© Tourism Saskatchewan / Douglas E. Walker
The wow factor
These big, bold vistas will make you want to grab your camera and head out
Canadian photo ops
Our easternmost province is known for wild windswept landscapes. But for all their remote beauty, you don't have to venture far from the capital to find them. Just an hour from St. John's, on the Southern Shore you'll reach the Ferryland Lighthouse. This spot is a landmark on the Irish Loop scenic drive as well as on the East Coast Trail, a hiking path that runs along the Avalon Peninsula. Take either of these routes and you'll pass the national historic sights at Cape Spear and Signal Hill, the Witless Bay Seabird Sanctuary and the Avalon Wilderness Area, plus four provincial parks, seven other lighthouses and the archaeological dig of a 17th-century British colony. Any of these would be reason enough to pack a camera and head out, but Ferryland's dramatic setting and colourful lighthouse are a magnet for photographers. newfoundlandlabrador.com.
Anne of Green Gables' home province has a reputation for being quaint and pastoral, but that's not all it has going for it. Take Cape Tryon, for instance. With dramatic views up and down the coast, it's a photographer's dream and one of the best places to take in the contrasts of the island's green grass, rugged orange bluffs and deep blue seascapes. Just 20 minutes from Cavendish — the mecca for all things Anne — it's also part of the lovely Cabot Loop cycling path. Pack a picnic, spread out a blanket near the Cape Tryon lighthouse and take some time to really soak up the views. tourismpei.com.
You'd be forgiven for thinking this is a photo of Provence, but we promise you, that really is Manitoba. While the province has some stunning wilderness parks, these rolling fields of sunflowers get our vote for their uniqueness — you won't find many views like this in the country. The southern edge of Manitoba is known as the Sunflower Belt, and produces 90 percent of Canada's crop. The town of Altona has been celebrating for 48 years by hosting an annual festival (this year, July 27 to 29), complete with the crowning of a Sunflower Queen, a parade, an antique car show, live music and plenty of baseball. If you can't make it in July, don't worry: the fields are in bloom until September. travelmanitoba.com.
The Southwestern US isn't the only place you can walk among the badlands. Weathered buttes, cone-shaped hills and sandstone pillars? Yup, we've got 'em right here. Long before it was drawing tourists, the 70-metre-high Castle Butte in Bengough was a landmark to First Nations and early settlers. This area of eerie land formations, dotted with caves carved out by erosion looks like it could be in Arizona, but it's just two hours south of Regina, in the Big Muddy Valley near the Montana border. If this is your kind of landscape, you'll also want to head to the unusual sandcastle formations in Beechy, four hours west of Regina, for more exotic Prairie scenery. sasktourism.com.
Nahanni National Park is exactly what people mean when they say "raw beauty." Cropping up on lists of the best adventure destinations in Outside magazine and National Geographic Traveler, it has achieved cult status among experienced paddlers for the rapids of the South Nahanni River — a kind of holy grail for whitewater enthusiasts. And world-class mountaineers head to the equally challenging Cirque of the Unclimbables. But the park is also gaining popularity with hikers and even day trippers who want a taste of its expansive northern vistas, including Virginia Falls, a jaw-dropping sight at twice the size of Niagara Falls. The only access to Nahanni National Park is by flightseeing tour or expedition outfitters based in Fort Simpson, 150 clicks away, but it's well worth the effort. spectacularnwt.com.
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