10 lesser-known natural wonders to see in Canada

A Canadian lake after a storm in winter
Photo by Jack T. Carroll/Shutterstock

Canada’s known as an incredibly diverse country, both for its people and its landscape. But when the same places make every “best of” or “top 10” list, it’s hard to believe that there’s much more to the country than Niagara Falls and the Rockies. Of course these are both worthwhile attractions, but there are a ton of other amazing sites in our nearly 10 million-square-kilometre country that don’t get the same level of hype. Here are just a few of them.

Ouimet Canyon

Located approximately 60 kilometres north of Thunder Bay, this epic gorge is 100 metres deep, 150 metres wide, and an astounding 2,000 metres long. The provincial park’s boardwalks and trails lead to various viewing platforms, which allow you to get close to the canyon’s edge without having to worry about slipping.

Castle Butte

The Big Muddy Badlands near Bengough, Saskatchewan, will leave you feeling as though you’ve left the Great White North. The region of the province will put you in mind of America’s southwest, and its must-see attraction is Castle Butte, a 70-metre-high outcrop of sandstone and compressed clay protruding from the otherwise flat Prairie landscape.

Dunes Beach

Ontario’s Prince Edward County is best known for its wineries, farmers’ markets, and artisanal cheeses, but it’s also home to some of the province’s most stunning beaches, most of which are located within Sandbanks Provincial Park. The most underrated of all might be Dunes Beach. Its giant mounds of sand, which stretch eight kilometres, will make you feel as though you’ve headed south. Formed 10,000 years ago, the dunes are a geological marvel that are even more magnificent to look at.

Della Falls

The remote Della Falls may be tough to reach, but catching a glimpse of water rushing 440 metres down a pine-covered cliff will make the trek worth it. These towering falls are located in Vancouver Island’s Strathcona Provincial Park on the west end of Great Central Lake. To reach them, you must embark on a full-day hike that follows the old railway grade up the Drinkwater Valley.

Spotted Lake

Located outside Osoyoos, British Columbia, in the Eastern Similkameen Valley, Spotted Lake is a small body of water that’s rich in minerals like calcium, sodium sulphate, and magnesium sulphate. The lake is a major draw to the area, especially in summer, when much of its water evaporates and causes the high concentrations of minerals to form spots. The spots range in size and colour and, depending on the makeup of minerals, can appear in various shades of blue, green, and yellow.

Bonnechere Caves

Just outside Eganville, Ontario is a natural underground wonder known as the Bonnechere caves. According to geologists the caves were once located at the bottom of a sea, and the fossils indicate that they were once home to a vast array of coral and sea creatures, including giant squid. The caves are open for exploration from May to October, when the water flowing through the caves is removed by four powerful pumps.

Little Manitou Lake

The province of Saskatchewan may be home to more than 100,000 lakes, but there’s one just over 100 kilometres southeast of Saskatoon that stands out from the rest. Dubbed “Canada’s Dead Sea,” Little Manitou Lake is three times saltier than the ocean, which means that its swimmers can float on their backs so effortlessly that some have been known to do so while reading a book. But if that’s not a big enough draw, the lake’s high salt content also offers natural healing and skin softening properties.

Mount Thor

Baffin Island’s Mount Thor boasts the world’s greatest vertical drop at 1,250 metres. It also has an overhang that averages at around 105 degrees, making it a pretty popular spot among climbers. It was nominated as one of the Seven Wonders of Canada, but never made the cut, likely because few travel to this awe-inspiring landmark’s remote location.

Red Rock Canyon

Alberta’s Red Rock Canyon—a stunning rust-coloured canyon with a river rushing through it—can be accessed by a relatively short and simple hike. The Canyon Loop is less than a kilometre long, but if you walk just a few kilometres further to Blakiston Falls, you’ll be treated to an impressive overhead view of the water cascading over the canyon’s red rocks. Although this trail is one of the most popular in Alberta’s Waterton Lakes National Park, the stunning region hardly gets the credit it deserves when it’s located in the same province as heavily promoted places like Banff and Lake Louise.

Joggins Fossil Cliffs

Everyone knows the Hopewell Rocks in New Brunswick, but what about Nova Scotia’s Joggins Fossil Cliffs? The 15 kilometres of exposed rock along the Bay of Fundy reveal fossils that date back to a time when lush, tropical forests covered much of the region, about 300 million years ago. Although it’s already the world’s most complete fossil record from the “Coal Age,” the constant erosion from the Bay of Fundy’s famously high tides has the potential to expose new fossils along the cliffs at any time.

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