Even without that smartphone camera filter, the autumn leaves of Quebec and Ontario in shades of fiery crimson, orange and yellow will make your Instagram shot glow. And, what’s more quintessentially Canadian than a red maple leaf? Here’s where to find the most picturesque, color-saturated scenes to photograph.
Rolling hills ablaze in colors contrast white cottages dotting the Gaspé Peninsula. Mark the moment at Percé Geopark, recently named Quebec’s first UNESCO Global Geopark (Canada’s third). Other bests are the new Opémican National Park, a culinary cruise down the St. Lawrence and Mont Tremblant, illuminated at night, too, by the Tonga Lumina project.
Starting in Toronto, take your time motoring through Niagara vineyards, Blue Mountain Resort, Muskoka Cottage Country, iconic Algonquin Park, capital city Ottawa, the 1000 Islands, with stately shoreline mansions and castles, and locavore central, Prince Edward County. Allow 10 to 14 days to savor, and record, it all.
Tolkienesque Gros Morne National Park is idyllic in October. Walk Earth’s mantle on a guided (free) tour of the ancient Tablelands. Hike the East Coast Trail for bursts of red along the Cape Spear Path. See birch and maple painting the Humber Valley while you pick partridge berries. In St. John’s, visit Bowring Park.
Hike along the Red and Assiniboine Rivers for a showy display or through Winnipeg’s leafy Assiniboine Park. A favorite fall drive is the Highway 16 loop from Neepawa to Minnedosa Lake, then on 10 to the Little Saskatchewan Valley and Polonia. Detour to hike to views as far as Lake Manitoba.
Sleepy Waterton Lakes is as serene as it is storybook stunning. Overnight in the bluff-top 1927 landmark Prince of Wales Hotel, then hike the Bear’s Hump for superlative lookouts all the way to America. Classic fall drives are Red Rock Canyon and the Akamina Parkway to Cameron Lake.
Late August through September is the time to see not only autumn hues, but the Northern Lights. Take an iconic drive (Whitehorse up the Dempster Highway all the way to the Arctic Ocean, for one) by car or motorhome to take it all in—a full 80% of the Yukon landscape is pristine wilderness.
Mid-October the legendary Cabot Trail’s coastal highlands light up in dramatic fashion for your epic cycle, hike or drive. The Wild Islands, though, you might have to yourself, plus a campfire and blanket of stars at night. Or sightsee, then join sunrise yoga at the Bay of Fundy, site of the world’s largest tides.
Catch the Aurora in early autumn from a tipi, plus impressive fall hues and outdoor adventures based out of your cozy wilderness cabin in the Northwest Territories. At wildlife-filled Wood Buffalo National Park, America’s largest, add in the Dark Sky Festival and a high-adrenaline ATV tour.