5 of the Best Scenic Drives in Canada
Have you ever gone to a new destination, where you've rented a car, campervan or motorcycle, and just cruised? It is the quintessential travel lifestyle; there's nothing but you and the unexplored road ahead.
Hitting the open road provides adventurous souls a sense of freedom and happiness in the simplest way possible.
Continuing off my most recent article, Your Guide to the Best National Parks in Canada, I have done my best, although difficult, to talk about the best scenic drives around my home country. A visit to Canada should be in your upcoming plans and these dispersed routes will provide you with a new adventure, no matter where you are in the true north.
Highway 60 - Algonquin Park, Ontario
Let's start with the spectacular scenic drive along Highway 60 in Ontario.
The 190 kilometre stretch winds its way throughout the park and provides no shortage of breathtaking views along the way. Located to the east of Ontario’s cottage country (Muskoka), access to Highway 60 is quite simple. As a travellers tip, I recommend staying in the park for a couple nights. Set up your tent, tackle one of the many hiking trails, rent a canoe for the day and enjoy what Algonquin Provincial Park has to offer.
You won't regret it.
Interesting fact: Algonquin Park is the oldest provincial park in Ontario and in 1992 became a National Historic Site in Canada.
Viking Trail - Newfoundland and Labrador
Settle in for the long haul if you’re wanting to take on this entire drive.
The popular 489 kilometre Viking Trail is located along the Western Coast of Newfoundland. With the main highlight being Gros Morne National Park, those willing to drive further up the coast will witness even more sights along the way. The scenery throughout the length of the coastline is unlike anything else you will witness in Canada, and it deserves a few days of your time to digest.
History gurus will also be able to get their fix and learn about the unique stories of the ancient past. The warm and welcoming people of Newfoundland always enjoy being able to teach others about their homeland.
Interesting Fact: The Viking Trail ends in St Anthony, which is also known as the 'Iceberg Capital of the World'.
Dempster Highway - Yukon and Northwest Territories
Dempster Highway is for those wanting to get off the tourist trail and seek some real adventure. The same was said in my previous article about Auyuittuq National Park and this is because of its sheer location in the far North.
Split between the Yukon and Northwest Territories, the Dempster Highway is a remote Canadian experience. It starts in Dawson City and stretches nearly 800 kilometres to the Arctic Circle. You’ll have the opportunity to witness new wildlife, landscapes, and even 24-hour sunlight if you choose to venture here during the peak summer months.
Ensure you rent yourself a 4x4 vehicle, and gear up for what will be an adventure of a lifetime.
Interesting Fact: The highway is named after William Dempster, a Yukon local. He found the remains of 'The Lost Patrol', a group of policemen who went missing in 1900 and had died after getting into difficulty due to the diffcult, snowy conditions. Dempster became a local hero and there is still a monument to the Lost Patrol on the highway.
Cabot Trail - Nova Scotia
Ok, so I can’t write about the best scenic drives in Canada without including the critically-acclaimed Cabot Trail, located on Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Island.
Many Canadians and travellers alike will agree that this is one of the leading scenic stops in the entire country. Located under 4 hours from Halifax, the Cabot Trail is easily accessible for those who have flown into the capital city (this is considered a short drive for us Canadians…).
Whether you have two days or one week, a drive around the Cabot Trail loop is an absolute must. Being a very popular route during the summer, accommodation styles of all types can be found throughout the journey.
Interesting Fact: The trail rises to heights of over 1200ft.
Icefields Parkway - Alberta
If you're planning to visit Banff National Park in the future, you’ll also have the opportunity to drive along the famous Icefields Parkway.
Connecting the small town of Lake Louise to Jasper a bit further north, the Icefields Parkway (aka Highway 93) is definitely something to rave about. Year-round, this highway provides visitors with mind-blowing landscapes and lookouts every direction possible. Although only 232 kilometres, you’ll want to give yourself a full day to tackle this route. Start bright and early to avoid the crowds that are bound to start showing up throughout the day.
An important thing to note; there is no cell coverage along the Icefields Parkway, so ensure you do your research beforehand and consider carrying along an old-school map to be safe.
Interesting Fact: The building of the road was actually a depression-relief project. It was the work of over 2000 local, unemployed city men, who completed the work with hand tools (as that would keep them employed longer).
That’s a warm-up list for some of the best scenic drives in Canada. Like my article on the 'Best National Parks in Canada', I did my best to provide you with a varying set of drives around the country. Here’s a few others that deserve an honourable mention:
- Sea to Sky Highway, British Columbia
- Fundy Coastal Drive, New Brunswick
- Canadian Badlands, Alberta
- St Lawrence Route, Quebec
So what are you waiting for?? Pack your bags, hit the road, and cruise. Adventure awaits along the many scenic routes around Canada.
For now, take care of yourself - and remember, adventure is out there.