Canada is a big country, the second largest in the world in fact, and the best way to see it is definitely to get in a car – or motorhome, or whichever vehicle takes your fancy – and just drive. It will take a lot of visits to do the very best of Canada’s routes, so here are our top five from across this beautiful, big country which we think are not just the best in Canada but take a lot of beating across the world. Once we are able to travel again, choose your vehicle, and hit the open road!
The Dempster Highway, Yukon
The Dempster Highway begins at Dempster Corner about 25 miles from the fabulous Dawson City in the Yukon and is Canada’s only all-season public road that crosses the Arctic Circle. This is the road trip to end all road trips; this 458-mile unpaved road unveils some of the most incredible scenery on earth. Heading due north to Inuvik in the Northwest Territories you will encounter dramatic tundra landscapes, mountain ranges and abundant wildlife. Choose your timing; spring brings the wildlife waking up, summer provides the midnight sun, while autumn has the most beautiful red-gold colours. Take 5-7 days to make the best of this incredible journey.
Icefields Parkway, Alberta
Driving the Canadian Rockies should be one of life’s goals and the Icefields Parkway that links Banff and Jasper National Parks is the pinnacle of Rockies’ road trips. The 146-mile journey can be done in a day, but take longer, and savour the myriad of glaciers, turquoise lakes and breathtaking mountain peaks. Head north from Lake Louise along Highway 93, stopping to take in Herbert Lake, the incredible Athabasca Glacier and Sunwapta Falls, or step out on the Columbia Icefield Skywalk with spectacular views before and below you. The journey ends in Jasper, but the scenery certainly doesn’t!
Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia
The Cabot Trail is one of Canada’s most famous drives; the 185-mile road takes you along the stunning coastline of rural Cape Breton in Nova Scotia. Named after the Italian explorer John Cabot, who claimed the land for England when he landed here in 1497 for King Henry VII, this coastal loop climbs from ocean-swept beaches and small fishing villages to densely forest slopes and cliffs. Even if you do not do the whole trail, be sure to take time to not only drive but also to explore places enroute, such as Baddeck on the shores of Bras d’Or Lake, the Acadian town of Cheticamp or hike some of the 26 trails in Cape Breton Highlands National Park.
The Fjord Route, Quebec
The 146-mile long Saguenay Fjord, just 2.5 hours from Quebec City, is not too well known, nor is it much-explored, which makes it a perfect to explore on a one-of-a-kind maritime road trip. The Fjord Route is not only one of the longest in the world, it’s fully navigable and the only fjord in North America which is inhabited on both shores. This scenic journey is dotted with some of Quebec’s most beautiful French-Canadian villages and mixed with wilderness and wildlife. The Saquenay Fjord itself is a must-see natural attraction and there is much to do, both on and off the water.
Sea to Sky Highway, British Columbia
A round-up of roads best-travelled in Canada would not be complete without including British Columbia and one of the most scenic is the 100-mile long Sea to Sky Highway, Highway 99, that winds from Vancouver up to Pemberton, north of Whistler. This curvy road hugs the Pacific with waterfalls, forest, mountains and farmland to add to the beauty. Take your time exploring this gem; stop at Shannon Falls Provincial Park, visit the unique town of Squamish and definitely explore the famous mountain resort at Whistler. Best travelled midweek to avoid the busy weekend visits of the locals.
There are so many roads to explore throughout Canada, including, of course the Trans-Canada highway that links the country from coast to coast, so these five are just a taste. Which one will you choose on the next fly-drive holiday?