Packing up your trail gear and heading out into Canada’s beautiful backcountry is the perfect way to find lots of adventure away from the tourist crowds. From the stunning shoreline of the Atlantic coast to the rugged Rocky Mountains out west, there’s no shortage of incredible destinations in Canada that take you into the wild. So if you’re looking for a true nature escape this summer, these unique wilderness getaways in Canada offer something for everyone.
Whether you want to discover some unexplored hiking trails in Ontario’s boreal forest, go backcountry camping in one of the best places in the world for stargazing, or get the chance to encounter some of Canada’s rarest wildlife, these 7 wilderness trips will be sure to inspire your travel plans when it’s safe to travel again.
7 wilderness getaways for a unique Canadian vacation
- Long Range Traverse, Newfoundland
- Kluane National Park and Reserve, Yukon Territory
- Parc national du Bic, Quebec
- Pukaskwa National Park, Ontario
- Tweedsmuir Provincial Park, British Columbia
- Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site, Nova Scotia
- Churchill, Manitoba
Long Range Traverse, Newfoundland
While Gros Morne National Park is one of the most popular regions to visit in Newfoundland, few will attempt the Long Range Traverse hike. This is an unmarked and rugged backcountry route which starts from Western Brook Pond and goes through the Long Range Mountains, leading adventurers to one of the most iconic viewpoints in Newfoundland. There, you can enjoy true solitude standing between dramatic 1000ft granite cliffs carved by ancient glaciers. With only 12 hikers allowed on the trail per day, the Long Range Traverse is where you can get into the wild in a way that’s rare to find these days.
The total length of the Long Range Traverse is 35 kilometres and takes 3-4 nights to complete, with backcountry campsites along the way. Please note that this trek is not for the inexperienced. You’ll be required to pass a strict navigational test to traverse it alone because of its remote location, as well as attend a backcountry briefing with Parks Canada to secure your permit. Newfoundland is famous for its thick fog and ever-changing weather, so the Long Range Traverse is sure to be one of the most challenging but rewarding adventures of your life.
Kluane National Park and Reserve, Yukon
Home to the largest non-polar icefields in the world and 17 of Canada’s 20 tallest mountains, Yukon Territory’s Kluane National Park and Reserve is like no other place in Canada. The park is a paradise for wilderness getaways, especially when it comes to mountaineering. It’s home to Canada’s highest peak, Mount Logan, standing high at 5,959 metres. Kluane attracts hikers from all over the world who come to traverse its peaks. If you’re looking for a different kind of outdoor adventure, you can also raft past glaciers on the remote Alsek River.
As one of the planet’s largest protected wildlife areas, this national park is also home to rare wildlife, including North America’s most genetically diverse grizzly population. Other animals that roam the region are sheep, mountain goats, caribou, wolves, and black bears.
Kluane National Park is located in southwest Yukon, 160 kilometres west of Whitehorse. While you can access hiking and camping experiences long the park’s eastern edge, the interior is generally accessible only via a flightseeing tour or on a serious mountaineering/ski touring expedition.
Parc national du Bic, Quebec
A sometimes overlooked region of the Gaspesie peninsula, Parc national du Bic offers plenty for your wilderness vacation. Located near the Quebec town of Rimouski, this stunning area by the St Lawrence River is a hub for marine life. Half of the park is a coastal marine environment, which makes a wilderness trip here perfect for water sports and lots of animal spotting along the way. Grab a kayak and go along the St Lawrence River Estuary to look out for the marine animals and birds in the region – you’ll likely come across the large population of harbour seals and grey seals that live right there on the coast!
Be sure to take some time on your getaway to enjoy the flow of your natural surroundings, especially during sunrise and sunset. With a fresh maritime breeze, seals basking in the sunset, and rare birds flying overhead, Parc national du Bic is a truly unique Canadian wildlife experience.
If you want to stay active on your adventure getaway, Parc national du Bic has extensive wilderness trails to explore inland, including 25 km of hiking trails and 15 km of bike trails. It’s also open year-round so if you’re planning a winter wilderness getaway, grab a pair of snowshoes or skis for a backcountry adventure.
Pukaskwa National Park, Ontario
As Ontario’s only wilderness national park, Pukaskwa National Park boasts over 1,878 km of boreal forest to explore and scenic and challenging hiking and camping in both the front and backcountry. Complete with rugged, rocky, and towering peaks to be conquered and sandy beaches to relax on, there’s real adventure to be had here along the northern shores of Lake Superior.
A wilderness trip to Pukaskwa has endless opportunities for outdoor recreation. Hiking is one of the most popular activities in the park, with many trails ranging in length and difficulty. If you’re seeking a unique wilderness escape, try the 60km Coastal Hiking Trail. This epic hike will take you through the trees of Canada’s boreal forests with magnificent views of Lake Superior at the peaceful beachside campsites. You may also see black bears, moose, and wolves along the way.
Are you ready to work those arms and get paddling? Pukaskwa offers 135 km of world-class paddling along the beautiful Lake Superior shoreline. If you’re up for it, try a section of the Coastal Paddling Routes, which can be as short as a weekend or as long as two weeks.
Further reading: You can’t miss these top places to visit in Ontario
Tweedsmuir Provincial Park, BC
British Columbia is famous for its breathtaking national and provincial parks, but one that might not be on your radar is Tweedsmuir Provincial Park. It’s the largest park in the province, with over 981,000 hectares of wilderness to explore and truly get away from it all.
Nestled amongst the majestic Coast Mountains and the planet’s largest expanse of coastal temperate rainforest, this BC park is a hub for various outdoor recreation, including hiking, camping, and canoeing. If you only have time for a day trip to Tweedsmuir, don’t miss the Rainbow Range hike, which takes you through wildflower-filled meadows and small lakes to a gorgeous view of the Rainbow Mountain and the Coast Mountains.
As the park covers so many of British Columbia’s biogeoclimatic zones, it has a vast range of biodiversity, so you’ll be sure to have a good chance of spotting some wildlife here. Some of the animals you might see in the park are bald eagles, deer, and black bears, but it’s well known for its resident population of grizzly bears. In the late summer when salmon arrive to spawn in the river, it boasts the highest concentrations of grizzlies anywhere on the planet!
Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site, Nova Scotia
Located in the interior of southern Nova Scotia, Kejimkujik is a dream wilderness destination for canoeists and kayakers alike. With more than a dozen interconnected lakes and rivers to discover in the backcountry of the park, you can explore the traditional waterways, following the same routes that were once taken by Indigenous peoples over many centuries.
If you prefer to venture on land, there are 16-day hiking trails that cut through a wide range of forest and longer trails that lead you to backcountry campgrounds, where you can experience some of the best stargazing in the world.
One of the best ways to enjoy Keljimkujik is by camping, since this region is Nova Scotia’s only dark sky reserve! After a day of exploring, set up camp at one of the sites throughout the park. There are serviced sites with electricity, but for a true wilderness experience, book a backcountry campsite where your only light will be the starry sky. When the sun sets, the skies over Kejimkujik reveal a beautiful show of tens of thousands of stars.
While this isn’t considered ‘backcountry’, a wildlife getaway to Churchill, Manitoba, is not like any other in the world. With a population of less than 1000, this remarkable Canadian destination draws visitors for the chance to encounter some of the most fascinating wildlife on this planet. Located on the remote shores of the Hudson Bay in northern Manitoba, it’s on the migration path for both beluga whales and polar bears.
From June to September each year, thousands of curious beluga whales congregate in the Churchill River, and visitors can interact with them via zodiac or kayak tours. During the months of October and November, polar bears start outnumbering residents in the area, which has earned Churchill the title “Polar Bear Capital Of The World.” It’s one of the only human settlements in the world where you can observe polar bears in the wild!
If those two reasons alone weren’t enough to put Churchill on your list, it’s also one of the best places to see the northern lights in Canada. They are visible here up to 300 nights of the year, thanks to its position beneath the auroral oval.
Churchill has been called the “accessible arctic” because it can be reached by plane or rail (there’s no road, however). While the plane gives you an aerial view of the magnificent Hudson Bay rocky coastline, travelling by train will allow you to see the slowly changing landscape as you move north through the boreal forest into the wild tundra of northern Canada.
Sustainable travel: Be a responsible outdoor explorer
We all want these fantastic places to be preserved for future generations to enjoy, so when exploring these destinations use these sustainable travel tips to ensure you’re leaving the sites as you found them.
- Manage your waste – take a refillable water bottle or water bladder to reduce plastic waste and keep all your trash with you until you leave.
- Stick to the paths in the park – going off the trail can kill delicate flora and disturb the habitats and nesting grounds of fauna.
- Respect wildlife. Do not feed them and keep a safe distance when you encounter them.
- Leave what you find intact, so it can be left for future generations!
- Minimize fire impacts – if you’re camping overnight, always check if fires are permitted. Only light a small fire and always disperse cold ashes after putting it out.
We hope this post will inspire you with some ideas for nature escapes in Canada this year. We’re lucky to live in a country with such an abundance of beauty around, so be sure to take advantage whether you’re going backcountry camping, taking a hike on a nature trail, or going paddling along the pristine lakes.
Please note: Before booking any type of travel, always make sure to check the local guidelines of the region. Our coronavirus travel advice has the latest updates on international and domestic travel for Canadians.
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Want to read more?
- Our Coronavirus Travel Advice page is updated regularly with the latest news and information for Canadians
- Stay informed for future adventures: Here’s all you need to know about vaccine certificates for travel
- Looking for more inspiration? Check out these Canadian adventures for your travel bucket list.