The Canadian winter can be harsh. No question. But it can also be spectacular. The truth is some parts of this country shine brightest in these wintry conditions. Prepare to be inspired, because we’ve picked out some of the best spots to admire Canada’s winter wonderland from coast to coast.
14 Canadian natural wonders you have to experience in winter
Windy Arm, YukonIf you time it just right, you can have the pond-hockey game of your life on Windy Arm, a branch of Yukon's Tagish Lake, about an hour south of Whitehorse. Just as its name suggests, this section of the lake gets a lot of wind, creating perfect glass-like ice in the winter with little snow. Ashley Fisher via Flickr
Tuktoyaktuk Winter Road, Northwest TerritoriesGet some extra Canadian points by winterizing your road trip experience on an ice road into NWT ($2,650/eight-day tour). The Tuktoyaktuk Winter Road runs along the frozen Mackenzie River delta and even onto frozen parts of the Arctic Ocean. ra1000 via Flickr
Tofino, British ColumbiaWinter winds pummel the west coast of Vancouver Island each year, producing rough seas and blustery weather best enjoyed with an ocean-view room to retreat to. Try the Wickaninnish Inn storm-watchers package (from $775/two nights) to get the best of what they call "Old Testament weather."Wickaninnish Inn
Whistler, British ColumbiaConsistently ranked the best ski resort on the continent, Whistler Blackcomb is a great spot to admire Canada's winter wonders, even if you don't ski. Ride the world's highest cable car, the Peak 2 Peak gondola, for amazing views of snowcapped mountains and glaciers (from $47/day).Whistler Blackcomb
winter-musts-revelstokeSure, Whistler Backcomb is No. 1, but its coastal position means snow can sometimes be inconsistent (ahem, this season). Head inland to Revelstoke (lift tickets from $42/day), two hours northeast of Kelowna, BC, for reliable snow. They've had seven metres so far this year.Lyndsay Esson via Flickr.
winter-musts-maligneCome winter, the water that normally rushes through Maligne Canyon in Jasper National Park freezes over, allowing visitors to walk on the frozen canyon floor among towering frozen waterfalls and incredible ice formations ($59/three-hour tour).Maligne Adventures
Ainsworth Hot Springs, British ColumbiaRelax in the naturally heated waters at Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort, 45 minutes southwest of Nelson, BC. You can lounge in the 35-degree pool overlooking Kootenay Lake or make your way into one of the natural hot spring caves next to the pool ($12).Ainsworth Hot Springs Resort
Skoki Lodge, AlbertaIf adventure is your thing, a trip up to Skoki Lodge in Lake Louise, Alta., is a winter must (from $195/night). Hike or ski in via the 11-km trail from the Lake Louise Ski Resort to experience the Canadian Rockies in all their winter glory — snowy peaks, backcountry ski trails and alpine lakes.Skoki Lodge/Paul Zizka photo
Aurora Village, Northwest TerritoriesNovember to March is the best time for catching the aurora borealis, and the further north you go, the better your chances. Park yourself in a heated teepee at Aurora Village near Yellowknife, NWT, for an epic show (from $120 per night). The village even has gorgeous wedding packages.Aurora Village
Red River Mutual Trail, ManitobaOttawa's Rideau Canal gets a lot of buzz for its super-long skateway, but Winnipeg's all-natural Red River Mutual Trail sure gives it a run for its money (though it’s won’t cost you a dime). At just over six kilometres, this year's trail is the longest yet.The Forks
Niagara Falls, OntarioDespite the cold, the river is still running through Niagara Falls, but incredible ice buildup has made the Canadian wonder even more, well, wonderful this winter. (Our side of the Falls has never actually totally frozen over.) And while you're in the hood, why not stop in Niagara on the Lake, Ont., for a winter winery tour.Getty Images
Gatineau Park, QuebecThe hills of Quebec's Gatineau Park, across the river from Ottawa, are stuffed with one of the largest networks of cross-country ski trails in North America, parts of which include the Trans Canada Trail. Glide among forests and climb to views overlooking the Ottawa Valley ($15/day). Ian Hunter via Flickr
Mont-Mégantic, QuebecIf the night sky seems brighter in winter, it's because it really is. Colder air is typically clearer, making the stars appear brighter. Head to the AstroLab at Quebec's Mont-Mégantic, a dark-sky preserve, for nighttime sky-watching activities ($28 incl. park admission). (And if you don't want to stargaze, check out this view.)Claude Robillard via Flickr.
Fogo Island, NewfoundlandGet a sense of true winter remoteness on Fogo Island, off the coast of Newfoundland. In the depths of the chilly season, you can watch for caribou, skate on a pond and admire the tempestuous forces of east coast winter storms. And while you're there, the coolest place to stay is the Fogo Island Inn (from $1,750/two nights).Fogo Island Inn