5 Canadian Road Trips That’ll Make You Love Winter
From passing through the mountains of B.C. to ice hotels in Quebec, these routes were made for this season
Road trips in the season of frost and snow can be a magical experience, when you’re warm inside a vehicle with a winter wonderland outside of it. And Canada just happens to be home to many exciting routes from coast to coast to coast. Like with any road trip, always ensure your car is up to date with tune-ups, your auto insurance is valid and you have emergency supplies handy. Consider packing winter gear such as snowshoes, skates and skis if you want to take a break and explore outside your ride.
Here are five adventures to add to your winter road-trip itinerary.
1. Venture through a Canadian wilderness in Alberta
Let’s start with one of the chilliest of Canadian road trips: Alberta’s Icefields Parkway. This world-famous route starts in Jasper National Park and heads to the province’s other popular national park, Banff. The trip extends 232 kilometres through the Canadian Rocky Mountain Park World Heritage Site.
Bring your camera to capture the stunning glaciers, the glistening mountain lakes and the wilderness all around you as you drive along this enchanting route in winter. Make sure you allow time to visit the two national parks and learn why the contours of the landscape are so dramatic. You may even spot wild moose, cougars, wolves and elk on this road trip.
2. Discover the sky-high mountains of British Columbia
You can spend a day—or three—exploring the Sea-to-Sky Highway that stretches from Vancouver to a bit north of Whistler. Also referred to as Highway 99, it spans approximately 164 kilometres. If you love majestic mountains, rushing waterfalls, being surrounded by nature and crisp winter days, you will love this road trip.
Start your adventure in Vancouver, where you’ll cruise through Porteau Cove Provincial Park, a mystic destination ideal for stargazing and aurora borealis viewing. As you drive closer to Whistler, keep an eye out for Alexander Falls, a gorgeous waterfall in the Callaghan Valley that is definitely worth pulling over for.
3. Drive along the Dempster Highway in the Yukon and Northwest Territories
Since November 2017, the completed Dempster Highway has been open to the public and is the only Canadian public highway that crosses the Arctic Circle to the Arctic Ocean. You can now take an adventurous, icy road trip from Inuvik to Tuktoyuktuk on this 740-kilometre route.
Set off from the Yukon’s Dawson City and drive through three mountain ranges and three ecological areas toward the Northwest Territories. Although the territorial parks are closed for the winter season, you will still be able to see the wilderness in all its beauty. The Northwest Territories is home to the northern lights and offers a dreamlike experience with the lakes as you catch the glowing aurora.
4. Bundle up for a walk through the charming village of Elora, Ont.
Upon arrival in Elora, you’ll quickly see why it’s known as the province’s most beautiful village—the perfect winter road-trip destination. Surrounded by the old-world charm of the 19th-century limestone architecture and carefully preserved heritage, you will drive over rolling hills and snow-sprinkled farmland, making it extra special this time of year.
If you are heading to Elora from Toronto, take the 401 West through Mississauga toward Cambridge, the perfect town to stop in and refuel with a meal and hot drink. Continue toward Elora, crack open the car window, and when you hear the rushing gorge of the Grand River Valley, you’ll know you’ve arrived.
5. Spend a night at the Hôtel de Glace for an epic winter experience in Quebec
Cap off a winter road trip in Quebec with a frosty stop at the famous Hôtel de Glace (Ice Hotel). That’s right, it’s made of solid snow and ice, and each winter it’s completely rebuilt with a new design. Maximize this seasonal experience by enjoying a night on a bedframe made of ice. (Don’t worry, the rooms come with a Nordic sleeping bag.)
You can drive to this unique North American stay from Montreal in about three hours along the Trans-Canada Highway. The hotel is also not far from central Quebec City, a destination packed with winter adventures. The Hôtel de Glace will open its icy doors on January 4, 2018. Needless to say, dress warmly and don’t forget your mittens.
Make the most of this winter
From trying out new gadgets that will make this season better to venturing off for a day of local winter activities, embrace the outdoors this year.
And remember, having CAA Auto Insurance means we’ve got your back.
Image credit: hellobc.com, travelyukon.com, Sylvia Galbraith/Silver Creek Photography and ice hotel-DanyVachon