Credit: Destination Canada
Amazing adventures require proper planning!
If you wait until winter is in full swing to devise your cold-weather escape, well, it'll be too late.
So we're here to inspire you, with six incredible wintertime adventures in Canada.
Read—and Live Life Outdoors!
Skate the Rideau Canal
Winter in Ottawa means access to the world’s largest ice rink. At 7.8 kilometres long, and also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Rideau Canal Skateway stretches from downtown to Dows Lake, running right through the centre of Canada’s capital. It’s open late—often to 11:00 p.m., and in the morning some people even use it for commuting. Dress warmly, and hit up hot chocolate and coffee stands along the way. It’s universally beloved in Ottawa and by all visitors who partake in this unique Canadian experience.
Are you familiar with Abitibi-Témiscamingue? This region in western Quebec, about 2.5 hours east of Timmins, Ontario or six hours northwest of Montreal, is a 65,000-square-kilometre adventure mecca of lakes, rivers, woodland and unbridled potential for winter recreation. While certainly no secret to the area’s 145,000 residents, tourism is a burgeoning industry in Abitibi-Témiscamingue—crowds and high-prices are not on the ledger. Pack your snowshoe gear to explore this region properly, starting in Parc national d’Aiguebelle. Offering 38 kilometres of backcountry trails, the park is best experienced in either the three-day/two-night tour dubbed “The Faults,” or the four-day/ three-night “Northern Getaway;” varying-difficulty routes that link together rustic shelters for comfy multi-night touring.
XC The Capital Region
Gatineau Park, located just across the river from Ottawa, is one of Canada’s premier cross-country ski destinations. With more than 50 marked trails for all skill levels totalling more than 200 kilometres, half of which is suitable for skate-skiing, it’s easy to see why. Add in reliable snowpack and top-notch maintenance and it’s a hard place to beat for cold-weather fitness. There are even 45 kilometres of backcountry ski trails, with as much as a 320-vertical-metre drop to keep even devoted ski-tourers happy. Day shelters, public transit access, warming huts… need we say more?
Ski the Chic Chocs
Rest assured, there is quality ski touring in Eastern Canada too. Head into the Chic Chocs, home to the namesake Mountain Lodge, for Quebec’s best backcountry skiing. Located 615 metres above sea level, the lodge is accessed by a track-equipped van and offers guests luxury in the wilderness—gourmet meals, comfy accommodations and views galore. Days are spent carving deep powder, skiing steep chutes and weaving through glades. There’s even a spa to relax your muscles post-ski.
Visit Aurora Village (Pictured)
Yellowknife, capital of the Northwest Territories, is the best place on Earth to spot the Northern Lights. The reasons are simple—Yellowknife is easy to access, is home to dark and clear winter night skies and it’s also set directly below the ring of aurora activity that orbits the Earth. In fact, Yellowknife boasts more than 200 nights of aurora activity per year. If the sky is clear and dark, chances are you’ll see this impressive spectacle. Tours range from luxury heated teepees, to adventurous dogsled excursions, to self-guided snowshoe explorations.
Dogsled like a Sourdough
You’re brave right? Brave enough to head north of 60 in the cold months and traverse the frozen landscape of Yukon via dogsled? Imagine—boundless winter wilds stretch out before you. Your trusty team of canines yelps and howls in anticipation. Mush! Perhaps you’ll spend and hour or two with an adept guide handling the team. Perhaps you’ll do an overnight, spending all day at the helm of your own sled. Or maybe a multi-day trip is in order—perfecting your dogsledding skills and camping beneath the Northern Lights. However you sled, you’re sure to fall in love with not only the Yukon winter but the energetic canines with which you explore.