Whistler, Banff, Whitehorse, Ottawa, Quebec City, St. John’s—these are some of the most well-known destinations in Canada for people who love the outdoors. And they’ve earned their reputation, with incredible activities nearby, like hiking, skiing, biking or paddling.
But what about those places that are still off-radar? Somewhere the crowds have yet to discover—yet also offer world-class outdoor recreation in wild and beautiful locales?
We found them.
Read on—we’ve scoured the country from coast-to-coast-to-coast and uncovered the next great adventure destinations. Get there before the secret is out!
Port Renfrew, British Columbia
Located on the southwest coast of Vancouver Island, and easily accessed from Victoria or a notoriously twisty route from Lake Cowichan, Port Renfrew is like an even-more-mellow version of Tofino or Ucluelet. Wild Pacific shores, multiday hikes, nearby surfing and kid-friendly beachcombing await. Botanical Beach, in Juan de Fuca Provincial Park, is a Technicolor marvel of tide pools and crashing waves. The Juan de Fuca Trail is 47-kilometres of rainforest trekking that will leave you drop-jawed. Or grab a surfboard and wetsuit and head to nearby Sombrio Beach or Jordan River for some epic waves. And pitch a tent right on the beach at Pacheedaht Campground for sunset views and a laidback vibe.
Grande Cache, Alberta
Skip the tourist hordes at Banff or Jasper but access similar Rocky Mountain environs in Grand Cache, located on the northwestern edge of Alberta. More than 4,500 square-kilometres of backcountry adventure is waiting for you in the iconic Willmore Wilderness Park. Off-trail treks, impressive glaciers, world-class catch-and-release fishing for bull trout and random wilderness camping—with zero crowds. Start your adventure at Sulphur Gates, the confluence of the Smoky and Sulphur rivers, then explore ever-outward from there.
La Ronge, Saskatchewan
It’s a long drive from anywhere to reach lonely La Ronge, a hub in northern Saskatchewan’s lake country. But once you’re there, epic canoe trips—with island campsites and long summer days—or incredible fishing for feisty northern pike and walleye will keep you busy. Arrange a self-supported floatplane drop-off from Osprey Wings, or drive an hour or so north to Missinnipe, home to iconic Churchill River Canoe Outfitters, and embark on a guided paddling adventure.
If you love dense forests, flowing rivers and serene lakes—this is the region for you. For the outdoor enthusiast, there are two main reasons to travel to the “Deer Capital of Manitoba.” First up—the Pinawa Trail, a 28-kilometre leg of The Great Trail (Trans Canada Trail) that wanders through a mixed-woods forest popular with birdwatchers. Or hop in a canoe and paddle to Pinawa Dam—a turn-of-the-last century relic that looks downright apocalyptic against the lush natural surroundings.
Northwestern Ontario is a canoeist’s paradise—and the town of Atikokan offers access to some of the best. For starters, it’s located near the Dawson Trail Campground in Quetico Provincial Park—this wild parkland's only car-access point. Quetico is a legendary canoe destination. Typical trips are three to eight days, and, unlike some other regions, long portages are rare. Access points are found along Highway 11, or car-camp and day-paddle at Dawson Trail, set next to French Lake. Beyond the park, unlimited canoe routes abound along what was once known as the “Voyageurs’ Highway.” Contact Canoe Canada Outfitting for all your adventure needs—or buy your own area-classic Kevlar canoe from Souris River Canoes. (You won’t believe how light they are!)
Set within the recreation mecca of Quebec’s Abitibi-Temiscamingue region, Rouyn-Noranda boasts 170 kilometres of hiking trails, 85 kilometres of mountain bike trails and 74 kilometres of cross-country skiing trails all within the town-territory. But the real reason to fly here is to explore Parc national Aiguebelle—a wilderness region of glacier-carved granite, lonely lakes and dense forest. In summer, kayak on Lac Lois or canoe the slow-moving waters of Lac La Haie. Hike some 30 kilometres of trails, or venture into the untamed backcountry of this 270-square-kilometre stunner. Stay a couple nights in one of the park’s rustic off-grid cabins and forget the world for a while.
Grand Manan, New Brunswick
It’s a 90-minute ferry ride from the mainland to reach Grand Manan Island, an isolated lobster fishing community at the mouth of the Bay of Fundy. Tourism has yet to really take hold, so the time to go is now. Hook up with Adventure High for kayak rentals or day- and multi-day guided excursions. The dramatic tides make every paddle unique. Or cruise the isle on the lookout for the trailheads of the 18 Heritage Footpaths and Trails of Grand Manan—a network comprising some 70 kilometres of hikes. Go on a lighthouse searching mission. Buy some dulse, a locally harvested seaweed treat. And gorge on lobster at the Marathon Inn.
North Cape, Prince Edward Island
This one only really makes the "off-radar" list if you’re a CFA, as most PEIslanders tend to have explored their tiny-but-beautiful province. The town of Summerside is your getaway to the island's North Cape, just a 20-minute cruise from the Confederation Bridge. From here, head out on the North Cape Coastal Drive, a 350-kilometre loop that leads to authentic island culture, viewpoints, landmarks and lots of adventure. Hike the beaches. Cycle a leg of the Confederation Trail. Book a sportfishing tour. Go clamming. Spot lighthouses. And above all—relax. You’re on Island Time. (PS: Don't know what a "CFA" is? Then you are one.)
Tangier, Nova Scotia
Drive up-coast from Halifax and you’ll find yourself out of the Maritimes’ biggest city and free from cellphone range in as little as 45 minutes. Yes, the Eastern Shore is a world away from the capital. That’s why it makes our list as an adventure destination. The prime reason to travel to Tangier is for the sea kayaking. Calm waters are littered with broken islands and rife with sandy beaches, birds and marine life; you could kayak this area for a lifetime and still fine new coves to explore. Which is why Coastal Adventures has set up shop here and forged its reputation as one of the country’s premier kayak guiding outfitters. Book a day-trip, inn-to-inn tour or skills-advancement course.
King’s Point, Newfoundland & Labrador
Set against Green Bay on the coast of central Newfoundland, King’s Point offers adventures on both land and sea—as well as charming island culture. For the hiker, the Alexander Murray Trail is calling. A steep and sweaty climb leads along some 2,200 stairs to Haypook Summit and a panoramic view of the area. Make sure to check out the Corner Brook Falls side-trip on your way along this 12-kilometre trail. Head to the Whale Pavilion to learn about cetaceans, then out onto the ocean for a daytrip with King’s Point Boat Tours and Adventures. Puffins, whales and icebergs (in season) await.
Pond Inlet, Nunavut
There is no simple way to get to Pond Inlet. Nor a cheap way. But it offers unbridled adventure and rich cultural experiences—so it’s worth it. Set on the north end of Baffin Island at about 72 degrees latitude, a summer trip to Pond means eternal daylight and vast wilderness as the remote hamlet is a staging point for mighty Sirmilik National Park. This is no place for newbies. It’s off-grid to the extreme; a land of tundra, glaciers and polar bears. In town, the visitor centre offers a glimpse into local Inuit culture. And it’s also home to the most northerly Tim Horton’s in the world. (Visitors not quite up to self-supported Arctic expeditions often travel here via a polar expedition cruise.)
Inuvik, Northwest Territories
If you drive to Inuvik your quotient for adventure might already be met by the time you arrive. Located at the end of the Dempster Highway—Canada’s most epic road trip—you’ll see the mighty Tombstone and Richardson mountain ranges and pass the Arctic Circle en route. (The Tombstones in particular offer incredible hiking.) In Inuvik, though, let your adventure continue. The Mackenzie River Delta expands north from town—book a boat tour to Tuktoyaktuk with Tundra North Tours, then either fly home or drive back via the brand-new Road to Tuk. Pingos, Inuit culture, beluga whales and more! Plus, it’s the jumping off point for Ivvavik National Park—hiking heaven—and Herschel Island, home to whaling camp ruins and First Nations history.
Haines Junction, Yukon
Travel Yukon/Rich Wheater
The whole of Yukon is an adventure destination—so when we single out one town, you know it must be good. Located about two hours’ drive from Whitehorse, Haines Junction is your staging point to explore Kluane National Park. This park is part of the largest protected area on the planet and home to the biggest icefields on Earth outside the poles or Greenland. Beyond that, it harbours awesome day-hikes (try to Auriol or Sheep Creek trails) and epic multi-day backpacking routes (like the Ä’äy Chù/Slim’s River East or incredible Dän Zhùr/Donjek Route). Pitch a tent at the Kathleen Lake Campground or book at The Cabin & Kluane Ecotours—the latter of which offers the guiding services of Kluane expert Brent Liddle.
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