10 ways to take in animals big and small across Canada
Canada is famous worldwide for its amazing nature. Here are 10 spots from coast to coast to coast that offer fantastic views of whales, bears, moose, elks, eagles, snow geese and more during late summer and fall.
A drive along the Kluane Parkway in Kluane National Park (tel: 867-634-7207; pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/yt/kluane/index.aspx) at dawn or dusk can reveal grizzlies, black (and cinnamon) bears, moose and their calves, white-tailed deer or a rarely seen lynx. The park, in the province’s southwest, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to Canada’s highest peak — 5959-metre Mount Logan — and its largest ice field.
Whale watching is superb during August and September when orcas congregate in the Juan de Fuca Strait to coincide with the annual salmon migration as the fish spawn along the Fraser River. If you’re lucky, on a trip with Vancouver Whale Watch (tel: 604-274-9565; vancouverwhalewatch.com; adults from $130, until October 31), you’ll spy a super pod of 80 or more killer whales.
Visit the Festival of Eagles (tel: 403-678-8939; canmore.ca/festivalofeagles), annually every October, in Canmore near Banff National Park during the annual Golden Eagle migration. View hundreds of these majestic birds of prey migrating south for winter with both amateur bird lovers and serious birdwatchers. Films, talks and guided walks will enhance your experience.
Prince Albert National Park is home to one of Canada’s few wild, free-ranging herd of Plains bison. Ride with Sturgeon River Ranch (tel: 306-469-2356; sturgeonriverranch.com) to view them from horseback, then spend the night in a tipi. Three-hour rides cost $100 per person; five-hour rides $125. Overnight trips cost $250 per person; tipis feature cots, sleeping bags and a little wood stove.
Hear male elks start “bugling” (their eerie mating cry) in Riding Mountain National Park in the fall. Frontiers North’s Big Five Safari (tel: 800-663-9832; frontiersnorth.com) tours the park every August, then flies you to Churchill, giving you a chance to see black bears, moose, bison, polar bears, belugas and more. Seven-night packages cost $5899 per person and include accommodations, meals, airfare and over-land transport, excursions and entrance fees.
Enjoy naturalist-led public wolf howls beneath a twinkling canopy of stars in iconic Algonquin Park (algonquinpark.on.ca/visit/programs/wolf-howls.php; $17 for a vehicle park permit). The expeditions take place on Thursdays throughout August and on the first Thursday of September. Alternatively, watch and listen for haunting cries of loons while paddling Algonquin’s or Bonnechere Provincial Park’s (ontarioparks.com/park/bonnechere) lakes.
In October, 800,000-plus snow geese as well as other migratory birds from the Great North congregate along the north shore of the St. Lawrence River before continuing on to their winter habitat on the Atlantic seaside — a journey of some 8000 kilometres. Large concentrations of the birds can usually be seen mid-month at Cap Tourmente and Montmagny, which hosts a Snow Goose Festival (tel: 418-248-3954; festivaldeloie.qc.ca) each October.
Drive along the renowned Cabot Trail, one third of which runs through Cape Breton Highlands National Park of Canada (pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/ns/cbreton/index.aspx) , for a glimpse of black bears, moose and bald eagles. The park’s Skyline Sunset Hike (tel: 902-224-2306; $14.70 per person) is a 7.5-kilometre guided tour, Mondays through Fridays until September 21.
In July and August, observe the migration of three million or so shorebirds, including immense flocks of semipalmated sandpipers, at Mary’s Point Shorebird Reserve (fundy-biosphere.ca/en/amazing-places/mary-s-point.html. Or whale watch off Grand Manan Island with Sea Watch Tours (tel: 877-662-8552; seawatchtours.com); adults $65; kids 12 and under $45) looking for humpbacks, fin, minkes and more up until late fall.
Wildlife abounds in PEI National Park (pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/pe/pei-ipe/visit.aspx), from great blue herons and marine life in tidal pools to rare, endangered, piping plovers and woodland species such as pileated woodpeckers. The park also features Green Gables, part of L. M. Montgomery's Cavendish National Historic Site, and Dalvay-by-the-Sea National Historic Site, the 19th-century summer home of a wealthy oil tycoon.
Courtesy of the Canadian Tourism Commission. This text had been modified from the original.
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