Canada is a mecca of jaw-dropping road trips, from east to west, to way up north, there’s something for everyone. Given an appropriate amount of time, it’s hard not to enjoy yourself on the highways of this large nation. Unfortunately, many of us are limited to a couple of weeks off per year, and every day counts. Covering an entire country is not for the time-constrained, so in an effort to help point you in the right direction, I’m going to share some of my favourite Canadian Road Trips, perfect for RVer’s or anyone with a set of wheels.
My RV Motor Home Experience
I have a long standing love affair with RV Road Trips. My first taste of extended travel occurred at a young age. I would have been around 8 or 9, maybe 10 (those early years all blur together unfortunately). My Dad surprised my Mom and us kids by bringing home a 1972 Winnibego Motor Home. Straight out of the Griswolds Family Vacation (Remember Cousin Eddie’s Motorhome?), or the early meth-cooking episodes of Breaking Bad. We jokingly called it a box on wheels. It was an absolute eyesore, and I’m sure our neighbours were none too pleased when he pulled it into our driveway. My mom, laughing, shook her head in disbelief, and I recall my siblings and I climbing into the RV and running around the interior, crawling into the brown faux-leather lined top bunk, jumping on dual-purpose furniture, and admiring the 1970’s yellow shag carpet found throughout the interior.
During the first 5 years of ownership, it became a tradition to spend a few weeks on the road throughout the summer. Be it camping, exploring the Rockies in Alberta and BC, or heading south to the Black Hills of South Dakota. We grew up with that motor home, and it grew old with us. Those Motor Home trips are likely what caused my love affair with extended travel, history, and run down beat-up vehicles.
Road Trip #1 – The Cabot Trail, Nova Scotia
My first visit to Nova Scotia included a superb trip on one of Canada’s most famous Road Trips. The Cabot Trail is located in Northern Victoria County & Inverness County on Cape Breton Island. While not necessarily an Island (it is connected to Nova Scotia after all), you’ll be hard pressed to believe it, as the highway follows the coastal hills and cliffs of the Cape Breton Highlands with a near constant view of the Gulf of St Lawrence.
The Cabot Trail measures 298km (185 miles) and loops around the tip of the the island, passing through Baddeck, St. Anns, Ingonish, Chéticamp, Dingwall, and the world famous Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Expect to see a tremendous amount of wildlife, some world class panoramic views, and some traditional maritimes towns. Note that from Halifax, a route to and from the Cabot Trail will be closer to 935km as seen in the map below.
Recommended amount of days to spend in the area: 3 – 4 days
Cabot Trail Road Trip Map
Road Trip #2 – Coast Cariboo Circle Route, Vancouver/Vancouver Island BC
The Coast Cariboo Circle Route is a whopping 2110.86 km (1311.63 miles) Road Trip is sure to keep you busy and experiencing all that BC has to offer. This stunning adventure takes you from Vancouver through small coastal Vancouver Island villages, exploring the remains of the Gold Rush Trail, hiking on volcanic mountains, and experiencing some of the best beaches in Canada.
This route is guaranteed to provide you with ample photo opportunities of wildlife, amazing sunsets, and really provide you with a thorough understanding of why BC folks are so laid back.
Recommended amount of days to spend on the road: 7 – 10 days
Coast Cariboo Circle Route Road Trip Map
Road Trip #3 – Southern Saskatchewan Discovery Loop
The flatlands are often overlooked as your typical Road Trip destination. People immediately think of flatlands and think boring. But spend any more than a few hours off the trans Canada and you’ll soon realize why it’s on this list. Explore rural Saskatchewan towns, quaint cafés and hotel bars, scenic panoramas of valleys, miles upon miles of flax, canola, wheat, and barley, and discover what western Canada really looked like before agriculture dominated the land.
The Southern Saskatchewan Discovery Loop is 1,659km (1,030.85 miles) of driving. This route is a bit of a DIY route that I regularly share to friends, family, and curious Saskatchewan visitors.
From Regina head south to the Big Muddy Badlands. This scenic transition from flatlands, to rolling hills, to desolate badlands shows you the stark contrast of Southern Saskatchewans topography. Climb Castle Butte (vaguely similar to Uluru of Australia), a world famous landmark carved by ice ages thousands of years ago. Sid Cassidy and the Sundance Kid once roamed these parts, relive it by riding horses at one of the ranches in the area. Continue on to the Val Marie & the Grasslands National Park, home to a wild herd of Bison, and countless other critters, both large and small. Don’t forget to camp out at Grasslands National Park under the Milky Way and shooting stars at one of Saskatchewans best kept secret dark sky preserves. Wake up slow and find work up a thirst, then stop for a beer and a burger at the Cadillac Hotel and catch some live country music.
Continue on to Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, and partake in Ziplining, hiking, or relaxing at the lake. Head north to Leader, and explore the Great Sand Dunes of Saskatchewan, a tremendous and curious sight to see amongst all the farmland. Start your trip back to Regina, but be sure to stop at Moose Jaw to explore the historic downtown, cheese it up at the Moose Jaw Tunnels, and don’t forget to stop at Bobby’s Place, my favourite Moose Jaw pub. Make the final trip back to Regina and pat yourself on the back for seeing more of Saskatchewan than most locals ever get to see!
Recommended amount of days to spend on the road: 4 – 5 days
Southern Saskatchewan Discovery Loop Road Trip Map
Road Trip #4 – St Johns to Central Newfoundland
I had the pleasure of exploring Central Newfoundland with Candice of Candice Does The World, and Riley of Riles for Miles. It was one of the most memorable road trips I’ve had out East. I will never forget how many times I said “Wow” during our five day trip. It was this road trip that led me to not only fall in love with this province, but also admit to falling in love with Riley – we’ve been together since and recently got engaged.
This trip is approximately 1,401km (870.54 miles) in total, and lets you experience world famous icebergs, small fishing villages, cod kissing kitchen parties, delightful Newfoundland dishes like Lobster Chowder, or more curious (but equally delicious) dishes such as Cod Tongues and Fish and brews. You’ve probably seen those famous Newfoundland commercials at the movie theatres and on TV. Central Newfoundland is featured several times throughout those spots, and you’ll see why as you explore the area.
From St Johns, travel to Twillingate to explore the small Maritime town made famous by countless folk songs. Get your stomping feet and kissing lips ready for a good ol’ fashion Kitchen Party and Screechin’ In at the Anchor Inn Hotel & Suites then sleep off the hangover and revel in the laughs from the night prior. Sample wine at Auk Island Winery, and find out why the Wine Connoisseurs are taking notice on Newfoundlands exports. Get your sea legs on, and begin ferry hopping from Farewell, Newfoundland. Stay in quaint bed & breakfasts on Fogo Island, and check out the growing arts scene,but whatever you do, don’t forget some of the most breathtaking hiking trails, including BrimStone Head, one of the four corners of the world according to the Flat Earth Society. Nurse your sore legs and body on the way home to St Johns and revel in seeing some of the most unique and traditional Newfoundland sights.
Recommended amount of days to spend on the road: 5 – 7 days
St Johns to Central Newfoundland Road trip Map
Road Trip #5 – Calgary, Banff and Jasper Trip
While easily one of the most popular road trips in Canada, you’ll soon realize it’s popular for a reason. The Calgary-Banff-Jasper trip covers just about everything you could want from an Alberta road trip. Wildlife, blue shale lakes, a mountain backdrop, world class hiking, and some of the best sights in Western Canada.
This ~953km (592.16 miles) road trip can be built upon to create anything form a 3 – 7 day road trip, depending on how many stops you make and how busy the season is. Something to be very wary of is that in the busy summer months, tour buses and RV Holiday Tourists can slow down highway travel, and the dreaded bear-traffic-jams are all but too frequent. But despite the crazy busyness, once you’re off the highways and have found your own solitary place amongst the mountains, it’ll be all too easy to forgot the chaos that can sometimes be seen on the roads. This region is setup great for extended travel. Both Jasper and Banff have something unique to offer. Either or can be a great temporary headquarters to branch out and explore the Rockies. Calgary is a great place to stop and pickup an RV Rental if you want a bit more room for this trip. There are countless RV Parks and Camp sites setup for RV Vacationiers and tent campers, as well as several discount hostels, budget hotels, and enough high-end hotels to keep all types of travellers happy.
Recommended amount of days to spend on the road: 3 – 7 days
Calgary, Banff and Jasper Road Trip Map
Road Trip #6 – Quebecois Rivers, Mountains, Lakes & Fjords
I’ve had a long standing crush on Quebec. I truly feel that if Canada ever lost Quebec, a large part of Canada’s cultural identity would go with it. As many people know, nothing breaks down barriers like travel. I strongly feel that if more western Canadians would brush up on their french and give this region a go, we’d be able to bridge the divide in language and culture and I wouldn’t have to listen to so many gomers that think the french are all jerks. Someone once said you can’t fix stupid though, so maybe it’s pointless. For those more refined in the art of tolerance, this trip is for you!
I’m fortunate in that I’ve been able to explore Quebec several times, each visit is a constant reminder of the beauty of this region. The Quebecois Rivers, Mountains, Lakes & Fjords Road trip is filled to the brim with culture. From delightful microbrews, luxurious wine, delicious foods, friendly people, stunning views of the Gulf of St Lawrence, and countless museums and art galleries.
This trip can be anywhere from 7 – 16 days, and is approximately 1,600 km (994.19 miles).
Quebecois Rivers, Mountains, Lakes & Fjords Road Trip Map
There is absolutely no shortage of road trips and routes to check out in Canada. These are just a handful of my favourites that I think about often. If you have any other ones you recommend checking out please be sure to leave a comment below or let me know by Twitter!