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8 Must See Places On A Winter Road Trip Across Canada

A road trip across Canada is undoubtedly a bucket list worthy adventure. 

Home to the longest national highway in the world, Canada is a top destination for the ultimate road trip.

The journey travels between two great oceans (three for those heading north) through mountain ranges, canyons, rainforest, prairie, forests, grassland and lakes. The contrast and vastness of the landscape here is like nothing else in the world.

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Winter Road Trip Across Canada

Winter road trips in Canada

The scenery isn’t the only thing in Canada that ranges in extremes, however. Winters can be bone-chillingly cold but summer is surprisingly hot.

For this reason, the months of May to October are the most popular time for road trips across Canada.

But this doesn’t mean summer is the ONLY season to road trip Canada!

For the well-prepared, a winter road trip across Canada can be a less crowded, more affordable and not to mention absolutely beautiful experience. Canada is a true winter wonderland.

View from the windshield while driving across Canada in winter
A winter road trip across Canada

We headed out on a British Columbia to Ontario road trip in early December, driving some 4,700km in two weeks. It was something of a utility road trip rather than a proper adventure as we were moving across the country but we took our time and made the most of the journey.

Here are the top eight places we discovered en route on our winter road trip across Canada.

Winter Road Trip Across Canada

1. Radium Hot Springs, British Columbia

Relaxing in a hot spring may well be the ultimate in Canadian winter road trip stops. There are plenty of hot springs in British Columbia but Radium is definitely my top choice for a soak.

One of the top reasons is location. Radium Hot Springs is right on Highway 93, a well-maintained and quieter alternative to Highway 1. They are also open all year round.

Radium Hot Springs is a blend of man-made and natural, with the main swimming area set into a deep, rocky canyon. On the way into the town of Radium Hot Springs, keep an eye out for the resident herd of bighorn sheep!

View of Radium Hot Springs swimming pool from highway in winter, with large pool next to steep forested hill
Radium Hot Springs

2. Marble Canyon

As mentioned, Highway 93 through Kootenay National Park is an easy winter drive. Along the way, there are some great places to stretch your legs while on a winter road trip across Canada.

Formed by the convergence of two glaciers millennia ago, Marble Canyon stands as a breathtakingly deep gorge, with vivid blue waters coursing through its depths. Hikers can peer down into the canyon using a network of small bridges.

Accessible year-round, Marble Canyon is a short 35-minute (50 km) drive from Banff.

I recommend wearing microspikes to visit Marble Canyon in winter as certain sections of the trail can become slippery. Plan to allocate 45 minutes to an hour for your visit.

Looking down into deep snowy Marble Canyon, which is backed by snow capped mountain
Marble Canyon

3. Johnston Canyon, Alberta

Johnston Canyon is one of the most popular day hikes in the Canadian Rocky Mountains and it’s easy to see why. The trail travels into the deep canyon with very little elevation, winding alongside and above a rushing creek.

Deep pools swirl below, surrounded by ice sculptures on the walls of the canyon. At the end of the lower trail (2.2km return) is a spectacular frozen waterfall. A longer, upper trail leads to yet more dramatic icy scenes and another set of waterfalls. It’s a pretty magical place to visit.

The Johnston Canyon trail is accessible all year round. If visiting while on a winter road trip, I’d highly recommend using ice cleats as the path can get very slippery.

Huge frozen waterfall with many icicles on edge of canyon, with water visible at bottom, Johnston Canyon
Johnston Canyon Upper Falls

4. Moose Jaw Tunnels, Saskatchewan

Hidden below the streets of this assuming small town in Saskatchewan is a network of passageways and corridors. These tunnels date from the late 19th century and were first used for utility purposes for the nearby railway.

This network had a more sordid secondary use during the prohibition days for alcohol smuggling. Though it’s not yet been proven, Al Capone was rumoured to have had a hand in the bootlegging operations here.

The Tunnels of Moose Jaw brings all of this history to life with the theatrical ‘Chicago Connection’ tour.

We were led into the tunnels by the exuberant Miss Fanny and then taught the realities of bootlegging by Italian-American gangster Gus. It’s entertaining, interactive and a whole lot of fun.

An ideal place to get out of the winter weather for a while! Tours of the Moose Jaw Tunnels run every day of the year except Christmas Day.

We were kindly given complimentary tickets to the Chicago Connection tour by the Moose Jaw Tunnels team. Another tour called ‘Passage to Fortune’ shares the story of Chinese railway workers escaping persecution via the tunnels in the early 1900’s.

Moosejaw prohibition murals - Winter road trip across Canada

5. Moose Jaw Mineral Spa, Saskatchewan

Did you know that Saskatchewan has hot springs? Neither did I. The Temple Gardens Mineral Pool is the perfect place to warm up during any winter road trip across Canada.

Being only a block away from the Moose Jaw Tunnels, a visit to the mineral spa is also a great post-tour activity.

Located on the roof of a downtown hotel, the mineral spa offers a small outdoor hot pool in addition to a large indoor pool and steam room.

Mineral springs in Moosejaw - Winter road trip across Canada

Soaking outside in -20c temperatures, with snow falling from above in the middle of downtown Moose Jaw had to be one of the most satisfying experiences on our winter road trip across Canada.

Planning a stay in Moose Jaw?

Temple Gardens Hotel & Spa – Stay as close as possible to the mineral pools!

Knights Inn Moose Jaw – Good value

Grant Hall Hotel – Highly rated on

Downtown Moosejaw - Winter road trip across Canada

6. Traditional grain elevators, the Prairies

Grain elevators, particularly the older wooden style, are considered an iconic symbol of the Prairies.

Nowadays, the views from Highway 1 mainly feature the newer, circular steel monoliths all the way to the horizon.

If you’re short on time and want an up-close look at an older grain elevator on your winter road trip across Canada, stop at Virden, Souris or Deacon’s Corner (East Winnipeg) in Manitoba.

Or simply just keep an eye on the horizon! Those with more flexibility concerning route should perhaps check out the historic grain elevator rows in Warner, AB or Inglis, MB.

Dugald grain elevator near Winnipeg - Winter road trip across Canada

7. Kenora, Ontario

Believe it or not, there are only a few small towns along the entirety of Highway 1 from Vancouver to Toronto. Kenora is just one of a handful and was absolutely my favourite (Revelstoke in BC comes a close second).

Surrounded by hundreds (thousands!) of lakes, Kenora is the centre of cottage life and lake activity in the summer. The lakes may be almost completely frozen and covered in snow all winter but it is still a lovely place to be.

The streets are steep and narrow and the houses and main street stores are mainly brick, offering an unexpected European feel at the edge of Ontario.

For the best panoramas of the area, go for breakfast at the Clarion Inn; the restaurant is located on the 7th floor and offers lake, island and town views from every table.

Planning to book a stay in Kenora?

Clarion Inn Lakeside Conference Centre – Great waterside location

Brewer’s Inn – Highly rated on

Lake of the Woods brewing company in Kenora - Winter road trip across Canada

8. Kakabeka Falls, Ontario

Just to the west of Thunder Bay, Kakabeka Falls is a welcome stop in an area with few winter roadside attractions.

The 40 metre high falls (Ontario’s second highest!) cascades over cliffs into a pretty gorge. Kakabeka is located close to the highway but offers a surprisingly remote, wilderness feel.

Sometimes called the ‘Niagara of the North,’ Kakabeka is pretty impressive in both size and volume of water. The strength of the falls is so powerful that the water has cut through rock and revealed 1.6 million-year-old fossils hidden beneath.

Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park is open all year round, with one viewing platform open during the winter (accessible via steps). Note that parking fees are required at any time of year.

Kakabeka Falls, Ontario - Winter road trip across Canada

More winter resources you may find helpful:

The Complete Guide to Travelling Canada in Winter

65 Cool Things to Do Across Canada in Winter

Essential Travel Tips for a Winter Road Trip in Canada

What to Wear in Canada in Winter: A Complete Guide

10 Ways to Explore Ontario’s Winter Wonderland

Snowshoeing 101: A Beginner’s Guide

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Lynn Simmons

Monday 1st of March 2021

What a great idea! I love following your adventures and hope to see more and have some of my own!! Thanks JR and Gemma.


Monday 1st of March 2021

Thanks for leaving a comment Lynn! Good luck with your own travels :)


Thursday 8th of August 2019

Hi there,

I'm planning a solo road trip from Vancouver during Winter. It's my 1st time in Canada and I have no experience in driving in snow. Planning to be in Canada for 5 days in total, with 1st and last day as flying days, Wonder which are the practical targets that I should include with the above said place? My initial thoughts were to reach Banff and Radium Hot Spring and then return to Vancouver. Do you reckon that it's a practical route?


Saturday 10th of August 2019

Hi Eddy,

Honestly, it is hard to say without knowing the weather during your trip but it does strike me as ambitious. Even in summer, driving to Radium/Banff and back in four days would be ambitious. And a lot of driving! Flying into Calgary would be more practical for these destinations. I would consider driving the Sea to Sky Highway (to Whistler) and then looping back from there, OR reaching Revelstoke and then looping back from there. There are easy to access hot springs on the latter route.

The most important advice I can give you for your trip is to make sure the rental car company gives you a vehicle with winter tires.

Elizabeth Vanderloo

Thursday 11th of July 2019

Thanks for this! It was super helpful and informative :) My boyfriend and I are moving back home from Calgary to Ontario this coming winter and we want to drive our car back. I am a little skeptical but I know people to it all the time. My parents have made the drive several times in the winter but they have told me stories of going into ditches in Northern Ontario, specifically Kenora. I will make sure to follow your tips when the time comes and we will definitely be taking our time that's for sure!!!


Saturday 13th of July 2019

Taking your time is so important when driving across Canada in winter definitely. I hope your journey goes well and you have some fun too!


Sunday 24th of February 2019

Hi there,

Some friends and I care considering taking a road trip from Vancouver across to Toronto in Nov/Dec. However I'm worried about driving in the snow. We are from Australia and are a bit nervous about how dangerous it is. Is it more for people who are used to driving in snow, or is it safe enough to give it a go!?


Sunday 24th of February 2019

Hi Kaitlyn!

All of my tips and advice about travelling and driving Canada in winter can be found here and


Thursday 14th of February 2019

Thanks for your details ! We were really wondering if a lot of people were doing this road trip in two weeks in winter and we found you ! Cheers P&S


Friday 15th of February 2019

Great to hear that this helped you Paul!