We’ve all seen the majesty of Niagara Falls—the Canadian side, of course—and the beauty of Algonquin Park (and if you haven’t, you definitely should get on that), but what about the other lesser known, yet equally amazing natural wonders of Ontario? Here are some less popular awe-inspiring sights that will prove “Onterrible” is a misnomer.
These distinctive rolling red clay hills along the southeast side of Olde Base Line Road in Caledon are a rare sight in Ontario and almost look like they belong on another planet. Part of the Queenston Formation along the Niagara Escarpment, the badlands are currently fenced off to the public, so you can only look but not touch. Still, they’re worth the trip for a look in person.
An underground limestone cave formation, this natural wonder stays cool in both the literal and figurative sense. Tours lead visitors through passages that were part of a tropical sea floor 500 million years ago, with fascinating fossils on the cave walls to prove it. Keep an eye out for the sinkhole that can be found on the trail leading out of the caves.
Avoid the crowds in Niagara and check out these 40-metre-high falls instead (the second highest in Ontario), with easily accessible trails and viewing decks that provide spectacular views of the Kaministiquia River rushing over the cliff’s edge. Fossils found at the bottom of the drop date back 1.6 million years.
Located about 60 kilometres northeast of Thunder Bay, this gorge is 150 metres wide, 100 metres deep, and 2,000 metres long. It’s part of Ouimet Canyon Provincial Park, and a walkway of boardwalks and trails leads to two viewing platforms overlooking the canyon. Rare arctic plants and beautiful alpine flowers can also be spotted here.
In 2013, Travel and Escape named this one of the seven natural wonder beaches to see in the world. Instead of fine sand, this remote, water-access-only beach near Thunder Bay is full of banded agate stones, which have been said to have mystic healing powers. Found in the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area, this island is also where the Pukaskwa Pits, considered sacred to First Nations people, can be found.
Found 80 kilometres north of Napanee, painters and photographers are lured here for its pristine beauty. The park’s main attraction is Mazinaw Rock, a 1.5-kilometre-long and 100-metre-high granite formation jutting out of Mazinaw Lake. It features Canada’s largest visible collection of aboriginal pictographs, which are best seen from a canoe.
Although it’s located on the eastern edge of Toronto, the Scarborough Bluffs feels worlds away from bustling city life. At its highest point, the bluffs rise 90 metres above the coastline and they stretch about 15 kilometres along the shore of Lake Ontario. This geological feature is the result of sedimentary deposits accumulated over time, and is unique to North America. Enjoy great views of the bluffs from the many parks and gardens in the area or while boating on Lake Ontario.
Arguably the most “gorges” natural area in the Grand River Valley, the Grand River rushes through the gorge, which has 22-metre-high cliffs. Scenic overlooks and trails offer stunning views of the water below, and those who wish to can swim at the quarry, or kayak or tube through the rapids.
Accessible only by boat, this island in Georgian Bay is 6.5 kilometres off the coast of Tobermory. Part of Fathom Five National Marine Park, the island has a total area of two square kilometres, and its name comes from two spectacular rock pillars, or sea stacks, on its eastern shore that resemble—you guessed it—flower pots. There used to be a third, but it tumbled in 1903.
Dramatic lookouts from the steep 70-metre cliffs on the well-known hiking trails here are absolutely breathtaking and well worth the journey to Manitoulin Island.
Northern Bruce Peninsula’s best-kept secret, these 10 limestone caves are a challenging but worthwhile hike. Be sure to bring good hiking shoes and a flashlight, plus binoculars to catch not-to-be-missed views of Georgian Bay.
There’s a lot to explore at this highest point of the Niagara Escarpment at the Blue Mountains. Hike through caves, caverns, and fissures carved by glacial ice millions of years ago and look out for unique features like the Ice Cave, the Indian Council Chamber, and the Fern Cavern.
Created 1.2 billion years ago by faulting along the Canadian Shield, this canyon and wilderness park is only accessible by train or hiking trail. There are four waterfalls that dot the canyon’s rim and feed into the Agawa River, along with five nature paths, including a lookout trail that leads to an observation platform providing a lovely panoramic view of the canyon.
One of Hamilton’s most scenic natural areas, Spencer Gorge contains two waterfalls—Webster’s and Tew’s—along with Dundas Peak, a cliffside lookout point. Webster’s Falls is a popular hangout spot as it’s contained in a gorgeous park area and Dundas Peak offers must-see views.
A cascading waterfall at the tip of King’s Forest Park, this 19-metre-tall hidden gem is considered to be one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Hamilton. It’s a bit of a hike to reach these falls, but entirely worth the effort.