Red canoes! Majestic moose! Rocky peaks! Western Canada is a natural place to start for any outdoors enthusiast. The people are friendly, the wilderness is vast, and the mountain scenery is a wonder to behold. Or you can head due south and a whole new frontier of adventure opens up in the American West with its grand canyons and towering sequoias. Can you pass out from too much fresh air? Who knows! For now, all you need to do is mentally lace up your comfiest hiking boots as we explore eight ways to connect with these impressive landscapes.
1: Express yourself in the Canadian Rockies
Are you ready to say ‘wow’ at every turn in your path? It’s easy when you’re gazing at turquoise waters ringed by soaring snow-capped peaks in hamlets like Lake Louise. Whether you’re hiking to a lakeside teahouse or hovering above in a gondola in Banff, you can ‘ooh and ah’ as you scan your surroundings for Canada’s famed furry denizens like moose, wolves, and bears.
See it for yourself on: Canadian Rockies Express
2: Coast from camping to zodiacs and canoes
After kicking off by ferry, you can bask in the lush smell of old growth forests and coastal waters of Vancouver Island. Camp out under the stars, watch surfers brave the waves, and zip around Clayoquot Sound by zodiac boat looking for killer whales, sea lions, and seals. Back on the mainland, you can head deep into BC’s interior and swap to a canoe for a paddle in Wells Gray Provincial Park. It’s a waterfall-filled adventureland including Helmcken Falls that’s three times taller than Niagara.
See it for yourself on: Canadian Rockies: National Parks – Eastbound
3: Float through the natural history of Jasper
What if you could learn about the history of a UNESCO World Heritage site all while lazily floating down a tranquil river? You can on a Natural History Wildlife Float along the historic Athabasca River used by fur traders in the 1800s. Expert guides row and narrate while you take in the beauty of Jasper National Park and keep an eye out for eagles, bears, elk, mountain sheep, and wolves. Wild!
See it for yourself on: Discover the Canadian Rockies – Eastbound
4: Walk at a glacial pace on the Columbia Icefields
Start with a breathtaking scenic drive along the Columbia Icefields Parkway, as it winds past jagged mountain peaks and glaciers feeding into bright blue lakes. At the Athabasca Glacier, a trained guide can lead you and your own two feet onto one of the Rockies’ largest and most accessible sheets of moving ice.
See it for yourself on: Discover the Canadian Rockies – Westbound
5: Say hello (from a safe distance) to woolly bison
Spectacular peaks and abundant wildlife make their home in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. You can shuttle boat across Jenny Lake, hike Cascade Canyon and head to Hidden Falls to reach Inspiration Point. At neighbouring Yellowstone, one of America’s largest National Parks, you can marvel at active geyser fields, grand canyons, and magnificent beasts like roaming bison.
See it for yourself on: Best of Yellowstone & Grand Teton
6: Ponder Capitol Reef’s arches and petroglyphs
Discover the cliffs, canyons, and columns that make up this stunning and surreal National Park in Utah. In amongst the spires of sandstone, you’ll find etchings dating back to 1300 C.E. when native people of the Fremont Culture lived at Capitol Reef. At night, you can look straight up and find yourself entranced by a designated gold-tier Dark Sky Park.
See it for yourself on: Hiking Utah’s Big 5
7: Slip through rainbow-coloured slot canyons
Wake to a gorgeous sunrise in Bryce Canyon and then make your way to Page, Arizona — the gateway to iconic Antelope Canyon. There, a local Navajo guide can lead you through a natural sandstone cathedral created by flash flooding, wind, and rain. Admire the blue sky high above as beams of light create a dazzling spectacle of the smooth multi-coloured walls.
See it for yourself on: Road Trippin’ American West
8: Stand next to stone and wood giants in Yosemite
Did you know there are 16 types of granite in this renowned National Park? It’s true and you can get up close and personal with massive granite monoliths like El Capitan and Half Dome. Not to be outdone by its rock cousins, the park is rife with giant Sequoias reaching for the stars. You can spend days amongst them chasing waterfalls, spotting wildlife, and hiking famed trails.
See it for yourself on: USA Road Trip – Yosemite Hiking, Cali Surfing