Sand hill

How to make the most of your summer

Here are just a few of our picks for places and events you've got to see out there this summer.

Explore our biggest dunes

Appearing like a mirage out of the boreal forest of northern Saskatchewan, the Athabasca sand dunes cover a strip 100 kilometres long on the south shore of Lake Athabasca. Left behind by ancient glacial rivers, these are the most active dunes in Canada, reaching 100 feet in height and measuring up to a kilometre in length. Floatplane is the only way in and once on the ground, hiking and paddling are both good ways of seeing the dunes.

Raft the Nahatlatch

If you're looking for the best rafting in B.C., head for the Nahatlatch River, near Lillooet. It offers some of the toughest regularly guided whitewater in North America. The thrill ride gets even better in late July, when water levels permit rafters to add an extra three-kilometre canyon section to the regular trip, for a total of 12 kilometres of non-stop class IV and V water and 37 rapids. Average drop in the canyon is 60 feet per kilometre. (From $145)

Focus on the Rockies

Noted landscape photographers Daryl Benson, John Marriot, Jeremy Jackson and Mark and Leslie Degner are sharing some of their shooting know-how in the inspiring terrain of Jasper, Alberta, from September 4 to 7. The pros will be giving tips on lighting, composition and how to earn a living behind the lens. ($1,000 including accommodation)

Ride the still wild west

Every August since 1904, the ranch hands at the Reesor Ranch in southwestern Saskatchewan have been rounding up cattle grazing in the scenic Cypress Hills, which rise 1,000 feet above the surrounding prairie. This year, for the first time, the roundup is open to greenhorns looking to learn cowboy skills on their holiday. Whether signed up for a dude-ranch package or just using the ranch as a base for hiking in the wildlife-rich hills, guests stay in the historic ranch house or one of the small cabins. (Weekend packages start at $400, B&B accommodation from $90.)

Sleep in the Abbot Hut

Perched at 9,598 feet-in a tiny col beneath Mount Victoria, out of sight of the hordes at Lake Louise-the Abbot Pass Hut is the second-highest abode in Canada. Built in 1922, the historic stone shelter, run by the Alpine Club of Canada, provides easy access to some of the most impressive peaks in the Canadian Rockies, including Victoria and Mount Lefroy.

This is just a taste of what's out there. Check out all 100 destinations and activities on our 2009 Summer List in the August '09 issue of explore.