Top Canadian Scenic Drives
Chris’ personal picks from places in the world that he has visited.
We are so fortunate to live in one of the most beautiful parts of the globe and road trips are a wonderful way of experiencing this beauty. Here are my favourite spectacular scenic drives from sea to shimmering sea.
Top of the World Highway, Yukon:
The name has it half right. It’s certainly no highway, but it truly feels as though it’s the top of the world as its route follows the ridge lines with forever panoramas. This 127km long summertime-only road begins with a ferry across the Yukon River at Dawson City, and ends at the Taylor Highway in Alaska.
Highway 60 Algonquin Park, Ontario: This was my first wonder-drive when I arrived in Canada and I still find it magical. It’s the only traverse of Algonquin Park covering nearly 8,000kms of Canadian Shield - with access to trailheads, canoe routes, campsites and endless lakes and rivers. Look out for moose beside the road early and late in the day.
Viking Trail, Newfoundland: Linking the two UNESCO World Heritage Sites of Gros Morne National Park and L’Anse aux Meadow and stretching all the way from the Newfoundland's west coast to Southern Labrador - the Viking Trail is over 400kms of scenic wonder in Western Newfoundland that ends where the Vikings arrived in 1000 AD.
Fundy Trail Parkway, New Brunswick: The shortest of the drives here – only 16kms long – this road nonetheless delivers eye-popping vistas of the unique Bay of Fundy, with its colossal tides, as it follows cliff tops and river valleys north from St Martins towards Fundy National Park. Bring your hiking shoes for some great trails.
Sea to Sky Highway, BC: The aptly named Sea to Sky Highway is a 150 km portion of Highway 99 North that connects Horseshoe Bay in Vancouver to Pemberton, just past Whistler, B.C. Greatly improved for the Winter 2010 Olympics, the roads soars and swoops beside the ocean past lakes, mountains, fjords, inlets, and a spectacular waterfall before arriving at the idyllic mountain pastures of Pemberton.
North Shore Superior, Ontario: There are some pretty impressive drives along the shores of the Great Lakes, but having experienced most of them, this road trip from Sault Ste Marie to Thunder Bay takes the prize. Highway 17 will take you to amethyst mines, deserted beaches, pristine Pukaskwa National Park, mighty waterfalls and great canyons.
Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia: Justly world-famous, this 300 km loop through the uplands of Cape Breton Highlands National Park skirts the ocean, hugging green slopes that plunge to the waves. It links Acadian fishing villages, pristine valleys, enticing trailheads and some of the most beautiful beaches in Atlantic Canada.
Eastern Townships Wine Route, Quebec: You will need a designated driver to fully enjoy the delights of this road trip that visits no less than 18 wineries. It’s a civilized mix of wine tastings and vineyard tours with delightful B & B’s, rose fields, cheese makers and lavender farms, all set in amidst rolling green hills and sparkling lakes.
Icefields Parkway, Alberta: The Icefields Parkway runs through Banff and Jasper National Parks and parallels the Continental Divide along the BC/Alberta boundary, through the Rockies. It’s glorious in summer with ever-changing mountain views and glacier approaches, but even more memorable in winter when it’s a snowy wonderland.
Dempster Highway, NWT/Yukon: Canada’s only road to cross the Arctic Circle, this two-lane gravel surfaced highway is the ultimate northern road trip, running 671 kms from the Klondike Highway, near Dawson City, to Inuvik, close to the Mackenzie Delta. My trip coincided with migrating caribou herds that transformed the remarkable into the miraculous.