With its vast and varied geography, it’s no secret Canada is rich with opportunities for outside adventure. But some of these opportunities may surprise even the savviest outdoorspeople. Here are 10 ways to get out and enjoy some of the country’s lesser-known charms.
Walk With Wolves in British Columbia
Southeastern B.C.’s Kootenay region offers all kinds of options for outdoorsy types, from fly-fishing and whitewater rafting to mountain climbing and heli-hiking. But, if you’re looking for something truly distinct, head to the Northern Lights Wildlife Wolf Centre in Golden, where you can take a scenic, guided walk with wolves. Led by knowledgeable handlers who are passionate about wolf conservation, these walks are 90 minutes of pure magic during which you can snap photos of the wolves, and, depending on the animals’ moods, even experience a one-on-one encounter.
Explore Dinosaur Provincial Park in Alberta
You don’t have to be a dinosaur fan to appreciate a trip to Dinosaur Provincial Park, a UNESCO site located two hours southeast of Drumheller. With extraordinary badlands scenery—best discovered with a park guide—hikers and photographers will be in heaven. Of course, budding paleontologists won’t be far behind, as the area is home to one of the world’s most prolific fossil beds. Score your own dinosaur bone by signing up with the park for a one-, two- or three-day authentic dinosaur dig—just don’t keep anything you find!
Hike the Athabasca Sand Dunes in Saskatchewan
Tucked away in the remote northwest corner of Saskatchewan, 800 kilometres north of Saskatoon, the Athabasca Sand Dunes make up the largest area of dunes in North America. Sure, it’s a bit of an effort to reach them—they’re accessible only by boat, canoe or floatplane—but a multi-day hiking trip through this vast wilderness is unforgettable. Picture yourself wandering through an eerie, sand-covered forest teeming with rare vegetation, or standing on top of a 90-metre-tall dune with nothing but sand as far as the eye can see. Incredible.
Go River Surfing in Manitoba
It’s hard to believe you’re heading for a world-class surf spot as you drive through fields of wheat east of Winnipeg. Whiteshell Provincial Park is home to Sturgeon Falls, a Class III rapid (in spring), that is safe, accessible and ideal for surfing. Approached via a paddle or boat ride across Nutimik Lake, waves come in small, medium and monster size. The best part: if you happen to crash, you’ll merely be flushed out into a deep, calm lake with no chance of hitting bottom.
Kayak the Slate Islands in Ontario
Kayaking might seem like a foolhardy activity on Lake Superior, considering its reputation for sinking ships of all shapes and sizes, but the lake’s rugged Slate Islands, east of Thunder Bay, are actually a perfect spot for paddling adventures. You can navigate the calmer bays and passages amongst the archipelago of 15 islands without fear of hitting rough water, taking time to explore the many gorgeous deserted beaches along the way. Just leave the bone-chilling swimming to the hundreds of woodland caribou that call these islands home.
Cycle the Blueberry Route in Quebec
Beckoning cyclists looking for a combination of Que-becois culture and exercise, the 256-km Blueberry Route around massive Lac Saint-Jean north of Quebec City takes most people three to five days to complete. Start anywhere, but cycle counterclockwise if you want the wind at your back. And be prepared to stop often—not just to take in the views of bright canola-filled fields in the summertime or the scenic beaches in Pointe-Taillon National Park, but also for the squeaky cheese curds sold everywhere.
Walk the Ocean Floor in Blomidon Provincial Park in Nova Scotia
With the Bay of Fundy’s Minas Basin on its doorstep, Blomidon Provincial Park offers kilometre after kilometre of ocean floor for walking. From the top of dramatic 600-foot cliffs, the giant mudflat appears to go on forever. But, at ground level, beware. Timing is everything, with tides moving at speeds that can be hard to outrun but are glorious to watch. Plan your trip according to the Cape Blomidon tide chart (available online) to experience the delicious feel of red mud oozing between your toes.
Float Down the Miramichi in New Brunswick
With its ideal blend of calm water and exciting rapids, a float trip down the Miramichi River north of Moncton is a perfect, low-key way to while away a few hours on a hot summer day. Set amidst a mostly wild backdrop, it’s a surefire way to spot some local wildlife, including deer, moose and bears. The Miramichi is also famous for its salmon fishing, and you can thrill at the sight of the wild Atlantic salmon’s incredible acrobatic displays from the comfort of your float.
Go Tuna Fishing in Prince Edward Island
With its red-sand beaches and scenic cycling trails, P.E.I. has plenty to offer in the way of leisurely outdoor fun. But, for something that’ll get your adrenaline pumping, embark on a tuna angling adventure. Weighing on average 700 to 900 pounds, massive bluefin tuna can be found in abundance in the island’s waters, and so can local tuna charters that will take you out for the hook-and-release adventure of a lifetime. According to Jamie Bruce of Bruce Brothers Charters, angling for this big fish will engage every fibre of your being, as bluefins are legendary for their speed and power.
Try Wall Diving in Newfoundland
Experienced divers looking for a big wall diving experience will find it in western Newfoundland. Gadd’s Wall in Gros Morne National Park takes you abruptly down into a colourful world rich with sea anemones, soft corals, elephant ear sponge and the endangered wolfish. Rick Stanley, founder of Ocean Quest Adventures, likens the experience to diving into an underwater flower garden. For an accessible alternative, he suggests Bell Island near Twillingate, which also offers a wall and reef dive.