Nature Canada

Get Outside and Out-of-the-Ordinary this Winter

Shannon McCabe, Guest Blogger

Shannon McCabe,
Guest Blogger

This blog is written by guest blogger, Shannon McCabe.

Saying good-bye to the warm weather doesn’t mean saying good-bye to the outdoors. Getting outside is a great way to celebrate the winter season, get active and connect with nature. Below are some cool and unusual Canadian winter experiences that are worth checking out.

‘Not your average’ skating:

Whether it’s on a frozen pond or your local outdoor hockey rink, skating is the perfect way to enjoy the frosty temperatures while getting your heart rate up. But if you really want to step it up a notch, seek out some skating rinks that get you out of the city boundaries and a little closer to nature. There are fantastic outdoor skating spots all across Canada and we’ve highlighted a few of the coolest ones here.

Chateau Lake Louise, Alberta

Chateau Lake Louise, Photo by: Wilson Hui / CC BY 2.0

Chateau Lake Louise photo by: Wilson Hui / CC BY 2.0

The skating rink at Chateau Lake Louise, Alberta wins top points for pretty with a majestic halo of Rocky Mountains and a stunning view of the Victoria glacier.

Location: Two -hour drive from Calgary.  Price: free to skate, $6 for skate rentals.

Lake Windermere Whiteway, British Columbia

Located in BC’s Columbia Valley, Whiteway is a 30-kilometer skating track that recently made it into the Guinness Book of World Records for the world’s longest skating trail.  The Purcell Mountains provide a perfect backdrop to the skating trail that loops Lake Windermere. Keep your eyes peeled for elk, mule deer and white-tail deer as they frequent the area for winter refuge.

Location: three hours west of Calgary, AB and 16 kilometers from Radium, BC. Price: $5 donation (proceeds go to Toby Creek Nordic Club for skating trail maintenance).

Arrowhead Provincial Park, Huntsville, Ontario

The 1.3-kilometer skating trail at Arrowhead Provincial Park, Ontario opened three years ago and is garnering a lot of attention for its family-friendly atmosphere and stunning Muskoka scenery. At night, the trail is illuminated by tiki torches.  Check out this video from Muskoka Tourism showcasing the beautiful Arrowhead skating trail.

Location: 2.5 hours north of Toronto, ON. Price: $16 per vehicle, $6 for skate rentals. 

Winter Yurt

Yurting photo by: Travel Nevada / CC BY 2.0

Winter ‘Glamping’:

Winter camping is no longer reserved for professional campers and adventurists. Glamourous winter camping (aka Winter ‘Glamping’) is here and offers an awesome way to appreciate the winter without the risk of frostbite. ‘Glamping’ typically involves combining aspects of traditional camping with more creature comforts and amenities. Across Canada there are some pretty cool winter glamping experiences that are definitely worth checking out.

“Yurting” in Gatineau Park, Quebec

Gatineau Park near Ottawa offers an array of choices when it comes to winter camping from traditional tent sites to more ‘glamorous’ accommodations including four-season tents, yurts and cabins. Gatineau Park is a conservation area and home to a number of species at risk including the eastern wolf, the least bittern and rare eastern red cedars.

Location: 15 minutes from downtown Ottawa. Price: $87 to $115 per night.

Tent/Cabin Hybrids by ParksCanada

ParksCanada has introduced a unique camping experience called oTENTik which combines the outdoorsy feel of a tent and the rustic feel of a cabin. These tent-cabin hybrids are available for rent at National Parks across Canada including Fort Langley Historic Site near Vancouver, BC and Fundy National Park in New Brunswick.


Winter Tipi photo by: m.prinke / CC BY 2.0

Location: multiple locations across Canada. Price: various.

Tipi Camping in Wiarton Willie Country

What better way to explore the outdoors than to camp out in a traditional tipi. Atelier Arboreal located in Wiarton, Ontario offers the ultimate winter tipi camping experience complete log saunas and beds made of evergreen boughs.

Location: Wiarton, Ontario, 2.5 kilometers from Toronto. Price: $339 per couple per night (includes all meals, snowshoes, tipi accommodation and sauna).

Fat Biking:

You can now cycle in snowy, wintry conditions on a specially designed fat bike. As the name suggests, these bikes have wide (fat) tires that are ideal for snow. Due to its increasing popularity, there are now many places offering fat bike trails and rentals. Here are a few to check out:

Fat Biking photo by: / CC BY 2.0

Fat Biking photo by: / CC BY 2.0

Horseshoe Resort, Barrie, Ontario – offers 20 kilometers of fat bike trails at the Horseshoe Adventure Park. Location: 1.5 hours north of Toronto. Price: $15 for trail pass, $35 for two-hour fat bike rental.

Silver Star Mountain Resort, British Columbia – 15 kilometers of fat biking trails in the beautiful Monashee Mountains of BC’s Okanagan region. Location: 20 kilometers from Vernon, BC Price: $5-$7 for trail pass, and $25 and up for fat bike rental.

What is your favorite outdoor winter activity? Be sure to share your activities with us in the comments below!

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