100 Day Ultimate Canadian Road Trip - Straight On Detour

. From the rolling canola fields and arid badlands to the stark frosted tundra and mountainous continental divide, Canada has it all.  This summer, we…

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Straight on Detour - World Travel Blog

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From the rolling canola fields and arid badlands to the stark frosted tundra and mountainous continental divide, Canada has it all.  This summer, we teamed up with Parks Canada to explore the wild, natural and notorious parts of Canada by car, tent and on foot. Six months ago, lying on a 6ft long map of Canada in Melbourne, Australia, we planned, sketched and scrutinised a route which would lead us to some our greatest world travel experiences to date. It was there, on the floor the ‘100 day ultimate Canadian road trip’ materialised.

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Over 120 days later and some of the greatest animal encounters and scenery we’ve ever seen, our road trip ends back where it began, in Winnipeg. This destination guide is a resource for anyone planning an ultimate Canadian road trip. From buying a car in Canada as a tourist, to how much does a road trip cost or even how to see a polar bear on a budget, we have imputed as much knowledge and information into this guide as possible.. in the hope it brings you to Canada sooner.

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So here goes…

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A Guide to Planning Your Ultimate Canadian Road Trip

2 weeks or 2 months, if you are sketching out a road trip in Canada there is a lot to consider. Things like seasons, temperatures, winter roads and distances are all important factors to consider before you go and if you are starting at the beginning and like us, bought a map of Canada and are swamped by it’s enormity, this guide is the perfect tool to planning your road trip.

 

 

A Complete Guide to Buying Your Car as a Tourist in Canada

Buying a car was one of the most confusing and difficult times we had on our road trip. I really have worked hard on this post, so you don’t (LIKE US), buy a car that you cannot drive.

 

 

Budget for Ultimate Canadian Road Trip: How Much?! 

We break down our road trip and look at how much we spent over 120 days and what did we spent it on.

 

 

The Route: Where Our Canadian Road Trip Took Us

 

 

 

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Ontario

Our ‘100 Day Ultimate Canadian Road Trip’ began in the lively cosmopolitan city of Toronto, a city we completely underestimated until we started digging in. Arriving in June, we were engulfed by the eclectic city and quickly immersed ourselves in summertime fun, sights and more music than we’ve ever experienced. Teaming up with Tourism Toronto and City Sight Seeing Toronto, we created a DIY hop-on, hop-off brewery tour which allowed us to taste some of the best beers in the city from a double decker bus. Buying a car was our main objective and…. we failed. Becks and I quickly learnt that buying a car in Canada was not going to be as easy as we imagined (Read: Complete Guide to Buying Your Car as a Tourist in Canada) and sadly watched our Ontario plans slip away from behind a bus window as we were forced to make our way north to Manitoba, where buying a car would be achievable.

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Was Toronto a waste of time? Hell no. We fell for the bustling, energetic city big time and just to prove it we wrote ‘7 Reasons why Toronto is the Top City for Summer!

 

 

Manitoba

With 4 wheels and a car full of gear, our road trip began in the most unlikeliest of provinces and really the unlikeliest of cities. Winnipeg, the butt of many Canadian jokes became our base and quite quickly lured us in by it’s insatiable energy and charisma.

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Somehow many travelers dismiss Manitoba when planning a trip to Canada… I have to say that this is CRAZY. Not only are you missing out on the countries most friendly people (and to prove it ‘Friendly Manitoba’ is etched on every car license plate) but you are missing out on a wild wildlife adventure: Prairie lands; National Parks teeming with black bears, beavers and bison; the sub-arctic town of Churchill and its polar bears, beluga whales and intriguing landscape and finally a couple of unique Provincial Parks. We have everything we need to say about this wonderful province here, Explore Manitoba : A Wild Canadian Province.

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Canola Fields - Ultimate Canadian Road Trip

 

 

Saskatchewan

From northern Manitoba to northern Saskatchewan we kept well off the beaten track in the ‘Land of the Living Skies.’ The huge expanse of farmlands was broken only by the eruption of the wilderness wonderland Prince Albert National Park. This was a place to sink our teeth into an adventure and get back to basics. Alongside wildlife spotting, a canoeing expedition is one of the most typical Canadian experiences you can find and we loved it!

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Looping back through Saskatchewan on our way home we made one of the best decisions of our entire trip. The southerly Grasslands National Park has one of the most unique subset of species in the whole of Canada, a connection with all forms of Canadian heritage, several dinosaurs hidden in its soil and an insight into the weird and wonderful world of undulating prairie land.

It’s so special we created a Complete Guide to Grasslands National Park with as much detail as possible in the hope it will get you there sooner!

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Alberta

When first arriving in Alberta we did two things that no other Canadian road trippers do: Firstly we visited Elk Island National Park, revered for having the most hoofed animals after the Serengeti and an epic place to take a blue-moon canoe tour. Secondly, we drove right past the Canadian Rockies in a plight to reach the Alaskan Highway during Canada’s short summer.

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We knew we couldn’t turn our backs on the Canadian Rockies for good and certainly made space in our Ultimate Canadian Road trip to fit almost a month of travel in the heart of it. Find out more on our road trip the Canadian Rockies.

 

 

British Columbia

Our first stop in B.C. was Dawson Creek, the starting point for one of the world’s most legendary road trips: the Alaskan Highway. Mountains replaced the prairies lands and we became in awe of their vastness on our way to the Yukon and Alaska.

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We returned to B.C. via the Stuart-Cassier highway, as equally beautiful as the Alaskan highway in many respects and since autumn had arrived, far more colourful. It’s a drive that delivers phenomenal scenery at every turn, blue lakes at every stop off and terminates at a glacier field just beyond the weird and wonderful townships of Stuart and Hyder. Hyder proclaims itself to be Alaska’s friendliest ghost town, its the one place in the US where no-one requires a visa nor border check to enter, I’ve already told you it’s weird right?

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From the west to east we beelined into the Canadian Rockies. A month of mountains was sure going to deliver us what we came to Canada to see! Don’t miss our Top 10 Hikes in the Canadian Rockies.

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Ultimate Canadain Road Trip - Moose

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Yukon

Taking the Alaska Highway north we eventually reached the Yukon where billboard’s claim is ‘larger than life’.  As we watched the prairie colours change to reds, oranges and rich golden hues and the mountain ranges erupted from the earth, we couldn’t agree more.

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Our sights were set on Kluane National Park, a place which gravitated to us through our computer screens back in Melbourne, Australia. It’s rugged landscapes, harsh exteriors and remoteness attracted us initially but it was the challenges it delivered that made the biggest impact. Oh wait, Kluane also brought us face to face with our first grizzly so maybe I’m a little bias 🙂

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A wild adventure, an epic detour and some of the best road trip moments of our entire journey, the Yukon certainly challenged us and cemented Canada as one of our favourite countries in the world.

 

 

Alaska

Before you say it, yes we know it’s an Ultimate Canadian road trip and not a north American road trip but while driving the length of Kluane National Park we reached the border to this ‘Final Frontier’ and we could not resist. We are called Straight On Detour for a reason, ha! After two weeks, taking a cruise to watch wildlife and a calving glacier, visiting Denali NP, finding plenty of adventures in Valdez and kayaking with icebergs we only left due to a very stern bout of winter. After waking up to snow all over our tent we made an enormous southerly drive to rediscover Canada and the last of the summer.

 

 

 

Ultimate Canadian Road Trip - Lake O'hara