Four Canadian Waterways To Explore Before Summer Ends

Devoting time to the outdoors is part of daily life in Canada — right up there with stealing maple syrup and thirsting over the hot PM. Point being, the spirit of exploration courses through the veins of our northern neighbors, like the country’s many rivers.

Check out this list of some of the most stunning waterways to explore in Canada. Whether you’re a champion kayaker looking for a serious test of your skills or just a happy canoe paddler hunting a sleepy afternoon, these corners of the country are worth the trip!


Deep in Canada’s great Yukon is a river valley that leaves civilization a long, long way behind. Nahanni has been called “the greatest river trip in the world” — it’s also one of the world’s largest national parks (nearly the size of Switzerland) and among the very first natural UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Traveling to Nahanni is a trek. Basically you’re going to need to fly into the park. After that either you’ll be on foot or floating down the river. There are tours that can organize everything for you. Or you can throw caution to the wind, and grizzlies, and hike in yourself like a true mountain man.

Once you’re there, you’ll find 3,000ft high canyons, hot springs, grizzlies, bison, wolves, mountains, and falls. It’s a place of unparalleled natural beauty.


Vancouver Island is a where Canada falls into the sea along a black and grey rocky jag of coastline. The further north you head along the island, the fainter the buzzing of civilization becomes. All that noise is drowned out by squabbling bald eagles, breaching orcas, and the gentle lick of the calm salt water along the rocky shores. Between Vancouver Island and mainland BC, you’ll be surrounded by wild animals of the sky and sea on every turn and the ancient firs and cedars will greet you every morning.

Kayaking, canoeing, or boating along BC’s northern Vancouver Island is just a matter of getting there, hopping in a vessel of your choice, and heading out (with provisions and a map, of course). Getting to the north end of Vancouver Island can be an adventure by itself. Hop a ferry in Vancouver over the Nanaimo river and drive up the length of the island. It’s about a 6ish hour drive — perfect for one day.

There are several ways to explore the great beauty of Canada’s left coast without experience, and hiring a local guide means you’re giving a local a job. Don’t forget to try the local smoked salmon. It’s as wild as the land and sea.


Deep in the northern Rocky Mountains, you’ll discover a glimmering lake. Lake Louise offers a view that postcards cannot do justice. Standing on the banks of the lake and gaping in awe of the mountains is a bucket-list event. The lake itself is a calm aquamarine oblong disk. Its waters are lush; its vistas are truly breathtaking.

The area around Lake Louise is Banff National Park. It’s one of the more accessible and well-trod parks in all of Canada and shockingly beautiful. Taking the road through the park may remind you of Kubrick’s The Shining, but it’s worth every single twist and wind in the road. The lake is only 2 hours by car from Calgary. Given its popularity, there’s plenty of activity around the lake — hiking, skiing, riding, and, of course, canoeing, kayaking, and white water rafting along the Bow River.


This time you don’t even need to leave the city. The urban denizens of Ottawa have access to some serious white water right in town. You can hit up one of Ottawa’s many classic diners for breakfast, hit the rapids, and be back in the city ready for a night out — all within a few short hours.

The Ottawa River creates a natural border between Ontario and Quebec. The Deschenes Rapids kick in pretty much within minutes of leaving the city by river, and there are plenty of rafting tours available. If you’re ready to go and want to catch some fun on the water while still being in a cosmopolitan center, then the Deschenes Rapids is the perfect place to scratch that itch.


Nova Scotia never turned out to be a new Scotland. It’s its own world entirely. It’s a world of stark landscapes, chilling seas, and deeply intoxicating nature. It’s also one of Canada’s smallest provinces — comprised of over 3,800 islands and one very large peninsula.

In the middle of that peninsula, you’ll find a very difficult, raging, and muddy river called Shubenacadie. This river should be on any rafter’s bucket list. It’s been named one of the top five rafting rivers in all of Canada — one of the only places where you can Tidal Bore Raft. That’s rafting on a tidal surge that runs at speeds over 30mph headed back up river.

Most spots to start your river adventure on the Shubenacadie are no more than an hour drive from Halifax. If you’re rafting, there are guides and gear along the river you can rent. Or just jump in and go for it (if you’ve got the skills), but bring an extra set of clothes, you’re sure to get muddy.