One of the first things that comes to mind when you think of Canada is our abundance of natural wonders from coast to coast. From the jaw-dropping Rocky Mountains in the West to the stunning coastal sites along the Atlantic Ocean in the Maritimes, there is something for every type of nature lover in our great, big, beautiful country.
However, if you’re like most Canadians, you probably feel like you don’t spend enough time venturing out and exploring all the phenomenal natural areas that sometimes lie in your very own backyard. No matter where you are in Canada, there are plenty of hidden natural gems to discover, from lakes and mountains to prairies and forests – and that’s just scratching the surface.
Not sure where to start exploring? The Nature Conservancy of Canada (NCC), a non-profit organization dedicated to protecting Canada's natural areas, has you covered. Take their free, brand-new Nature Quiz now to find out what type of nature lover you are and how to best connect with nature!
Once you get a good idea of your level of connection with the nature that's all around us, you can sign up for free Nature Coach tips, courtesy of NCC. Your Nature Coach will help you elevate your relationship with nature over the span of eight weeks, so you'll get to love what's all around you in your own customized way, delivered straight to your email inbox!
Once you have a better understanding of what kind of wilderness suits you most, it’s time for some exploratory inspiration. Check out these 10 beautiful, off-the-beaten-path NCC properties spread out from the West Coast to the East Coast that are perfect for reconnecting with nature!
Chase Woods Nature Preserve, British Columbia
If you're a fan of hiking (and, let's be honest, who isn't?) then you're going to absolutely fall in love with the Chase Woods Nature Preserve, situated in the Cowichan Valley. This nature preserve is right on BC's Mt. Tzouhalem, known for its natural beauty and the locally beloved white cross landmark that can be seen throughout the valley!
Nodwell will show you an entirely different kind of Canadian nature. Located in Horseshoe Canyon, which is part of the Canadian Badlands, Nodwell is an unbelievable place to explore and is situated very close to Drumheller, the dinosaur capital of the world. This area is known for its impressive dino-fossil discoveries, so if you ever dreamed of being a paleontologist as a kid (admit it, you did) then this is an absolute must-see spot.
Old Man On His Back, Saskatchewan
If your definition of getting in touch with nature includes lots of animals, a wide open sky, and a huge expanse of grassy, rolling hills, then Saskatchewan's Old Man on His Back Prairie and Heritage Conservation Area is absolutely going to be your new favourite. There's no better place to reignite (or reconfirm) your love of Canadian landscapes than at this picturesque spot, where you can see animals like mule deer, plains bison, swift fox, burrowing owl, and more!
Elk Glen, Manitoba
Elk Glen. The name alone is magical enough; wait until you see the landscape. Nestled in the heart of Manitoba, Elk Glen is a vast space filled with a variety of natural habitats, including forests, wetlands, and prairies. You’ll likely come across plenty of wildlife during your visit there, so don’t be surprised to encounter animals ranging from beavers to moose to, of course, elk.
North Bear Alvar, Ontario
Make your way here, and explore all that Ontario has to offer. While there are plenty of picturesque spots in Ontario, North Bear Alvar is more of a hidden gem than some other more popular nature spots (like Muskoka or Sandbanks, for instance). If you're looking to reconnect with nature and enjoy some truly unique sights, head to this super rare ecosystem composed of shallow soils on limestone bedrock known as alvar. Take it all in as you stroll along the boardwalk across a beautiful wet meadow and listen to the soothing sounds of grassland birds and insects. Top off your peaceful day in nature by ambling through a stunning flower field. And make sure to keep your eyes peeled for moose and black bears.
Pointe Sainte-Pierre, Quebec
Far away from the metropolitan hustle and bustle of Montreal or Québec City lies Pointe Saint-Pierre. Located halfway between Gaspé and Percé, it is indisputably one of the most stunning spots for nature-lovers along the Gaspé Peninsula. Take a hike through its abundant meadows and forests before making your way to the 10-metre-high coastal cliffs that look out onto the Gulf of St. Lawrence. If you’re looking for a Canadian nature experience that makes you feel like you’re exploring foreign shores, definitely add Pointe Saint-Pierre to your list.
Musquash Estuary, New Brunswick
Beaches, lighthouses, and a large variety of species (like wood frogs and even bald eagles!) can be spotted at this nature preserve. New Brunswick's Musquash Estuary is full of little nooks and crannies begging to be explored and discovered. This beautiful respite from city life is the perfect spot to reconnect with your love of nature!
Thomas Island, Prince Edward Island
Love birds? Love untouched islands? Love having untouched islands all to yourself? Then great news: PEI's Thomas Island Nature Reserve combines all those things in one breathtaking package. Located in scenic Murray Harbour along with four other islands conserved mainly for migratory birds and shorebirds, Thomas Island is a protected natural area thanks to NCC. Grab a kayak and go, and watch out for the great blue herons!
Pugwash Estuary, Nova Scotia
Enjoy an easy hike along the unspoiled shoreline of NCC’s Pugwash Estuary Nature Reserve. NCC’s largest reserve in Nova Scotia is a valuable protected area for more than two dozen species of shorebirds, and an important stopover site for migratory birds. Bring your binoculars to this popular destination for birders and nature lovers.
Maddox Cove Nature Reserve, Newfoundland & Labrador
Just minutes from St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, the town of Petty Harbour-Maddox Cove is a vibrant and unique area. Trekking the award-winning East Coast Trail into Maddox Cove provides a cliffside vantage point of the craggy coastline. From NCC’s nature reserve, enjoy an abundance of bird life, and if you’re lucky, you might spot some whales. Oh, and if you catch a glimpse of an iceberg – try and hold it together. It's that cool, no pun intended!
But honestly, Canada is rich in spectacular scenery. Our nature is unlike anywhere else, so get out there and discover it. The Nature Conservancy of Canada is here to show you how. Take their Nature Quiz and get a deeper understanding about your relationship with nature. Then sign up for their eight-week Nature Coach email series for hints and tips on how to improve your connection to it!