Whether you want to explore your home province, or check out a new part of our country for the first time, this guide offers inspiration and insight, coast to coast...to coast.
If you’re leaving from Vancouver, the Sea to Sky Highway (aka Highway 99) will take you from sea-side Horseshoe Bay all the way up to the village of Pemberton. The 134 kilometer trek offers spectacular views and plenty of opportunities to stop off and experience highlights such as BC’s third highest waterfall in Shannon Falls Provincial Park, world-famous ski resort, Whistler, and towering Mount Currie.
Looking for a longer trip? The Yellowhead Highway from Prince George to the port city of Prince Rupert will add over 700 km to the odometer and take you through the breathtaking Skeena Valley. Once you arrive at the coast, you can take a ferry north to Alaska, or south to Vancouver Island. We’re sure you won’t be in a hurry to leave, though, so consider experiencing one of BC’s most precious natural wonders with a day trip to the Great Bear Rainforest.
Alberta’s Cowboy Trail is a 575 km stretch of Highway 22 that runs parallel to the magnificent Rocky Mountains. You have your choice of starting points - begin west of Edmonton near the town of Mayerthorpe, or at the southern point near Lundbreck Falls Provincial Recreation Area.
Must-see attractions include Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This ancient communal hunting site is older than both Stonehenge and the Egyptian Pyramids! If you’re interested in cowboy culture, Bar U Ranch National Historic Site can be found near the town of Longview. For the campers, the route offers a choice of numerous sites such as Willey WestCampground near Drayton Valley, and River’s Edge Camp and Retreat Centre outside Cremona.
Did you know that Saskatchewan has more roads than any other province or territory in Canada? This made it challenging to narrow down the best road trip, until locals recommended the breathtaking Qu’Appelle Valley. This area spans over one-third of the province and provides views of the Qu’Appelle River, Qu’Appelle Hills, Western Boreal Forest, Aspen Parkland as well as undisturbed Saskatchewan prairie.
On your way through, stop to fish at your choice of four lakes, tour historic Fort Qu’Appelle, or hike the Nature Conservancy of Canada’s Fairy Hill. Photographers will love the opportunity to capture St. Nicholas Anglican Church. The roads can be a bit of a mixed bag, however. If it starts to rain - stick to the pavement!
How’s this for an idea - plan a road trip based solely on hitting the best swimming spots in Manitoba? Steep Rock and Little Limestone lake offer a Caribean feeling with turquoise water and soft white sand beaches. Speaking of the ocean - Hudson Bay Beach offers salt water and whale watching. You can find stunning waterfalls at Snow Lake and Kwasitchewan Falls, or raft down the Bloodvien and Brokenhead Rivers. For those that want to avoid tan lines, the white sand of Beaconia Beach is for the nudists. If it’s nudists you’re trying to avoid, definitely skip this stop.
If you had to pick one destination in Ontario, what would it be? Since we love driving, we chose Thunder Bay, a whopping 15 hour drive from Toronto. Once you get there, tour the museums in the city before heading out to Kakabeka Falls, the Sleeping Giant rock formation and Blue Point Amethyst mine. Meander your way back through northern Ontario along Lake Superior, stopping to take in Georgian Bay and the lakes of Muskoka.
If you’ve never been across the Atlantic, you may have never seen the splendor of a fjord first-hand before. These sea inlets are incredibly deep and found between towering cliffs where water has submerged a glacier valley. Lucky for us, the Saguenay Fjord happens to be located in Quebec, and at 105 km in length, it provides a fascinating route for a road trip.
Some of the most beautiful historic towns in the province are located along both sides of the fjord, such as L’Anse-Saint-Jean. Essential stops include Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park and Saguenay Fjord National Park, as well as the Musée de la Nature and the Musée du Fjord. Summertime is primetime for whale-watching, so plan an excursion from Baie-Sainte-Catherine.
Newfoundland & Labrador
The Coastal Drive along the eastern edge of Labrador is over 600 km along Route 510. While this trip offers beaches, hiking and fishing, perhaps the most remarkable locations are the historical sites. Located at Red Bay, L’Anse-Amour Historical Site (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) is the oldest known burial mound in North America, where 16th-century Basque whalers built the New World’s first industrial complex. Another special spot is at Canadian National Historical Site, Mary’s Harbour, where time seems to have paused in the 18th century.
From Moncton, it’s a mere 225 km to one of Seven Wonders of North America: The Bay of Fundy. A rare combination of the shape of the bay and the force of a natural rocking motion called seiche produces the highest tides in the world. Over millennia, these tides have carved incredible sea cliffs and caves. Fossils from some of the first life forms can be found at Joggins, yet another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Can you believe all this wonder is in our own backyard?
Prince Edward Island
Since PEI is Canada’s smallest province, we invite you to consider the entire island as a road trip in itself. Whether your zig-zag across, or cruise the coast in a loop, don’t miss the bottle houses of the North Cape, Point Prim Lighthouse, or Green Gables Heritage Place. We also recommend saving up an appetite. PEI is known as Canada’s Food Island, offering variety and freshness beyond compare for seafood lovers.
While the obvious stops in Nova Scotia include Halifax and Peggy’s Cove, we suggest something to get your adrenaline going: tidal bore rafting. Carefully timed to coincide with the changing tides, your captain will pilot a small zodiac craft to a sandbar on the river. Once the tidal bore passes, it’s time to bail into the raft and hang on! The channel fills up and massive waves send you downriver. Doesn’t that sound more exciting than tea in the harbour?
This western territory is an astonishingly wild and beautiful place. The Golden Circle Route can be done in seven days, but it’s not uncommon for adventure-seekers to spend a month or more soaking up the grandeur. Beginning in Whitehorse, this loop dips briefly into Alaska and British Columbia. Visit the SS Klondike to learn about the Gold Rush, the Yukon Wildlife preserve to view elk, arctic foxes and other northern creatures, the Takhini Hot Springs for some relaxation, and the Chilkoot River to see Grizzlies. For safety, never let your tank get below half, and don’t forget your passport for your border-crossing near Haines, Alaska.
Dempster Highway is the only all-season highway North America that crosses the Arctic Circle, making it your access to the Top of the World. Jump on Highway 8 at historic Fort McPherson on the Peel River, drive east through the limestone cliffs of Gwich’in Territorial Park, cross the mighty MacKenzie River, and head north towards Inuvik. This is your last full-service town before the 150 km trek to Tuktoyaktuk, the Inuvialuit community at the end of the road. If you time this trip right, you’ll experience the midnight sun and the Great Northern Arts Festival.
Well, we wrap up our road trip list with the only province or territory in Canada that cannot be accessed by vehicle. In fact, thanks to the high cost of maintenance and fuel, vehicles aren’t very popular in Nunavut at all! Since the small road network is disconnected, the preferred mode of transportation is by ATV or snowmobile. If you’re interested in visiting the northernmost point in Canada, Cape Columbia, you’ll need to charter a flight with the Canadian Armed Forces or be part of a research team working in Alert. Don’t let that deter you, though. Nunavut is home to many worthwhile sights that can be accessed by boat or plane. Sea kayaking, hiking, and wildlife watching are great ways to take in the natural wonders of Ellesmere Island, Baffin Bay and the mainland territory.
We want to see Canada through your eyes! Share photos, reviews and tips from your Canadian road trip on Facebook and Instagram @MrLubeCanda or on Twitter @MrLube. Safe travels!