When the snow starts to fall, outdoor adventure travel in Canada heats up. Instead of hiding indoors for half of the year, there’s a lot of activities in, on or underneath the snow. And with most winter adventures only a few hours from a serious city, adrenaline-junkies do not have to travel far to obtain their fix.
Take a review of some travel suggestions from my Scenic Travel Canada staff:
Downhill Skiing & Snowboarding – Skiing and snowboarding are high-speed thrills that will make downhillers want a lot of white stuff! Vancouver has Whistler; Calgary has Banff and Montreal has Mont Tremblant. And there are a good amount of local hills to brush through to techniques at the start of the season.
Ski season starts in mid-November and runs until May. The busiest, and a lot expensive, time with the ski resorts is approximately Christmas and springtime when families go to the hills in droves. But with new high-speed ski-lifts, queues on the hill tend to be shorter compared to lineups in the parking lots and restaurants. The best time to visit downhill skiing is mid-week in the event the lift-lines are non-existent and the runs are uncrowded. Snowboarding will be as popular as skiing now makes up more than 1 / 2 of all downhillers. Hotel prices are usually cheaper mid-week.
Ask on the concierge desk if lift tickets can be purchased in advance, usually at a discount. Discount lift tickets are available at the beginning of the time of year and provide savings that last through the ski-season. Cross-Country Skiing – Not all folks are as courageous (or crazy enough) to strap boards with their feet and hurtle down a mountain. For those who are downhill-challenged, try cross-country skiing instead. It’s like walking but only faster; just like skating but with no falls; quite like running, however, not as strenuous. There are only some nordic centers inside the country dedicated to cross-country skiers but any snow-covered trail is worth exploring. To get in shape at the beginning of the ski-season, try training at a local course. Then set off on the backcountry for a cool day of sliding and gliding.
Snowmobiling – Snowmobiling is fast, exhilarating. Enjoy a family outing zipping through snowy fields, sparkling powder, and spectacular scenery. Whizzing along forest trails is a superb solution for a sunny, winter day inside Canadian backcountry. Guided snowmobile tours in Canada can be found to take sledders along pathways to places usually inaccessible at other times of 4 seasons. Ontario alone has over 30,000 kilometers of trails while Revelstoke, BC offers 12-18 meters with the white stuff (yes, meters). The quiet beauty and virgin snow are breathtaking and unforgettable. Skating – Indoor arenas are fundamental to every community within this hockey-loving nation and many municipalities also maintain outdoor seating areas. Calgary carries a natural rink in Bowness Park; Winnipeg has the 5.7 kilometer River Trail not to mention, Ottawa has the Rideau Canal, a World Heritage Site. Enjoy a warm winter day over a frozen waterway and provide back childhood memories of playing about the ice.
Snowshoeing – Hiking in Canada doesn’t always have to make an end when the snow accumulates on the ground. As a winter substitute, strap on some lightweight snowshoes and follow your favorite trails to see the frozen backcountry. Snowshoeing is much like hiking except trekkers may make their unique trails. Scrub-brush and felled trees are buried deep below the powdery snow allowing snowshoers to only float on top. Take more direct routes up hills, tromp over buried thicket, and follow frozen creeks & streams to secret winter locations. Winter Camping – Instead of packing the tent away for 6 months, consider using a winter camping trip! Die-hard campers can pitch a tent and hunker down for that night anywhere that’s sheltered from your wind. Combined with snowshoeing, winter camping is quiet and uncrowded. The soft snow underneath the tent creates comfortable bedding. And hot chocolate hasn’t tasted so excellent.
Caving – Caving in Canada is warm! Buried deep underground, the natural warmth from the earth keeps caverns with a constant temperature throughout the year, usually around +5 C. Once inside, winter quickly fades as cavers descend into a dark and damp chute below the surface. Guided tours provide protective equipment and gear to adopt you into a different world of narrow passageways, mineral deposits, and crystal-clear pools. Those people who are claustrophobic will quickly realize the narrow crevasses truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Sailing – The North Pacific Ocean at the BC coast is +10 C making for year-round sailing adventures. From November to March, rain showers are frequent but avid sailors could acquire thrills amongst the Gulf Islands and fjords of Vancouver Island. The westerly winds are strong and constant off from the Pacific Ocean, making for exciting and anxious sailing adventures. Bring rain gear plus a VHF radio to monitor the next thunderstorm since winter storms can produce gale-force winds. Fog is a west-coast trademark.
Outdoor adventure travel in Canada is a year-round pastime. When the snow starts to fall and nature retreats into hibernation, there are plenty of activities to do and places to discover on this magical winter wonderland.