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7 Canadian Canoe Trips That Should Be On Your Bucket List

Do you wish to get away from your daily hustles, and take up an adventure? Well, Canada is famous for its open canoe, so a Canadian canoe trip should do the trick!

You can be at one with nature with your loved ones or in perfect solitude. Here are seven top Canadian canoe trips that you could consider.

It’s no secret we love Canadian canoe trips, our favourites so far being Desolation Sound and the Powell Forest Canoe Circuit. In this guest post, Joe from Nature Rated shares his top picks for Canadian canoe trips that should be on your bucket list. 

Paddling towards Dawson City on the Yukon River
Paddling on the Yukon River

Backcountry necessities

The elegant Nahanni River

The South Nahanni River emerges you in Canada’s wilderness. From the Selwyn Mountain, it courses 540 Km to the southeast. The river is famous for the Virginia falls which proudly drop 90m down – a marvellous view.

If that is not enough, you will be lucky to see the Tufa Mounds, Pulpit Rock, canyons and hot springs that will take your breath away.

While drifting through the Nahanni on your inflatable canoe, be sure to spot wildlife such as the Trumpeter swans, Grizzlies, Woodland caribou and Dall sheep, and more than 180 different bird species.

You don’t need to be an expert paddler either, as basic whitewater canoeing skills will pass for the Nahanni River.

Portaging in Kejimkujik National Park
Portaging is an integral part of many epic Canadian canoe trips

The Thelon River of the remote, barren lands

Starting from the Northwest Territories, the river flows 900 km to drain its waters into Hudson Bay, via Nunavut. The Thelon River brags a dense wildlife concentration compared to the surrounding area.

The environment holds wolves, caribou herds, musk oxen, grizzly bears and definitely the most amazing array of birds.

For a decent landing and pick up from these waters, a float plane is required. You will enjoy the Thelon River if you are wildlife and birding enthusiast.

Mirror lake conditions in Wells Gray Provincial Park
Murtle Lake, Wells Gray Provincial Park, BC

The Classic Mackenzie River

The river occupies a space of 1850km – a two-month journey. Sculling the Mackenzie River starts from the Great Slave Lake and ends on the Arctic Ocean, that is Hay River and Tuktoyaktuk respectively.

For this river, challenges such as icebergs tend to slow paddlers down. It is thus advisable to hit the waters mid to late June.

You get to pass through ten different communities, learning and enjoying their cultures. The wildlife and wilderness is like nothing you have seen before.

7 Canadian canoe trips you must do - canoe in beach on Okanagan Lake
Canoe resting on the shore of Rattlesnake Island, BC

The Churchill River, Northern Saskatchewan

This great river came about as a result of a chain of lakes joined by falls and rapids. Portaging the 150 Kilometer long river may seem impossible and arduous due to the rapids. However, it is quite an exciting adventure.

The river boasts amazing flora and fauna. A paddling trip introduces you to nature’s beauty and tranquility. Foxes, wolves, and bears will be in your view all along your journey.

The Bloodvein River, Manitoba

The timeless river takes its name after the red granite bedrock. Both novice and expert paddlers cruise its waters. Bald eagles and lady slipper orchids are the glorious wildlife you will come across.

Manitoba River goes through the Atikaki Provincial Wilderness Park and the Boreal forest. The 9 to 15-day cruise exposes you to shield rocks that resemble beach whales.

It’s important to have right gear including life jackets and helmets as the Bloodvein river can be a challenging paddle. It is worth the effort though as the red-granite-bedrock waters promise the paddle of your life.

gemma paddling algonquin littledoe lake
Paddling in Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario

Quetico Provincial Park, Ontario

There is a lot to see in the Quetico Provincial Park located 160 kilometers west of Thunder Bay. The park boasts spectacular sunsets, islands, and water lapping beaches.

It is no secret why many consider it the best place for canoeing in the world. You will see beavers, loons, moose, and herons. The draw, however, lies behind the 600 plus lakes and over 1000 backcountry campsites.

The sculling takes a maximum of 16 days for a smooth navigation of the turbulent waters.

JR standing on beach with canoe resting on shore next to calm lake with mountains behind
Slocan Lake, Valhalla Provincial Park, BC

Bowron Lakes Circuit, British Columbia

The Bowron Lakes Circuit hits the maps as one of the top ten canoe trips in the entire world. It is like the holy grail of canoeing. The lake has had its fair share of paddlers who are after an adventure and seclusion.

The circuit is 110km long and is doable in 6 to 10 days. It has a back view of the Cariboo Mountains, six lakes, and two rivers.

7 Canadian Canoe Trips That Should Be On Your Bucket List - Bowron Lakes
Paddling the Bowron Lakes Canoe Circuit, British Columbia

Canoeing is a popular activity in Canada that is sure to take your breath away. Some trips are doable in a day or two, and others go on for a week.

It’s a scenic activity where you get to interact with wildlife and it’s great for bird spotting.

I hope going on one of these great Canadian Canoe trips is high up on your bucket list.

Author bio: I’m Joe. I run Nature Rated. I love spending time in the outdoors. Whenever daily life gets me down, I head to the nearest lake or river with my kayak and my camera, and I spend time recharging my batteries.

I hope you’ll love my no fluff to the point reviews and that they’ll help you choose the right gear for your next adventure!

Read Next: 17 of the Best Canoe Trips in British Columbia

A round up of bucket-list-worthy Canadian canoe trips including the Nahanni River, Bowron Lakes Canoe Circuit and Quetico Provincial Park. Which ones will you do?
Canadian canoe trips in the wilderness offer a sense of peace and solitude like no other. Click here to discover seven of the best canoe trips in Canada!

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Kevin Hasson

Tuesday 10th of August 2021

Your Mackenzie blurb says it's 1850km - a two-day trip! Fast canoe!


Tuesday 17th of August 2021

Good catch Kevin! This was a guest post but clearly my editing wasn't up to scratch.

Dustin Stolen

Sunday 30th of May 2021

Hi Gemma and Jean Robert! I am an outdoor enthusiast myself and came across your website while researching the Bowron Lakes as I am just getting into canoe trips and have a reservation for this July 2021. I am really impressed how organized your website is and have found it to be very helpful for preparing for this trip! Thanks for all the great tips and information!


Tuesday 1st of June 2021

Thank you so much Dustin! I really appreciate you taking the time to share this :) I hope you have a fantastic time on the Bowron Lakes!

Bertrand Girard

Thursday 7th of January 2021

What guide book is best for describing multi-day river trips in British Columbia? Especially interested in Central BC. The Northern BC are well covered by Laurel Archer. Bertrand


Friday 8th of January 2021

Hi Bertrand,

Thanks for your comment. That is a great question. I wish I had an answer for you but I haven't personally found or used one for that region. If I come across one, I will certainly update this comment and let you know.