Winter in Canada

Ice Walk through Johnston Canyon | Banff Lake Louise Tourism
Ice Walk through Johnston Canyon | Banff Lake Louise Tourism

The magic of Canadian winter landscapes

Snowy white winters turn iconic Canadian landscapes into fresh new powdery playgrounds just waiting to be explored. Enjoy cool experiences like walking on (frozen) water and discovering off-trail wonders, largely inaccessible during other times of year, and witnessing the transformation of popular summer destinations into a world of snow and ice, virtually all to yourself. Here are our suggestions for experiencing the magic of Canadian winter landscapes. 

Snowshoeing in the beautiful Canadian Rockies Snowshoeing in the beautiful Canadian Rockies

Channel Bigfoot

At Great Canadian Trails, we’re all about making a small environmental footprint… except when it refers to actual footprints… like those resembling tennis rackets in the snow. Snowshoeing is winter’s answer to hiking, allowing access to spectacular mountain views. If you enjoy walking through forest paths or trekking up mountain trails to awesome lookouts, then you are sure to love snowshoeing. The activity is surprisingly easy to learn; it only requires slightly more effort than walking, a wider-than-natural gait, and warmer clothing. And the gear is nothing like it used to be – the aforementioned wood and rawhide ‘tennis rackets’ are no more. New designs feature more compact, athletic shapes and lightweight material such as aluminum and nylon. Cleats underfoot and high-tech binding suspension allow for better traction on rugged terrain to get you deep into the back country of places like the Continental Divide. Everyone from beginners to experienced winter hikers can enjoy the deep powder and fantastic views on our Rockies Winter Highlights guided adventure. Without the hordes of summer visitors, you can enjoy the beauty of the national parks and a calm silence broken only by the sounds of your feet crunching through fresh snow.

Lake ski in sun Cross-country skiing in Algonquin Park, Ontario

Go Horizontal 

If you prefer your trails to be more horizontal than vertical, then cross-country (xc) skiing could be your calling and Canada has no shortage of trails for every experience level. Trail difficulty is rated the same way as downhill skiing, with green circle trails being ‘easy’, blue squares being ‘moderate’ and black diamonds ‘difficult’. Active beginners will enjoy getting a taste of the sport while gliding along frozen lakes and through winding forest trails like those accessible from an authentic, off-grid log cabin. Our Classic Canadian Winter Adventure starts and ends in Toronto, but takes you far beyond the city for an escape into a quiet winter wonderland where you can enjoy an array of guided winter activities during the day and enjoy home-cooked, family-style meals by a fireplace each evening. If you’re looking for a unique and unforgettable way to spend Christmas this year, join our holiday departure for wintery fun complimented by eggnog, festive activities, and a celebratory feast. Come with friends or family, or on your own.

Winter at the eco-lodge near Yellowknife, Canada |  <i>Martina Gebrovska</i> Winter at the eco-lodge near Yellowknife | Photo courtesy of Martina Gebrovska

Watch the Sky Dance

Winter nights in Canada offer wondrous, deep, dark skies. And the farther north you venture, the shorter the days/longer the nights. If you are off-grid and away from the light pollution of cities, this makes for incredible star-gazing on a clear evening. Spend some time even deeper in the northern wilderness and you might catch a glimpse of one of the Earth’s most impressive displays: The Northern Lights. The Northwest Territories is one of the best places in the world to see nature’s spectacular show due to the flat, unobstructed views directly under the auroral oval. At the right time of year, it would be unusual to miss a show on our Northern Lights Eco Escape which is based out of a fly-in lodge just outside of Yellowknife – considered the Aurora Capital of North America. During your stay, try your hand at igloo-building, snowshoeing, skating, xc-skiing, fat biking, or simply relax and warm up in the hot tub.  

Warming up by the fire after a day spend in wintery wilderness

Relax and Warm Up

One of the best parts of winter sport is, or course, the après-ski activity. Well, not to worry, Canadians have made an art of warming up and socializing after a day spent in the wintery wilderness. Be it hopping into a steamy sauna or hot tub, cuddling up in a blanket by the fire, or enjoying belly-warming food and beverage in the company of friends, old and new. The inviting atmosphere of the warm and cozy après-ski can be enjoyed by everyone, no matter what your winter style, and certainly on any of Great Canadian Trails’ winter adventures

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