There is more to winter in Canada than the ski slopes. From tobogganing to dog sledding, explore epic winter activities to add to your winter bucket list.

     

Winter in Canada’s outdoors can be a lot of fun—even if you don’t want to ski down a hill or along a forest trail. Here are five different places in Canada where you can enjoy five different winter activities without having to wear skis.

     

Tobogganing at Mactaquac Provincial Park, NB

One of the earliest memories of winter fun many of us share involves sliding down a snow-covered hill. Kids could spend hours jumping on a toboggan (or sled… or even plastic sliding carpet), zooming down the local hill, running back up and doing it all over again. In Mactaquac Provincial Park, there are two options for tobogganing enthusiasts: an easier hill and a hill with a few sections that some sliders have described semi-facetiously as a “suicide hill”—best for those who want to experience some extreme tobogganing. Both hills are groomed regularly, and there are lights so you can get your tobogganing in at night. Don’t have a toboggan? That’s okay—if you don’t mind using a big tube to slide on, you can rent them at the park’s lodge.New Brunswick Tourism

        

Snowshoeing in Gatineau Park, Quebec

Silence. That’s the first thing you notice snowshoeing down a trail in this park when it’s blanketed by several feet of snow. Then, you can hear the sounds of nature around you… A downy woodpecker hammering on a tree, a creek running along its bed (if it’s not too small to be frozen over) and a bit of breeze navigating through the trees. John Geary

If you’re really lucky, you might spot a red fox, one of more than 50 mammals that call the park home. Spotting wildlife can be a hit-and-miss, though—you’re more likely to discover the snowy tracks of foxes, snowshoe hares or deer. The park provides more than 70 kilometres of trail to snowshoe on, ranging in difficulty from easy to challenging. If you don’t have your own snowshoes, you can rent some from the Gatineau Park Visitor Centre. Rent or not, once you get out on the trails, it’s a great opportunity to slow down, listen and just breathe.John Geary

           

Skating at Arrowhead Provincial Park, Ontario

If you’re looking for something a bit quicker than snowshoeing, skating through the woods at Arrowhead Provincial Park sure beats skating in an indoor arena—hands down. It’s much faster than snowshoeing and depending on how fast you skate (or ski), it can be faster than Nordic skiing. Arrowhead is located west of the larger Algonquin Park, less than 10 kilometres north of the town of Huntsville, Ontario, and it’s become a really popular winter destination for those who want to skate through the forest. The 1.3-kilometre ice trail is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but it is often shut down between 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. for maintenance. Because it’s such a popular park, it gets busy during peak season, so be sure to plan and reserve a day pass (up to five days in advance) so you don’t show up and find out you’re out of luck. Once you get there, strap on the blades and skate like the Brinker children in the novel Hans Brinker.Ontario Parks

              

Dog Sledding in Kananaskis Country, Alberta

Gliding along the trails near Spray Lake, in Kananaskis Country, Alberta and being pulled by a team of sled dogs, all you hear is the sound of the runners swooshing over the trail. Before you get to enjoy that silence though, you might have to put up with a bit of yipping and yapping as your guides get the dogs hooked up to the sled harness. But listening to their pre-run excitement is a small price to pay for one of the most thrilling of winter activities. With Snowy Owl Sled Dog Tours, there are two options: you can drive the sled yourself—or sit down on the front of the sled, wrapped up in a blanket and let one of their mushers drive. Sitting is preferred if you want to take photos of your journey while it’s happening. But if you want to imagine you’re Jack London, mushing through the northern winter woods, then by all means, opt to drive. Regardless of which option you choose, you will receive instructions on how to handle dogs and how to drive a dog sled. After that, it’s time to join your dog team and head down the trail. It’s both a rush but incredibly peaceful at the same time—and you might just get hooked on dog sledding.John Geary

    

Experiencing the VanDusen Botanical Gardens, Vancouver

Walking through Vancouver’s signature gardens during their annual Christmas light display is a more relaxed way to enjoy winter—but a very rewarding outdoor experience in its own way. It’s a great family experience, listening to the “oohs!” and “ahhs!” of younger children. It’s also a great way for couples to enjoy a romantic walk during the festive season. Each year, the light show is a bit different but always entertaining as the designers find new ways to display seasonal holiday lights on all the different trees, shrubs and flowers in the garden. Walking the paths throughout the garden, you may start to hum tunes in your head like It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas. But they already have that covered as lights are coordinated with music, creating an audio-visual feast for the senses.John Geary

The event runs until January. Purchase tickets in advance.

     

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