We’ve scoured the most scenic and fun routes for exploring Canada. Rent a car and set out to explore the great outdoors. By Shibani Bawa
- Start at Vancouver. The Sea to Sky Highway is the most popular section of Highway 99, a beautiful two-hour drive from Vancouver to Whistler traversing the varied climatic zones of British Columbia.
- Stop by the WhyteCliff Park along Horseshoe Bay to enjoy the views of the ocean and the Strait of Georgia.
- A 15-minute drive from here will lead you to Lions Bay, a quaint village with good hiking trails nearby. Britannia Beach is a must after this, where you can visit the Britannia Mine Museum that offers guided mine tours, gold panning, and other exhibits.
- A few kilometers north, after crossing the Shannon Falls Provincial Park on the north-east shore of the Howe Sound, you arrive in Squamish. Equidistant from Vancouver and Whistler, it is known for the huge cliff-faced granite massif, Stawamus Chief. It has over 300 climbing routes and lots of steep trails for hikers.
- Continue northwards and park at Garibaldi Provincial Park to enjoy a hike through crystal-clear lakes, surrounded by mountain vistas and strewn with alpine wildflowers. Finally, you arrive at the final destination—Whistler. Stay at the Whistler Blackcomb, one of the largest ski resorts in North America, and be spoilt for choice with golfing, bungee jumping, zip-lining, and rafting.
Route 2: Icefields Parkaway, Alberta: 232 kms
- A route that boasts more than 100 glaciers, this scenic road trip will take you from Lake Louise, through Banff National Park and Jasper National Park up to Jasper.
- Begin with a ride up Lake Louise Gondola for a breathtaking view from 6,850 feet and fabulous sightings of grizzly bears in the Canadian Rockies.
- As you drive north, make a stop at Crowfoot Glacier and enjoy wildlife sightings including moose, elk, and bighorn sheep. Book either a stay or at least a meal at the Num-Ti-Jah Lodge , a historic stone and log chalet at the Bow Lake.
- At Peyto Lake, take a leisurely 10-minute stroll up a paved path to the highest elevation viewpoint of the Banff National Park. Gas up at Sasketchewan River Crossing before heading towards Jasper.
- Further up, you step into the ice age. The Columbia Icefield is where you can even walk on ice at Athabasca Glacier and take a five-minute shuttle from the Discovery Centre to the Glacier Skywalk.
[box]Important: Top up your gas tank before leaving Lake Louise since there’s only one service station on this route.[/box]
- This journey begins at Deer Lake and takes you to a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Gros Morne
National Park. Here, you can enjoy the stunning views of freshwater fjords formed by glacial erosion.
- Onward to the ancient site of L’Anse aux Meadows; it will interest you to know that this is where the Vikings first landed in North America more than 1,000 years ago, and is now the only authenticated Viking settlement in this continent.
- The journey highlights the presence of Basque and aboriginal inhabitants as well. The five-hour trip ends at the windswept west coast to the south of Labrador. L’Anse au Clair, established by early French settlers, has nice, sandy beaches as well as scenic walking trails along the shore. Take the ferry from L’Anse au Clair to Battle Harbour with Labrador Ferry Service (cars are permitted) across the Strait of Belle Isle.
[box] The Viking Trail
L’Anse Aux Meadows has been listed as North America’s only Norse site. Here, you can discover the lives of the Vikings, listen to their stories and myths, and explore artifacts, weaponry, and tools. [/box]