Canoe Canada&x27s wilderness on these iconic waterways – Lonely Planet

Video Canoe Canada&x27s wilderness on these iconic waterways – Lonely Planet

Canada is synonymous with canoeing. The nation’s waterways have been initially navigated in open boats by First Nations folks. Later, European settlers used them as avenues of discovery after which commerce routes. Now, Canada’s many rivers enable modern-day adventurers to discover the nation’s extra distant and wild areas. Rivers just like the Yukon, Snake and South Nahanni are iconic and surprisingly simple to entry, due to the numerous canoe-based outfitters and guiding corporations.

Editor’s notice: throughout COVID-19 there are restrictions on journey. Test the most recent steerage earlier than departure, and all the time observe native well being recommendation.

Is there a greater approach to discover Canada’s wilderness than from a Canadian canoe? © Tom Robinson / Lonely Planet

Yukon Territory

The Yukon River flows proper previous the Yukon Territory’s capital, Whitehorse, en path to the well-known gold-rush frontier settlement of Dawson Metropolis. There’s just one severely technical impediment en route, 5 Fingers Speedy, which isn’t too difficult in the event you take heed to recommendation and take the precise line (it’s a boat-eater if run fallacious). You’ll be able to rent canoes in Whitehorse and there are sensible riverside (and island-based) campsites alongside the best way. The basic two-week journey is greatest achieved in excessive summer time, underneath the midnight solar, which is when the Yukon River Quest takes place. The annual race sees paddlers take kayaks, one- and two-person canoes, SUPs and voyageur vessels (giant eight-person canoes, the normal boats of French-Canadian fur trappers), alongside this 715km stretch of the river nearly continuous.

Paddling the Yukon River and wild tenting underneath the summer time’s midnight solar is an unforgettable journey © Visualcommunications / Getty Photographs

Much less skilled paddlers can spend 14-17 days exploring 300km of Huge Salmon River, from Quiet Lake to Carmacks on the Yukon River, chopping via the Salmon Mountains, or tackle a bit of Wind River, accessed by way of float airplane from the put-in level of McClusky Lake, with journey’s finish 10 days later at Taco Bar or, for these wanting an extended journey (an additional three days), Fort McPherson. Extra skilled paddlers ought to take a look at the mighty Snake River, one other floatplane-accessed (from Duo Lakes) paddle, providing extra rapids (mixture of grade I and II with intermittent III) and a far longer journey, of 500km to Fort McPherson.

Learn extra: By no means thoughts the hypothermia: simple winter adventures within the Yukon

The surroundings alongside the banks of the South Nahanni River is spellbinding © Hermann Erber / LOOK-foto

Northwest Territories

Sensational South Nahanni River takes paddlers via a few of Canada’s most spectacular terrain because it wends via deep canyons inside Nahanni Nationwide Park Reserve and the Mackenzie Mountains, and it provides loads of land-based actions alongside the best way, together with day hikes up close by peaks. It’s additionally fairly a problem for canoeists (rafters have a better time) due to its intermittent rapids. Most guided adventures (canoe and raft-based) within the Northwest Territories kick off at what’s a significant spotlight of the journey: Nailicho (Virginia Falls), which drops 96m and is an unbelievable sight. From the bottom of the waterfall, you observe the river down for eight to 10 days, tenting on the banks every evening, till journey’s finish on the First Nations group of Nahanni Butte.

Learn extra: Go north: reindeer herding within the Northwest Territories

The crystal clear waters alongside the shoreline of Georgian Bay, Ontario © John and Janet Foster / Getty Photographs


This province’s many canoeing locations embody two standouts (each a part of the 42-strong listing of Canadian Heritage Rivers). Boundary Waters-Voyageur Waterway (a mixture of lakes and rivers that straddle Ontario’s southern border and into Minnesota within the US) is each an excellent journey canoeing vacation spot, and on the similar time a memorable historical past lesson; this route was the primary hyperlink between Montréal and Lake Winnipeg through the 18th and nineteenth centuries. It was utilized by fur-traders initially, after which explorers seeking to punch via the wilderness and additional on into the wilder west.

To hyperlink some waterways an old-school portage via the wilderness is required © Tom Robinson / Lonely Planet

Contained inside a provincial park of the identical title, the French River can also be wealthy in First Nations and Voyageur historical past. Initially used as a journey route by indigenous folks, such because the Huron and Ojibwe (there are quite a few archaeological websites alongside the river), it was later navigated by fur merchants and explorers, together with Alexander Mackenzie. The river packs in rapids, waterfalls, gorges and lakes because it makes its method 105km from Lake Nipissing to Georgian Bay. You’ll be able to go for day canoe journeys, overnighters or the total French River journey.

Learn extra: The pure method: why nude holidays are taking off

British Columbia’s Chilcotin area is famed for is Canoe Circuit © Hero Photographs / Getty Photographs

British Columbia

For family-based canoe adventures, BC’s Bowron Lake Provincial Park (within the Chilcotin area of the province) and its world-rated Canoe Circuit is a should. This circuit (ebook forward, solely 25 canoes are allowed on the circuit day by day) is 116km, takes paddlers throughout six separate lakes (Indianpoint, Isaac, Lanezi, Sandy, Spectacle and Bowron) and takes 5 to seven days. For these with much less time, there’s the shorter West Aspect Journey. This entails you paddling from Bowron to Unna Lake. Each choices are sensible, providing gorgeous views throughout the Cariboo Mountains, the prospect spot iconic Canadian wildlife, together with bears and moose, and stylish lakeside campsites.

Learn extra: BC by sea: boating to the very best of British Columbia

Québec’s many waterways provide distant moments of utter solitude © Tom Robinson / Lonely Planet


Irrespective of how far you wish to paddle, Réserve Faunique la Vérendrye (about three hours’ drive north of Ottawa) and its 800-plus-km of canoe routes (one-way and circuits) has myriad choices, together with the Gens de Terre River on its japanese border. This five-day, 79km canoe journey is classed reasonable to troublesome, with loads of portaging. The final 50km, specifically, earns its ‘troublesome’ moniker, due to technical rapids and journey via deep canyons with minimal egress factors.

Learn extra: The wild east: adventures in Québec’s yard


The Churchill River runs west-east via northern Saskatchewan earlier than lastly emptying into the Arctic at Hudson Bay, Manitoba. The river itself is comprised of a sequence of lakes linked collectively by waterfalls and sections of rapids (which might be both run or portaged round; the river is suited to paddlers of all ability ranges) and was used greater than a century in the past by Canada’s Voyageurs. The preferred approach to run the 105km Saskatchewan part of the Churchill is by placing in at Sandfly Lake and ending at Otter Rapids, however you may go for longer or shorter journeys. Most guides/outfitters are primarily based within the township of Missinipe.

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