Stuck in a rut? Interested in traveling to another country? Want to visit a place where your dollar goes a little further? Point your vehicle north and head for Canada. We’ve got some of the best spots picked out for those wanting to make a cross-Canada trek … We’re quite certain that it’ll be a trip you’ll never forget.
This picturesque beach south of Vancouver offers miles of trails for hiking, biking and strolling. It’s the perfect place on the western side of the country for kicking off your adventure.
Pro Tip: There are two electric vehicle charging stations in this park and they’re both free. Top off before you head out.
You’ll spend a good bit of time on this road as you make your way east. It’s 7,821 kilometers and is the world’s longest national highway. Get your fill of the trails and then head to the local watering hole and dog-friendly Red Collar Brewing Company.
If British Columbia hasn’t already impressed you, then hold tight … It’s about to blow your mind. The drive along the Meadows in the Sky Parkway alone is worthy of your time but budget in a few more hours for some hiking through gorgeous alpine scenery in Revelstoke National Park.
The Firetower Trail will give you a lot of bang for your buck with a 6,300-foot view at the summit.
Thought the United States was the only country with a Glacier National Park? Think again. Canada has one as well, and it’s magnificent. The park is a hiker’s paradise with numerous trails to choose from and, as the name suggests, glaciers that’ll leave you feeling oh-so small.
Get there as early as possible before the parking lots fill up and then spend the day hiking, renting a canoe and hanging out by the water.
After you’ve had your fill of blue-green glacial lakes, continue north along the Icefields Parkway and enter the wonderland that is Jasper National Park. There are numerous spots for kayaking, getting off the grid and experiencing a little solitude.
Post Banff and Jasper, Calgary makes a great next pit stop. It’s the largest city in Alberta, and is about an hour and a half east of Banff National Park. Besides being a good place for getting any last minute expedition gear, it’s also home to some great urban trails. We recommend the Bow River Pathway which is a 48 km multi-use path that connects several green spaces within the city.
Nothing will make you appreciate the mountains as much as the prairie. It’s in stark contrast to the rugged wilderness that you left behind but it’s no less awe inspiring.
There are two sections of Grasslands National Park. Though a four-wheel-drive vehicle isn’t required, be prepared for lots of dirt roads, unpredictable weather (we experienced hail) and miles without a cell signal.
Pro Tip: The east side is home to quicksand so keep an eye out for signs alerting you to its presence.
Your reward for making it through the endless monotony of the prairies are rounded boulders and small lakes that, as you near Rushing River Provincial Park, become larger and more prevalent.
This park has two campgrounds and both hiking and canoe trails. This is a great spot for the beginning standup paddler because, contrary to the name, there is also a good bit of still water in the park. They’ve also got PFD’s on-hand for park guests to borrow.
Slow down as you approach the town of Terrace Bay and the Aguasabon Falls and Gorge. The hike from the parking lot to the falls and gorge is literally a five-minute walk. It’s also a great spot for a picnic.
If you’re looking for a longer hike, you can also link up with the Casque Isles Trail from this parking lot.
Lake Superior is the star of the show in this park. It’s so big that at times you might just think you’re staring at the ocean. The trails in this park are some of the most scenic in Canada and the rocks you’ll step on as part of your hike are some of the oldest on the planet. Plus, you’ll get a chance to dip your toes (or your kayak) in the largest freshwater lake in North America.
Head to the Parc Olympique (that’s Olympic Park to you) and make your way toward the 900 section of the Esplanade. The park is so new that there aren’t any signs yet but if you orient toward the Botanic Garden and then cross over Sherbrooke, you’ll hear the familiar sound of skateboard wheels on cement.
Bonus: The whole park is free.
Choose Le Grand Tour, a challenging 8.7 km hike in Bic National Park. Before setting out, be sure to check the tide tables as passage may not be possible or safe when the water level is up. It’s a fairly tough hike and requires a bit of rock scrambling in sections. Not recommended for kids.
Pro Tip: The park brochures and maps are in French so come prepared.
This national park makes a great ending point (or starting point in case you want to travel east to west) for your journey. There’s some great campsites in the park with new showers and bathrooms and there’s tons of great spots for launching your kayak or SUP. There’s even a whale watch tour that leaves from the Grande-Grave harbor.
Know Before You Go
– Bears are in many of the places we’ve outlined above. Consider carrying bear spray with you on your adventure and know how to use it.
– The signage is in kilometers, not miles. The price of fuel is listed in liters, not gallons. Be prepared to do a little bit of math on this trip.
– Check your cell phone plan prior to your trip to make sure your device is covered and to avoid unanticipated fees.
– Most people speak English though you’ll encounter a bit more French in the province of Quebec.
– Consider getting a national parks pass before departing. It’ll cut down on time spent waiting in lines and it will work in all of the national parks except for the ones in Quebec. Quebec’s parks have their own system.
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