10 Best Places for Nature Watching in Canada
Canada has one of the world’s most diverse and fascinating ecosystems. From whale watching in Victoria to exploring the remains of 65 million-year-old dinosaurs in the badlands of Alberta, we take a look at Canada’s 10 most unforgettable natural habitats.
See Fossils in Dinosaur Provincial Park
Just a three hour drive north of Calgary, Dinosaur Provincial Park features a unique and vast combination of prairies and badlands (with sediments dating back 2.8 million years). The park's main claim to fame is its vast collection of dinosaur fossils, and it's home to some of the most extensive dinosaur fossil fields in the world. It's estimated that over 35 different species of dinosaurs roamed these parts over 75 million years ago, and would-be paleontologists can book a family tour, bus tour or even a guided hike to experience this UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Watch Whales in Victoria, B.C.
On one of Victoria's year-round whale-watching tours, it's very likely you'll see some of the largest sea creatures in the world: orca whales. One of the most popular destinations for nature watching in Canada, these tours offer visitors a chance to an get and up-close-and-personal look at the orca. With a little luck and an adventurous tour guide, you may also spot porpoises, dolphins, sea lions, and even humpback or gray whales. Check out more of British Columbia's top attractions.
Watch Ducks in Banff National Park
There's no better way to spend a sunny fall weekend than exploring the breathtaking scenery in Banff National Park. Take a stroll by the peaceful Vermillion Lakes, a series of several narrow streams spread throughout the park, where you can observe Harlequin ducks. Harlequins are the only species left of its genus, and spotting this endangered bird makes for a memorable and rare experience.
See Rivers in the Nahanni National Park Reserve
The Northwest Territories' Nahanni National Park Reserve is an excellent place to breathtaking sights you won't find anywhere else. The South Nahannni River is the most popular attraction at the park, running throughout the majestic Selwyn Mountains. This whitewater river was formed when the land was completely flat, though over the years the river cut four deep canyons through the rock. The river's pinnacle attraction, Virginia Falls, features a 295-foot drop (twice the height of Niagara falls), as well as various mountain ranges and spruce and aspen forests.
Watch Birds in Prince Albert National Park
Saskatchewan's Prince Albert National Park is one of the most peaceful and serene spots for nature watching in Canada. More than 50 species of mammals, 20 species of fish and 600 species of plants have been discovered here. For optimal bird watching, head to the park entrance near Narrows Road. At this point, Waskesiu Lake narrows down to less than 50 metres wide, making it a prime spot for bird-watching. Over 243 different types of birds have been spotted at this park, including the elusive Red-Necked Grebes.
Watch the Aurora Borealis in Northern Canada
There are several Canadian locations that are absolutely perfect for observing Aurora Borealis, including Whitehorse, Yellowknife and Flin Flon. The Northern Lights jaw-dropping colourful display (a result of charged particles colliding high in the atmosphere), is widely considered one of the world's most magnificent scientific phenomena. Tours are available to help visitors truly enjoy this slice of the Great White North, and often include dog-sledding, skiing, and other winter activities.
See Flying Squirrels in Fundy National Park
You won't find these critters nesting in your backyard! Relying on furry, parachute-like sacks for wings, New Brunswick's flying squirrels are often mistaken for bats, and are capable of gliding as far as 50-metres. Though they do most of their flying at night and can be hard to spot, these unusually adorable creatures are remarkable to observe in action, and can be seen throughout Fundy National Park.
Watch Beavers in Wood Buffalo National Park
Home to a beaver dam so large it can be spotted from outer space, Wood Buffalo National Park is our nation's number one spot to catch a glimpse of the beloved Canadian beaver. In addition to its remarkably plentiful beaver population, Wood Buffalo National Park is also Canada's largest national park (almost 45-km), a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is one of the largest fresh water deltas on the planet. A variety of species of wolf, bear and moose make Wood Buffalo National Park their home, and the park is the only natural nesting grounds of the endangered Whooping Crane. Guided tours are available throughout the park, but for the more experienced woodsman a self-guided hike may be the best way to get in touch with one of Canada's greatest natural wonders.
Watch Woodpeckers in Mont-Saint-Bruno National Park
Located on the South Shore just outside of Montreal, Mont-Saint-Bruno is known among the locals as an excellent spot for wildlife-watching. With affordable day passes for adults and children, this is a common destination for families looking to enjoy a picnic, a tour of the trails or fish in the lake. Not convinced Mont Saint Bruno is worth your time? Then you haven't seen its most amazing sight, the Pileated Woodpecker. Easy to catch a glimpse of during the daytime, these remarkable birds are among the largest of their kind (roughly the size of a crow), and have a nearly 30-inch wingspan.
Watch Caribou in Avalon Peninsula
Located in Newfoundland, the Avalon Peninsula is a great place to spot herds of roaming caribou. In addition, there are local day tours offered that include whale-watching and iceberg tours. It's worth noting that a tour is particularly important for spotting caribou, as these large, majestic creatures can be easily spooked by humans. In order to maintain their comfort in their natural habitat, and ensure the safety of any humans around, follow your tour guides instructions closely.