8 awesome trips into the heart of Canada’s great outdoors

You voted Canada your top-rated destination in the Wanderlust Reader Travel Awards. Celebrate with one of these mighty adventures into Canada's epic open spaces, from the Rockies to the Arctic

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1: Hike the high trails of the Canadian Rockies

Moraine Lake at sunrise (Dreamstime)

Moraine Lake at sunrise (Dreamstime)

Experience the stunning peaks, glaciers and high passes of the Canadian Rockies with your feet firmly planted on the ground. Make your way north through Kananaskis country to the red rock canyons and deep blue lakes of Waterton Lakes National Park and then on to the Wilcox Pass, the Columbia Icefields and Lake Louise, where the Valley of the Ten Peaks awaits.

Finally, an exhilarating heli-hike from the base of Mt Assiniboine, the 'Matterhorn' of the Canadian Rockies, takes you into a remote area, where you’ll camp for two nights and enjoying high alpine hikes up to 2635m. This is a thrilling, challenging adventure you will never forget.

Trip: High Trails Of The Canadian Rockies

Who: World Expeditions

When: Departures Jul-Sep

How long: 15 days

How much: From £2,590 (exc. flights)

2: Explore Haida Gwaii by boat

Sailing in Canada in autumn (Dreamstime)

Sailing in Canada in autumn (Dreamstime)

With over 150 islands surrounding its two main islands, Haida Gwaii, or the Queen Charlotte Islands, is best discovered on board a 68’ ketch. Setting sail from Vancouver’s spectacular harbour, you’ll spend eight days exploring every nook and cranny of these incredible islands, observing the abundant wildlife, from the largest sub-species of black bear to the smallest stoat, in their natural setting.

The islands are home to the Haida people, who make up over 60 per cent of the population. With much of the islands designated as national park or a Haida Heritage site, you will have plenty of opportunity to explore the history, culture and beliefs of these ancient people and the relationship they have with the islands and the creatures that live there.

Trip: British Columbia: Haida Gwaii by Yacht

Who: Audley

When: Departures Jun-Sep

How long: 13 days

How much: From £5,455 (inc. flights)

3: Follow Canada’s cowboy trail

Horses crossing river in Alberta (Dreamstime)

Horses crossing river in Alberta (Dreamstime)

Canada’s historic Cowboy Trail, tucked between the Rockies and the Canadian prairies, is just as iconic and steeped in history as its American cousin to the south. This is Alberta ranching country, a land of rolling wheat fields, cattle pastures and frontier towns, framed by high, rocky peaks.

Standing in the midst of these vast prairies, it doesn’t take much to imagine what life was like ‘back in the day,’ especially in the majestic Waterton National Park, where the last bison reserve in the area sits on its border. 

Immerse yourself in the cowboy lifestyle with horse rides along the range and copious amounts of the famous Alberta beef jerky.

Trip: Cowboy Trail

Who: Evaneos

When: Flexible dates throughout the year

How long: 12 days

How much: From £1,198 (exc. flights)

4: Tackle the ultimate Artic wildlife adventure

A polar bear cub emerges from its den (Dreamstime)

A polar bear cub emerges from its den (Dreamstime)

Situated on the northern tip of Somerset Island, the Artic Watch Wilderness Lodge is the world’s most northerly and remote lodge. It’s the perfect base to explore the wild Canadian Arctic and encounter the wildlife that roam this empty corner of the world.

This is a full Arctic safari experience, with each day offering guided activities and extraordinary wildlife sightings, including beluga whales, ringed seals, polar bears, roaming musk oxen, Arctic foxes and snowy owls. 

You’ll drive all-terrain vehicles, kayak among icebergs, raft the Cunningham River and fish for Arctic char. Hiking opportunities abound too, including a trek out to the Triple Waterfalls, where water cascades down five levels.

Trip: Arctic Watch Lodge

Who: Peregrine

When: Departures in Jul

How long: 8 days

How much: From £7,585 (exc. flights)

5: Retrace Canada’s gold rush trail

Main Street, Skagway (Dreamstime)

Main Street, Skagway (Dreamstime)

The 33-mile Chilkoot Trail cuts through the Coast Mountains to Bennett in British Columbia and was the major route to the Yukon goldfields in the late 1890s. The rush is over, so you have much of the trail pretty much to yourself, but it remains a challenging and rewarding walk, full of history and spectacular scenery.

Upon reaching the Yukon River, you’ll canoe from Whitehorse to Carmacks and a remote wilderness hut where bears, moose, beavers and bald eagles are your closest neighbours.

Trip: The Chilkoot Trail and Yukon River

Who: KE Adventure Travel

When: Departures Jul-Aug

How long: 15 days

How much: From £2,395 (exc. flights)

6: Chase spirits in the Great Bear Rainforest

An elusive Spirit Bear (Dreamstime)

An elusive Spirit Bear (Dreamstime)

Welcome to the Great Bear Rainforest of Canada’s Pacific North West, a land of forests and waterfalls, and home to the rare Kermode bear. 

One in ten of Kermode bears are born white. Known as Spirit Bears, the local Gitg’at and Kitasoo people believe they are a reminder of when the world was covered in snow and ice. Their colouring makes them deadly at fishing and a striking sight amongst the largest remaining area of coastal rainforest on the Pacific coast.

You’ll navigate this maze of forested islands and waterways by ship, with day excursions on shore with a naturalist guide. Deep in the Fjordland Conservancy, you’ll find black and grizzly bears fishing for salmon, humpback whales breaching in secluded bays, and, illuminating the dark forest, a legendary Spirit Bear.

Trip: Great Bear Rainforest

Who: Wildlife Worldwide

When: Departures Aug-Oct

How long: 11 days

How much: From £4,045 (exc. flights)

7: Hike Gros Morne National Park

Fiord in Gros Morne National Park (Dreamstime)

Fiord in Gros Morne National Park (Dreamstime)

From alpine wilderness and eerie tablelands to glacier carved fjords, Gros Morne offers the best coastal and mountain hiking in eastern North America. This guided hiking tour ensures you experience everything this UNESCO World Heritage site has to offer, introducing you to the caribou, arctic hares, whales, seals and moose that roam freely here.

Each day brings new sights and memories. A four-hour hike along the shores of Trout River Pond Fjord, while another hike goes through Arctic wilderness to the top of Gros Morne Mountain. That's before even mentioning your first glimpse of the glacier-carved fjords of Bonne Bay and Ten Mile Pond, or sea kayaking amongst Minke whales in Bonne Bay. These are experiences that will last a lifetime.

Trip: Hike Gros Morne National Park

Who: Windows On The Wild

When: Departures throughout the year

How long: 7 days

How much: From £1,580 (exc. flights)

8: Get close to grizzly bears at Knight Inlet

Grizzlies hanging out in Knight Inlet (Dreamstime)

Grizzlies hanging out in Knight Inlet (Dreamstime)

Hungry after their winter hibernation, grizzly bears descend on Glendale Cove on Knight Inlet to feast upon the sedge grasses, mussels and barnacles that thrive here. Using the renowned Knight Inlet Lodge as your base, you will encounter these majestic animals at close range, from both boat and land.

The setting is unmatched. Knight Inlet is a spectacular fjord carved by glaciers in British Columbia's coastal mountains, a sight you’ll truly appreciate as you arrive by seaplane. An experienced naturalist is on hand to guide your encounters with the bears. 

A visit in autumn will be rewarded with one of nature’s greatest spectacles, when the bears feed on salmon as they return to the Glendale River for spawning.

Trip: Grizzly Bear Adventure at Knight Inlet

Who: Discover The World

When: Departures May-Oct

How long: 2 nights

How much: From £957 (exc. flights)

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