With its vast natural landscape, Canada offers a wide range of scenic drives. Explore all that Canada has to offer with this list of road trips that will take you throughout this magnificent country. Beginning in the west of Canada and motoring east, here are 10 of Canada’s most remarkable scenic drives.
Highway 4 (Pacific Rim Highway), Parksville to Tofino, Vancouver Island, BC
This 150-km, two-hour drive straight across Vancouver Island from Parksville in the east to Tofino on the west Pacific Coast winds through ancient forests, mountain ranges, and lakes. Once you’re in Tofino, kick back and enjoy the quaint small-town charm in a grand surrounding landscape that includes spectacular vistas of the Pacific Ocean and Clayquot Sound, now a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.
Don’t miss the bizarre but charming Old Country Market, better known as Goats on Roof.
Sea to Sky Highway, BC
The Sea to Sky Highway is an approximately 150 km portion of Highway 99 North that connects Horseshoe Bay in Vancouver to just past Whistler, B.C. This stunning piece of highway offers views of lakes, mountains, fjords, inlets, a waterfall, all in one two-hour drive.
Interesting places to stop along the way include the Britannia Mines Museum, where you can tour what was once a working copper mine or the Sea to Sky Gondola in Squamish for one of Canada’s sweetest lake/mountain views.
The Sea to Sky Highway underwent major repair for the 2010 Winter Olympics, so it is as pleasant and safe to drive as it has ever been.
Trans-Canada Highway between Revelstoke, BC and Lake Louise, AB
The 220-km portion of the Trans-Canada Highway (#1) between Revelstoke and Lake Louise cuts through the Canadian Rockies, including the Selkirk Mountain Range and Glacier National Park in British Columbia, and the final stop at Lake Louise in Banff National Park, Alberta.
The Icefields Parkway, Alberta
The Icefields Parkway (Hwy. 93 through Banff and Jasper National Parks, Alberta) parallels the Continental Divide along the BC/Alberta boundary, through the Rockies. This scenic drive takes you through the Rocky Mountains past lakes and glaciers. The northern portion of the Icefields Parkway is like stepping back into the ice age. Giant glaciers, frozen mid-slide, surround this stretch of highway that passes through the Columbia Icefields, where visitors can get out and have a Columbia Icefield Experience.
Badlands Trail, Alberta
Unlike many of Canada’s most popular scenic drives, which are lush, forested or seaside, the Badlands Trail is scenic for its sparse, lunar-like terrain. The Badlands Trail loops through Calgary, Drumheller, Medicine Hat, and Lethbridge and would take a few hours to drive, if going non-stop, but many visitors take up to a week to explore the area. The landscape around Drumheller is home to some of the most extensive dinosaur fossil fields in the world.
Hwy 60 to Algonquin Park Corridor, Ontario
Highway 60 is special as it cuts through Algonquin Park, one of Canada’s finest and most famous parks. Located in central Ontario, Algonquin Park covers 7,725 square kilometers of lakes and forests, bogs and rivers, cliffs and beaches. The Algonquin Corridor of Highway 60 is the major access to all areas of the park and features direct access to eight campgrounds, 14 trails, education programs, a visitor center, and Logging Museum.
Driving through Algonquin Park along Hwy 60 will only take about an hour, but be prepared to stop for wildlife viewing (it’s a popular moose hangout). No permit is required to traverse the park, but one is required for camping and other uses of the facilities.
St. Lawrence Route, Quebec
Fundy Coastal Drive, New Brunswick
The Bay of Fundy extends from the northern coast of Maine into Canada between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Twice daily, the Bay fills and empties its 100 billion tonnes of water, creating the highest tides in the world—in some areas of the bay, tides reach more than 50 feet (16 m). In addition, water has worn away the shore’s red sandstone and volcanic rock to reveal a plethora of fossils and signs of life from millions of years ago. This dramatic coastal drive traverses 391 km (243 mi.) between St. Stephen and Sackville.
Cabot Trail, Cape Breton, Nova Scotia
Named for explorer John Cabot, the Cabot Trail winds around the northern end of Cape Breton Island. Drivers or hardy cyclists begin and end at many points in the circuit, but typically tourists do so at the town of Baddeck. The 300 km (185 mi.) long Cabot Trail is famous for the vistas it offers of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the Atlantic Ocean, and lush landscapes, particularly spectacular in fall. The trail takes a few hours to drive, but tourists generally spend at least a day or two to visit some of the charming towns along the way.
Viking Trail, Newfoundland
Stretching all the way from the Newfoundland’s west coast to Southern Labrador, the Viking Trail is a 443 km themed highway that divulges the former presence of not only Vikings but also Basque and native inhabitants. The Viking Trail is the only route to the popular UNESCO World Heritage sites at Gros Morne National Park of Canada and L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic Site of Canada. This scenic drive stretches between Deer Lake to St. Anthony in Newfoundland and requires a 1 hr 45 min ferry ride to complete the Labrador portion from L’Anse au Clair to Battle Harbour.