Before winter rears its ugly head in Canada, across the country we have a (very brief) window to take in the spectacular colours of the leaves changing as fall sets in.
Setting out on an adventure to see the autumn foliage is the perfect way to celebrate the start of cozy season. Pack up a picnic, a blanket and a thermos of hot chocolate or apple cider and you have yourself a perfect afternoon in nature.
But don’t fear — you don’t have to head out into the dense wilderness or be a die-hard “leafer” to check out some of these stunning locales. Many of them are located in big cities or just a short drive away.
Find below a shortlist of locales in each province to visit to witness the breathtaking transformation of autumn.
The Butchart Gardens
Nestled within the Saanich peninsula, The Butchart Gardens burst with red, russet and golden maples in the fall months.
Early autumn brings beds of Chrysanthemums and other autumn flowers before the varieties of Japanese maples steal the show in October with their brilliant foliage.
Sun Peaks Resort
Sun Peaks Resort is located northeast of Kamloops and is one of the biggest ski destinations in the province during the winter months.
However, it is also a popular tourist attraction year-round. In the fall, visitors can enjoy Trembling Aspens, Poplars, Maple and Alder trees in the park, along with fireweed.
Queen Elizabeth Park
As Vancouver’s highest point, Queen Elizabeth Park offers not only stellar views of the city, but also colourful fall foliage.
A variety of trees around the 52-hectare park turn vibrant autumn hues as daylight breaks through the canopies. And to warm up from the crisp fall air, there’s always the Bloedel Conservatory.
Spanning more than 100 hectares, this park located in Calgary’s southeast offers the opportunity to see a stunning fall display from one of the many walking trails or man-made lagoons.
Carburn Park is the perfect spot for families, too, with plenty of picnic areas and playgrounds, all surrounded by towering Balsam Poplar trees.
Take a trip out of the city to check out the stunning Larch trees as their needles change from green to a gorgeous yellow.
Located an hour’s drive from Calgary, Canmore has a plethora of hiking trails that offer sweeping mountain views. Or, take a stroll along the town’s Bow River pathways and tilt your head up to spot the dotted Larch growing up the Three Sisters mountains and Ha Ling Peak.
Located on Calgary’s west side, close to the outskirts of the city, Edworthy Park is the perfect place to spend an afternoon in the dappled sunshine. The park’s walking trails are flanked with Aspen, Willow and Balsam Poplar trees, many of which turn bright shades of yellow and orange, providing the perfect contrast against the blue autumn sky.
This park also features plenty of picnic areas, playgrounds and an ice cream shop. Or, venture down to the shores of the Bow River to perfect your stone-skipping technique.
Prince of Peace Village
Prince of Peace Village may be a retirement village for seniors, but it’s also one of the prettiest fall locales in Alberta. Located on the far east side of Calgary, it’s easy to spot gorgeous fall colours splayed out across the area’s flat prairie landscape.
Prince Albert National Park Scenic Route
A scenic drive through Prince Albert National Park is a great way to discover the wide variety of habitats of many different animals, and offers an excellent opportunity for wildlife viewing and photography, according to Parks Canada. This holds true especially in the fall, when the colours of the leaves become shockingly vibrant.
Meadow Lake Provincial Park
Spanning more than 1,600 sq. km and featuring more than 20 lakes, rivers and streams, Meadow Lake Provincial Park is one of the largest provincial parks in Canada, according to Tourism Saskatchewan. There is so much to do, including its plethora of hiking trails, which feature some stunning fall colours.
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Whiteshell Provincial Park
With a huge area to explore, Whiteshell Park is dotted with several lakes and rivers in its expansive, impressive forest. Catch the fall foliage before it’s gone!
Riding Mountain National Park
Hit the trails at this national park to see an immense diversity of plants, animals and landscapes. In the fall you can stroll, run, bike or jog nearly 370 kilometres of trails in all areas of the park, and catch a glimpse of some amazing leaf transformation.
Cup and Saucer Trail
After making it through Manitoulin Island’s acclaimed Cup and Saucer hiking trail, you will be treated to one of the best views in the country — a huge expanse of trees extending out to the horizon. With the fall colours, it may be impossible to tear yourself away.
Dorset Lookout Tower
The Algonquin Highlands feature some of Ontario’s most beautiful landscapes, so why not go up the Dorset lookout tower and get the amazing panoramic view? Just a note: this place is busy, especially on weekends, so plan accordingly.
If you want a more nature-focused visit to Niagara away from the casinos and bright lights of the Falls, swing by Niagara-on-the-Lake, home to a multitude of wineries, bed-and-breakfasts and stunning vistas.
Mont-Tremblant and the Laurentians
Mont-Tremblant is not only a draw for winter tourists, it’s also one of the best spots to take in autumn. Head to the national park to see the crimson colours up close or enjoy different angles of the mountain from the village. For fall foliage, the sprawling Laurentians region where Mont-Tremblant is located won’t disappoint. Ste-Adèle and Oka are also worth checking out.
Located in the heart of Montreal, Mount Royal offers a unique opportunity to enjoy fall foliage without ever leaving the city. The urban mountain park is full of tree-lined trails that draw in pedestrians, joggers and cyclists all year long. Take some time to head up to the lookout points to get stunning views of the city as the leaves change.
Gatineau Park in the Outaouais region (and right near Ottawa) reaches its peak of visitors when fall settles in, according to the National Capital Commission. Quebec’s official tourism site says the leaves were beginning to change at the end of September. There are plenty of entrances to choose from too when it comes to visiting the region’s largest green space, and entering the park is free.
Damage from post-tropical storm Fiona may have led to many trees shedding their leaves early, but there is still much to see. Visitors should be mindful of fallen trees, branches and debris that could be a hazard.
The famed Cabot Trail, which runs for 298 km in Cape Breton, is perfect for the autumn months. Take a drive through the Cape Breton Highlands National Park and enjoy the ocean views along with the falling leaves.
Shubie Park, which is named for the Shubenacadie Canal, is a popular urban park in Dartmouth. Enjoy the fall colours and learn about the historic canal system at the Fairbanks Centre.
Once again, post-tropical storm Fiona damage may have hampered some of the fall leaves. Visitors should be mindful of fallen trees, branches and debris that could be a hazard.
Kouchibouguac National Park
Kouchibouguac National Park on the Acadian Coast is still open for camping well into October. There are also many trails for hiking and cycling. There is also a lookout tower at the edge of the bog that allows you to look down at the beautiful fall colours.
Fundy National Park
Fundy National Park is another great national park site to enjoy fall. It’s located on the Bay of Fundy near the village of Alma.
Prince Edward Island
Scenic Heritage Roads
The island’s Scenic Heritage Roads are highly recommended when it comes to enjoying the fall leaves. The red clay lanes are narrow and winding, and include steep hills and panoramic views. Expect to see sugar maple, red maple, beech and red oak trees along the drive.
Newfoundland and Labrador
Visitors should be mindful of post-tropical storm Fiona damage. There may be debris or fallen trees in some areas.
The western part of the island is a great spot to see fall foliage. Humber Valley boasts colourful maples that can be viewed from a number of vantage points.