The wide and unspoiled Western Canada includes the grassland fields and snow-capped glaciers of British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Manitoba.
Here are the must-see sights in the area, from the beaches of Vancouver Island that are caressed by the Pacific to the hamlet that shares Hudson Bay with polar bears.
1. Columbia Icefield and Icefields Parkway
One of Canada’s most beautiful roads connects Lake Louise and Jasper, the Icefields Parkway. This 230-kilometer highway route passes via waterfalls, glaciers, mountains, and lakes. There are rest spots along the road, allowing motorists to exit their vehicles and take in the scenery.
One of Alberta’s most incredible tourist sites in this area. Many of the hiking trails along the way are short day hikes that end at breathtaking vistas of the glaciers or adjacent lakes.
The Icefields Centre is one of the most popular sights along the Icefields Parkway. The Icefields Parkway, one of Canada’s finest picturesque routes, links Lake Louise and Jasper.
The Columbia Icefield and Icefields Parkway are two of the best places to visit in western Canada.
This large visitor center offers excellent exhibits on the Columbia Icefields and looks out into the Athabasca Glacier. The models and images in the middle offer a unique viewpoint that makes it simpler to comprehend the size and shape of the icefields than it is from the road.
You can wander right up to the glacier’s toe by crossing from the middle. As an alternative, tours are provided with that transport visitors onto the glacier using vehicles with specialized equipment.
The Glacier Skywalk, a sizable viewing deck with a glass floor and tracks that rise 280 metres well above the valley below, is one of the area’s latest highlights.
The Columbia Icefield Tour, which departs from Banff and can be completed in a single day, includes the Glacier Skywalk, an all-terrain vehicle trip onto the glacier, and a breathtaking drive through the Icefields Parkway.
To fully explore this area, you’ll need a few days; most tourists stay in the Lake Louise area.
Camping is a far less expensive alternative. Along the Icefields Parkway are several wonderful campgrounds, some of which are near gorgeous walks and magnificent landscapes.
2. Haida Gwaii, BC
The area’s diverse flora and fauna, which has earned it the nickname “Canada’s Galapagos,” as well as its huge pillars and longhouses, may teach us something new.
With its old town ruins and dense vegetation draped with mosses, Haida Gwaii could appear otherworldly, making it one of the top places to visit in Western Canada.
The islands are host to a number of the world’s richest cultural histories, breathtaking beauty, and a plethora of animals. There are more than 500 archaeological locations on the islands.
Haida Gwaii’s environment produces lush greenery and a diverse range of wildlife. Along Highway 16 (commonly called the Queen Charlotte Highway), Sitka deer herds can be found feeding in the grassland open fields. In the spring and summer, eagles can be seen soaring above, usually in high numbers.
The North Pacific archipelago of Haida Gwaii, where the Haida Nation has been based for 13,000 years, is sparsely populated, rough, and windswept.
3. Wanuskewin Heritage Park, Saskatchewan
Indigenous populations from the Northern Plains have gathered in Wanuskewin for 6,000 years as a meeting place. To hunt bison, collect food, and escape the blustery winter weather, they came here. This custom is still practiced today because Wanuskewin has been a hub for international gatherings for the past thirty years, drawing visitors from all over the world.
Containing walking paths, festivals, and exhibitions under the direction of a council of First Nation elders, Wanuskewin is currently an educational complex with archaeological sites dating back thousands of years, including stone cairns, tipi rings, and pottery fragments. Watch out for the plains bison herd that wanders the park after being reintroduced in 2019.
The extension of the Interpretive Center, exhibition areas, and meeting spaces marks the end of the renovations. The park now features a renovated café, a playground that has won awards, hiking paths, and a variety of interpretative activities like guided hikes and traditional dance performances.
Your family can have an unforgettable full-day or half-day trip at Wanuskewin Heritage Park. The Tourism Industry Association of Canada named this holy place the top “Indigenous Tourism Destination” in 2016 and 2019; it has received other provincial tourism honors, including “2019 Business of the Year” from Tourism Saskatchewan.
National Historic Site and potential UNESCO World Heritage Site, Wanuskewin Heritage Park is a must-visit!
4. Moraine Lake
After a breath-taking 13 kilometres of twisting mountain roads, Moraine Lake is found in the Valley of the Ten Peaks, beyond Lake Louise.
One of Canada’s most well-known photo locations, it served as the backdrop for the design on the back of the former $20 Canadian bill for a considerable amount of time.
The Wenkchemna Glacier surrounds Moraine Lake and is one of ten peaks that are all higher than 3,000 meters. Near the parking area, the Rockpile Trail ascends a little hill to an overlook with a stunning view of the lake.
Moraine Lake is one of the top places to visit in Western Canada. The distant roar of glaciers or landslides is audible in the spring.
In Banff National Park, a fantastic day trek may be done from Moraine Lake to Larch Valley and Sentinel Pass. The arduous day’s hike is rewarded with a breathtaking view gazing back towards the lake and down into Paradise Valley.
5. Churchill, Manitoba
Where Manitoba and Hudson Bay converge, polar bears and humans cohabit. In the autumn, tens of thousands of migratory bears wait in Churchill, commonly referred to as the Polar Bear Capital of the World, for Hudson Bay to freeze over.
These transient residents can be safely seen while being driven by modified cars, and in the fall, local authorities put young bears that persistently linger too close to town in a “polar bear jail” to protect the town.
You must go by train or aeroplane to see the polar bears, who are the region’s most famous seasonal residents, in Churchill, Manitoba, a small community on the remote, southwestern shores of Hudson Bay.
The greatest predators on land spend the summer here while they wait for the bay to freeze over in the winter so they may feast on ringed seals while poised on the ice. Another reason to go is the influx of beluga whale migration that occurs along the town’s coast throughout the summer.
6. Tofino, BC
Tofino on Canada’s Vancouver Island is the place you need to go if you’re looking for a relaxing vacation spot or a place that will keep you active, or maybe even a little of both!
There are 2,000 residents in this tiny surf town on the west coast of Vancouver Island. A picturesque ferry trip from Horseshoe Bay to Nanaimo and a 3-hour drive through the breathtaking Pacific Rim National Park are required to get there. We can promise you that a trip to Tofino is well worth the effort it takes to get there; in fact, you might never want to leave!
Even though this sleepy seaside town has a well-deserved reputation as an excellent outdoor vacation spot, Tofino offers something unique for every kind of traveler, including world-class dining options, unique surf shops, and relaxing spas in addition to an abundance of hiking, biking, and kayaking opportunities.
7. Prince Albert National Park, Saskatchewan
Prince Albert National Park was established as a playground, as was customary at the time; the importance of its guardianship was not appreciated until much later. The area is located on the border between the northern boreal forest and the southern aspen parkland.
Pockets of fescue and sedge meadows are hidden among its spruce, pine, aspen, and birch-covered sloping slopes. Prince Albert is now a priceless preserve as forestry issues and growing civilization have threatened this habitat elsewhere year after year.
Some interesting things you must know about this place-
i) Bison Haven: The wild plains bison herd that roams along Prince Albert’s southwest border is noteworthy since it is the only one in Canada that is still free to roam in its original habitat. The herd originated from a small group of creatures that were originally contained by fencing along the park’s southern edge. It currently has more than 200 heads.
ii) Endangered Species: Canada’s largest land mammal, whose bulls can weigh nearly a ton and formerly number in the several million before coming dangerously close to extinction at the hands of European settlers, is still very much a threatened species. To the dismay of some nearby landowners, the animals do occasionally trespass from parklands.
iii) Cree Home: The Cree were living there when Prince Albert National Park was created; they had moved there in the middle of the 19th century. The majority of the Cree were forced to relocate to Montreal Lake in the east.
iv) The Scandal: The famed author and naturalist Grey Owl made the park his home. He claimed to be a First Nations person, but his real name was Archibald Belaney, an Englishman. After his death, his true identity was revealed, causing a global controversy. The environmentalist message of Grey Owl, “Remember, you belong to Nature, not it to you,” has endured over time. His home on Ajawaan Lake is among the most popular trekking spots in the nation.
8. Canadian Museum for Human Rights, Manitoba
Winnipeg is a metropolis that rises above the gently sloping prairie and is teeming with craft brewers and coffee roasteries. The Canadian Museum for Human Rights is located between them and is built in a modern structure surrounded by a huge glass cloud.
To promote introspection and spur hope for a better future, the museum illuminates Canada’s tragic past, including the internment of Canadian Japanese during World War II and the forced attendance of indigenous children in residential schools as recently as the 1990s.
9. Dinosaur Provincial Park, Alberta, and Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan
9.1. Dinosaur Provincial Park, Alberta
Dinosaur Provincial Park, which is renowned for its impressive badlands and profusion of fossils, guards a sophisticated ecosystem in the Red Deer River basin. Coyotes and nighthawks sing as the sun sets, and in the spring and summer, 165 different bird species can be found here along with cottontail rabbits, mule deer, and pronghorn.
Dinosaur Provincial Park is one of the top places to visit in Western Canada.
More than 500 local specimens are on exhibit across the world, but the real stars of the show are the dinosaurs, of which 58 species have been discovered here. Visit the tourist center for a glimpse into prehistory and to participate in a dig.
9.2. Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan
Grasslands National Park is one of the largest Dark Sky Preserves in the world, preserving an unaltered, semi-arid terrain that is dotted with blue grama and silver sagebrush. Here, sluggish pastures meet the boundless sky; if you plan to camp, be ready for a solitary, primitive experience.
The nature encounters in Grasslands more than make up for the lack of frills; keep a watch out for burrowing owls, quick foxes, black-footed ferrets, and Canada’s sole black-tailed prairie dog colonies.
Among the attractions are the Frenchman River Valley, Rock Creek plain, and Seventy Mile Butte.
10. Whistler Blackcomb, BC
The Whistler Blackcomb ski resort is located 75 miles (121 km) beyond Vancouver’s north shore, along the twisting Sea-to-Sky Highway (BC-99), which passes Howe Sound. The two mountains with the same name are each about 7,300 feet (2,200 meters) high, and 8,171 acres (3,307 ha) of their huge flanks may be skied, with more than 200 ski routes and 36 lifts to get you there.
On top of their rocky crowns are open bowls and couloirs for the brave; farther down are adequate snow fields, broad groomers, and terrain parks to accommodate every degree of daring skier.
This brings us to the end of our list of Top 10 Amazing Things to Do in Western Canada! But we’re certain that we’ve left out some of Western Canada’s top attractions and activities. Maybe you’ve visited a location that you think belongs on our amazing Western Canadian bucket list. If so, do let us know in the comments down below!
We are sure that you will cherish the time you spent in western Canada for the rest of your life, so make plans for your vacation as soon as you can.