Updated: January 19th, 2021
It’s not very often that someone has the opportunity to travel across Canada for 150 days. That’s 5 months of travel across one of the biggest countries on Earth. But in 2017, that’s just what we did.
After a rough 2016, we were trying to come up with a big passion project for 2017. After mulling it over for some time, I wanted to do something that capitalized on the Canada150 momentum that seemed to be taking the world by storm. Wanting to create something that had “marketing flare”, I came up with the idea to do a 150-day road trip across. However, no one cares about a personal road trip. So, I decided to turn it into a documentary about what makes Canada special. The idea was to travel to each and every province and territory while interviewing people of all backgrounds as to why they think Canada is such a great country.
There was just one problem. We needed funding.
How We Made the Road to 150 Happen
Not only is a 150-day road trip expensive, but we also needed to hire a videographer as we had no idea how to produce engaging videos. Luckily, we had just met someone who was young and skilled at both shooting and editing video and was willing to join us for the big excursion at a reduced rate.
Now we needed sponsors.
The only unfortunate part about this whole thing was the timing. The idea for this massive undertaking only came to fruition at the beginning of 2017. We’ve since learned that most major companies already have their marketing budgets spent a year in advance. Even the big grants that the Canadian government was handing out had already ended. So what we did was come up with a list of 200+ companies that we thought would be a good fit. We had a great idea but we needed to sell it. At the time, however, the only thing we had was a mediocre website. We had no Youtube channel. We barely had social media. How would we get people to notice?
Since our whole idea was based around video, we decided to meet up and create a pilot episode. With Lake Louise just two hours from our home city of Calgary, we decided to go there and create the video in the same way we planned on doing everything else. This turned out to be a great idea. Not only was this an awesome way to show who we are and how we would be on camera, but it also solidified our idea for what to do across the country.
In this video, we explained the concept of the Road to 150, showcased the beautiful winter scenery and activities around Banff and interviewed a variety of people at Lake Louise about what they think makes Canada a great country. Once it was edited, we watched it ourselves and got even more inspired than we already were. Karla almost cried. It was beautiful.
Next, I emailed it out to all those companies. I had no previous connections, so all the emails were just the generic ones found on their websites. I also sent emails to DMOs across Canada, hoping they could at least help with travel costs. The first company that wanted to work with us was Jeep. Since it was a road trip, we thought this would be a great idea, but after a bunch of phone calls and emails, they decided to do something else. (Actually, I’m pretty sure they stole our idea and did a smaller-scale version of it, but that’s what often happens when you only talk to the advertising agencies that represent the brands rather than the brands themselves).
Thankfully, however, we did get in touch with Best Western Hotels. It ended up being a win-win because Best Western wanted to do something to celebrate Canada’s 150th but was running out of time, and we were looking for a partner with a nationwide interest. What could be a better match than one of the largest hotel chains in the world?
Eventually, they agreed to partner, and the rest is history. Well sort of. With funding in hand and smaller partnerships across the country, we headed out on one of the biggest adventures of our lives. Not only was this a travel adventure in and of itself, but we were also creating videos, working with multi-national corporations, getting featured in the press, and interviewing dozens of people from coast to coast to coast.
The planning was an enormous part of it all, which is what the main part of this article is about. Not all of you want to turn a road trip into a passion business, but many of you do ask us how we planned such a big trip. What’s crazy is that we only had a month to prepare for this whole thing, and the rest was handled as we went. We literally “worked” every single day for about 7 months straight. We planned for a month or more, and then we woke up every single day and got to work, which included creating content, speaking on camera, lining up interviews, planning the itinerary in real-time, reaching out to partners, and being active on social media.
But let’s get into the planning portion and the actual schedule in case you’d like to replicate the trip.
How to Start Planning a Canada Road Trip
Canada is huge. Seriously, I can’t overstate that enough. Just driving from Vancouver to Newfoundland without stopping to really see anything along the way would take 7 seven days. That’s not including the Yukon or the Northwest Territories. We figured it would be easier to start in either British Columbia or in Newfoundland. However, we’re based in Alberta, which means we would have to drive or fly to our first destination.
We decided to start with Newfoundland. Since we did not want to be doing this road trip in the winter months, we timed it for May 15th to October 11th, 2017. Although May is not the ideal month for Newfoundland, we decided to start there for a number of reasons.
Reason 1: There are lots of unique things to do in Newfoundland, but one of the best is witnessing icebergs flow down the North Atlantic. Typically, the best time to see them is somewhere between April and June. Since this is one of the best places to see icebergs in the entire world, we thought that would be a great thing to feature.
Reason 2: Due to the nature of the video, we wanted to be in things to do Ottawa for Canada Day. This is the capital city of Canada and they were throwing the biggest Canada Day party in history. It made sense for us to be there and due to its relatively close proximity to Newfoundland, it made sense to start there.
Reason 3: When it comes to driving across Canada, you need to factor in the time it takes to drive up to the Yukon and the Northwest Territories. Since both of them are so far north, the summer is shorter and the fall arrives much sooner than other provinces. In addition, there are a lot of bugs in the spring and early summer, but they start to disappear in late August. If we started in BC, we would have had to go north right away, but by starting in Newfoundland, we were able to time our visit to the northern territories for the latter part of August, which is also good timing to witness the beautiful fall colours and the Northern Lights.
However, if you don’t care about seeing icebergs or you don’t care (or have the time) to go up north, then starting in British Columbia is also a good option because their springs are much nicer and the fall colours in Newfoundland are spectacular. Also, if you’re trip isn’t as long as ours, this schedule can be changed quite a bit.
What to Drive for Your Canada Road Trip
Our next decision was figuring out what to do for a vehicle. At the time, we only had a small car and it was definitely not big enough for three people, luggage, and camera gear. Our first idea was to rent a car in Newfoundland and then drop it off in Calgary. However, this seems relatively impossible. First off, it would be very expensive. From what we gathered, it would cost upwards of $20,000. For this, we could buy something pre-owned. Second, we couldn’t find any rental company with the option of dropping it off so far away from its original location. So, our only other option was to buy a vehicle. A new SUV was way too expensive so we knew we needed something used. The easiest option would have been to buy one in our home province of Alberta and then drive it to Newfoundland to begin the trip. The only problem was that we really didn’t want to add another 5,000 km to our already massive road trip. After looking online, we found a couple of options for Honda Pilots in St. John’s, Newfoundland. So, we decided to fly to Newfoundland, buy a vehicle there, and then drive it across the country.
Since my dad and half my family are from Newfoundland, we flew there two weeks prior to the start of Road to 150 and brought my dad with us. This gave us time to get the vehicle, get settled in, see family, and then start the adventure. We ended up buying a Bali Blue 2009 Honda Pilot from City Honda in St. John’s. We were lucky that it worked out because there were only two pre-owned Honda Pilots for sale in the whole province. Big SUVs are not too common there and smaller SUVs, such as a Honda CR-V, would have been too small.
However, buying a vehicle turned out to be a big issue as well. In case you plan on doing the same thing, you may want to re-think your decision. Since I’m a Canadian citizen, I thought buying a vehicle in another province would be easy, but it turns out to be almost impossible. Actually, buying a vehicle is simple. It’s buying insurance for the vehicle that presents major problems. In my case, there were two options. Insure it through my Alberta insurance or buy insurance in Newfoundland. But after talking it over with both companies, neither worked. Alberta insurance companies won’t insure a vehicle that isn’t registered in Alberta and in order to have it registered in Alberta, it has to pass a provincial vehicle inspection in Alberta. Impossible. However, Newfoundland insurance companies don’t want to insure a vehicle that isn’t registered in Newfoundland and in order to register a vehicle in Newfoundland, you need to be a resident.
So, how did we do it?
Well, luckily for us, I have a lot of family in Newfoundland. So, all I did was say that I was moving to Newfoundland and used the address of one of my cousins. With this, they were able to insure the vehicle in Newfoundland. Then, down the line when we arrived back home in Canada, I had to have an inspection done and get it insured in Alberta. What a hassle.
So, if you don’t have family there, you’ll want to really dig into the details with your insurance company and the dealership to make sure it’s possible.
Otherwise, the best option would be to just start driving from your own province or rent a vehicle.
Our 150-day Canada Road Trip Itinerary
Without going into a crazy amount of detail and bringing this article into the tens of thousands of words, I’ll give you an idea of what we did and when we did it. All in all, it was quite perfect in terms of timing.
Newfoundland from May 15 – May 27
Although I normally would not recommend Newfoundland in May, it’s the ideal time if you’re willing to deal with the weather in hopes of seeing massive icebergs. Since St. John’s is the most easterly city in Canada and home to the largest airport in the province, that’s where we began our trip.
St. John’s, Newfoundland (May 15 – May 19): We decided to spend four nights in St. John’s, Newfoundland. This allowed us to get settled in and to do a number of things around the city. St. John’s is beautiful and although this was a chilly time of year, we loved exploring one of the oldest cities in North America. We also saw our first iceberg by going out on a boat trip from both the St. John’s harbour and Bay Bulls. We also took a day trip out to Cape Spear, which is the most Easterly point in the country. This was the opening of our first video.
Trinity, Newfoundland (May 19 – May 21): One of the most beautiful and historic small towns in Newfoundland is Trinity and it’s only 2 hours from St. John’s. While here, we witnessed the flow-ice as it moved into the harbour, toured the historic town, and visited the Port Rexton Brewery.
Twillingate, Newfoundland (May 21 – May 23): Twillingate is known as the iceberg capital of the world. Although they can be seen all over the east coast of Newfoundland, Twillingate is the most popular place to see them. Despite visiting Newfoundland dozens of times, this was my first time visiting this destination. Unfortunately, we didn’t see any icebergs, but we did get to take a cool boat trip out around the flow-ice and participate in a friendly traditional kitchen party.
Gros Morne National Park (May 23 – May 26): Although there are many incredible places in Newfoundland, we had to do our best in less than two weeks of time. So, one place no one should miss is Gros Morne National Park. This place is incredible and is easily one of our top national parks in the country. Our most scenic footage was filmed here and it included walking on the Earth’s mantle, watching caribou roam the plains, taking a boat trip through a landlocked fjord, and watching whales!
Port Aux Basques (May 26 – May 27): Our last night in Newfoundland was spent in Port aux Basques, as this is where the ferry departs and arrives from Nova Scotia. We didn’t do anything here except sleep and wake up early for our 6-hour boat ride across the North Atlantic.
Nova Scotia from May 27 – June 5
Nova Scotia is another beautiful east coast province. I might even say that it probably has the largest tourism industry in the four provinces. Whether it’s walking the streets of Halifax or eating seafood next to the harbour in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia is one of our favourite provinces.
North Sydney (May 27 – May 28): There’s not a heck of a lot to see in North Sydney, but after a whole day on the ferry, we wanted to spend a night here and get a good night’s rest before beginning our adventures in Nova Scotia. However, one of the highlights was staying in the Heritage Home Bed & Breakfast. What a beautiful place!
Cape Breton Highland National Park (May 28 – May 30): Perhaps the highlight of Nova Scotia for us was Cape Breton Highland National Park. Between the Cabot Trail road trip and the overall landscapes, it is such an incredible spot. We spent two nights in Chéticamp, a small French town just outside the national park. There are lots of things to do here but if time is limited, don’t miss driving the entire Cabot Trail highway and hiking up to the Skyline Trailhead. The views are remarkable.
Halifax and Lunenburg (May 30 – June 4): Halifax is another awesome place to visit in Nova Scotia. As the capital city, it’s where you’ll find the big city amenities with a great east coast vibe. It’s also home to a number of amazing attractions, including the Halifax Citadel (the most visited national historic site in Canada) and the Canadian Museum of Immigration at Pier 21. Walking along the harbour is also a must. There are also two popular day trips from Halifax, including the charming seaside village of Lunenburg, which is ranked as one of the most beautiful towns in Canada, and Peggy’s Cove, which is home to the most iconic lighthouse in the country. Lunenburg would be a great place to spend a night or two as well. We did a walking tour to learn about the town and also toured the Bluenose, which is the most iconic sailboat in Canada. Wow, lots of iconic stuff in this part of the country!
Shubenacadie River (June 4 – June 5): Before leaving Nova Scotia, we knew we had to experience some adventure and there’s perhaps no greater thrill than rafting the Shubenacadie River. Our timing wasn’t great as the season was just about to start, which means the water is very cold, but it was still one of the highlights of our entire cross-Canada trip. This is the only place in the world where you can raft the highest tides in the world! When you go whitewater rafting on a river, the river itself takes you up and over the many rapids. On this river, however, you actually raft the tidal waves coming in from the sea. Instead of going with the current, you actually go against it in a motorized boat, allowing you to go up with the tide and then come back against the tide. It’s crazy fun!
Prince Edward Island from June 5 – June 10
Due to its small size and our tight schedule, we only had 5 days in PEI. But this is a great amount of time to get a feel for it and it’s definitely a province you shouldn’t miss. From red sandy beaches to delicious seafood, PEI is a Canadian gem.
Cavendish (June 6 – June 8): After crossing the massive architectural marvel of Confederation Bridge, we stayed one night in Cavendish, which allowed us to explore PEI’s most famous attraction – Anne of Green Gables Historic Site. Cavendish is also close to Prince Edward Island National Park, which is a wonderful place to experience the beautiful coastline and the famous red sand.
Fortune Bay (June 8 – June 9): Next, we drove over to Fortune Bay to spend one night at Chef Micheal’s Smith’s charming Inn. For anyone who follows the famous chef or simply wants to experience one of the best dining experiences in Canada, this should be on your bucket list. Not only is it a beautiful property to spend the night but their famous feast is incredible.
Charlottetown (June 9 – June 11): Another place you simply should not miss is the capital city of Charlottetown. Not only is it beautiful, but it’s also very historic. In fact, this is where the confederation of Canada was signed. We definitely recommend going on a walking tour with Confederation Players as they take you through the historic part of the city while dressed in period clothing.
New Brunswick from June 11 – June 16
New Brunswick is another charming east coast province. Our timing was very limited here, but we made sure to experience most of the iconic things to do in New Brunswick. This is the only official bi-lingual province in Canada and perhaps the most underrated.
Hopewell Rocks Area (June 11 – June 14): From Prince Edward Island, we drove down to the Hopewell Rocks area of New Brunswick for three awesome nights. During this time, we explored Hopewell Rocks on foot and by kayak and also went to the scenic area of Cape Enrage for some rappelling and zip-lining.
Fredericton and More (June 14 – June 16): Next on our list was Saint john and the charming seaside town of St. Andrews. We only had a full day, so we got up early and enjoyed the scenic drive to and through both cities. Once in Fredericton, we toured the city and just by luck, happened to be there for a military inauguration, which enabled us to get inside tanks and speak to members of the armed forces, as well as capture a parade on camera. We also drove out to King’s Landing, which is a really cool living museum that takes visitors on a journey into the past. On the last day, we drove towards Quebec to spend a night in Riviere-du-loup, but not before zip-lining over a waterfall in Grand Falls.
Quebec from June 16 – June 28
As the only official French-speaking province in Canada, Quebec is very unique. Some consider Quebec to be the “European” destination of Canada due to its language and the historic areas of both Old Quebec and Old Montreal. It’s also the largest province in the country and has so much to offer.
Tadoussac (June 16 – June 18): After taking up in Riviere-du-loup, we took the ferry over towards Tadoussac and stayed in a small town nearby. Our main reason for staying here was to go whale watching in Tadoussac, as it’s one of the best places to see whales in Canada. Unfortunately, we didn’t have huge success this time but on a previous whale watching trip, we saw dozens of humpbacks!
Quebec City (June 18 – June 22): The drive from Tadoussac to Quebec City is a simple and scenic 3-hour drive. We then spent a few nights touring Old Quebec, visiting the Montmorency Falls, the wonderful Musée Huron-Wendat, and visiting some friends we had met on a previous trip to Ethiopia.
Montreal (June 22 – June 26): After Quebec City, we drove to Montreal and took a tour of Old Montreal, hiked up for views from Mont-Royal, toured some museums, and visited family. We also ate some delicious poutine, Montreal bagels, Montreal smoked meat, and poor man’s pudding.
Mont-Tremblant (June 26 – 28): On this trip, we actually stayed in a treehouse that is about an hour’s drive away from Mont-Tremblant. It was a little inconvenient for our plans but the treehouse was a highlight of our trip. Well, except for the woodpecker trying to make a hole through our roof! In Mont-Tremblant, we experienced one of the best zip-lines in the world and fed falcons!
Ontario from June 29 – July 15
Ontario is one of the most famous provinces in Canada. Home to Canada’s biggest city, Niagara Falls, and the capital city of Ottawa, there’s a reason it gets so many visitors each and every year. For road trips, it’s also the biggest province to travel across, taking a whopping 24 hours just to get from Toronto to Manitoba.
Ottawa (June 28 – July 3): Just in time for Canada’s massive 150 celebrations, we arrived in Ottawa but actually stayed across the river in Gatineau. You can literally walk across the bridge and enter another province. The views from the Best Western Plus are incredible as it looks across the river at Parliament Hill. While in Ottawa, we toured an underground bunker and participated in the world’s largest escape room, visited some of the best museums in Canada, and experienced an incredible Canada150 celebration at Parliament Hill.
Niagara Falls (July 3 – July 7): A trip to Ontario wouldn’t be complete without Niagara Falls. We decided to spend four nights here as it allowed us to take in all the best views of Niagara Falls, including a boat trip, a tour behind the falls, and a helicopter ride over them. We also spent a day in Niagara-on-the-lake, enjoying some wineries and food tours.
Toronto (July 7 – July 11): Toronto is very close to Niagara Falls, so that was our next stop. Here, we did a tour of the city, visited a beautiful castle, spent time exploring beautiful museums as well as the Hockey Hall of Fame, went to the top of the CN Tower, and even tried a flight simulator in Mississagua.
Algonquin Provincial Park (July 11 – July 13): We couldn’t leave Ontario without experiencing at least some form of nature, so we went to Algonquin Provincial Park and stayed at a beautiful upscale resort. Here we were able to go paddleboarding, canoeing, and enjoy the sounds of loons.
Thunder Bay (July 13 – July 14): The drive from the Toronto area to Winnipeg is about 24 hours, so even if you’re not looking to visit some of the cool lake towns along the way, you’ll need to break it up. We decided to spend one night in Thunder Bay, just to divide the long drive into two days. Next time, we really want to explore Lake Superior and some of the amazing provincial parks along the way.
Manitoba from July 15 – July 28
Manitoba is the centre of Canada and is home to both the major city of Winnipeg and the incredible northern town of Churchill, which is the #1 place in the world to spot polar bears and beluga whales. We lived in Winnipeg during the summer of 2015 and really enjoyed it.
Winnipeg (July 14 – July 20): After the long drive from Thunder Bay and stopping to see the “Centre of Canada” sign, we arrived in Winnipeg. Due to the intense days of shooting, we chose to spend five nights here, giving us time to see the city but to also relax and catch up on both sleep and work. There are actually a lot of cool things to do in Winnipeg, and we packed our days by touring the Forks and historic districts, took a boat trip down the river, explored the Museum for Human Rights, and spent a day lounging at Thermea Nordik Spa. We also drove out of the city to learn about Canada’s History at Lower Fort Garry National Historic Site, learned about Canada’s money at the Mint, and spent a day at one of Canada’s largest lake beaches.
Churchill (July 20 – July 25): After five days in Winnipeg, we took a flight with Lazy Bear Adventures to spend four nights in Churchill, part of Canada’s arctic. This place is famous for polar bears in the fall, but it’s also home to the largest beluga whale migration in the summer. Our highlights included snorkelling with beluga whales (one of the highlights of our life), seeing the northern lights, and touring some historic sites. We also spent one more night in Winnipeg upon return.
Riding Mountain National Park (July 25 – July 27): There are only two national parks in Manitoba and this is the easiest one to visit, as it’s only four hours from Winnipeg and close to Saskatchewan, making it a perfect stop on a Canada road trip. It has a beautiful lake town and is a great place to rent a boat, go fishing, or spot wildlife. We saw bears, moose, and deer!
Saskatchewan from July 28 – August 7
Saskatchewan is another fairly underrated province in Canada. People often joke about how flat it is, but it’s actually home to some incredible vistas, including the boreal forest in the north, the prairies in the centre, and badlands in the south. We’ve been many times and have fallen in love with this prairie province.
Prince Albert National Park (July 27 – July 30): Our first stop in Saskatchewan was Prince Albert National Park, which also has a cool lakeside town and is a great place for renting a boat, fishing, watching wildlife, or going hiking. We rented a pontoon here and cruised the lake at sunset.
Saskatoon (July 30 – August 2): Saskatoon is the largest and prettiest town in Saskatchewan. We didn’t have a lot of time to explore, but we did tour the town and spent a day out at Wanuskewin Heritage Park, which is one of the coolest indigenous sites in the country.
Little Manitou Lake (August 2 – August 3): While driving from Saskatoon to Regina, there’s a cool little resort town called Little Manitou. This lake is Canada’s version of the dead sea. It’s very salty and you can float in it. There are also resorts with saltwater pools if you want a more “comfortable” experience. We spent one night here and totally recommend it.
Regina (August 3 – August 5): Regina is the capital of Saskatchewan. We’ve actually returned to Regina since to make a video about the city, but we definitely recommend spending time around Wascana Lake, take a tour of the legislature building, visit the RCMP Heritage Centre, and if possible, watch a Roughriders CFL football game if they’re playing during your visit.
Grasslands National Park (August 5 -August 8): Grasslands National Park is one of the most unique and smallest national parks in Canada and also one of our favourites. This was our first visit but we’ve been back since. We highly recommend visiting both the east and west block, taking time to go on some hikes and drive the scenic road to spot big animals like bison and little animals like the rare Black-tailed Prairie dog. Camping here is awesome and it’s one of the darkest dark sky preserves in Canada, making it a great place to see the stars and the milky way.
Next on our list was the Northwest Territories, but since we were passing through Alberta, we decided to take a rest and stay with our parents in Okotoks for a few days. For anyone else, you may as well experience Alberta before going up north and then finish your trip in BC.
Yukon & Northwest Territories from August 10 – September 6
Our trip to the Northwest Territories was riddled with problems, but we still made everything happen. The plan was to drive to Hay River in one day and then to Yellowknife the next. Unfortunately, our vehicle broke down in Hay River and this caused issues that persisted for months. We’ll explain below, but for someone without car problems, the trip can be done a little differently.
Drive to the Northwest Territories (August 10): After spending a night in Edmonton, we drove up to Hay River, breaking down just before reaching one of the highlights of that area – Alexandra Falls and Lousie Falls. This became the most expensive vehicle we’ve ever purchased due to this.
Hay River Problems (August 11 – August 12): Unfortunately, our vehicle lost its radiator, which caused the engine to overheat and liquid to spill out everywhere. In Calgary, this could have been fixed in a day for less than $1,000. In Hay River, the mechanic needed a week to order one in. We didn’t have that time so he rented us his personal truck so we could keep going. (In the end, he created so many problems that by the time we got home, the repair totalled roughly $7,000 and we needed another radiator and transmission. We ended up taking him to court but settling for a much lesser amount)
Yellowknife and Yellow Dog Lodge (August 12 – August 16): Yellowknife is quite small but scenic, so after touring the city, we jumped on a floatplane and spent three nights in northern paradise at Yellow Dog Lodge, a small lodge on a secluded lake. We went fishing, gazed at the stars, and even spent a night on a floating barge. It was awesome.
Fort Simpson and Nahanni National Park (August 16 – August 18): One of the highlights of our entire trip was taking a 5-hour flightseeing tour over Nahanni National Park with Simpson Air. This was the first UNESCO World Heritage Site in the world and words cannot describe the beauty. From mountains to canyons to waterfalls and so much more, it really is one of the most beautiful areas on the planet.
Hay River (August 18 – August 19): Drove all the way back to Hay River to pick up our vehicle.
Drive to Liard Hot Springs, BC (August 19 – August 21): The drive from Hay River to Whitehorse is 33 hours, so we highly recommend stopping for a night or two in Liard Hot Springs. This is one of the best “wild” hot springs we’ve experienced. Beautiful, relaxing, and great camping too! There’s also a lodge nearby if camping isn’t an option.
Whitehorse (August 21 – 24): The Alaska Highway that goes to Whitehorse was the only highway in Canada, including the Dempster Highway, that cracked our windshield three times due to rock chips. But it’s an adventure. In Whitehorse, we toured the city and its museum, took a trip out to the Takhini hot springs and Yukon Wildlife Preserve, and took a night trip to see the Northern Lights from a cabin.
Dawson City (August 24 – 26): One of the coolest places to visit in all of Canada is Dawson, a wild-west town that was a booming city back during the Klondike Gold Rush. Many of the historic wood buildings remain, as well as the wooden boardwalk, and even Canada’s first casino. We toured the town with Parks Canada, took a ride on an old sternwheeler, panned for gold, and witnessed some of the humungous machines that really dug up the ground around here in search of gold. Oh, and we also took a shot of alcohol with a human toe inside of it. Yes, you read that right. It’s called the Sourtoe Cocktail and it’s all the rage in Dawson.
Dempster Highway (August 26 – August 28): Perhaps the most infamous and scenic highway in Canada is the Dempster Highway. This 700-km dirt road is about as adventurous as it gets, taking you from Dawson to Inuvik in the Northwest Territories. You need to be prepared as there is only one place on the whole highway that has services. It’s also a dirt road, which means it can get slippery during a rainy day and often punctures tires as well. The best display of northern lights during our whole trip was at Eagle Plains along the Dempster Highway.
Inuvik and Tuktoyaktuk (August 28 – September 1): This was our first time in the arctic, and we toured the igloo church, took a boat ride for some fishing on the Mackenzie Delta, and then became one of the first people to ever drive the new all-season road to Tuktoyaktuk. Once there, we jumped in the arctic ocean, toured the town with a local, and admired the unique pingos!
Dempster Highway (September 1 – September 2): We drove back down the Dempster to Dawson, stopping for a night in Eagle Plains.
Dawson City (September 2 – September 3): We spent another night in Dawson for Karla’s birthday and to prepare for the long drive ahead of us.
Whitehorse and Kluane National Park (September 3 – September 6): We went back to Whitehorse for a couple of days and also went camping in Kluane National Park. While in Kluane, our highlight was taking a flightseeing tour over the largest non-polar glacier in the world. We even got to land the plane on snow and get out for some incredible photos.
British Columbia from September 6 – September 27
British Columbia is perhaps the most scenic and adventure-packed province in Canada. From the big city of Vancouver to the charming towns of Vancouver Island, there are really so many things to do in British Columbia. We allotted more time here but still saw only a fraction of this mountainous province.
Three Days of Driving (September 6 – September 8): Exactly that. Three days of driving. If you have time, there are cool things to see in northern BC, but we didn’t have any time to explore.
Vancouver (September 8 – September 13): Vancouver is one of the most beautiful cities in the world. During our visit, we walked around the city and the harbour, went for a bike ride in Stanley Park, walked across the Capilano Suspension Bridge, explored the museum of Anthropology, and took a really cool walking tour with Forbidden Vancouver.
Vancouver Island (September 13 – September 19): We made sure to have close to a week on Vancouver Island because it is full of beauty and adventure. There’s so much to see and do here, but for us, we visited the world-famous Butchard Gardens, explored Victoria, visited the Craigdarroch Castle, spent a couple of nights in Port Renfrew for the wildest whale watching tour of our lives, went snorkelling down the river with salmon in Port Campbell, witnessed Grizzly bears eating salmon in the wild, went scuba diving and bungy jumping in Naniamo, hugged some of the biggest trees in the world, and went surfing in Tofino.
Vancouver and Kelowna (September 19 – September 23): After spending one more night in Vancouver, we drove to Kelowna to spend a few days touring massive Okanagan Lake, taking a helicopter ride over the beautiful city, sampling some of Canada’s best wine inside a pyramid, and flyboarding over the lake. Kelowna is a famous region for wine, so make sure you at least do some winery tours while here.
Revelstoke & Yoho National Park (September 23 – September 24): Although there is so much to see in the mountain region between Kelowna and Alberta, we only had a few days. So, we quickly took a ride on the Pipe Mountain Coaster in Revelstoke and then marvelled the beauty of Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park before crossing the border to arrive in Banff.
Alberta from September 27 – October 11
Our home province. Alberta is also a popular destination in Canada and has some of the most varied landscapes in the country, including boreal forests, prairies, foothills, badlands, and mountains.
Banff National Park (September 24 – September 28): Banff is familiar territory for us, but we made sure to ride the Banff Gondola, do some hiking, and go canoeing on iconic Lake Louise. There are loads of things to do in Banff though, so make sure you allow enough time to experience as much as you can.
Jasper National Park (September 28 – October 2): After Banff, we drove the world-famous Icefields Parkway from Banff to Jasper, stopping for a variety of hikes and waterfalls, as well as hopping aboard an all-terrain bus and driving onto a glacier. Once in Jasper, we took the Jasper Skytram up to the mountain peak for some dramatic views, witnessed lots of wildlife, hiked through Maligne Canyon, and took a boat trip out to Spirit Island and Maligne Lake.
Edmonton (October 2 – October 5): Edmonton was next on our list and we made sure to fully experience West Edmonton Mall, the largest mall in North America. For us, it was all about spending a day at the World Waterpark and riding the world’s largest indoor triple-loop rollercoaster. We also went to the Science Centre and toured the beautiful river valley.
Drumheller (October 5 – October 7): Another place you can’t miss is Drumheller. Home to the Alberta Badlands, it’s a great place for dramatic scenery and Dinosaur fossils! We went hiking through some of the canyons and spent a day in the Royal Tyrell Museum, the icon of this Dinosaur capital of the world.
Calgary (October 7 – October 11): There are lots of things to do in Calgary and we made sure to tour the Calgary Tower, go biking around the Bow River and Prince’s Island Park, tour the National Music Centre, and spend a day at beautiful Heritage Park.
What about Nunavut?
Due to the fact that there’s no road to Nunavut, it was hard to add on to our trip. We tried for many months to secure a sponsor to cover our flights, but it didn’t work out. There were a number of issues at play. First off, it’s expensive. For us, the return flight was $3,000 per person, which would have been $9,000 for the three of us. Then there’s the cost of being there and doing the tours. Nunavut is also a place that needs to be timed correctly. If you want to see Narwhals, it’s around June. If you want hiking, you want to go in the summer. The seasons are so dramatic in the arctic that you really need to plan what you want to do and when you want to go. Because our timing was so tight, it just didn’t work out. However, we did make it up to Nunavut in 2019 when we did an arctic cruise with Adventure Canada!
Designing your Own Canada Road Trip
When I think about it, a 150-day road trip across Canada is the perfect amount of time to experience the country with the best weather conditions. Our schedule above can easily be recreated but it can also be changed in many ways. For example, half of our time was spent operating the camera and doing interviews. Without the “work” aspect, you can see a lot more or add even more destinations. We needed breaks to edit video and articles, but if you’re travelling for leisure, that’s unnecessary. There’s much more to the east coast to explore, as well as the big provinces of Ontario and Quebec. Alberta has a lot more beauty in the south and British Columbia has a lot more beauty in the interior as well as in the north. Then again, you could also hop on a flight and go to Nunavut! As the second-largest country on Earth, there are so many things to do in Canada that the hardest part is deciding what to see first.
We hope this schedule of ours helps you plan the best Canada road trip possible!
Want more? Check out these articles below:
- How to Plan a Canada Road Trip
- The Best Road Trips in Canada
- 201 Interesting Facts about Canada
- Winter in Canada
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I just found your article, amazing. I have been planning our road trip across Canada for six months. We are starting from Vancouver Island. I am just waiting for covid to die down, hopefully we can leave this spring. I definitely am going to stop at a few of your mentioned locations.
Matthew G. Bailey says
That’s awesome! Is that where you live? Yes, Covid really sucks. We’re supposed to do a video of the skiing on BC’s powder highway and it’s looking like it won’t happen now
Linda Beaton says
Wow! A LOT of planning here!!!
Nicole Catojo says
Love to travel 🙂 awesome article
Awesome article! We have been trying to plan an Atlantic provinces trip for a couple years but Covid has gotten in the way. We are going this year (2023) starting in mid-May. Do you recall what the bugs were like down there at that time of year?
Matthew G. Bailey says
I actually don’t remember bugs being that bad in the Atlantic provinces in general, unless you’re really in a wooded area away from people. But mid may is still chillier, so it won’t be bad