If you’re like me and you’ve been itching to get out of the house, you might be considering some road trips in Canada. After a quarantine period that seems to have gone on forever, (and even longer still) a road trip to the great outdoors is the perfect remedy. Whether within your own region, province or another province, there are so many great options for road trips in Canada.
The best part about a road trip is that it requires little to no contact with other people, so it’s easy to stay safe! Which makes 2020 the year of the road trip if you ask me! If you are embarking on your first road trip, read up on some road trip tips to get you started.
Canada is such a wonderful place to explore—especially if you’re a nature lover. Canada’s ten provinces and three territories boast some of the most impressive natural beauty in the world.
With so many amazing things to see and explore in this North American nation, it can be difficult deciding between them all! That’s why I’ve made a list below of my hand-picked BEST road trips to take in each territory and province of the world’s second largest country.
Known as the Wild West Province, Alberta has a reputation for spectacular landscapes. It’s home to a lot of prairies and Canada’s Rocky Mountains, too.
The bottom line is that it’s a great place to rent a car or camper van and road trip through.
- Trans Canada Highway from Lake Louise: This highway is a 4,860-mile-long road, stretching from one side of Canada to the other. The patch of drive from Lake Louise to Revelstoke (actually in British Columbia) is a less overwhelming drive than completing this whole highway, but not short in beautiful scenery. Glacier National Park is a great mountain hike to do along the way!
- The Canadian Badlands: This is another must-see. Stretching from Calgary to Dinosaur Provincial Park off Highway 1, this landscape is wondrous for the eyes to see. It has quite a unique look, ranging anywhere from a Wild West feel to a prehistoric one. The rock formations in this area are ones you don’t want to miss.
- Smith Dorrien Spray Trail: Spanning from Ozada to Banff via Highway 40, this off the beaten-path place will take you through alpine trees a-plenty, moose sightings, and snow—during summer, too. Not to mention that it’s gorgeous!
- Sunwapta Pass: Part of Icefields Parkway, this is the second-highest drivable pass in Banff and Jasper National Parks. On it, you can spot Nigel Peak and Mount Athabasca.
British Columbia has so much to give as a road trip destination. There are a multitude of road trips in Canada that can be done within this province. It’s a traveller’s—and nature-lover’s—dream. There’s so much wildlife and lovely landscapes that it’s really one area of Canada you can’t miss.
- Sea to Sky Highway: Highway 99, or the Sea to Sky Highway is known as British Columbia’s top scenic drives. It runs along the coast from Vancouver to Whistler. Stop on the way in Squamish for an excursion or two—hiking, rock-climbing, and even wind-surfing may be available. Also, make sure not to miss the Sea to Sky Gondola for some incredible views.
- Powder Highway: Full of ski resorts and hot springs, this is a great drive to take. It goes through 8 ski resorts of varying levels, and as a bonus, Fairmont Hot Springs. It starts at Fernie Alpine Resort and ends at Red Mountain Resort.
- Scenic Highway: Also known as Highway 7, Scenic Highway is a tranquil route that starts in Vancouver and ends in the small town of Hope. It runs along the Fraser River and even passes by a community with mineral pools called Harrison Hot Springs! My hometown, Mission, is along this route.
- Pacific Marine Circle Route: This is another laid-back route circling to and from Vancouver and going through many island sights of southern Vancouver Island.
Manitoba, bordered by Ontario on the east side and Saskatchewan on its west, is considered one of the three prairie provinces of Canada. As you might guess, that means lots of beautiful scenery to stare at and take pictures of!
- Highway 10 Through Riding Mountain National Park: Best enjoyed during autumn, this route on Riding Mountain National Park will display prairie landscapes, forest trails, and tons of wildlife. If you want more, hop back on the highway and head to Moon Lake and, finally, Dauphin to catch the sunset.
- Western Shore of Lake Winnipeg through New Iceland: This stunning drive takes you by the beach hamlets of Ponemah, Whytewold, and Dunnottar via PR 232 before using PR 222 to reach Camp Morton Provincial Park. You’ll see plenty of limestone cliffs and Lake Winnipeg shoreline on the way!
- Yellowhead Highway to Minnedosa Valley: Scenic views, quaint towns, and rolling hills make up this highway route. As a bonus, you might even be able to catch a Northern Lights show, depending, of course, on the time of year you decide to go!
The province of New Brunswick has everything you could want from a road trip, from sweeping river valleys to mountains and forests to cities and charming villages. Much to the surprise of many people, however, there’s a chance you will go long periods of time without seeing another human being around. It’s much more land and nature than it is people, depending on which part you’re driving through. That makes it an even more appealing destination during a time like this, when we really need to stay as far away from other people as we can!
Here are some of the top destinations in the province of New Brunswick:
- St. Andrews by the Sea: Located on the Bay of Fundy, this stop is a must if you would love to see some sea life creatures! Whales gather here around June through October time, and you might also catch a glimpse of dolphins or seals, too.
- St. Martins Sea Caves: At low tide, you can have a few hours just like you’re at the beach, and easily climb up to explore the caves. At high tide, you can kayak into them, instead!
- Fundy Trail Parkway: This was great for a scenic drive! You can see Fuller Falls, go on well-marked and not-too-challenging hikes, suspension bridges, plus you can pull off to see some scenic vistas as you go.
- Fundy National Park: If you’re travelling through New Brunswick, a visit to Fundy National Park offers lots of waterfalls and trail mileage of varying terrain to explore. Dickson Falls is a great hike for beginners, for example.
Newfoundland and Labrador
What a gorgeous piece of land and coast this province is! We’ll break this section up into a few of its regions:
- Western: This part of Newfoundland and Labrador has a Viking site, plus two UNESCO World Heritage sites to see, so we’re already off to an interesting—and cultural—start! It’s also got hiking, fjords, ancient indigenous sites, sand dunes and so much more. There’s the Viking Trail, Granite Coast Drive, and the Three Rivers/Sandy Point Lookout, among other drives that can be taken in this section of the province.
- Central: This part of the province is made up by two coasts and the forest in the middle, so there are lots of outdoor activities for the avid explorer to satiate their thirst for nature. There’s a mix of Irish and English culture there, too. See the quarry off Dorset Trail, the islands of Notre Dame Bay along the Green Bay and the Beothuk Trail, or the shores and/or islands off the Kittiwake Coast. There’s also the Coast of Bays with a history of French settlers, fjords, and inlets.
- Eastern: This section is largely represented by the fishing industry. Here, you’ll see lots of boats around the coast. Discovery Trail and Heritage Run are two routes to take for scenic beauty a-plenty.
- Avalon: The Avalon Peninsula is famous for being the first place European settlers landed in North America. It’s a coastal destination with kayaking, whale-watching, and tons of history. Take the Osprey Trail for a lovely beach, the Irish Loop for whales and Irish heritage, or the Baccalieu Trail, where pirates are said to haunt the coastline!
- Labrador: Definitely take the Quebec to Labrador Highway! It’s got wild and untamed land that will leave you mesmerized, plus a historic drive along the southern coast. This place is full of history, culture, wildlife, and nature.
From Halifax to the eastern shore, there’s plenty to do and see in Nova Scotia.
- Halifax Citadel National Historic Site: Founded in 1749, you can find some nice city views from this spot.
- Halifax Public Gardens: Check these out if you’re a fan of gardens and flowers! The sights and smells will be sure to impress.
- Nova Scotia South Shore to Lunenburg: Take this route, stopping at Peggy’s Cove, a picturesque fishing village; go kayaking from Lower Prospect Point; stop at Mahone Bay for sight-seeing in a cute downtown village (and see the famous Three Churches); finally, see Lunenburg and its colourfully-painted houses. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage site!
- Lighthouse Route: This is an option as well, running from Lunenburg to Yarmouth, and as you can guess from the name—yep, you’ll see lighthouses all throughout the drive!
- Bay of Fundy Drive: Home to the highest tides in the world, you won’t want to forego the chance to see the coming and going of so much water! Kayaking around the Three Sisters, three extremely impressive sea stacks rising out of the (low tides) high in the sky.
- Cabot Trail: Hike the beautiful Skyline Trail along this one (morning or sunset preferred, to avoid any possibility of crowds).
Ontario, the home of Niagara Falls, surprises no one with its beauty and natural landscapes. However, it doesn’t make it any less enjoyable to go and see it with your own eyes! Check out some of the most stunning landscapes on these road trip stop options.
- Killarney: Stop off here if you like small-town feels and shore vibes. This quaint town sits on the shores of Georgian Bay, and is more of a holiday destination than one that remains populous year-round. There’s a ton to do if you love the outdoors. Consider stopping at Killarney Provincial Park.
- Niagara Falls: You can drive most of the way to see these falls, or you can even take a helicopter flight! Check to see which companies are operating around the time of your trip.
- Muskoka County and Haliburton Forest: You could stop off at Horseshoe Lake from this drive. Explore tons of wildlife and nature here, including possible wolf pack sightings once you reach Haliburton Forest. You could also stop at Algonquin Provincial Park if you haven’t had your fill of nature yet!
- Toronto: If you head to the city, you’ll probably want to still steer clear of the possibility of crowds. You might be keen to check out Toronto Island to see some great city views and various outdoor activities, if available. Woodbine Beach is another outdoor option where you can keep your space from others, whether relaxing, doing yoga, or swimming. There’s also Scarborough Bluffs Park, known for it’s white-capped mountain view and crystal clear waters.
Prince Edward Island
This lovely island is filled with rolling hills, coastline views, and lighthouses dotted all along it. It has spacious sandy beaches and is known for its delicious food that is often farm and ocean to table! Get excited about some of these road trip choices for Prince Edward Island.
- The Argyle Shore to Red Sands Coast: At the Argyle Shore, you will find vibrant colors in the cliffs and in the beach sands. Beaches are crimson red and even more colorful when you can catch their glare under a setting sun. Consider also stopping at Charlottetown for some more incredible views. See the Port-la-Joye-Fort Amherst National Historic Site and learn about the French-British battles that happened at the harbor.
- PEI Tip to Tip: You can actually drive the whole island in 174 miles. Try amazing seafood in any one of its coastal villages. The Green Gables Shore is famous for its beauty and picturesque views! Make sure to stop off somewhere in this north Central Coastal area. The eastern part of the island is known for historic sites, outdoors exploring opportunities, and vintage lighthouses.
- Central Coastal Drive: Going this route, you will see some amazing beaches, historical sites, and even sugar maples at PEI National Park.
Quebec is the largest province in Canada. As such, and as you can probably imagine, there’s a lot to see! Aside from British Columbia, Quebec is the province that I have experienced the most road trips in Canada. That being said, there are sooooo many more I want to do one day.
- The New France Route (Route de la Nouvelle-France): This route is full of historical relics representing the early settlers of the area. It’s also home to lots of churches, farms, and old homes that make of the charming communities you will drive through. Make sure to stop at Montmorency Falls Park, Auberge Baker, and Cap Tourmente National Wildlife Area if you’ve got the time.
- The King’s Road (Chemin du Roy): This road connects Quebec and Montreal, and is home to a few quite attractive churches, heritage sites, and great food.
- The Navigators’ Route (Route des Navigateurs): This route follows the southern half of the Saint Lawrence River. It boasts beautiful scenery, historic towns, and maritime posts.
- The Wine Route (Route des vins): This consists of a path that has twenty-one vineyards all connected and ready for multiple stops (assuming you’ve got a designated driver picked out!)
- The Fjord Route (Route du Fjord): Drive around the 65-mile long Saguenay Fjord, one of the longest in the world. Be delighted by some of the most charming towns in the whole province, whale watching, and more.
- The Whale Route (Route des Baleines): As its name suggests, you can spot whales on this drive, and thirteen different ones at that. Among other wildlife you might spot, you can also see lighthouses, amazing seafood, and even shipwrecks!
- The Gaspesie Tour (Le Tour de la Gaspésie): You’ll go through Eastern Townships and the wine regions, waterfront villages, and finally the Gaspe Peninsula. Take in this amazing scenery and enjoy a ton of (very Instagrammable) moments of beauty.
Our tenth and last province of Saskatchewan is great for back road exploration! There are so many options for road trips in Canada within Saskatchewan. With its sand dunes, scenic vistas, river valleys, and so much else to see, this province is sure to please no matter what it is you’re seeking.
- Qu’Appelle Valley: This area features a valley, the Qu’Appelle River, and Bur Oak woods. You can also see Tantallon, the historic town of Lebret, and Ellisboro for all their quaintness and charm. Find churches and other historic sites abound here.
- Grasslands National Park and the Wood Mountain Uplands: This area has some of the best panoramic views in all of Saskatchewan. It’s made up of two separate blocks–the remote East Block, famous for its impressive Badlands, and The West Block that’s near Val Marie and the Frenchman River Valley. Between both sides, there’s a ton of grassland and wildlife to stare at in awe.
- There are various different routes you can take, but all will take you through some impressive scenery to behold, as the area is bordered by Grasslands National Park East Block, Rockglen, and Wood Mountain.
- Cypress Hills: This tour features incredible scenery, wildlife galore, wildflower-filled prairies, and some of the highest land in Canada between Labrador and the Rocky Mountains. Don’t miss Lookout Point or Bald Butte. Of course, make sure to also seek out those wildflower fields! They’re stunning.
- The lesser-known eastern side of Cypress Hills is surprisingly beautiful, with striking badland-esque terrain lining the valley. Take Brady Coulee Road for a winding tour through the beautiful hills and valleys, which then back-road routes to Pine Cree Regional Park.
The Northwest Territories of Canada sports the perfect balance of wild and unkempt beauty while also having the resources and organized spots needed for things such as visitor information sites, campgrounds, picnic areas, and more. This territory is where I would love to do some road trips in Canada in the coming years. In the Northwest Territories there are three major highways you can take to have this experience in the NWT:
- Dempster Highway: You can take the Alaska Highway through Yukon to reach this well-known route. It goes through an array of landscapes, from mountains to alpine plains, skirting by various lakes you can stop at. From Eagle Plains, you can even take a quick drive to the Arctic Circle! Continue onward to the Western Arctic town of Inuvik. Campbell Lake is nearby, where you can enjoy a variety of lake activities.
- Highway to the Arctic Ocean: From Inuvik, you can take the Inuvik-Tuktoyaktuk Highway to the Arctic Ocean. This is the first road built that stretches out to North America’s polar shore, which is pretty cool in itself. You’ll see wilderness abound, from caribou to Grizzly bears. Make sure to check on the road conditions of this highway before you set off, and ensure your vehicle is up to the job!
- Deh Cho Travel Connection: This ends up being a large loop of Canada’s northern region that passes through campgrounds, communities, and historic landmarks (among a ton of nature, of course). In the Northwest Territories part, get pumped to see some gorgeous waterfalls—five of which are easily accessible via Highway 1. You can also learn a lot about indigenous people of the area and their history and culture. See foxes, bison, and even wolves on occasion! Also consider stopping at Victoria Falls for all your waterfall cravings.
The Nunavut Territory is largely tundra and makes up a fifth of Canada’s land size making a bit harder to take a road trip. Despite the remoteness that a lot of this territory consists of, there is still plenty to do and see! See below for a few ideas and top attractions.
- Baffin Island: This island boasts amazing landscape and scenery, plus the Inuit hospitality!
- Auyuittuq National Park: This translates to “land where it never thaws,” which tells you pretty much all you need to know about this park!
- Ellesmere Island: This is where Quttinirpaaq National Park lives. It’s only treaded by serious, experienced backpackers.
- Iqaluit: This town serves as the gateway to Baffin Island.
- Quttinirpaaq National Park: This park is mostly of dry, Arctic climate and has the reflecting sort of wildlife. This means caribou, arctic foxes, and wolves.
- Sirmilik National Park: This park is home to some amazing mountain and glacier views!
- Belcher Islands: This area is off the Hudson Bay Coast. It’s home to polar bears, whales, and walruses. It’s a go-to for kayaking for the few visitors that come here.
- Repulse Bay: This bay, only reachable by plane, has a little European history and was named after the disappointment of Captain Henry Middleton when he found it instead of finding the Arctic Circle.
- Qaummaarviit Territorial Park: This place holds evidence of an Inuit settlement going back to the 1600’s! Check out the rugged island destination and learn about the Thule people who call it home.
- Pond Inlet: Situated on the Baffin Island Coast, this area is made up of mountainous terrain. Although it’s quite remote, it’s known to be very beautiful.
Yukon is full of scenic views, long summer days, and a ton of roadway! It makes for a great place to road trip in Canada.
- Golden Circle Drive: This takes you through Yukon towns and alpine passes, showing you amazing mountainous scenery. It takes you all the way to the Alaska Panhandle. The journey begins in Whitehorse, goes the South Klondike Highway to Skagway, then Alaska through the scenic White Pass.
- If you keep following it, you can take a ferry to connect you to Haines. The circle continues on Haines Road and then Alaska Highway goes through Kluane country, then finally, back to Whitehorse. Whew! That’s a full itinerary, right there. You certainly won’t be bored with this one.
- The Southern Lakes Loop: This one is stunning, filled with blue lakes, picturesque villages, coastal mountains, history, and art. Just a quick drive away from Whitehorse, you’ll take scenic highways through various waterfront communities that will beg you to take photos of it! See the communities of Atlin, Whitehorse, Mount Lorne, Carcross, Marsh Lake, Teslin, and Tagish on this drive through the Yukon territory, and get ready to be amazed by what you see. It’s a wonderful balance of nature and civilization.
Deciding which road trips to take will depend on how much time you have, and of course, which attractions and natural sights you find most appealing.
So, pick a route and make sure to submit yourself whole-heatedly to the experience that awaits you in whichever adventure you’ve chosen.
Which one of these road trips in Canada is on your bucket list? Are there any road trips in Canada that I should have added here? Let me know in the comments below.