Canada’s reputation as a maple-scented land of sorrys has never done it justice. The world’s second-largest country may not boast the geographical diversity of the United States, but it lacks none of the majesty. The Rockies get only more spectacular north of the 49th parallel; the temperate Pacific rainforests of British Columbia boggle the mind; the interior prairies are dotted with geological oddities; and the Arctic opens up as the literal roof of the world, carved across eons by mountainous glaciers. Basically imagine everything that makes Alaska so epic and multiply it across a country six times larger. And unless you’re reading this from Hawaii, it’s possible to drive there.
Maybe the only reason you don’t know more of the sites on this list: Canadians are terrible at bragging. So, here, let the pictures do it for them.
As winter temperatures at this Canadian Rockies lake plunge to minus-30 Fahrenheit, methane gas from decaying organic material at the bottom takes on an ethereal formation. By the millions, bubbles stream upward and freeze fast in the ice. The result is a hard-frozen lake top with constellations of glassy orbs suspended underfoot — a gorgeous sight with an edge of danger, given the flammability of the gas. After the thaw, this vast sapphire lake remains stunning in summertime.
Don’t leave without: Getting a few snapshots. The curious phenomenon of the frozen bubbles is catnip for photographers.
Western Brook Pond
Newfoundland and Labrador
The 10-mile-long Western Brook Pond in Gros Morne National Park, on the western edge of Newfoundland, is a natural masterpiece — and just getting there is an adventure. From St. John’s, the only major city on the island, drive eight hours. Then hike two miles to access the boats that will take you out on the pristine lake waters for incredible views of cascading waterfalls, billion-year-old cliffs, and the Long Range Mountains.
Don’t leave without: Spotting wildlife along the hike and in the waters: bald eagles, whales, caribou, seals, and foxes