It’s not every day that you get to spend three months seeing every corner of Canada. It would take you five months to go across the length and breadth of the world’s largest country. However, in 2017, we really did that.
After a tough 2016, we set out to make 2017 the year we finally pursue a major passion project. After giving it some thought, I decided that I wanted to do something to ride the wave of Canada’s sesquicentennial celebration, which seemed to be sweeping the globe.
I wanted to make something with “commercial flair,” so I decided to do a 150-day road journey across the world. Unfortunately, nobody is interested in a person’s vacation plans.
As a result, I choose to adapt it into a documentary showcasing the unique qualities of Canada.
The plan was to visit all of Canada’s provinces and territories and conduct in-depth interviews with Canadians of varying backgrounds to learn what makes this nation so special to them.
One issue remained, though. To get started, we needed some money.
HOW WE MADE THE ROAD TO 150 HAPPEN
A 150-day road trip is costly in and of itself, but we also had to hire a cameraman because we had no idea how to make interesting movies.
Fortunately, we had just met a young person who was both excellent in videography and eager to come along on the big trip at a discount.
Right at this moment, we required sponsors.
The timing of this whole event is the sole downer. This enormous endeavor was conceived at the start of 2017, but it has only recently begun to take shape.
In light of this new information, we can safely assume that most big corporations have already spent their entire marketing expenditures for the upcoming year. All of the large grants that the Canadian government was offering have ceased as well.
That’s why we compiled over two hundred potential employer matches. We needed to pitch our brilliant concept to investors. Except back then, we had nothing but a subpar website. There was no youtube channel for us. We had hardly any social media at the time. How can we attract more attention?
Since our concept relied heavily on video, we got together to film a demonstration episode. Lake Louise is only two hours away from our home in Calgary, so we went there to film in the style we had originally intended. Something like this really worked out wonderfully.
This was a great opportunity to showcase our personalities and chemistry on camera, and it also helped us solidify our plan for rolling out the project nationwide.
We interviewed a wide range of individuals at Lake Louise about what they think makes Canada great, highlighted the spectacular winter landscape and activities in and around Banff, and described the concept of the Road to 150. After it was finished, we viewed it and were even more motivated. Karla almost cried. It was wonderful.
After that, I sent it through email to all of those businesses. Due to my lack of familiarity with the organization, I was forced to use the boilerplate email templates available on their websites.
I also contacted DMOs across Canada via email, offering my services in the hope that someone might be able to contribute to my travel expenses. Jeep was the first business interested in partnering with us.
The fact that it was a road trip made this seem like a fantastic plan, but after much back-and-forth by phone and email, they ultimately opted to do something different.
(I’m very certain they copied our concept and implemented a scaled-down version of it; this is what usually occurs when you communicate primarily with the advertising agencies that represent the companies rather than the brands themselves).
Happily, we were able to reach out to Best Western Hotels. We were seeking for a partner with a national interest, and Best Western wanted to do something to honor Canada’s 150th but was running out of time. What could be more natural than a partnership with one of the world’s leading hotel chains?
Finally, they settled on a partnership, and the rest is history. Kind of, anyhow. We were able to embark on one of our greatest adventures with the help of finance and local relationships from all around the country.
In addition to the inherent excitement of seeing new places, we also made movies, collaborated with multinational businesses, were featured in the media, and conducted interviews with dozens of individuals around the country.
All of this hinged on careful preparation, which is what this post focuses on. Many of you have asked us how we managed to organize such a massive journey, even if you have no interest in turning your own road trip into a company.
Surprisingly, we only had a month to be ready for this, and everything else was done on the fly. For almost seven months, we “worked” 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
After planning for a month or more, we got up early every day and went to work, doing things like making content, talking to the camera, setting up interviews, real-time itinerary planning, contacting partners, and engaging on social media.
But if you’d want to recreate this vacation, let’s go into the details of the preparation and the itinerary.
HOW TO START PLANNING A CANADA ROAD TRIP
The territory that constitutes Canada is enormous. I just can’t stress that point enough. It would take seven days to drive from Vancouver to Newfoundland if you didn’t stop for any significant sightseeing opportunities.
That leaves out the Yukon and the Northwest Territories. We reasoned that it would be less difficult to get going in either Newfoundland or British Columbia. Since we start in Alberta, we’d have to travel by car or plane to get to our first stop.
Newfoundland was selected as the initial test site. Due to the fact that we did not want to do this trip during the colder months, we scheduled it for the period between May 15 and October 11, 2017. Even though May is not the best time to visit Newfoundland, we have opted to begin our journey there.
One of the nicest experiences you can have in Newfoundland is watching icebergs float down the North Atlantic. Between the months of April and June is when you have the highest chance of seeing them.
We felt it would be fitting to highlight the fact that this is one of the greatest spots in the world to watch icebergs.
Second, the nature of the film necessitated that we be included in lists of Canada Day activities in Ottawa. As the nation’s capital, this was perhaps the greatest Canada Day celebration ever. We should be there, and starting there makes sense given its closeness to Newfoundland.
Thirdly, if you’re driving across Canada, you’ll need to account for the extra time it takes to get to the Yukon and the Northwest Territories. Their shared northern latitude means shorter summers and an earlier onset of fall than in other Canadian provinces.
Furthermore, while many insects may be seen during the spring and summer, they gradually decrease by late August. By not beginning our journey in British Columbia, we were able to reach the northern territories in late August, just in time to see the spectacular fall foliage and the Northern Lights.
If you’re not interested in viewing icebergs or don’t want to (or have the time for) a trip to the Arctic, a trip that begins in British Columbia is still an excellent choice; the province’s springs are among the best in the country, while Newfoundland’s autumn foliage is among the best in the world.
And if your vacation isn’t going to go as long as ours did, you’ll have a lot of leeway to alter these times.
WHAT TO DRIVE FOR YOUR CANADA ROAD TRIP
Next, we needed to make a call on what to do about transportation. We had a little automobile that couldn’t have fit all of us, our bags, and the photographic equipment we needed. The original plan was to pick up a rental automobile in Newfoundland and return it to Calgary.
This, however, appears to be quite unlikely. To start, it would cost a lot of money. According to our research, the price tag would be well over $20,000.
We may get a used item for this amount. Second, we were unable to identify a rental agency that would allow us to return it to such a remote area. As a result, we had to resort to alternative #2: purchasing a car.
We wanted an SUV, but the price of a brand-new one was out of our price range. Buying one in Alberta and driving it to Newfoundland to start the journey would have been the simplest course of action.
The one catch was that we didn’t want to extend our already enormous car journey by another 5,000 kilometers. Several Honda Pilots were available for rent in St. John’s, Newfoundland, according to our web research.
That’s why we booked plane tickets to Newfoundland with the intention of purchasing a car there and driving it across the nation.
My father and half of my extended family are from Newfoundland, so we visited them two weeks before the official launch of Road to 150. This allowed us to obtain our transportation, settle in, and visit with loved ones before to commencing our journey.
Ultimately, we made a purchase from City Honda in St. John’s for a 2009 Honda Pilot in Bali Blue. We lucked out since just two used Honda Pilots were available in the entire province.
Large sport utility vehicles (SUVs) are unusual in that region, and a compact SUV like a Honda CR-V would have been underpowered.
Nonetheless, getting behind the wheel of a car turned out to be a major problem as well. You should probably reevaluate your plans if they include the same action.
I assumed that as a Canadian citizen buying a car in another province would be straightforward, but it has proven to be a daunting task. In reality, getting a car is a breeze.
Auto insurance is a significant hassle. There were two choices open to me. Get it insured either via my insurance in Alberta or independently in Newfoundland. After discussing the issue with both firms, however, it became clear that neither could provide the service.
Vehicles that have not been registered in Alberta must first undergo a provincial vehicle inspection before they may be insured in the province.
Impossible. Insurance companies in Newfoundland will not cover a vehicle that isn’t registered there, and you need to be a resident to get your car registered there.
How, then, did we manage it?
Fortunately, I have a sizable family network in Newfoundland. So, I just pretended to relocate to Newfoundland under the guise of a relative and took their address.
They used this to get car insurance in Newfoundland. And then, once we got back to Canada, I had to take it to Alberta to be inspected and insured. Aw, it must be so annoying.
Whether you don’t have any friends or relatives in the area, you should check with your insurance provider and the car dealership to see if this is even feasible.
If you can’t do that, your best bet is to either hire a car or start driving from your home province.
OUR 150-DAY CANADA ROAD TRIP ITINERARY
I won’t go into excruciating detail that would push this piece into the tens of thousands of words, but I will give you a sense of when we accomplished what we did. The timing, all things considered, was excellent.
NEWFOUNDLAND FROM MAY 15 – MAY 27
If you’re ready to brave the unpredictable weather in May in Newfoundland in the hopes of spotting large icebergs, I wholeheartedly suggest it. The expedition started in St. John’s, Newfoundland, the city furthest to the east in Canada and home to the province’s major airport.
St. John’s, Newfoundland (May 15 – May 19):
Four nights in St. John’s, Newfoundland (May 15 – May 19). This made it possible for us to settle in and explore the city. Although it was freezing, we enjoyed our time at one of North America’s oldest cities, magnificent St. John’s.
Boat trips out of both the St. John’s harbor and Bay Bulls allowed us to see our first iceberg. We also spent a day exploring Cape Spear, the country’s most easterly point. Our pilot episode’s intro looked like this.
Trinity, Newfoundland (May 19 – May 21):
It only takes two hours to drive from St. John’s to Trinity, Newfoundland, one of the most picturesque and historically significant little towns in the province. We were able to see the flow-ice enter the harbor, see the old town, and sample some of the brews at the Port Rexton Brewery.
Twillingate, Newfoundland (May 21 – May 23):
The iceberg capital of the world, Twillingate, Newfoundland, is where the 21st through the 23rd of May will find you. They are visible all along the east coast of Newfoundland, although the most people go to Twillingate to view them.
This was my first time to this part of Newfoundland, but I’ve been there hundreds of times before. Unfortunately, we failed to spot any icebergs on our boat ride around the flow ice; but, we did have a typical kitchen party and a wonderful excursion.
Gros Morne National Park (May 23 – May 26):
Although there are many amazing sites to visit in Newfoundland, we had to make the most of our time in Gros Morne National Park (May 23 – May 26). Therefore, Gros Morne National Park is an absolute must-see.
Amazingly, this park ranks high on the list of the best in the United States. Most of our most beautiful video was captured in this area, from a stroll on the Earth’s mantle to a boat ride through a landlocked fjord to the sighting of whales in the ocean.
Port Aux Basques (May 26 – May 27):
We spent our final night in Newfoundland at Port aux Basques (May 26–27) because that’s where the ferry to and from Nova Scotia docks. Here, all we did was sleep before boarding a ship and crossing the North Atlantic.
NOVA SCOTIA FROM MAY 27 – JUNE 5
Nova Scotia, like so many of the eastern provinces, is stunning. It has, perhaps, the strongest tourist sector of the four provinces. Nova Scotia is one of our favorite provinces to visit for a variety of reasons, including strolling the streets of Halifax and eating seafood close to the water in Lunenburg.
North Sydney (May 27 – May 28):
There isn’t much to see in North Sydney, but after a long day on the ferry, we decided to stay the night here to rest up for our adventures in Nova Scotia the next day. The Heritage Home Bed & Breakfast was, nevertheless, a highlight of the trip. WOW, such a stunning landscape!
Cape Breton Highland National Park (May 28 – May 30):
Perhaps the most memorable part of our trip to Nova Scotia was our time spent at Cape Breton Highland National Park (May 28-30). This is a really stunning location, what with the scenic Cabot Trail drive and the surrounding natural beauty.
Two nights were spent at Chéticamp, a little French village adjacent to the park. There is a lot to do here, but if you’re short on time, I recommend taking a drive along the full Cabot Trail roadway and going for a hike up to the Skyline Trailhead. The vistas are breathtaking.
Halifax and Lunenburg (May 30 – June 4):
The cities of Halifax and Lunenburg in Nova Scotia are two of the best vacation spots in the country, and you can visit them between May 30 and June 4. The capital has all the conveniences of a major metropolis as well as a pleasant, laid-back East Coast ambiance.
The Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 and the Halifax Citadel (the most visited national historic site in Canada) are just two of the many fantastic attractions that can be found in this city. Additionally, a stroll along the harbor is a necessity.
You may take a day excursion to either the picturesque beach village of Lunenburg, considered one of Canada’s most beautiful places, or the picturesque fishing community of Peggy’s Cove, where Canada’s most recognizable lighthouse can be found.
As an alternative, Lunenburg is an excellent option for an overnight stay. We walked around town and went on a tour of Canada’s most famous sailboat, the Bluenose. Wow, this section of the nation has a lot of famous landmarks.
Shubenacadie River (June 4 – June 5):
Before leaving Nova Scotia, we knew we wanted to do something exciting, and rafting the Shubenacadie River is perhaps the most exciting thing you can do.
Even though we went when the season was just beginning and the water was freezing, it was still a high point of our cross-Canada vacation.
Rafters may experience the world’s highest tides here, and nowhere else. When whitewater rafting, the river itself carries you up and over the rapids.
However, the tides on this river are really rowed. In a motorized boat, you can go up with the tide and then return against the tide without having to fight the current. Enjoyment levels will soar!
PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND FROM JUNE 5 – JUNE 10
We were only able to spend 5 days in PEI due to its small size and the constraints of our itinerary. This is plenty of time to gain a sense for the province, and it’s one you shouldn’t skip. PEI is a hidden jewel of Canada, with its red sand beaches and fresh seafood.
Cavendish (June 6 – June 8):
After crossing the gigantic architectural marvel of Confederation Bridge, we spent the night in Cavendish (June 6-7) so that we could see PEI’s most well-known destination, the Anne of Green Gables Historic Site.
The nearby Prince Edward Island National Park is another great site to see the island’s stunning shoreline and world-famous red sand, and it’s not far from Cavendish.
Fortune Bay (June 8 – June 9):
This was followed by a trip to Fortune Bay, where we slept at Chef Michael Smith’s quaint inn on the night of the 8th and morning of the 9th.
If you’re a fan of the celebrity chef or you just want to have the greatest eating experience possible in Canada, you should put this on your list of things to do. The house itself is stunning, and the food is renowned for being superb.
Charlottetown (June 9 – June 11):
Also, the capital city of Charlottetown (which you may visit from June 9th to the 11th) is an excellent destination. It’s stunning, yet it’s also rich in history.
In fact, the documents creating Canada were signed just here. Tour the city’s historic district with actors costumed in historical garb and learn why a stroll with the Confederation Players is a must-do.
NEW BRUNSWICK FROM JUNE 11 – JUNE 16
New Brunswick is a beautiful province on the east coast. Despite the little amount of time we had, we managed to check off several of New Brunswick’s must-see attractions. As Canada’s sole officially bilingual province, it’s also one of the country’s most underappreciated.
Hopewell Rocks Area (June 11 – June 14):
We left Prince Edward Island on June 11 and traveled down to the Hopewell Rocks region of New Brunswick, where we spent three fantastic nights. We did some hiking and kayaking around Hopewell Rocks then visited the beautiful region of Cape Enrage for some rappelling and ziplining.
Fredericton and More (June 14 – June 16):
On the heels of our time in Fredericton (June 14-16), we visited the cities of Saint John and St. Andrews, both of which are picturesque beach resorts. Since we only had one day, we got an early start and took in the sights as we drove to and through both cities.
After arriving in Fredericton, we took a tour of the city and, by sheer good fortune, witnessed a military inauguration, during which we were able to go inside tanks, talk to servicemen and women, and film a parade.
We also took the trip out to King’s Landing, a fascinating living museum that transports its guests to the past. After spending the final day ziplining above a waterfall at Grand Falls, we traveled toward Quebec to spend the night in Riviere-du-loup.
QUEBEC FROM JUNE 16 – JUNE 28
Quebec is one of a kind since it is the only province in Canada where French is an official language. There are many who see Quebec as the most “European” province in Canada because of its French-speaking population and its many historic districts, such as Old Quebec and Old Montreal. It’s the biggest province in the country, and it’s packed with amazing opportunities.
Starting out at Riviere-du-loup, we caught a ferry to Tadoussac and stayed in a nearby town for three nights (June 16–18). Tadoussac is one of the greatest sites in Canada to go whale watching, which is the major reason we came here.
In contrast to our previous whale watching expedition, where we saw hundreds of humpbacks, this one was not very fruitful.
Traveling from Tadoussac to Quebec City is an easy and beautiful three-hour journey (June 18 – June 22). We spent several nights in Old Quebec, where we saw the Montmorency Falls, the fantastic Musée Huron-Wendat, and ran into several acquaintances from our time in Ethiopia.
As a follow-up to our time in Quebec City, we went to Montreal, where we spent the next week seeing relatives and friends, touring museums, hiking to a lookout point, and enjoying the city’s historic Old Town. Poor man’s pudding, Montreal bagels, Montreal smoked pork, and poutine were featured on the menu.
From June 26-28, we visited Mont-Tremblant and stayed in a treehouse about an hour outside of town. The treehouse was the highlight of our trip, despite the fact that it caused a minor disruption to our plans.
Aside from the woodpecker pecking at our roof, everything seems to be OK. We went on the world’s best zip line and fed falcons in Mont-Tremblant!
ONTARIO FROM JUNE 29 – JULY 15
When people think of Canada, they often think of Ontario. There’s a good reason why so many people travel there every year: it’s home to both the capital city of Ottawa and Canada’s most populous city, Niagara Falls.
When driving from Toronto to Manitoba, you’ll spend a whole day on the road. That makes it the largest province in Canada.
Ottawa (June 28–July 3):
We arrived in Ottawa in time for Canada’s enormous 150 festivities, but we ended up staying in Gatineau, just across the river. Walking across the bridge into a different province is a real possibility. Amazing river and Parliament Hill views may be had from the Best Western Plus.
We saw some of Canada’s finest institutions, participated in the world’s biggest escape room, and witnessed an unforgettable Canada150 celebration on Parliament Hill during our time in Ottawa.
The 3rd-7th of July at Niagara Falls is a must for anybody visiting Ontario. We stayed for four nights so that we could experience the best of Niagara Falls, from a boat ride to a tour below the falls and a helicopter flight above the falls.
One day was devoted to Niagara-on-the-lake, where we visited wineries and ate our way through a culinary tour.
We spent the 7th through the 11th of July in Toronto because of its proximity to Niagara Falls. In Mississauga, we performed a city tour, went to a castle, explored museums (including the Hockey Hall of Fame), climbed the CN Tower, and used a flight simulator.
Algonquin Provincial Park:
We couldn’t leave Ontario without seeing some natural scenery, so we spent July 11–13 at Algonquin Provincial Park, where we slept at a luxurious lodge. We were able to go kayaking, paddleboarding, and listening to the loons at this location.
It takes around 24 hours to travel from the Greater Toronto Area to Winnipeg, so even if you aren’t interested in stopping in any of the charming lakeside villages along the route, you should take a break in Thunder Bay on July 13 and 14.
To break up the lengthy journey into more manageable chunks, we stopped for the night at Thunder Bay. Next trip, we want to spend more time in the province parks along Lake Superior.
MANITOBA FROM JULY 15 – JULY 28
Churchill, Manitoba, is the best site in the world to see polar bears and beluga whales, and the provincial capital of Manitoba is Winnipeg, Canada’s largest city. We spent the summer of 2015 in Winnipeg, and it was wonderful.
Winnipeg: After a long trip from Thunder Bay, during which we stopped to visit the “Centre of Canada” sign, we finally made it to Winnipeg (July 14–July 20).
Due to the long days of filming, we decided to stay for five nights, giving us ample time to see the city while also providing us a chance to rest and recharge.
While in Winnipeg, we visited the city’s historic and Forks districts, sailed down the river, learned about human rights at the Museum of Human Rights, and relaxed at the Thermea Nordik Spa.
We also ventured west of the city to Lower Fort Garry National Historic Site, the Mint, and one of Canada’s largest lake beaches.
After spending five days in Winnipeg, we boarded a flight with Lazy Bear Adventures to spend the next four nights in Churchill, located in the Canadian Arctic. During the summer, this area hosts the biggest migration of beluga whales, but during the fall, it is known for its polar bears.
One of the most memorable experiences of our lives was snorkeling with a pod of beluga whales. Other highlights were witnessing the northern lights and visiting some fascinating historical places. After getting back to Winnipeg, we stayed there for a second night.
Riding Mountain National Park:
Since it is only four hours from Winnipeg and near to Saskatchewan, Riding Mountain National Park (July 25–July 27) is a great place to stop on a cross-country road journey across Canada.
Beautiful lakeside community, perfect for watersports and wildlife viewing. Moose, deer, and bears were among the wildlife we spotted.
SASKATCHEWAN FROM JULY 28 – AUGUST 7
The Canadian province of Saskatchewan is often overlooked. Despite its reputation for being boringly flat, the country is really home to a variety of stunning landscapes, such as the boggy north, the open central grasslands, and the desolate badlands in the south. We’ve been there a bunch of times and really like the prairie province.
Prince Albert National Park:
Our first stop in Saskatchewan was in Prince Albert National Park (July 27–30), which is not only home to a beautiful lakeside town but also offers excellent opportunities for boating, fishing, animal viewing, and even hiking. Here, we had a sunset pontoon ride on the lake.
Visit beautiful Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, on the 30th of July to the 2nd of August. We didn’t have much time, but we were able to see a bit of the town and spend a day at Wanuskewin Heritage Park, one of the most interesting Native American attractions in the country.
Little Manitou Lak:
Traveling from Saskatoon to Regina? Stop in the charming resort village of Little Manitou on August 2 and 3. Like the Dead Sea, but in Canada.
You can float because of the high salt content. If you’re looking for a more “pleasant” vacation, there are resorts that provide saltwater pools. We stayed for a single night and had a wonderful experience overall.
Saskatchewan’s capital city, Regina, will host these events from August 3 to August 5.
Although we’ve since returned to Regina to film a tourism video, we still highly recommend spending some time in and around Wascana Lake, touring the legislature, checking out the RCMP Heritage Centre, and, if you’re in town when the Roughriders play in the Canadian Football League (CFL), taking in a game.
Grasslands National Park:
We spent August 5–8 exploring Grasslands National Park, one of our favorite spots in Canada because of its rarity and diversity. Although this was our first time here, we have returned several times!
To see large species like bison and little ones like the uncommon Black-tailed Prairie dog, you should definitely check out both the east and west blocks, and spend some time hiking and driving along the picturesque route.
If you’re looking for a site to camp where you can see the stars and the Milky Way, go no further; this is one of Canada’s best dark sky preserves.
Our next stop was supposed to be the Northwest Territories, but we were so tired from the long drive that we opted to visit our parents in Okotoks for a few days instead. If you’re traveling north, you might as well start in Alberta and end your trip in British Columbia.
YUKON & NORTHWEST TERRITORIES FROM AUGUST 10 – SEPTEMBER 6
Despite the many obstacles we faced, we were able to successfully complete our trip to the Northwest Territories. The strategy was to travel one day to Hay River and the next to Yellowknife.
Our car broke down at Hay River, and the consequences were felt for weeks. Following this, we’ll describe how the journey can be made slightly differently for those who don’t have any vehicular issues.
Drive to the Northwest Territories:
After spending the night in Edmonton, we hit the road towards Hay River, the gateway to the Northwest Territories. Unfortunately, our car broke down not long before we reached the area’s most famous attractions—the Alexandra Falls and the nearby Lousie Falls. We’ve never before spent this much on a car.
Hay River Problems(August 11-12):
We had a radiator blow out, which overheated the engine and leaked fluid all over the place. It would have taken less than a day and less than $1,000 to get this corrected in Calgary. The auto shop in Hay River needed a week to get one in.
Instead of waiting, he let us use his own truck so we could keep moving. (Eventually, we took him to court but settled for a much less sum after he caused so many issues that the repair totaled around $7,000 and we required a new radiator and gearbox before we arrived home.)
Yellowknife and Yellow Dog Lodge:
From August 12-16, we visited Yellowknife and stayed at Yellow Dog Lodge, a tiny lodge on a remote lake. Yellowknife is a little city, but it has a lot of beautiful scenery. We camped out on a barge, went fishing, and watched the stars. What happened was just wonderful.
Fort Simpson and Nahanni National Park:
Our 5-hour flightseeing tour with Simpson Air above Nahanni National Park on our visit to Fort Simpson and Nahanni National Park (August 16 – August 18) was a trip highlight.
It’s hard to put into words just how stunning the very first UNESCO World Heritage Site is. It is one of the most breathtaking places on Earth, with breathtaking landscapes including mountains, canyons, waterfalls, and more.
Hay River: Our car was at Hay River, so we drove back there on the night of the 18th and the morning of the 19th, the day it was towed away.
Drive to Liard Hot Springs, BC:
The trip from Hay River to Whitehorse takes 33 hours, therefore staying a night or two at Liard Hot Springs, British Columbia is strongly recommended (August 19 – 21). As far as “wild” hot springs go, this is one of the greatest we’ve visited.
The scenery is stunning, and it’s a fantastic place to go camping. If you don’t feel like roughing it, there’s a lodge not far away.
The Alaska Roadway leading to Whitehorse (August 21-24) was the only Canadian highway, including the Dempster Highway, where rock chips shattered our glass three times.
But it’s exciting in its own way. We visited the city and museum, drove out to the Takhini hot springs and Yukon Wildlife Preserve, and stayed overnight in a cabin to watch the Northern Lights.
Dawson City (August 24–26):
This frontier town was once a thriving metropolis during the Klondike Gold Rush and is now widely regarded as one of the most interesting destinations in all of Canada. Historic wooden structures, the wooden boardwalk, and even Canada’s first casino are all still standing.
Parks Canada took us on a tour of the town, where we rode a sternwheeler, pannered for gold, and saw some of the enormous machinery used to rip the landscape apart in their pursuit of the precious metal.
Oh, and there was a human toe in the shot glass of liquor. In case you were wondering, you did read it correctly. Sourtoe Cocktails are quite popular in Dawson.
Dempster Highway (August 26–28):
This Canadian highway is both famed and beautiful. Taking this 700-kilometer gravel route from Dawson to Inuvik in the Northwest Territories is about as exciting as it gets. There is just one service station along the whole roadway, so make sure you’re well-equipped before setting off.
The route is dirt, making it hazardous in the weather and prone to tire punctures. At Eagle Plains on the Dempster Highway, we saw the most spectacular show of northern lights of the entire journey.
Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk:
Our first trip to the Arctic led us to Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk, where we saw an igloo church, fished in the Mackenzie Delta, and were among the first to drive the new all-season road to Tuktoyaktuk on September 1.
We arrived, had a tour of the town with a native, and marveled at the one-of-a-kind pingos before jumping into the freezing seas.
Dempster Highway: On September 1 and 2, we took the Dempster Highway south to Dawson, spending the night at Eagle Plains.
Dawson City: We stayed an extra night in Dawson on September 2–3 to celebrate Karla’s birthday and rest up for the next leg of our journey.
Whitehorse and Kluane National Park:
We spent the third through the sixth of September in Whitehorse, where we stayed for a few days, and Kluane National Park, where we camped.
While at Kluane, our highlight was taking a flightseeing trip over the biggest non-polar glacier in the world. We even managed to land the plane on snow and get out for some fantastic shots.
BRITISH COLUMBIA FROM SEPTEMBER 6 – SEPTEMBER 27
British Columbia is undoubtedly the most gorgeous and adventure-packed province in Canada. From the large city of Vancouver to the lovely communities of Vancouver Island, there are actually so many things to do in British Columbia. We allowed extra time here but still visited only a part of this hilly area.
Three Days of Driving (September 6 – September 8):
Exactly that. Three days of driving. If you have time, there are wonderful things to see in northern BC, but we didn’t have any time to explore.
Vancouver (September 8 – September 13):
Vancouver is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. During our vacation, we wandered about the city and the waterfront, went for a bike ride in Stanley Park, walked across the Capilano Suspension Bridge, studied the museum of Anthropology, and had a really amazing walking tour with Forbidden Vancouver.
Vancouver Island (September 13 – September 19):
We made sure to have close to a week on Vancouver Island because it is rich of beauty and adventure. There’s so much to see and do here, but for us, we visited the world-famous Butchard Gardens, explored Victoria, visited the Craigdarroch Castle, spent a couple of nights in Port Renfrew for the wildest whale watching tour of our lives, went snorkelling down the river with salmon in Port Campbell, witnessed Grizzly bears eating salmon in the wild, went scuba diving and bungy jumping in Naniamo, hugged some of the biggest trees in the world, and went surfing in Tofino.
Vancouver and Kelowna (September 19 – September 23):
After spending one more night in Vancouver, we drove to Kelowna to spend a few days touring massive Okanagan Lake, taking a helicopter ride over the beautiful city, sampling some of Canada’s best wine inside a pyramid, and flyboarding over the lake.
Revelstoke & Yoho National Park (September 23 – September 24):
Although there is so much to see in the alpine region between Kelowna and Alberta, we only had a few days.
So, we immediately took a trip on the Pipe Mountain Coaster in Revelstoke and then amazed the grandeur of Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park before crossing the border to arrive in Banff.
ALBERTA FROM SEPTEMBER 27 – OCTOBER 11
Our home province. Alberta is also a popular destination in Canada and offers some of the most diversified landscapes in the country, including boreal forests, grasslands, foothills, badlands, and mountains.
Banff National Park (September 24 – September 28):
Banff is familiar terrain for us, but we made sure to ride the Banff Gondola, do some hiking, and go canoeing on famed Lake Louise. There are tons of things to do in Banff though, so make sure you give enough time to explore as much as you can.
Jasper National Park (September 28 – October 2):
After Banff, we drove the world-famous Icefields Parkway from Banff to Jasper, stopping for a variety of hikes and waterfalls, as well as jumping aboard an all-terrain bus and driving onto a glacier.
Once in Jasper, we rode the Jasper Skytram up to the mountain summit for some stunning views, watched many of wildlife, trekked through Maligne Canyon, and had a boat excursion out to Spirit Island and Maligne Lake.
Edmonton (October 2 – October 5):
Edmonton was next on our schedule and we made sure to thoroughly explore West Edmonton Mall, the largest mall in North America.
For us, it was all about spending a day at the World Waterpark and riding the world’s largest indoor triple-loop rollercoaster. We also went to the Science Centre and saw the gorgeous river valley.
Drumheller (October 5 – October 7):
Another site you can’t miss is Drumheller. Home to the Alberta Badlands, it’s a terrific site for stunning landscape and Dinosaur fossils! We went trekking through several of the canyons and spent a day in the Royal Tyrell Museum, the emblem of this Dinosaur center of the globe.
Calgary (October 7 – October 11):
There are tons of things to do in Calgary and we made sure to visit the Calgary Tower, go bicycling along the Bow River and Prince’s Island Park, tour the National Music Centre, and spend a day at gorgeous Heritage Park.
WHAT ABOUT NUNAVUT?
Due to the fact that there’s no road to Nunavut, it was challenging to add on to our tour. We attempted for several months to obtain a sponsor to fund our airfare, but it didn’t work out. There were a variety of concerns at play. First off, it’s pricey.
For us, the return airfare was $3,000 per person, which would have been $9,000 for the three of us. Then, there is the expense of traveling there and participating in the tours. Even in Nunavut, timing is everything.
The best time to see Narwhals is in the month of June. The summer is the best time to go trekking. There is a lot of forethought involved in arranging activities and travel in the Arctic, as the seasons change dramatically.
The time wasn’t right, and we missed the boat. However, in 2019 we did an arctic trip with Adventure Canada and got all the way up to Nunavut!
DESIGNING YOUR OWN CANADA ROAD TRIP
To see the nation in its prime, I think a 150-day road trip across Canada is ideal. The above schedule may be used as a guide for remaking the timetable or can be modified in a variety of ways. For instance, we spent around 50% of our time actually filming and talking to people for interviews.
You’ll be able to view much more or add additional stops without the “work” component. While we required downtime to produce video and articles, leisure travelers need not worry about this. The eastern seaboard, including the large Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec, has a lot more to offer.
The southern part of Alberta is more beautiful, whereas the interior and northern parts of British Columbia are more beautiful. Nunavut is also easily accessible via air. Canada, the world’s second-largest country, has so many attractions that prioritizing them can be a challenge.