Road Trip: Calgary to Edmonton

Alberta has two great booming cities and between them runs the Queen Elizabeth II highway (QEII) with many opportunities for exploring. There are a few must see stops along the way.

Drumheller
Take in the badlands, ghost towns, abandoned coal mines, and The Royal Turrell Museum of Paleontology. The Tyrannosaurus Rex in the museum is worth the trip in itself.

Innisfail
Continue the tour with a stop in Innisfail to check out Alberta’s Icelandic heritage. The Discovery Wildlife Park which serves as a sanctuary for orphaned animals is also a great stop.

The Rockies
When you’re heading North from Red Deer and want to take the scenic route, turn west towards the Canadian Rockies, joining Banff to Jasper by the Ice Fields Parkway.

road trip alberta
Alberta’s History
Head to the Reynolds-Alberta Museum is Wetaskiwin for the history of Alberta’s cars, trucks, airplanes and farm equipment. Maskwacis is the centre of four First Nations bands Ermineskin Cree, Louis Bull Tribe, Montana Samson Cree nation.

Outside the Oil Industry
Leduc is an intricate 35km walkway and beautiful city centre lake  just outside the industrial centre of Alberta’s oil industry.

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Road Trip: Calgary to Vancouver

There are so many fun things to do in the cities of Calgary and Vancouver. And there are so many wonderful places to stop along the way. Why not extend the drive a few days and make the trip a memorable one. We’ve chosen our top not-so-popular places to stay because going to new places you’ve never been is always an adventure worth trying.

Revelstoke, BC
Photo credit: Kevin Couenen, Revelstoke, BC

1) Golden
If you love outdoor adventures, Golden is the place to be any time of year. Home to three national parks, makes it a great base for getting outdoors. Kicking Horse Mountain Resort will offer exceptional skiing and summertime hiking. Head to Yoho National Park and check out the impressive Takkakaw Falls.

2) Revelstoke
Revelstoke lives and breathes mountain culture. If you’re only there for a short time, take a drive up Mount Revelstoke National Park and check out the Meadows in the Sky Parkway. If you have more time to spare, Mt. McPherson offers mountain biking trails for everyone and Revelstoke Mountain Resort has year round fun and a big bad ski resort with endless runs.

3) Salmon Arm
Shuswap lake is a water lovers paradise. Stop at Canoe beach for a paddle or go exploring with one of the many rental companies boating attire.

4) Hope
The Coquihalla holds a special place in many people’s hearts. Check out the Othello Quintette Tunnels in Coquihalla Canyon Provincial Park, just north of Hope. The tunnels are carved out of solid granite and were once part of an active railway. Now the trail is still operational as an outstanding bike route.

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Rocky Mountain RV Destinations

The Rocky Mountains are a sight unlike many. From the towering mountains themselves, to the trees, wildlife and quickly changing weather there’s so much to explore. A few favourite spots in the Rockies that bring and immense sense to those who choose to take the journey include:

Moraine Lake
Exploring the national parks are an adventure of their own, but Moraine Lake has a special quality. The water is incredibly blue and the Rockies that surround are towering. Be sure not to be fooled by the locals’ stories about draining the lake and painting the bottom, it may seem like the lake is impossibly blue but paint isn’t involved.

Moraine Lake

Photo Credit: morainelake.com

Icefields Parkway
The drive is one of the most scenic drives that there is. Be sure to enjoy the Athabasca Glacier in the Columbia Icefields on the way. There aren’t many experiences like the ice fields out there.

Columbia Icefields

Photo Credit: ourglobaltrek.com

Canmore Cave Tours
For the more adventurous, head into Canmore and go on a cave tour. The caves are in their natural state, so there is no walkways, handrails or built in lighting, making the experience wild and unaltered.

Canmore Caves
Photo Credit: outpostmagazine.com

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Travel the Powder Highway

The powder highway, the place where winter dreams come true. From the sky high slopes, back
country turns, and powdery glaciers, there’s nothing that the powder highway doesn’t offer. If
you’re wondering where our favourite stops along the powder highway are, here’s our top 5:

Kicking Horse
The expert skiers paradise with approximately 60% of runs hitting the black diamond or higher
mark. Lifts were only installed in 2000 and was previously a top heli-skiing location. Kicking
Horse is often compared to Jackson Hole and offers some serious steeps with its 4133 vertical
drop.

kicking horse

Photo credit: luxuryskitrips.com

Lake Louise
Lake Louise is one of those few places where you can stand in awe of the view around you;
from the stunning lake itself to riding true in the Rockies. Lake Louise hosts the World Cup
races each autumn. The varied terrain at the lake is stunning with something for everyone –
being one of the biggest areas in North America to ski.

lake louise

Photo credit: myvisaluxuryhotels.com

Red Mountain
Located in the Kootenay Rockies, Red offers the world’s biggest cat-skiing operation with a
tenure of 19,300 acres and prides itself on being the only cat-skiing operator in British Columbia
to run trips for intermediate, advanced and expert skiers or snowboarders.

red mountain

Photo credit: Red Mountain Resort Lodging

Revelstoke
When you’re stuck between the Monashee and Selkirk Mountain ranges, expect 480 to 720
inches of white fluffy snow to fall annually. Couple that with the hill boasting North America’s
longest vertical descent at 5,620 feet, you’ll spend far more time riding pow then on a lift.
Revelstoke has also been dubbed the heli-ski capital as well. The endless pow days not to be
missed.

Revelstoke Mountain Resort

Sunshine
With one of the longest ski seasons, Sunshine offers natural snow as the base elevation starts at over 5,400 feet, not to mention the 3,300 acres of ski runs and a 3,000 foot vertical drop. What’s not to love about natural pow from November to late May.

sunshine photo credit adam locke

Photo Credit: Adam Locke

With so many other mountains to explore, these are just a few highlights and it’s always difficult
to pick just five. Every mountain is unique and every mountain offers an experience in the snow.

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Top 5 East Coast Beaches

To round out celebrating our summer beaches in Canada, here are our top five East Coast favourites.

Manitou beach, Little Manitou Lake, Saskatchewan

Manitou Beach, Saskatchewan
Why we love it: Have you ever wanted to visit the Dead Sea? This is the prairies’ answer. Absorb the therapeutic minerals in this shallow saltwater lake.

Not to miss: With five times as much salt as there is in the ocean, give swimming a try but you’ll have better luck floating away.

For more info: manitoubeach.ca

Photo credit: @__b3ths/Instagram.

Wasaga Beach, Wasaga Beach Provincial Park, Ontario

Wasaga Beach, Ontario
Why we love it: Georgian Bay hosts eight beaches, each with their own unique offering. Wasaga has great sand, sun, water and possibly the most fun part – the people watching.

Not to miss: Try to miss the longest freshwater beach in the world at 14 km long.

For more info: wasagabeach.com

Photo credit: @ca_rn67/Instagram.

Parlee Beach, Parlee Beach Provincial Park, Pointe-du-Chêne, New Brunswick

Parlee Beach, New Brunswick
Why we love it: The beach is known for having the warmest salt water north of Virginia, reaching 23-25 degrees Celsius.

Not to miss statue: The world’s largest lobster is in Rotary Park weighing in at 90 tonnes

For more info: tourismnewbrunswick.ca

Photo, @kdorrian/Instagram.

Singing Sands Beach, Basin Head Provincial Park, Souris, Prince Edward Island

Singing Sands, PEI
Why we love it: PEI has more then 800 km of beach but there’s just something about the Singing Sands. It’s warm, the smooth sand stretches out and the solitude is serene.

Not to miss: Can you hear the perfectly shaped sands sing?

For more info: tourismpei.com

Photo credit: @nomadandanova/Instagram.

Lawrencetown Beach, Lawrencetown Beach Provincial Park, Nova Scotia

Lawrencetown Beach, Nova Scotia
Why we love it: Although this beach is tiny at only 1.5 km, it also offers world-renowned surfing breaks that are spectacular to see for surfers and non-surfers alike.

Not to miss: Four metre waves.

For more info: lawrencetownbeach.com

Photo credit: @rob_canning/Instagram.

Top 5 West Coast Beaches

Did you know that Canada’s abundance of shorelines stretches farther than in any other country? Coupled with thousands of kilometres of lakes and you have beaches paradise. Because there were so many, we decided to make this beach series a two parter and start with our favourite West Coast beaches – warm water, sunny sand, surf and swimming included.

Skaha Beach, Penticton, British Columbia

Skaha Beach, Penticton, British Columbia
Why we love it: Located in the loved Okanagan Valley it beach hosts volleyball, picnic tables, tennis and basketball courts, a watersplash park, marina with a boat launch, and a playground marina. Oh and did we mention some of the best wind and kite surfing around?

Not to miss event: Penticton’s Annual Peachfest

For more info: okanaganvacationguide.com

Photo credit: @littlemissmagi/Instagram.

Kluane Lake, Kluane National Park and Reserve

Kluane Lake, Kluane National Park and Reserve
Why we love it: If you’re looking for a wildlife paradise, this is the place. Kluane translates to “big fish” and it won’t disappoint with lake trout and arctic grayling. The park is also a UNESCO World Heritage site and for good reason.

Not to miss: A 100 lbs “monster” fish is said to inhabit the lake. Watch your toes!

For more info: pc.gc.ca/pn-np/yt/kluane

Photo credit: @aasmanonpurpose/Instagram.


Long Beach, Pacific Rim National Park, British Columbia

Long Beach, Pacific Rim National Park, British Columbia
Why we love it: Long Beach lives up to it’s name spreading between Ucluelet and Tofino and offering 16km of accessible sand. It’s a surfing hotspot.

Not to miss: Some of the most consistent surf on the planet.

For more info: longbeachmaps.com

Photo credit: @beautycounterbysherri/Instagram.


Chesterman Beach, Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Chesterman Beach, Vancouver Island, British Columbia

Why we love it: With three km of white sand that reaches out to Frank Island, the winds might blow you away but the view is amazing.

Not to miss: Whales! Humpback, grey, orca, minke and if you’re lucky, a great blue.

For more info: tourismtofino.com

Photo credit: @manduzzo/Instagram.

Sylvan Lake, Alberta

Sylan Lake, Alberta

Why we love it: It’s family friendly and offers everything from boating, fishing, scuba diving to golfing, volleyball and go-carting.

Not to miss: Wild Rapids Waterslide Park

For more info: sylvanlaketourism.com

Photo credit: @photography_and_golf/Instagram.

Save

Canadian Wine Regions

Canada has three main wine regions; The Okanagan Valley in British Columbia, Lake Erie in Ontario, and the Niagara Peninsula also in Ontario.

Okanagan Valley, BC

vineyard-okanagan
Vineyard in Okanagan Valley.

Photo Attribution: By Darren Kirby (Flickr: Golden Mile) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The Okanagan has three main wine districts; Kelowna, Naramata Bench, and South Okanagan.

blue-mountain-vineyard-bc

Blue Mountain Vineyard, Okanaga Valley

Kelowna, the hub of the Okanagan, offers more than 30 wineries within 20 minutes of each other and most don’t require a reservation during the summer season. Off-season, most wineries are still open but calling ahead for a tour (if not doing a guided one) is a good idea. Guided tours come highly recommended so you can really sit back, relax and enjoy your day to its full extent.

Guided winery tours typically start at $129-$169. Most guided tours include 3-6 wineries and a lunch including artisanal meats, cheeses and of course, wine!

burrowing-owl-winery-bc

Burrowing Owl Winery, Okanagan Valley

Photo Attribution: By Darren Kirby [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

The best wine tour companies offer pick-up and drop-off service to your campground.

Niagara Peninsula is a narrow strip of land connecting Southern Ontario and New York State. On its northern shore is Lake Ontario and Lake Erie on the south. This area of wine is known for their ice wines.

Wineries of note:

  • Inniskillin Wines
  • Jackson-Triggs
  • Pillitteri Estates Winery
  • Reif Estate
  • Henry of Pelham Winery
  • Vieni Estates Inc. Wine & Spirits
vineyards-wine-niagara-peninsula
Vineyards on the Niagara Peninsula

Other things to do on the Peninsula
Visit Niagara Falls, of course! Catch a show at the Shaw Festival Theatre. Walk the Niagara Parks Garden Trail. Shop outlet stores at the Outlet Collection or buy Lavender from Niagara Essential Oils & Blends.
Museums & History: Fort George Historic Site of Canada, Brock’s Monument National Historic Site, Niagara Apothecary Museum, Mackenzie Printery & Newspaper Museum.

Essex including Pelee Island

In Canada’s southernmost tip, across the border from Detroit, is a collection of VQA (Vintners Quality Alliance) wineries. This wine making region is bordered by Lake Erie on the south, the Detroit River on the West and Lake St. Clair to the North.

For a list of Wineries in Essex County 
check out this website: http://www.essexcountywineries.ca/wineries.htm

Other Things to do in Essex County:

  • Visit an art gallery such as Gallery of Windsor, Gibson Gallery, or Leamington Arts Centre.
  • Take in Canadian Transportation Museum & Heritage Village or Kingsville Historical Park – Charlie Campbell Memorial Museum.
  • Enjoy the outdoors in John R. Park Homestead Conservation Area, Odette Sculpture Park, or Point Pelee National Park.
  • Wander around Colasantis Tropical Gardens or watch a performance by Windsor Symphony.
  • Squeeze in more wine with an art and wine workshop by For Art’s Sake.

Take the 90-minute ferry to Pelee island (in Lake Erie) from the mainland. Just outside of the ferry terminal is a bike rental store, which makes for a great way to see the island. Visit the light house in Fish Point Nature Reserve before heading to the winery where they offer tours and BBQ lunches. Pelee Island Winery Pavilion offers three tours a day; 10 am, 12 pm and 2 pm. No reservations required, just show up at tour times. If you still have time in your day, visit the Pelee Island Bird Observatory by the Stone Road Alvar Nature Reserve.

For a wine-filled holiday, rent your RV in Toronto and catch both of Ontario’s wine regions after seeing Niagara Falls. If you are looking for a little wine with your holiday, make sure to put Okanagan, BC on your itinerary. This list of Canadian wine regions shows the main 3 regions but there are many smaller regions and wineries around the country!

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Happy Travels!

 

 

 

Where to Find the Northern Lights in Canada

Northern lights in Canada

Photograph: Daniel J Cox/Corbis

Seeing the northern lights are on many people’s bucket list and it is a sight not to be missed. The colours gliding across the sky is something indescribable and unlike anything else. But where and how do you track down this phenomenon?

In Canada the ‘Aurora Oval’ covers the majority of the country including: the Northwest Territories, the Yukon, British Columbia, Northern Saskatchewan, Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. But what causes the light show? Electrons collide roughly 80 to 480 kilometers above the Earth’s surface. The result, Auroras guided by Earth’s magnetic field forms as two ovals centered approximately at the globe’s magnetic North and South Poles.

Here are some tips for your best chances to see the Northern Lights:

  • Weather conditions: The Auroras are usually best seen on cold, clear nights when there isn’t a full moon.
  • What time of year is best for Northern Lights viewing: Late August to mid-April.
  • What is the best time to see the Aurora: Typically becomes visible around local midnight.
  • The best places in Canada to view the northern lights: Amazing map from Canadian Geographic
  • Best chance during a trip: For your best chance of a viewing, stay for awhile. Book a trip between 3-7 days long at a high latitude location.
  • Notifications: If you’re going on an Aurora hunt, many hotels offer wake up calls for Northern Lights viewings.

Some great resources for tracking the Northern Lights are NOAA’s Aurora – 30 Minute Forecast and NOAA’s Space Weather Enthusiasts Dashboard. For an easy application on your phone, check out the Aurora Forecast for iOS or Android.

Hopefully this increases your chance of seeing the Northern Light’s here in Canada.

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Dream Cross Canada RV Road Trip

Driving across Canada is one of those trips that hits a lot of bucket lists. The sheer size of our country and vast open spaces is sometimes surprising to those that aren’t used to living here. Each province offers something unique and covering them all is a feat and a half.

The Territories: Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon

The Territories: Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon

Image courtesy of: Matthew Whalen

The far north of Canada. The wild. The northern territories offer remote landscape encompassing forest, mountains, arctic tundra and the islands in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Home to the largest island in Canada, Baffin Island, which is the fifth largest island in the world and the highest peak in Canada, second highest in North American, Mt Logan (5,959 m). If the Northern Lights are must see on your list, Baffin Island is the place to go. The Territories are also know for its indigenous Inuit people’s carvings, artwork and handmade clothing.

British Columbia

British Columbia
BC is Canada’s home of the mountains. From the Coast Mountains to the Rockies and everywhere in between, BC is home to some of the best skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking and hiking. Along the coast is the Pacific Ocean where places like Tofino boast amazing surfing and water sports. The inland lakes and rivers provide endless fishing, kayaking, stand-up paddle boarding and any other outdoor sport. BC is the place to be to be outdoors in the wild, surrounded by astonishing mountains. So start off your journey in Vancouver and travel to Calgary, or head North from Vancouver to Whitehorse.

Alberta

Lake Louise, Alberta
Alberta is unique in that it’s landscape includes not only the Rocky Mountains but prairies, desert badlands and vast coniferous forests as well. Visiting the Banff National Park, the Columbia Icefields and the Calgary Stampede are all a must while traveling through Alberta. Head north from Calgary to Edmonton or continue east from Calgary to Toronto.

The Prairies: Saskatchewan and Manitoba

Saskachewan
Grassland covers the southern plains. Rugged rocks of the Canadian Shield plate covers the north. Endless farmland stretches as far as the eye can see. In Manitoba stretches in to the Arctic tundra to Hudson Bay where Polar Bears can be seen playing in the snow.

Ontario

Niagara Falls, Ontario
Ontario is home of the great lakes, the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth. Ontario also houses the capital of Canada, Ottawa, known for Parliament Hill’s grand Victorian architecture and National Gallery. The capital of Ontario is Toronto. Toronto is the largest city in Canada and the fourth largest in North America and is known for the iconic 553m CN Tower and 400-acre High Park. Niagara Falls are also a must see when traveling through Ontario, they form the highest flow rate of any waterfall in the world, with a vertical drop of more than 165 feet. Continue traveling east from Toronto to Montreal.

Quebec
Quebec
Quebec is out predominantly French speaking province and has a European feel with its narrow streets and stone buildings. Stay in the luxurious Château Frontenac a National Historic Site of Canada as it opened in 1893. Travel to Old Quebec. Take part in the numerous festivals that shape Quebec’s culture like no other province. Keep travelling east from Montreal to Halifax and into the Maritimes.

The Maritimes: Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island (PEI)

Nova Scotia
If long coastlines and the arts are what you’re looking for then Nova Scotia has everything you could look for. New Brunswick encompasses river valleys and the Appalachian Mountains. Between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick you will find the Bay of Fundy, famous for extreme tides. PEI boasts unforgettable red-sand beaches, the best seafood and rolling countryside along the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland and Labrador

Image courtesy of: canada-photos.com

The most easterly province of Canada and is famous for its medieval Norse archaeological site L’Anse aux Meadows as it has a reputed settlement of Viking explorer Leif Erikson.

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A quick guide to Canada’s music festivals

I always love this time of year. Many people get the February blah’s, but not me. February is when so many of the music festivals start announcing their line-ups and tickets start going on sale. There’s just something about music that can draw a person into so many emotions.

Check out our Canadian Music Festival Guide to the can’t be missed festivals across our wonderful country. We’ve narrowed it down as there are just so many.

nxne logo
North by Northeast (NXNE)
Toronto, ON
June 15-19, 2016

NXNE is Canada’s answer to Austin’s SXSW and follows a similar recipe. Hundreds of artists, giant industry conference, comedy, art, film and you have a festival not to be messed with. Make sure to hit up the free shows at Yonge and Dundas square.

Amnesia Rockfest logo
Amnesia Rockfest
Montebello, Quebec
June 23-26, 2016

Amnesia was started by a young kid who just wanted to bring music to his tiny town. Now it has grown into one of the largest rock festivals in Canada. Camping takes place along the river and is an experience. The town explodes with excitement and everyone rocks for the weekend.

Calgary Stampede Logo
Calgary Stampede
Calgary, AB
July 8-17, 2016

The Calgary Stampede is active year round, but is best known for it’s 10-day event which promotes western heritage and values. There’s auctions, a world class rodeo and music galore!

Osheaga logo
Osheaga
Montreal, QC
July 29-31, 2016

Osheaga’s goal was to bring a giant European style festival to Canada. I believe it’s safe to say they’ve succeeded. They consistently bring a world-class lineup and it’s become so popular that they’ve added a second weekend of just metal (Heavy Montreal) and a third weekend of EDM (IleSoniq).

shambala logo
Shambhala
Salmo, BC
August 5-8, 2016

People always rave about Shambhala. Fans boast that it is their favourite summer festival. It’s set in the beautiful backcountry of BC and features a wide array of music and art. It’s one of those festivals that should be experienced at least once.

Also, be sure to check out your local jazz festival. There are so many of them across Canada and they all offer something unique and the wonderful vibe of the jazz music flowing down the streets can’t be missed.

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