler. Sure, we all know about the skiing and snowboarding on Canada’s magnificent mountain, but there are many adventures to be had. Whistler is an all seasons destination with outstanding hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, and even the new via ferrata. But what stood out most for us? The bobsleigh track. Whistler’s track is the fastest in the world and tourists can join a pro-athlete in the sled for a mind-bending slide reaching speeds of 125km per hour. For all the things to do in Whistler, check out The Dos and Don’ts of Whistler
Everywhere: Go Dogsledding
We’ve had the privilege of dogsledding in several provinces of Ontario. From Banff National Park you can race through the Great Divide all the way to British Columbia. In Ontario, you can sled with Yukon Quest and Iditarod Racer Hank Debruin of Winterdance. He runs pure Alaskan huskies on the circuit, making his team the prettiest one in dogsledding. Dogsledding is a fun and uplifting way to get outside and snuggle with some pups. Check out the Misconceptions of Dogsledding to learn all about it.
Both East and West Coasts: Incredible Whale Watching
By the Curious Creature Instagram @Curious_mag
Hugged by three oceans, Canada is home to some incredibly fascinating marine life. Arguably the most majestic are the dozens of whale species that roam our waters. Having had the chance to go whale watching both on the east and west coasts (in Vancouver and St. John’s respectively), I can attest that it is one of the most unforgettable adventures on the planet — epic is an understatement! There’s just something so calming, inspiring and invigorating about gliding beside the gentle giants. It’s a bit of a patience and hide-and-seek game (whales are incredibly social, curious and playful), but once you spot that spout of mist or iconic tail it’ll all be worth it.
Add to this spectacular Canadian landscapes as the backdrop and it’s truly a postcard-perfect experience. For orcas you’ll want to head to British Columbia, but if you’re looking for the most diverse range of species the east coast is your best bet; I highly recommend putting Newfoundland at the top of your bucket list. There are several tour companies in both provinces that offer whale watching boat tours, but if you really want to get your heart pumping try a kayaking tour and be one with the whales!
British Columbia: Surfing in the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve
People often do a double take when we tell that them the West Coast of Canada has some of the best surfing in the world. It’s true. The shores of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve on the West Coast of Vancouver Island are a stomping ground for surfers of types. Yes, the water is a little colder and you’ll need to wear a full wetsuit, but the breaks are constant and atmosphere is unlike anywhere else on the planet.
Long Beach is the most visited and accessible beach in the park reserve and is arguably Canada’s most famous beach. It stretches more than 16 kilometers long! The beaches in the Pacific Rim are great for beginners. The long sand bars are forgiving when you bail and the waves come in at a relatively easy pace. Even if you’re not big on surfing, the nearby towns of Tofino and Ucluelet are awesome places to soak up the Pacific Northwest vibes. You can charter fishing boats, go on a whale watching tour, kayak around hundreds of islands, camp on the beach, hike in the temperate rainforest, storm watch from a luxurious resort or learn about Canada’s First Nations.
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I hope we gave you enough to get started on planning your Canada Adventures. There’s a lot to see and do! So, come on up and enjoy our welcoming country.
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Special thanks to Ontario Tourism, Tourism Nova Scotia, Travel Alberta, Travel Manitoba, and Travel Yukon for your support in helping us Discover Canada. To plan your travels to Canada check out all these great Canadian websites for more information.