Canada has a new road and it leads to the Arctic Ocean (our first). The Inuvik Tuktoyaktuk Highway offers a 138-kilometres for adventurous road trippers. If you dream of tackling it, learn how in my latest story for Canadian Geographic Travel here.
Is Canada number 1 in your travel planning for 2017? The New York Times rated Canada as its number 1 place to travel for this year. Canada is celebrating its 150th birthday and rolling out the red carpet (and the red maple leaf) for visitors coming for the party.
Many cities and towns are planning special celebrations and Parks Canada is offering a free park pass for anyone wanting to visit one of its spectacular 44 national parks or 167 national historic site. Click here for a free park pass.
As a travel writer, people often ask me what my favourite travel destination is and many are surprised when I tell them its home. Canada has so much scenic beauty and enough wildlife adventures for a nature nut like me, I can’t help but recommend it for all travellers.
Like hiking but haven’t kept up your fitness program? Try the gondola to Sunshine Meadows in Banff National Park for jaw-dropping views (and wifi) that will have you reaching for your smartphone. Interested in learning more about some of Canada’s earliest settlers or chowing down on tasty seafood? Drop in at Fortess of Louisbourg National Historic Site (bring warm clothes) and step back into the 18th century. Feel the need to unplug? Visit the place some call the quietest prairie in North America at Grasslands National Park in hard-to-pronounce Saskatchewan.
Have you been to Canada yet? Will you add it to your travel plans for this year? Drop me a note and tell me what places you love best or the ones you’d like to visit.
Leigh McAdam encourages people to get out and explore Canada with this guide to self-locomotion. Covering the country from coast to coast and every season she offers choices for hiking, biking, skating, rafting and paddling. Each adventure includes main attractions, time needed, cost, and guided options. This isn’t just a book for daydreaming. McAdam has selected activities and destinations that are affordable for the average traveller. Her difficulty ratings may not match your abilities so read the criteria carefully. If hiking 18 kilometers in a day sounds like more than moderate exercise, peruse the easy options. But get moving. This book will have you hankering for outdoor adventure!
Discover Canada: 100 Inspiring Outdoor Adventures. Click to Tweet.
Get outside and explore Canada with this guide to self-locomotion: Click to Tweet.
When I learned to fly, my flight instructor told me flying was boredom 95% of the time and the other 5% delivered sphincter-narrowing excitement. That phrase ran through my head as I searched unsuccessfully for bison in Elk Island National park. With over 460 plains bison in a relatively small park, you might think they would be hard to miss. You would be wrong.
After two hours of driving back and forth on the 18 kilometer road that dissects the park I spotted nary a bison. Or a bird. Or anything moving. It was frustrating because I could tell by the poop scattered everywhere and the tracks in the snow there were bison around. “The best time to see them is at dawn and dusk,” suggested the Parks Canada visitor center employee. Unfortunately it was mid-morning and I would be long gone by dark.
Daydreaming to take my mind off my lack of photos I crested a small hill and saw several vehicles stopped on the road. “Wildlife!” I thought. I didn’t care if it was a squirrel, by now I was happy to look at anything with fur or feathers to break my wildlife-viewing drought. I coasted to a stop and spotted dozens of brown shaggy behemoths jogging across the frozen grasslands. Bison! They were several hundred meters away – too far to photograph – so I grabbed my video camera to capture the movement.
In the viewfinder I noticed the lead animals turning towards me. At the same time I thought, “they are coming this way” a stampede erupted behind my vehicle. Tons of plain bison thundered across the road, youngsters following moms and spunky teenagers kicking their heels in the air as they went. The snow flew up as they pounded across the plains, steam circling their dark heads. In seconds the reached a large stand of aspen and the forest gobbled them up as if they had never been. My racing heart told me otherwise. I love that 5%!
Watch the action on this video.
A large office supply company pioneered the idea of an easy button – one push and all your challenges fade away. What if you could make your trip to Canada’s national parks easier? Banff National Park staff has been trying to simplify outdoor adventures.
Last year Parks Canada launched Equipped Camping sites – a tent with sleeping pads is set up and waiting, removing the need to buy camping gear or stressing over how to assemble tent poles. At Two Jack Lakeside campground in 2013 Parks Canada constructed oTENTiks – sturdy tent/cabin hybrids to keep the rain out and your bones off the ground.
Both initiatives have been popular – the oTENTiks are fully booked most of the summer – and now the Red Chairs are coming to Banff National Park. The idea for the chairs came from Gros Morne National Park where pairs of red Adirondack-style chairs were installed hoping visitors would sit and ponder great views. The chairs were so popular, “there were line-ups to sit in some the chairs,” recalled Greg Danchuk, Visitor Experience Manager at Banff National Park.
Now visitors can relax in the red chairs at several locations in Banff National Park such as the Hoodoos interpretive trail or at the Valleyview picnic area. “We placed them in places that are very easy to get to,” said Danchuk. There are nine pairs of chairs in the park with the possibility of adding more.
Although some people raised concerns initially that the chairs would encourage environmental overuse, Danchuk stresses, “They are not placed in the backcountry or hard-to-find areas. We would also never place them on rehabilitated ground. We will monitor them to see if there are any negative impacts but so far there has been no significant problems.”
From 2006 to 2011 attendance at national parks dropped. Concerned about the decrease, Parks Canada saw attracting new Canadians as a way to rebuild visitation. But with more Canadians living in cities, outdoor skills can be rusty or non-existent. Making it easier for people to experience the outdoors is a strategy being tried by park planners across North America and it seems to be attracting new customers to Banff National Park. “We project a 7% increase in Banff park visitation for the year ending March 31, 2015 and we think some of that increase is from initiatives like oTENTiks, Equipped Campsites and the Red Chairs that make it easier to enjoy nature.”
What if you could make your trip to Canada’s national parks easier? Click to Tweet.