road trip group canada
Credit: Canadian Tourism Commission 


Load your playlists, fuel up and crack the windows - it's time to hit the open road.

Arguably the best way to experience a country, road trips are all about the journey and beg for spontaneous detours along the way. Without a doubt, the one thing all Canadians share is an appetite for exploration. And what better way to celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary than by exploring a new territory, province or region on a quintessential Canadian road trip? Here are eight routes that will help you answer the call of the open road. 

 

British Columbia:

Vancouver to Tofino

Tofino Beach ChairsJames Wheeler | AdobePhotostock

Distance: 303 km
Time: 3-5 days

From big city to big surf, the road between Vancouver and Tofino is paved with old growth forests, stretches of golden beaches and even a ferry ride (a stunning journey on its own).  Tofino is Canada's surf capital, where amateurs and pros share waves off shore and fish tacos on land. On your way, look for the goats on the roof at the Coombs County Market (yes, real goats) and stop to breathe in the rich, forest air of Cathedral Grove (Macmillan Provincial Park) with its ancient Douglas fir trees.

 

Road Trip Tip 1:

Pick the right vehicle – reliability is key here. There’s nothing worse than finding yourself stranded on a lonely stretch of road. Is your vehicle up for the task? Before you set out, check your fluid levels (oil, washer fluid, etc.) and make sure you’ve chosen the best car possible.

          

Yukon & Northwest Territories:

Dawson City to Inuvik via the rugged Dempster Highway

Dempster HighwayFlickr/Joseph (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Distance: 756 km
Time: 3-7 days

Whether you're a road junkie, a nature lover or looking to cross off another bucket list item, the Dempster Highway is legendary for good reasons.

Canada's only all-weather road crosses the Arctic Circle, taking you through some stunning scenery with plenty of opportunities for spotting wildlife. And: the Arctic Circle. Crossing north of 66° will give you a travel story to tell for life.

Plan around the summer solstice and you'll see the true, literal meaning of Land of the Midnight Sun.

 

Alberta:

Banff to Jasper National Parks via Icefields Parkway

Banff Lake Louise Icefields ParkwayBanff & Lake Louise Tourism / Paul Zizka Photography

Distance: 235 km
Time: 2-4 days

Just leave your jaw on the floor when you start this drive because it’s spectacular glaciers and ancient parks the entire way.

Named after the millennia-old glaciers draped over enormous, craggy peaks, the Parkway (aka Highway 93) connects Banff and Jasper National Parks.

Along the way stop at the Columbia Icefields for a 4x4 ride onto the actual glacier or switch up your vantage point for a spectacular view of the icefields below from the top the Glacier Skywalk.

 

Road Trip Tip 2:

Plan your route – where will you sleep? Do you need to make reservations? Does your route involve any ferries or require navigation? What road stops might you want to make along the way? Plan ahead to stay ahead.

         

Quebec:

Bromont to Ulverton via the Townships Trail

route_sommets eastern townships canadaRémi Boucher

Distance: 420 km
Time: 2-5 days

Perfect for blissed-out lovers of spontaneity, the laid-back beauty of the Eastern Townships holds charming delights around every bend. The designated Township Trail leads you through some of the most picturesque countryside in Quebec. The Eastern Townships is dotted with stunning Victorian homes, adorable cafes, covered bridges, farmers’ markets, vineyards and fields of happy cows. One hour east of Montreal, Bromont is the first of 34 quaint towns along this stop-when-you-want road trip.

 

Newfoundland:

Deer Lake to L'Anse aux Meadows via the Viking Trail

gros morne national parkCanadian Tourism Commission 

Distance: 489 km
Time: 2-3 days

Step back a thousand years as you conquer the Viking Trail, the largest themed highway in Newfoundland and Labrador. The mystique and folklore of Viking culture come alive as you drive from the west coast of Newfoundland through to Labrador in the south.

Along the way you'll come across two UNESCO World Heritage Sites, Gros Morne National Park, icebergs and the tallest lighthouse in Atlantic Canada. It's no wonder the Vikings were awed by this region.

 

Road Trip Tip 3:

Pack like a champ – this comes back to choosing the right car with adequate storage. Dig the cooler out of the shed and make or buy ice. Don’t pack the night before. Make sure your laundry is done. Ensure your camping equipment is clean and in good order, before you set up in the dark. Stock the car with a garbage bag, baby wipes, snacks and entertainment. Pack anything you want to be accessible within arm’s reach.

            

Prince Edward Island:

North Cape Coastal Drive

West Point Lighthouse Prince edward island©Tourism PEI / Paul Baglole

Distance: 350 km
Time: 2-4 days

Summerside serves as your gateway to this beautiful loop around the north-easterly portion of Prince Edward Island. It’s a little bit whimsical (houses made from bottles), a little bit cultural (explore Acadian and Mi'kmaq roots) and incredibly charming (there's a lighthouse inn, of course). This route is named for its midpoint, North Cape, where you'll find 16 massive windmills on the island's most westerly edge.

 

Nova Scotia:

Cape Breton via the Cabot Trail

Cape breton highlandsPierrette Guertin

Distance: 297 km
Time: 2-4 days

One of the most iconic drives in Canada, the Cabot Trail leads you around the island of Cape Breton. Hugging steep ocean-side cliffs most of the way, the roads offers breathtaking views of the Atlantic Ocean. Whatever you've budgeted for time, add 50% more to allow for all the unscheduled stops you'll inevitably make for photo ops. You'll also want to make time to experience some of the island's traditional French-Acadian culture and to take a detour on the Chowder Trail to try some of the 61 chowders on offer.

 

Road Trip Tip 4:

Plan for the worst, hope for the best - take care of any maintenance that needs to be done in advance of setting out. Consider what you might do in the event of the unexpected (ex. a flat tire) and consider whether you’ll be travelling through areas with weak-to-no cell coverage. Do you have/need a spare tire? How scarce are gas stations along your route? Do you need to bring spare fuel with you?

           

New Brunswick:

Moncton to Fundy National Park

hiking through fundy national parkHiking in Fundy National Park | Canadian Tourism Commission

Distance: 225 km
Time: 3-5 days

This road trip starts off in Moncton, hugs the eastern coastline and delivers you to breathtaking Fundy National Park. Experience the world's highest tides (100 billion tonnes of seawater flow into the Bay twice a day, every day), take a spectacular coastal hike on the ocean floor and keep an eye out for whales while they have their summer buffet off the coast of New Brunswick.

Don't forget to stop at the Hopewell Rocks (aka "flowerpot rocks"), whose strange top-heavy formations are caused by tidal erosion.  

 

      

 

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