Canadian Road Trips
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15 of the Best Road Trips in Canada

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Canadian Road Trips
R.M. Nunes/istockphoto

Scenic Stretches in the Great White North

From the West Coast to the Atlantic Provinces, Canada's rugged and expansive landscape makes it a top country for epic road trips — with plenty of must-visit destinations throughout. Whether you're looking to spend several days or just a few hours on the road, you'll discover undeniably rewarding treks filled with awe-inspiring natural scenery, cultural landmarks, and other exciting pit stops along the way. From tiny coastal towns to massive mountain ranges, these are some of the best road trips to take in Canada.

The Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia
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The Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia

For breathtaking sea views at every turn, drive the 185-mile Cabot Trail, which traces a huge chunk of northern Nova Scotia. The coastal highway winds through Cape Breton Island's striking highland scenery and eclectic mix of hospitable seaside communities. After hugging the rocky Atlantic shoreline, you'll loop inland through Cape Breton Highlands National Park's dramatic landscapes, wildlife, and incredible hikes like the Skyline Trail, before passing along the Margaree River. Summer's favorable weather makes it the best time to go, but every season has something to love — from whale watching to leaf-peeping tours.

Icefields Parkway, Alberta
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Icefields Parkway, Alberta

The Icefields Parkway (aka Highway 93) through the Canadian Rockies is one of the world's most magnificent drives. Connecting Banff and Jasper national parks, the approximately 144-mile Canadian road cuts through ancient glaciers, cascading waterfalls, snow-capped peaks, pine tree forests, and pristine turquoise lakes along the Great Divide. It's a relatively short route, but you'll want to plan for frequent stops, including glacier-fed Lake Louise, Crowfoot Glacier, Peyto and Moraine lakes, Columbia Icefield, and the Sunwapta and Athabasca falls, fed by their correspondingly named glaciers. In the summer, venture out onto the surface of the Athabasca Glacier — one "finger" of the Columbia Icefield — on an all-terrain ice explorer, or stroll the Glacier Skywalk.

Sea-to-Sky Highway, British Columbia
Sea-to-Sky Highway, British Columbia by Clive (CC BY-NC-ND)

Sea-to-Sky Highway, British Columbia

The Sea-to-Sky Highway (aka Highway 99) links Vancouver to Whistler along the west coast in British Columbia. The just-over 100-mile route — designated "The Cultural Journey" to honor the area's First Nations history — features continuous views of the Coast Mountains and Howe Sound with informative kiosks at various lookouts. Start in downtown Vancouver and head out to Whistler for a 2.5-hour journey with stunning sights — from the region's coastal rainforest along Howe Sound to Whistler's mountain peaks. Explore Whytecliff Park in West Vancouver, Shannon Falls, and the kid-friendly Britannia Mine Museum. For even more scenic views, take the Sea to Sky Gondola up above the Howe Sound. Finally head to Squamish, where you can learn more about indigenous culture and art, before reaching Whistler.

Eastern Townships Trail, Quebec
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Eastern Townships Trail, Quebec

Many U.S. travelers and Montrealers head to the Eastern Townships for a weekend getaway. "One of the most Canadian things you can do is plan a summer weekend away at ‘the cottage,' where Canadians will go to get away from the city and enjoy some time in nature," says Toronto-based travel expert Caleigh Alleyne. Experience the authentic character of Quebec by driving or biking through part or all of the almost 270-mile Townships Trail's pristine villages and lakes. Travelers can taste their way through the region's many wineries, orchards, local cheese farms, maple sugar shacks, and milk bars with old-fashioned sundaes.

Chatham-Kent Corridor, Ontario
Chatham-Kent Corridor, Ontario by P199 (CC BY-SA)

Chatham-Kent Corridor, Ontario

Drivers and motorcyclists alike can "Cruise the Coast" of Ontario via scenic back roads winding through the Chatham-Kent Corridor. The historic region is comprised of many small communities overlooking Lake Erie, Lake St. Clair, and the Thames River. Along Highway 3, follow Lake Erie's shoreline from the beach town of Port Dover (close to both Toronto and Niagara Falls) to Amherstburg near the U.S. border. Pull over to appreciate the area's picturesque waterfront towns and lighthouses, historic spots to learn about the War of 1812 or the Underground Railroad, or stop for a mid-drive picnic or hike in a provincial park. Chatham-Kent Tourism mapped out the area — with rider-approved routes and biker-friendly stops.

Dempster Highway, Yukon and Northwest Territories
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Dempster Highway, Yukon and Northwest Territories

If you're seeking a "road-less-traveled" type of summer vacation, head north to experience the unrivaled landscape of the tundra and mountain ranges. The Dempster Highway — Canada's only all-weather road in the Arctic Circle — takes travelers on a 460-mile journey from Dawson City, Yukon, to Inuvik, Northwest Territories. This route's rugged and extremely isolated territory can be challenging, but the sensational Canadian wilderness makes it worth the trip. In the summer, you're bound to see bears, caribou, wolves, moose, and blooming Arctic flowers — taking everything in thanks to the midnight sun. Time your trip in late August to witness the autumn colors and a chance to also see the Northern Lights when there's some degree of darkness.

West Point Lighthouse Inn & Museum
West Point Lighthouse Inn & Museum/facebook.com

Coastal Drives, Prince Edward Island

Three scenic coastal drives — North Cape Coastal Drive, Central Coastal Drive, and the Points East Coastal Drive — loop around different parts of Prince Edward Island. On the North Cape Coastal Drive, weave in Mi'kmaq and Acadian culture, a potato museum, and a restored lighthouse now operating as an inn. Visit the Anne of Green Gables House and Confederation Bridge — the longest to cross ice-covered water — via the Central Coastal Drive, which is split into two distinct regions: the Red Sands Shore and the Green Gables Shore. Points East Coastal Drive boasts beaches, parks, trails, lighthouses, and restaurants. Since many island attractions shutter for the winter, summer is the ideal time to go.

Vancouver to Tofino, British Columbia
Vancouver to Tofino, British Columbia by B.C. Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure (CC BY-NC-ND)

Vancouver to Tofino, British Columbia

From Horseshoe Bay, just outside of Vancouver, take the ferry across the Strait of Georgia to Nanaimo on Vancouver Island, one of Canada's most beautiful islands with ancient temperate rainforests, mountains, lakes, and rugged coastlines. Then hit the Pacific Rim Highway (BC Highway 4) for an enchanting woodland drive across the island. Stop in Cathedral Grove for a mossy forest photo op in MacMillan Provincial Park, then head to Kennedy Lake Provincial Park for a picnic. End in Tofino, the surfing capital of Canada, where you can catch some waves and enjoy the sunset at Long Beach or Chesterman Beach. Other area attractions include whale-watching tours, winter storm-watching, fishing, hiking, taking in the region's exemplary locavore cuisine, or even meeting members of the local First Nations community in Esowista.

The Gaspésie Tour: Montreal to Gaspe Peninsula, Quebec
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The Gaspésie Tour: Montreal to Gaspe Peninsula, Quebec

Discover the rugged shoreline, inviting coastal towns, and French culture of Quebec's Gaspé Peninsula (aka Gaspésie), which juts into the chilly Gulf of Saint Lawrence. From Montreal, travel along the St. Lawrence River's north shore via a historic road — signposted Chemin du Roy or "King's Highway" — from Montreal to Quebec City, visiting heritage sites in villages like Deschambault-Grondines, Neuville and the Citadelle of Quebec. Then, head up to the peninsula's pine forests and looming cliffs, and other highlights like the sheer-sided Percé Rock, Bonaventure Island, and Parc de la Gaspésie. Plan your ideal route based on your interests.

Viking Trail, Newfoundland and Labrador
Viking Trail, Newfoundland and Labrador by Clinton Pierce (CC BY-SA)

Viking Trail, Newfoundland and Labrador

From the west coast of Newfoundland to southern Labrador via Highway 430, the 304-mile Viking Trail — the province's biggest themed road trip — passes two UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Gros Morne National Park's ancient landscape and North America's only known Viking settlement at L'Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site — open from late May through early October — chronicle the history of the land and its people. Along the pathway through Canada's Viking heritage from Deer Lake to St. Anthony, keep your eyes peeled for colorful fishing villages and beautiful bays, 10,000-year-old floating icebergs and ancient rock formations, and the tallest lighthouse in Atlantic Canada, the Point Amour.

Regina to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
Regina to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan by Jimmy Emerson, DVM (CC BY-NC-ND)

Regina to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan

Traverse the flat prairie province of Saskatchewan from Regina to Saskatoon, about 183 miles, partly via the Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 1). Visit Regina's Royal Canadian Mounted Police Heritage Centre for over a century of Mountie history, then head west to Moose Jaw, a small town notorious for its bootlegging and gangster-loving past during the Prohibition era. Continue to Swift Current for concerts, art shows, and festivals, including the Market Square on summer Saturdays. Stop at Lake Diefenbaker for a TransCanada Trail hike or world-class fishing before ending in Saskatoon — "The Paris of The Prairies" — for its burgeoning culture and food scene. If you're up for a detour, check out the Big Muddy Valley Badlands two hours south of Regina. Canada's wild west — just north of the U.S. border — lies in the sweeping landscape of its remote badlands, an ideal hideout for bank robbers and horse thieves, including famed bandits like Sam Kelly, Dutch Henry, and the Sundance Kid. Guided Big Muddy tours of the so-called Outlaw Caves and 230-foot-high Castle Butte can be arranged through the Town of Coronach.

Okanagan Valley, British Columbia
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Okanagan Valley, British Columbia

The orchard- and winery-peppered Okanagan Valley is a foodie hotspot. Circle clockwise around Okanagan Lake from Vernon to Penticton, and then hit Kelowna in the heart of the Okanagan Valley Wine Region. The region is known for Okanagan Lake and its locavore-focused farm-to-table restaurants and artisan wineries — perfect for a day- or weekend-long gastronomic tour. Sample renowned riesling and pinot noir at Tantalus Vineyards while overlooking the shores of Okanagan Lake. Other favorites include Okanagan Lavender & Herb Farm, Carmelis Goat Cheese Farm, Arlo's Honey Farm, Summerhill Pyramid Winery, and Mission Hill Winery.

Alaska Highway, Yukon
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Alaska Highway, Yukon

Explore the great Yukon territory's extremely beautiful and vast landscape via the Alaska Highway (aka the ALCAN Highway). Travel expert Alleyne, who's also editor of Travel + Design, says, "Yukon is connected through the Alaska Highway, making it a really accessible place to road trip and to enjoy the natural beauty of Northern Canada." No matter your starting point, make sure to visit Kluane National Park and Reserve's towering mountain ranges, glaciers, and icefields.

Georgian Bay Coastal Route, Ontario
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Georgian Bay Coastal Route, Ontario

For those looking for a late August to mid-September trip, the 800-mile Georgian Bay Coastal Route loops through some of Ontario's most unique scenery. Part of this journey heads to the Bruce Peninsula, located just four hours north of Toronto. The seaside town of Tobermory boasts turquoise waters and beaches at Bruce Peninsula National Park and Fathom Five National Marine Park — the freshwater scuba capital of the world and home to more than 20 historic sunken wrecks. On this trip, you'll also discover Parry Sound (often referred to as the jewel in the Bay's crown), Killarney Provincial Park, Manitoulin Island, and Wasaga Beach.

Trans-Canada Highway
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Trans-Canada Highway

Canada's ultimate road trip follows the Trans-Canada Highway, a route spanning 4,860 miles across the country from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic. Starting in Victoria, British Columbia, and finishing in St. John's, Newfoundland and Labrador, you can travel through all 10 provinces of Canada from west coast to the east. Highlights include Vancouver's many attractions, the Canadian Badlands, Canadian Rockies, historic villages along Quebec's Route 132, the nation's capital Ottawa, Quebec City, and the Bay of Fundy. For the best driving weather from coast to coast, time your trip between March and October. Or, since the Trans-Canada Highway is more of a network of roads than a single roadway, you can break it down into shorter trips. You'll find a variety of suggested itineraries via the Trans-Canada Highway website.