Discover Canada's Best-Kept Secrets for Outdoor Adventure Before Summer Ends
Canada, a vast and diverse country, is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts seeking untouched wilderness and off-the-beaten-path adventures. While iconic destinations like Banff and Jasper National Parks draw crowds from around the world, there are hidden gem areas scattered across the country that offer equally breathtaking landscapes and immersive experiences without the hustle and bustle. Here are some of our favourites:
Tucked away in the Canadian Rockies, Kootenay National Park offers unspoiled wilderness and stunning landscapes. With fewer visitors than its neighboring parks, you can hike to breathtaking alpine meadows, soak in natural hot springs, or discover hidden waterfalls along secluded trails. Don't miss the awe-inspiring Marble Canyon and the Paint Pots—vibrant mineral-rich pools nestled in the wilderness. Kootenay National Park is famous for its natural hot springs. The Radium Hot Springs, located in the park's southern section, offers a relaxing and rejuvenating experience. The mineral-rich waters provide a soothing soak amidst beautiful surroundings, making it a popular attraction for visitors seeking relaxation and wellness.
The park boasts an extensive network of hiking trails that cater to different skill levels and interests. From leisurely strolls to challenging alpine hikes, Kootenay National Park offers a range of options. Notable trails include the Paint Pots Trail, which leads to vibrant mineral springs, and the Stanley Glacier Trail, which rewards hikers with stunning views of glaciers and waterfalls.
Gaspé Peninsula, Quebec
Nestled on Quebec's eastern coast, the Gaspé Peninsula is a hidden gem filled with coastal wonders. Explore Forillon National Park's rugged cliffs, picturesque lighthouses, and pristine beaches. Hike along the stunning Gaspé Peninsula Trail for breathtaking views of the Gulf of St. Lawrence or embark on a sea kayaking adventure to discover hidden coves and marine life. The Gaspé Peninsula is a playground for outdoor enthusiasts. The region offers opportunities for hiking, cycling, sea kayaking, fishing, and birdwatching. The International Appalachian Trail winds its way through the peninsula, providing scenic vistas and challenging treks for hikers. With its diverse landscapes and well-maintained trails, the region caters to adventurers of all skill levels.
Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve, Quebec
Off the beaten path in northeastern Quebec lies the Mingan Archipelago, a hidden paradise of limestone islands and striking rock formations. Explore this unique marine environment by kayaking through crystal-clear waters, camping on secluded islands, or taking a boat tour to witness the park's mesmerizing sculptures shaped by wind and waves. Exploring the Mingan Archipelago by kayak or boat is an excellent way to experience its natural wonders. Kayaking allows visitors to navigate through narrow channels, explore secluded coves, and get a closer look at the monoliths. Boat tours are also available, providing guided excursions that showcase the park's highlights and provide insights into its geology, ecology, and cultural heritage.
The park offers several hiking trails that lead visitors through the coastal landscapes, providing opportunities to witness the monoliths, enjoy panoramic views, and immerse oneself in nature. Interpretive panels along the trails offer information about the geological and ecological features of the park, enhancing visitors' understanding of the unique environment.
Gulf Islands, British Columbia
Escape to the Gulf Islands, a collection of picturesque islands nestled between Vancouver Island and the mainland. With a laid-back atmosphere and pristine nature, this hidden gem offers endless opportunities for kayaking, hiking, and beachcombing. Discover hidden coves, encounter marine life, and enjoy the local charm of each unique island. The Gulf Islands offer a wealth of outdoor activities for nature enthusiasts. Explore the islands' numerous parks, hiking trails, and marine reserves. Enjoy kayaking along the coastline, paddleboarding in sheltered bays, or going on cycling adventures through scenic routes. Wildlife viewing opportunities abound, with chances to spot seals, eagles, otters, and whales.
Nahanni National Park Reserve, Northwest Territories
Located in the remote wilderness of the Northwest Territories, Nahanni National Park Reserve is a true hidden treasure. Traverse the majestic Nahanni River by canoe or kayak, marvel at Virginia Falls—twice the height of Niagara Falls—or embark on a backpacking expedition through rugged canyons and alpine tundra. The South Nahanni River is a major highlight of the park and offers world-class canoeing and kayaking opportunities. Adventurous visitors can embark on multi-day river trips to navigate the river's challenging rapids, explore the breathtaking canyons, and witness the stunning Virginia Falls, which are twice the height of Niagara Falls.
Backcountry Hiking and Mountaineering: Nahanni National Park Reserve provides opportunities for backcountry hiking and mountaineering enthusiasts. Trails like the Cirque of the Unclimbables and the Nahanni River Trail offer unparalleled wilderness experiences, where hikers can encounter untouched landscapes, rare wildlife, and stunning views of the surrounding mountains.
Bonaventure Island, Quebec
Off the coast of Quebec's Gaspé Peninsula, Bonaventure Island is a hidden gem for bird lovers and nature enthusiasts. Home to one of the world's largest northern gannet colonies, this island offers a unique opportunity to witness thousands of seabirds nesting on towering cliffs. Take a boat tour of the island and hike its trails while enjoying breathtaking coastal views. Bonaventure Island features well-maintained hiking trails that allow visitors to explore its natural wonders. The main trail spans around 6 kilometers (3.7 miles) and takes you through diverse landscapes, including forests, meadows, and along the coastline. As you hike, keep an eye out for other bird species, such as puffins, razorbills, and black-legged kittiwakes.
Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta
Nestled in the southwestern corner of Alberta, Waterton Lakes National Park remains a lesser-known gem compared to its popular neighbor, Banff National Park. Enjoy tranquil hikes through wildflower-filled meadows, paddle on the serene lakes, and keep an eye out for diverse wildlife, including black bears and bighorn sheep. Waterton Lakes Park offers a wide range of outdoor activities for visitors to enjoy. Hiking enthusiasts can explore numerous trails, such as the iconic Crypt Lake Trail, which takes you on a thrilling adventure through tunnels, cliffs, and waterfalls. Boating, kayaking, fishing, and paddleboarding are popular activities on the park's lakes, including Upper Waterton Lake and Middle Waterton Lake.
Riding Mountain National Park, Manitoba
Nestled in the rolling hills and boreal forests of central Manitoba, Riding Mountain National Park is a hidden gem offering diverse landscapes, abundant wildlife, and recreational opportunities. Riding Mountain National Park offers a peaceful and serene retreat, with beautiful landscapes, diverse wildlife, and a chance to immerse yourself in nature. The park is also home to a vibrant arts community, with art galleries, workshops, and cultural events. Explore the park's extensive trail network, go wildlife spotting, enjoy water activities on Clear Lake, and take in panoramic views from the historic fire tower. Don't miss the chance to stargaze in one of Canada's designated Dark-Sky Preserves.
Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland and Labrador
Gros Morne National Park, located on the west coast of Newfoundland, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site renowned for its dramatic fjords, towering cliffs, and geological wonders. It can be reached by flying into Deer Lake Regional Airport. Hike the iconic Gros Morne Mountain, explore the glacier-carved fjords of Western Brook Pond, and marvel at the Tablelands, a unique barren landscape resembling Mars. Engage in boat tours, wildlife spotting, and cultural experiences, immersing yourself in the breathtaking beauty of this hidden gem.
These hidden gem areas in Canada offer unique experiences and the chance to explore lesser-known but equally captivating destinations. Whether you seek outdoor adventures, cultural immersion, or simply a peaceful escape, these destinations promise memorable summer journeys.
While Canada is renowned for its popular outdoor destinations, true adventurers know that the hidden gems offer unmatched beauty, tranquility, and a sense of discovery. These ten lesser-known places showcase Canada's diverse landscapes and promise unforgettable outdoor adventures away from the crowds. Embrace the spirit of exploration, pack your gear, and uncover these hidden gems that will leave you awe-inspired and yearning for more.