As the second largest country in the world, covering a vast expanse of 9,984,670 km2 (3,855,100 sq mi), take a moment to contemplate the extraordinary fact that over 80% of Canada’s landmass is uninhabited. Experience the incredible sensation of exploring pristine wilderness in the company of Indigenous guides whose knowledge of the land goes back countless generations…
Discover three magical wilderness regions
Start in the Nunavik Parks, occupied for 4,500 years by Indigenous Peoples who adapted to thrive in the Arctic. Today the Inuit welcome visitors to this harsh, extraordinary landscape. Adventurers can summit Mount D'Iberville — eastern Canada’s highest peak— in the Parc National Kuururjuaq. Nearby lies Ulittaniujalik, a massive new protected area which just started guided canoe trips down the George River, a habitat for wolves, black bears and the willow ptarmigan.
Feeling even more extreme? Kite-ski in the Parc National des Pingualuit… or trek to the meteorite crater. Formed by an impact 8,500 times more forceful than the Hiroshima bomb, this circular 400-meter-deep landmark collects rain and brims with incredibly pure water. Or sea kayak and scout for belugas in the Parc National Tursujuq, where dramatically eroded plateaus preside over the Hudson Bay coast, almost resembling the canyons and mesas of the American West.
Across the peninsula the Torngat Mountains National Park shelters some of the world’s most ancient rock formations and remains a place of power for the Inuit. Polar bears still roam this subarctic wilderness at the northern tip of Newfoundland and Labrador, alongside caribou, wolves and falcons. While the majesty of icebergs, jagged peaks and indigo glacier-melt fjords takes center stage, don’t forget to lean in and look closely! The tundra springs alive with ferns, mosses and flowering plants during the warmer months.
Rest up for wildlife-drives and Zodiac rides at the Base Camp and Research Station. Hikers, backpackers and rock climbers also touch down here during the brief six-week summer season. Note: the parks’ routes are marked only by inuksuit (cairns), so it’s wise to employ a local guide and bear guard!
The adventures continue in Ontario, where Point Grondine Park sprawls over 18,000 acres along Lake Huron. Community members still harvest fish, game, berries and wild rice in hunting camps. But guests should leave no trace as they follow the traditional routes of the Anishinaabek people, hiking through pine forests or paddle-camping the rivers and interior lakes.
Opened in 2015, this still-evolving park is the creation of Canada’s only officially recognized unceded First Nations reservation, the Wiikwemkoong territory. Explore its history on a guided walk or off-road along the Niagara Escarpment, while learning about natural medicine in one of North America’s most plant-diverse areas. Locals also lead sunset canoe expeditions that include traditional tobacco rituals.