Your bucket list is likely filled with magnificent sites from around the world—Victoria Falls, the Great Barrier Reef, Mount Everest—but there is tons to see right in your own backyard. From coast to coast to coast, Canada’s varied landscape offers a host of natural wonders that are just as worthy of being added to your bucket list.
Cathedral Grove, British Columbia
British Columbia is known for its behemoth Douglas Fir trees, which you’ll find plenty of in Cathedral Grove on Vancouver Island. The largest trees in the region are about 800 years old, 75 metres high, and nearly 10 metres around.
Della Falls, British Columbia
Watch water gush down from 440 metres high in Vancouver Island’s Strathcona Provincial Park. It’s a 16-kilometre hike to get to the base of the falls, so make sure you bring snacks and water.
Grey whales in Tofino, British Columbia
Up to 20,000 grey whales migrate north from the Baja Peninsula to the west coast of Vancouver Island each year. The best whale watching in Tofino begins in March, which is when the Pacific Rim Whale Festival is held.
Spotted Lake, British Columbia
The polka-dotted appearance of this lake near Osoyoos, British Columbia, is said to be the result of high concentrations of minerals. In the summer months, these spots generally harden and form pods made of concentrated calcium, magnesium, and sodium. While this lake is not open to the public, it can be seen from nearby highways.
Canadian Rockies, British Columbia and Alberta
Bike, hike, ski, snowshoe—there are so many ways to explore the Canadian Rockies in Alberta and British Columbia, no matter what season it is. It’s difficult to pick a favourite mountain but the tallest peak, Mount Robson in British Columbia, is a popular draw. You can also take a trip up to Alberta’s Columbia Icefields for a sip of fresh glacier water as you take in the magnificent view.
Moraine Lake, Alberta
Lake Louise is perhaps the most photographed glacier lake in Banff National Park, but don’t miss out on the picturesque view at Moraine Lake. A short vertical hike comes with the reward of a picturesque view of the glassy lake where you’ll be able to count ten different mountain peaks in the distance.
Hoodoos in Dinosaur Provincial Park, Alberta
Visit Dinosaur Provincial Park where you’ll find seven-meter-high sandstone pillars that took millions of years to form. Known as hoodoos, Aboriginal legends say the unique forms are actually petrified giants who wake in the night to guard the Canadian Badlands.
Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, Alberta
Skeletons of buffalo can still be found at this UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s where indigenous people used to chase herds of buffalo, causing them to race over a precipice to their death. The carcasses were then carved up for their meat and pelts.
Athabasca Sand Dunes, Saskatchewan
Even though Saskatchewan is well-known to be the flattest part of Canada, it’s home to North America’s tallest sand dunes, which reach up to 30 metres high. For the kind of views you’d expect to see in the Sahara, you’ll need intensive wilderness experience, as they’re protected within a provincial park with no services, facilities or even roads.
Polar bears in Churchill, Manitoba
The Northern Manitoba town of Churchill, located on the shores of Hudson Bay and at the edge of the Arctic, is a world-renowned place to see polar bears in the wild.
Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario
The forests of Algonquin Provincial Park have been immortalized in the paintings of Group of Seven artist Tom Thomson. The quintessentially Canadian oil paintings are beautiful, but everyone should experience the park in person.
Niagara Falls, Ontario
Niagara Falls are an iconic Canadian site that should not be missed. Chosen by Canadians as one of the country’s seven wonders, alongside other sites on this list, Horseshoe Falls—on the Canadian side of the border—has the highest drop, measuring 53 metres.
Percé Rock, Quebec
Percé Rock—a giant limestone in the Gulf of St. Lawrence—is named for the archway created after powerful waves pierced a hole into the massive 450-metre-long rock. It is nearly 90 metres at its highest point, and is just as wide.
Hopewell Rocks, New Brunswick
See the highest tides in the world crash up to 16 metres on the reddish cliffs in the Bay of Fundy. The powerful tides formed the impressive Hopewell Rocks, which you can get a full view of if you walk along the beach during low tide. But don’t miss the water rollup the bay during high tide.
The Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia
Give yourself several days to explore Nova Scotia’s expansive Cabot Trail on the island of Cape Breton. The 300-kilometre highway winds along the shoreline—sometimes on steep cliffs—through Highlands National Park, and provides some stunning views of the Atlantic.
Wild horses on Sable Island, Nova Scotia
long with the approximately five people who inhabit this remote island is a group of feral horses roaming the gorgeous landscape made up of beaches, sand dunes, and bogs. It’s not easy to access this island (permission must be granted by the National Park Reserve of Canada and you’ll likely have to join a tour) but it’s worth the effort.
Singing Sands Beach, Prince Edward Island
There are dozens of beaches on Prince Edward Island but one is unique because of its so-called “singing” sand, which is said to create a squeaking or whistling sound. There’s no official explanation, but it may be caused by rounded quartz sand.
Iceberg Alley, Newfoundland and Labrador
Glaciers dating back as far as 10,000 years float down from the Arctic along the northern and eastern coasts of Newfoundland and Labrador every spring. From land or boat, you can view these 100,000 plus-tonne structures move through what’s been dubbed Iceberg Alley.
Virginia Falls, Northwest Territories
Nestled in the 4,700-square-kilometre Nahanni National Park Reserve, you’ll find the massive Virginia Falls, a massive waterfall on the South Nahanni River with a drop nearly twice the height of Niagara Falls. Plus, the long summer days in Canada’s far north provide ample viewing time.
Northern Lights, the Territories
The best place to see the Northern Lights in Canada is in the territories, and more specifically, the Northwest Territories. That’s because the Northwest Territories is located directly under the Auroral Oval and much of the land is flat, so your views of this dazzling phenomena will be unobstructed. Clear nights in fall and spring are the best time to catch the Aurora Borealis.