Story by Sarah Deveau
When I travel, I make it my mission to break out of the stereotypical itinerary of shopping, shows and sightseeing, and instead tackle something adventurous and exhilarating. In New Zealand, I snorkelled with sharks, in Las Vegas I hiked Red Rock Canyon, and in Mexico I spent the afternoon kayaking.
Whether you’re travelling across Canada and want to add a little excitement to your day, or you live in one of these cities and want to try something new outdoors, check out these suggestions for unique excursions across Canada.
The 100th Calgary Stampede has begun, but you don’t have to be at the Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth to experience the joy of Alberta’s cowboy culture. On the outskirts of the city, riders can explore Kananaskis Country and the Canadian Rockies with Moose Mountain Adventures on horseback. Hourly and day-long trail rides for both beginners and advanced riders are available, but experienced riders should definitely sign up for a multi-day excursion that meanders through Banff National Park, Kootenay National Park and southern Alberta. Pack trips start at $1,799 for July and August.
Do you believe in ghosts? Tattle Tours offers Ghost Walks and Walking Tours of one of Canada’s oldest cities, Halifax. Professional actors guide visitors through the historic streets, describing Nova Scotia’s rough-and-tumble character along the way. Tours, which cost about $10, meet on Citadel Hill in downtown Halifax and finish at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic on the waterfront.
One of the loveliest ways to take in Montreal and the St. Lawrence River is with a leisurely bike ride. Choose from more than 150 bikes at Montreal on Wheels and take advantage of their itineraries and maps, with rates as low as $6.50. If you prefer a guided tour, they offer nine tour options that include tasting stops, full-day rentals, and historical and architectural content.
East of Algonquin Park, the Ottawa River is Canada’s most popular rafting and kayaking river, and Wilderness Tours offers single and multi-day trips for thrill seekers or family groups. Stretches of the river offer serene and gentle rides, while other portions of the river are best challenged by experienced rafters only.
Just 15 minutes from downtown Vancouver towers Grouse Mountain, where North America’s largest aerial tram system ferries visitors on a 1.6-kilometre (one-mile) journey up to the Alpine Station ($41.95 for a round-trip fare). Soak in the breathtaking panoramic views of the city, sea and mountains at 1,250 metres (4,100 feet), then soar down with the help of Tandem Paragliding. This tour company offers half-hour tandem flights launching from the peak and landing in a North Vancouver park for an elevation drop of 1,005 metres (3,300 feet). Rates start at $229.
Manitoba might not be the first place you think of when you think of hiking, but the province does have gorgeous hiking trails where the scenery more than makes up for the lack of altitude. Spruce Woods Provincial Park offers a stunning walk through pine forest and boreal woods, grassy meadows and the Assiniboine River. There are incredible views of the Devil’s Punch Bowl, a unique crater-shaped lake and the towering, 30-metre sand dunes of Spirit Sands.