When the travel bug bites, Canada has a wealth of experiences to offer.
You don't have to go halfway around the world to experience history, culture and natural beauty at its finest. Here, some top road trip ideas to inspire your planning.
The Trans-Canada Highway
Go big, or go home. Spanning over 7800 kilometres from Victoria, British Columbia to St. John's, Newfoundland, the world's longest national highway is undoubtedly the ultimate Canadian road trip. Some say you haven't experienced Canada until you've driven through the prairies and seen the contrasts of both coasts. You'll find many of Canada's must-see experiences along the way, including the Bay of Fundy, the historic villages along Quebec's Route 132, and our nation's capital, Ottawa -- just to name a few!
The Trans-Canada Highway isn't a single route -- it's more like a network of routes with opportunities for trips of all lengths. TransCanadaHighway.com suggests some one week road trips, such as "Ride the Rockies", "Prairie Ramble", "Historic Ontario" and "East Coasting" -- and you can create your itinerary using the planning guide and mobile app.
Sea to Sky Country, British Columbia
If it's diversity you're after, Highway 99 -- aptly named the Sea to Sky Highway -- will make you glad you loaded up on memory cards for your digital camera. Starting just outside Vancouver in Horseshoe Bay, the route offers a little of everything from the coastal rain forest along Howe Sounds to the fierce mountain peaks on route to Whistler.
While the highway is a convenient way to travel from city to city, this 125 km route has plenty of reasons to explore along the way. Small communities dot the route, including the former mining community of Britannia Beach and the just-right-sized town of Squamish, where you can learn more about Aboriginal culture and art. Designated lookouts offer some fantastic photo ops, but you can get up close and personal with the terrain at one of the many provincial parks along the way -- including waterfalls spilling over towering cliffs.
Icefields Parkway, Alberta
How often do you get a good look at a glacier -- or experience ice in the summer? Though the Icefields Parkway runs a modest 232 km between Jasper and Banff, you'll want to allow plenty of time for stops. Winding along the edge of the Great Divide, the route promises pretty views of lush meadows, waterfalls and the snow-capped peaks of the Rocky Mountains. While a short route, there are places you'll want to stop for the night -- like alongside the pristine turquoise waters of glacier-fed Lake Louise.
Of course, the massive swath of ice that is the Columbia Icefields isn't for admiring from afar. In the summer, visitors can board an ice explorer and venture out onto the surface the Athabasca Glacier. This "finger" of the Columbia Icefield is about 6 km long, 1 km wide and up to 300 m deep. If you prefer to go on foot, book a guided hike from the Columbia Icefield Centre instead.
Naturally, there's much more to explore in Alberta, including the Drumheller, the "dinosaur capital of the world" and home to the Canadian Badlands.
Country Routes, Quebec
The province has some stunning historic cities, but its country drives are where you'll experience the authentic character of Quebec. Taken individually or combined for a longer trip, Bonjour Quebec's Country Routes offer something to suit every taste. (Especially the province's Gourmet Route where foodies can indulge in all the local specialties from artisan cheeses to local wines to the best bakeries.)
Each route has a theme or highlight, like the Whale Route which stretches 900 km along the Gulf of St. Lawrence to Labrador (and yes, you can spot the marine giants from shore). The King's Road connects Repentigny and Old Québec City travelling through small history towns along its 260 km route. The Mountain Route takes you through Charlevoix World Biosphere Reserve and shows off some of the highest peaks in the Laurentian Shield.
The routes vary in length and can be combined with a city escape. For a full list, visit Bonjour Quebec's Driving Routes webpage.
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