It’s summer—the season of road trips, exploration, and sightseeing. Canada has plenty of amazing natural landmarks to check out, yet for some reason, many Canadians find themselves revisiting the same old sights again and again. Heading down to Niagara Falls to see the Maid of the Mist? Check. The CN Tower? Check. The Rockies? Double-check.
Don’t get us wrong, these are amazing natural spots to visit, but Canada is a giant country, which means there are way, way more things to see. Canadians are incredibly lucky. Our country’s landscape is diverse and packed with tons of different kinds of natural features and sights. Here are a few of them that we urge you to check out this summer.
The Columbia Icefield
The Columbia Icefield is a huge glacier in the Rocky Mountains—the biggest glacier in the North American Rockies, in fact. To get to the glacier, you generally need to ride a massive all-terrain bus equipped to drive on the ice, which is an adventure in itself. There are many guided tours that take you around the field, with guides who help explain how the glacier helped shape the mountains themselves. A trip to a massive icefield is an amazing and refreshing summer trip.
The Hopewell Rocks are a lot more exciting than they sound. The rocks, also known as the Flowerpot Rocks, are huge formations in New Brunswick’s Bay of Fundy. They were formed by tidal erosion, and they’re impressive not just for their size, but for their twisting shapes and unlikely sense of balance. You can kayak among the rocks when the tide is up, or simply ogle in amazement from the beach.
Yes, America has the Brooklyn Bridge and the Golden Gate, but Canada has a few of its own bridges to be proud of, particularly Confederation Bridge, the longest bridge over ice-covered water in the world. The Bridge connects PEI to New Brunswick and is an impressive 13 kilometres long. It’s an incredible feat of engineering, and the view on the drive across is worth the trip alone.
Drumheller’s Hoodoos and dinosaur bones
The Alberta badlands are an incredibly unique Canadian landform. The arid landscapes have been visibly shaped by millennia of erosion. In prehistoric times, the area was a wetland inhabited by dinosaurs, whose bones are still regularly unearthed. Drumheller’s Royal Tyrell Museum is worth a visit for its extensive fossil collection, and the surrounding hoodoos, uniquely shaped rock formations, are also a must-see.
The Trent-Severn Waterway
If you’re in Ontario and have access to a boat, a lazy trawl down the Trent-Severn Waterway is a must. This 386-mile-long canal system has 45 locks—that is, chambers that boats enter to be either raised or lowered to different levels of the canal. They’re fascinating to watch, and as you continue along the canal, there are plenty of lakes to stop, and beautiful sights along the way.
Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump
This World Heritage Site preserves the history of a unique hunting practice used by the Blackfoot for thousands of years. A museum now graces the spot where hunters used to herd massive groups of buffalo, driving them over a cliff. It’s a great place to learn about the history of the people who inhabited the area long before Europeans arrived, and to learn more about the incredible buffalo themselves.
St. Joseph’s Oratory
To see huge, old-world church buildings, you often have to go to Europe, but Canada’s largest church, St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal, holds its own as an architectural marvel and a historic site. The Basilica was built in the Italian Renaissance style, and features a massive copper dome, beautiful stained-glass windows, and an incredible view over Montreal. If feeling dwarfed by one of Canada’s architectural marvels is your idea of a good time, you should definitely make the trip.
Fort Edmonton Park
Fort Edmonton Park is like Disneyland for Canadian history buffs. The Fort consists of original and restored buildings and structures, and walking down the streets feels like stepping 150 years into the past. There’s a steam train to bring people from the entrance to the fort proper, historic trading-post buildings, a first nations camp, and some old-time entertainment including a saloon and a classic candy store.
The National Gallery of Canada
Canadian art galleries often have trouble competing with the big galleries south of the border, not to mention those in Europe, but the National Gallery of Canada has managed to amass a pretty great collection of works. It features art from Canadian artists like Emily Carr, Jack Bush, and the Group of Seven, plus works from international stars like Warhol, Picasso, Klimt, Van Gogh, and Matisse.
People sometimes joke about the flat expanses of the prairies. As the joke goes, in Saskatchewan, you can watch your dog run away for three days. But that big, flat landscape is kind of amazing. The spectacular skies, the giant cloud formations, and the endless yellow fields create a scene that will take your breath away. Don’t believe anyone who says the prairies are boring—they clearly haven’t stood before an endless prairie sky.
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