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12 Iconic Canadian Road Trips

Mountains, lakes, prairies, ocean coastlines – Canada has it all! And one of the best ways to see this country’s vast and diverse natural beauty is by car. So hit the road and start exploring. To give you some inspiration, here are 12 iconic road trips – one in each province and territory except Nunavut, where there are no roads into the territory and no roads connecting the communities. In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, crossing provincial and territorial borders may require a quarantine period. Please verify restrictions and exemptions before travelling by visiting the Government of Canada’s Travel Advice and Advisories page for the most up to date information.

1. British Columbia – The Fraser River and Fraser Canyon

One of BC’s most stunning drives follows the Fraser River through the Fraser Canyon along Highway 1. You’ll descend into the canyon through the narrow rock gorges of the Coast Mountains, taking in incredible views along the way. As you travel upriver, you’ll pass through seven tunnels that have been bored into mountains. Be sure to stop in Hell’s Gate, where you’ll find an air tram, a suspension bridge, several observation decks and even a fudge factory!

2. Alberta – Banff to Jasper

Alberta is well known for this impressive stretch of the Canadian Rockies. For spectacular views of the gleaming glaciers and deep turquoise lakes, just hop on the Icefields Parkway and start driving. You can cover this 288km stretch of highway in roughly 4 hours, but budget more time to make stops and absorb the beauty. A few things to note before you go: You’ll need to buy a National Parks Pass at the park gates, and there aren’t many options for food or gas on the road, so plan accordingly.

3. Saskatchewan – Badlands Parkway, East Block

This area of southern Saskatchewan’s remarkable badlands, found in The Grasslands National Park, was not accessible by car until 2019, when the new Badlands Parkway opened. This paved stretch was carefully designed to allow scenic views while protecting the majestic landscape. Wildlife abounds in these undisturbed grasslands. Be on the lookout for deer, bison, hawks, lizards, prairie dogs and more. The parkway is open seasonally from May to October during daylight hours. And, while it’s only 11km long, it’s expansive views will stay with you long after your road trip ends.

4. Manitoba – Interlake Region

Between Lake Winnipeg and Lake Manitoba is the Interlake Region, a great place to explore history and nature and walk the Caribbean-like white sand shores of the area’s beaches. From Winnipeg, drive north on PR 232, which passes through several picturesque hamlets and offers more scenic vistas than its frequently used alternative, Highway 8. Make a stop at the New Iceland Heritage Museum in Gimli for a dose of the Viking culture that was prevalent in this region long ago.

“Explore coves and beaches, go bird watching or try your hand at fly fishing.”

5. Ontario – Sault Ste. Marie to Wawa

This remote stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway hugs the north shore of Lake Superior, offering grand views and a good sense of just how massive the world’s largest freshwater lake really is. You’ll see harsh, rugged terrain, as well as the rolling green treetops of the weathered Canadian Shield. Batchewana Bay, at the exact halfway point of the Trans-Canada Highway, is known for its immense beauty, so plan a stop there. When you arrive in Wawa, snap a photo with the Canada Goose Monument. At 28 feet tall and 22 feet long, it’s one of the area’s largest and most well-known attractions.

6. Quebec – The Fjord Route

The Saguenay Fjord is one of the longest in the world – and it’s the only fjord in North America with towns on both sides. These quirky and historic villages are considered some of the most beautiful in Quebec. When you travel the Fjord Route, you’ll pass through the Chicoutimi District, featuring the historic Bassic quarter and La Baie District, where you can partake in a huge range of outdoor activities, including kayaking, swimming, hiking and whale watching. The route is well marked with signs and you can pick up an audio guide at any of the visitor centres.

7. New Brunswick – The Acadian Coastal Drive

Head from Moncton to Miramachi on scenic Highway 11 for an immersive look at the area’s rich Acadian culture and history. This coastal road trip offers unique opportunities to explore coves and beaches, go bird watching or try your hand at fly fishing. On the north side of Bouctouche, make a stop to walk the 12km boardwalk along the dunes. As you travel further north, keep your eyes peeled for fishers in action. You may even see how they bring in their catch.

8. Newfoundland and Labrador – The Viking Trail

There are not one, but two UNESCO World Heritage Sites along the Viking Trail, which traverses the north west shore of Newfoundland. The first, Gros Morne National Park, boasts 100km of trails and an abundance of natural wonders. The second, L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site, is the site of the first European settlement in North America. As you make the drive, you’ll pass through many coastal communities nestled between the mountains and the sea. Love lobster? You’ll find plenty of opportunities to eat this delicacy along the way.

9. Nova Scotia – The Cabot Trail

One of the most well-known and renowned drives in the world, The Cabot Trail offers an almost 300km circle tour of Cape Breton through Cape Breton Highlands National Park. There’s a lot of debate about the best direction to take – clockwise or counter-clockwise. But no matter which way you choose, you’ll be captivated by spectacular views of valleys and the coast. Make time to explore some of the many points of interest you’ll find along the way. Whale Cove Cemetary near Margaree Harbour, the lighthouse at Enragee Point and the Skyline Trail are just a few of the highlights worth stopping to see.

10. Prince Edward Island –Green Gables Shore Coastal Drive

Although it’s possible to take a road trip across the entire island, this route along the north central coast offers a closer look at some of the island’s most quintessential natural features, including beaches and dunes, red cliffs and rock formations. In Cavendish, visit Green Gables Heritage Place, the site that inspired Lucy Maud Montgomery to write Anne of Green Gables, one of Canadian literature’s most enduring classics. You can make several other Anne-related stops along this trail, too.

11. Yukon – Klondike-Kluane Loop

This northern adventure may be the road trip of a lifetime, covering almost 900km along three scenic highways: the Klondike, Top of the World Highway and the Alaska. This loop takes you through Dawson City, the site of several frontier-style buildings built during the 19th-century gold rush, and Whitehorse, the territory’s capital and cultural hub. You’ll be awestruck by the endless expanse of pristine rivers, lakes and forests. And if you’re lucky, you may just get a glimpse of the Northern Lights. Take note that the loop crosses into Alaska and you’ll require proper documentation for the border crossing.

12. NWT – Inuvik to Tuktoyaktuk

Once connected only by an ice road in the winter, the far North communities of Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk are now connected by Northwest Territories Highway 10, an all-season roadway. Beginning where the Dempster Highway ends, Highway 10 travels more than 138km to the coastal Inuvialuit hamlet of Tuk. It’s a somewhat barren, yet fascinating drive that brings you north of the tree line into the Arctic Circle. Make sure you take some time in Tuktoyaktuk to ogle the pingos, see the schooner in the middle of town and gaze out at the vast Arctic Ocean.

Even when you’re staying within Canada, it’s a good idea to have private travel insurance to set your mind at ease. AMEX® Travel Insurance†1 offers a number of single trip and multi-trip annual travel plans to meet a variety of needs.

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