Canada: a country synonymous with unflagging politeness, maple syrup, and world-class ice hockey. For outdoor enthusiasts, however, the true siren call to the Great White North is the wilderness. Whether exploring mountains and whitewater rafting is your thing, or traveling scenic roadways and discovering remote archipelagos have you hooked, Canada has something for everyone.
This national park reserve is located in the eastern area of Quebec, on the north shore of Gulf of St. Lawrence

1. Explore one thousand islands

Quebec’s Mingan Archipelago is a sight to behold — or rather, one thousand sights. Formed by glaciers, wind, and waves, these islands are home to a wide variety of wildlife. Spot whales, seals, puffins, and more from land or take to the sea by boat or kayak. If you just can’t get enough, you can also camp for a few days and take time to explore everything from cliffs and caves to arches and rocky limestone sentinels.

Niagara Falls, Ontario, overlooks the Horseshoe Falls

2. See North America’s most impressive waterfall

A list of Canada’s natural wonders without Niagara Falls wouldn’t be much of a list. Take in the splendor of the mighty waterfalls with this view from the north or get up close and personal by boat. Though two of the three waterfalls that make up Niagara Falls lie on the US side of the border, the view from Canada definitely takes the cake.

A visit to Dinosaur Provincial Park is as close to Jurassic Park as it gets

3. Discover where dinosaurs once walked

“Life, uh, finds a way…” Located in the heart of Alberta’s badlands, Dinosaur Provincial Park is no Jurassic Park, but it is one of the world’s largest dinosaur graveyards. With over 500 fossils dating from the Age of Reptiles, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is the perfect place for science (and science fiction) buffs as well as nature enthusiasts. Some lingo to drop when you’re in the area: those tall spires of rock are called hoodoos. You heard it here first.

The Canadian Rockies are the perfect destination for a scenic vacation

4. Roam the Canadian Rockies

Crazy clear turquoise water? Check. Snow-capped mountains? Check. Unblemished wilderness? Welcome to the Canadian Rockies. From Alberta’s southwestern border all the way north into British Columbia, the Canadian Rockies comprise one giant UNESCO World Heritage Site. Home to national parks, scenic roadways, and ample opportunities for adventure, you can spend a few days or several weeks soaking up the natural splendor. Sounds good, eh?

Haida Gwaii, formerly known as the Queen Charlotte Islands, is an archipelago off British Columbia’s west coast

5. Journey to a secret archipelago

Nicknamed the Galapagos of the North, Haida Gwaii is located off British Columbia’s west coast and is home to indigenous people of the same name. While not strictly “secret,” the national park reserve in Haida Gwaii doesn’t get too many visitors due to its remote location. It’s worth it, though — magical terrain and temperate rainforests dominate the landscape. If you decide to make the journey, prepare in advance: the park can only be reached by boat, kayak, or seaplane.

See whales in their natural environment on a 3-hour cruise from Victoria by covered boat

6. Go whale watching in Victoria

Leave land behind and hop aboard a covered boat on a 3-hour cruise from Victoria. Discover different species of whale in their natural environment and marvel at seabirds and other marine life as your chug along at 30 knots. Later, slow down in the protected waters of the Haro Strait and the Strait of Juan de Fuca and learn about wildlife from the marine naturalists.

Drive along the Cabot Trail for a road trip through some of Canada’s most scenic spots

7. Take a scenic road trip

Not everything has to be a hike (unless you want it to be). Cue up your playlist and roll down the windows: it’s time to drive along the Cabot Trail. This winding roadway will take you around the greater part of Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island and is one of the most famous drives in Canada for a reason. Set aside a few days for your trip and enjoy scenic overlooks of soaring cliffs, deep valleys, and lush forests.

Raft along Fraser River’s class III rapids and admire the breathtaking scenery of the Canadian Rockies

8. Whitewater raft in Alberta

If it’s an adrenaline rush you’re after, whitewater rafting in Jasper National Park is just the ticket. The park is the largest of its kind in the Canadian Rockies and internationally renowned for hiking, skiing, and wildlife viewing (watch out for bears and moose!). Head to the rapids and soak up the scenery — and most likely, the water. 

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