Best Canadian winter drives: Take the road less travelled

Thursday, December 1, 2016, 8:33 AM – The love of winter is woven into the very fabric of Canada, and while this truly gargantuan landmass offers a innumerable array of amazing drives, with some standing out more than others.

Endeavouring to bring a variety and some truly unique options, we’ve gone from coast-to-coast to highlight some spectacular Canadian winter journeys.

Just remember to install the winter tires, pack warm weather gear, curate the sweet tunes playlist, check the weather, and bring the upbeat attitude that’s kept Canadians warm through the coldest of winters.


Icefields Parkway

The 288 km between Banff and Jasper in Alberta is an iconic stretch of two-lane divided highway that, for many, defines the the Canadian Rockies. Technically Highway 93 between Jasper and Lake Louise, then the Trans Canada from Lake Louise to Banff, the nearly four-hour drive should be one that’s split up into days, not mere hours.

The entire stretch of road sits smack in the middle of protected land, carrying you between Jasper National Park and Banff National Park. As the asphalt twists and turns, climbs and drops through this ancient mountain geography, it’s hard not to feel like you’ve entered a realm from fiction.

Make plans to stop and hike, or simply leave lots of unscheduled free time for this drive. There’s nothing more magical than pulling over when the urge strikes, throwing on some warm clothing and wandering through a landscape and taking in vistas that seem too pretty to be real.


This isn’t one road, or one iconic view, but hundreds that string together to create an experience like no other in Canada. Under two hours from Montreal, the best part of this journey is to ignore the most direct route and detour to your heart’s content. A mountainous backdrop and twisty roads make nearly every road to Mont-Tremblant a driver’s playground.

Stay in the ski village of Tremblant and you’ll be treated to lingering feelings of having left Canada entirely and visited some European ski-resort town in the Alps. Even the deer here are not shy of humans so expect to see them up close and personal as you wander trails around the slopes.

The roads in this region are not major commerce arteries, so expect drives to be light on heavy truck traffic. Bonus!

Sea-to-Sky Highway

The road between Vancouver and Whistler in British Columbia offers spectacular views of ocean and mountains. In the summer this drive can be a fast-paced blur of views you want to keep stopping to take in. Through most of the winter months, temperatures in the region rarely drop below zero and often sit at around 6 to 14 degrees Celsius, making this a winter drive that might even warrant a convertible.

While winters on the west coast are some of the mildest in Canada, any snowfall can make for white knuckle driving along Highway 99 as most vehicles here are not equipped with winter tires and steep roads and sharp bends demand focus and attention. Check the weather before you embark on a wintertime drive of the Sea-To-Sky Highway. It’s best avoided if snowfall or below zero temperatures are predicted.

Western Newfoundland

For those that haven’t been, Newfoundland and Labrador might seem like a faraway destination on the remote eastern end of Canada’s map. And while the entire province offers a wealth of truly unique natural and cultural frontiers, it’s the western portion of the island of Newfoundland that’s the hero. Thousands of kilometres of Atlantic coastline combined with the ancient mountains of the western region, make this part of Canada a place that deserves it’s own line item on anyone’s bucket list.

Between 1.25 billion years of geological history, and 4,500 years of human history that dates back even past the Viking era, Western Newfoundland is a journey that demands days, and maybe even weeks of your time to truly explore.

While the Trans Canada Highway is the easiest way to traverse the island, you should get off of it to really see and experience Newfoundland. Head up and off the TCH into the Northern Peninsula to discover the spectacular Gros Morne National Park, follow the coast along Route 430 and watch for whales and icebergs as you meander from one fishing enclave to another.


If staying closer to Canada’s most populous city is more your speed, then take a trip north of Toronto into the Muskokas. Known to most as Ontario’s summer playground, the Muskokas are also a wonderful place to visit in the winter months.

The region’s well-developed tourism infrastructure carries over well into the colder season. With experiences ranging from groomed ice-skating trails, snowmobiling, downhill skiing, cross country skiing, dog sledding, snowshoeing, ice fishing and ice climbing to adventures on fat bikes, horse-drawn sleigh rides, and skijoring. Only two hours from Toronto, think of Muskoka more as a destination and less of a road trip.



Article Source: The Weather Network

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