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SG̱ang Gwaay Llanagaay on Haida Gwaii | © Dale Simonson / Flickr
SG̱ang Gwaay Llanagaay on Haida Gwaii | © Dale Simonson / Flickr

16 Epic Places in Canada Even Canadians Don't Know

Picture of Hayley Simpson
Hayley Simpson
Updated: 2 May 2017

Canada is known for its wide open spaces and naturally breathtaking landscapes. But it’s so big that it’s safe to say there are many secret destinations and remote places across the country of which many Canadians don’t even know. Here are 16 epic hidden gems in Canada.

Quttinirpaaq National Park

Quttinirpaaq National Park, in Nunavut’s Arctic area, is Canada’s most northern region. The park is so remote that in 2016, only 17 people visited. It offers 24 hours of daylight in summer, and its landscape includes rugged peaks, ice caps and glaciers, rivers, tundra and fjords. Quttinirpaaq is a hard national park to get to, but it will reward adventure seekers with an undeniable experience of a lifetime.

Manawan

The Native Reserve of Manawan, located in Quebec, is where people can learn about the First Nations and Atikamekw culture. There are workshops, guided tours, traditional canoe trips and many other outdoor activities. By opening their reserve to the public, visitors can learn about the Atikamekw community’s culture, rites, and history.

Dawson

Dawson is a small town in northwestern Yukon. With a population of just over 1,300 people, not many people know about Dawson. It was a base during the Klondike Gold Rush in the 19th century, and with many of its buildings preserved, it resembles a town out of an old Western movie. The colorful façades and unique architecture make the journey to remote Dawson worthwhile.

Athabasca Sand Dunes Provincial Park

The only way to access the Athabasca Sand Dunes in Saskatchewan is by float plane. The dune fields stretch for 100 kilometers (62 miles) along Lake Athabasca’s south shore. They’re one of the most northern major dune fields in the world. The provincial park has a unique ecosystem, as many of its flora and fauna can’t be found anywhere else.

Fogo Island

A remote island located off the northeast coast of Newfoundland, Fogo Island is gaining more attention thanks to the award-winning Fogo Island Inn. Its rugged coastline, rolling green hills, and location in Iceberg Alley definitely make Fogo Island a photogenic place to visit.

Writing-on-Stone Provincial Park

“Where histories, stories, and dreams become one.” Writing-on-Stone is a provincial park located in the prairie grasslands of southern Alberta. The Milk River flows through the valley, which contains the largest concentration of First Nations rock carvings and paintings on the great plains of North America. There are also guided tours given by a local interpreter, allowing you to learn more about Writing-on-Stone’s history.

Standing in a maze. Photo by @michaelmatti | #explorealberta

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Haida Gwaii

Formerly known as The Queen Charlotte Islands, Haida Gwaii sits off the coast of northwestern British Columbia. The ancient archipelago is home to incredible surfing beaches, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, natural hot springs, lush rainforests, and small communities. It’s inhabited by the native Haida people, who were once known as the Vikings of the Pacific Northwest.

River Surfing at The Mountain Wave

The Mountain Wave was built in the Lower Kananaskis River by Surf Anywhere. River surfing has emerged as the world’s hottest new extreme sport, and for the adventure seekers out there, it isn’t limited to just the summer months either. The Mountain Wave is located in Kananaskis Provincial Park west of Calgary, adjacent to the Visitor Information Centre at Barrier Lake.

L’Anse Aux Meadows

Located on the tip of Newfoundland and Labrador’s Northern Peninsula, L’Anse Aux Meadows is an ancient Norse settlement and UNESCO World Heritage Site. The buildings have been restored, and visitors can see the Vikings’ base camp and learn about the site’s 1000-year-old history from costumed interpreters. L’Anse Aux Meadows is open from June to early October.

Powder King Mountain Resort

Powder King Mountain Resort is nicknamed the “Whisper of the North,” as it’s relatively unknown and remote compared to British Columbia’s other ski resorts. Located in the province’s northern region, it may, indeed, be king of the powder, as it receives an amazing 41 feet (1,250 cm) of snowfall each year. Experts say the best time to visit is the middle to end of January.

Another blue-bird day in Whispering Village @powderkingmountainresort (new real estate options are looking pretty good right now!) #pkallday

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Alexandra Falls

Located in the Northwest Territories, Alexandra Falls on the Hay River has a 10-story fall over a limestone ridge. There are two viewing platforms to capture photos of the dramatic falls, which are the centerpiece of Twin Falls Territorial Park. In 2003, an American adrenaline junkie kayaked the falls and lived to tell the tale.

Burgoyne’s Cove

In 1953, a B-36 bomber aircraft got caught in bad weather conditions and crashed into a mountain just north of Burgoyne’s Cove, a small community in Newfoundland and Labrador. All 23 crew members died in the crash, but today, people can hike to see the site and the remaining wreckage. A plaque was placed at the site in 1993 to commemorate the lives lost.

Hiked through the woods to the wreck of the #R36 bomber near #BurgoynesCove #Newfoundland – crashed in 1953.

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Bathtub Island

Bathtub Island is a unique swimming hole in Lake Superior Provincial Park, which is one of Ontario’s largest provincial parks. The island is actually a pool, formed by a barrier of low rocks, which separates the shallow “bathtub” from the lake. It’s a picturesque spot within the park. Locals say Bathtub Island can be found 500 meters (1,640 feet) south of the turn for Katherine Cove, along Highway 17.

Diefenbunker

Diefenbunker is a four-story, 100,000-square-foot (929-square-meter) underground bunker, which today houses Canada’s Cold War Museum. It’s definitely the dark horse when it comes to Ottawa’s museums. Found on the city’s outskirts in Carp, it was built between 1959 and 1961 to shelter Canadian government officials, in the case of a nuclear attack.

Spatsizi Plateau Wilderness Park

BC Parks says that Spatsizi Plateau Wilderness Park is “one of Canada’s largest and most significant parks.” The park protects the Spatsizi Plateau. Canadian anthropologist Wade Davis told National Geographic that the park is the “Serengeti of North America,” in that it can support large populations of wildlife. Although its visitor numbers are very sparse, popular summertime activities in the area include canoeing, hiking, and fishing.

Watching caribou from our kayaks on Tuaton Lake. #nicerack

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Sable Island National Park Reserve

Sable Island is a long, crescent-shaped island located 175 kilometers (109 miles) southeast of mainland Nova Scotia in the Atlantic Ocean. It’s an isolated place that has a population of five people, 400 wild horses, and some 350 shipwrecks, earning it the title of the “Graveyard of the Atlantic.” Sable Island is also home to a large colony of grey seals. Visitor season is June until October.