Five road trips for your Victoria Day weekend
Friday, May 16, 2014, 5:04 PM -
Canada is enormous, but when you've got three whole days to play with, like the Victoria Day long weekend, you're more likely to explore it.
Krissy Vann, from the Weather Network's 'Beat the Traffic' partner seems to spend a lot of time on the road, or at least with an eye on a road map. She's been systematically showcasing and reviewing the kinds of scenic drives you can find across our country, if you've time and two or four wheels to spare.
Here are her suggestions.
The Cabot Trail, Cape Breton Island
This 300 km route loops through Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, and is replete with cultural and natural landmarks.
"You’ll soar along the mountainous landscapes through Cape Breton Highlands National park and enjoy incredible ocean vistas along the way," Vann says. "Depending on the time of year you may be able to stop and enjoy some whale watching, catch some fresh Atlantic salmon or partake in a little skiing and snowmobiling."
Even with the slow start to spring, chances are skiing and snowmobiling will be off the menu this Victoria Day long weekend, but at least you'll be spared the wrath of a typical Maritime winter.
Still, if you do go, our meteorologists warn that Cape Breton Island can see the highest winds in the country, and the potential for a few storms in the springtime. Being near the ocean, temperature swings are possible, so pack some layers along with your camera.
The Bruce Peninsula, Ontario
No seaside or mountains in Ontario, but don't overlook this province, particularly the Bruce Peninsula in the southwest.
Vann says this route is particularly good for motorcycle enthusiasts, chomping at the bit after the long winter.
"You can explore stunning scenery, historic lighthouses, informative visitor centres and museums," she says. "Folks in the Bruce Peninsula are no strangers to welcoming riders on two wheels making this a very motorcycle friendly excursion."
Parks Canada warns the weather can be highly variable in the early spring, though, so dress accordingly and watch the roads.
Banff National Park, Alberta
Whether you live in Alberta, or are planning to visit for the long weekend, Banff National Park is a must-see attraction in the province, and the drive there alone is its own spectacle.
"Your journey will take you just over an hour and along the way you’ll want to keep your eye out for magnificent wildlife and scenery," Vann says.
But, this being Alberta, the famously changeable seasons could make for some really varied weather while you're there at this time of the year. Both winter and summer-like conditions are possible, so pack for both and drive accordingly.
To all of that, add the wildlife, which is a great attraction but also a potential driving hazard as you make your way through the Rocky Mountains.
Icefields Parkway, Alberta
And while you're out there in the Rocky Mountains, take a weekend jaunt to Jasper from Banff, along the 230 km Highway 23, also known as the Icefields Parkway.
The route is packed with scenic gems such as the Crowfoot Glacier, Saskatchewan River crossing, Columbia Icefield and Athabasca falls, among others.
You'll actually need to obtain a Canadian National Parks permit to travel on the parkway, with stations at Lake Louise and Jasper enforcing this. Fortunately, once you're on the route, there's little opportunity to take a wrong turn. Just drive straight, and you'll get there!
As with driving to Banff at this time of the year, winter weather can make an unexpected, but rapid return, so keep an eye on the forecast and drive to the conditions.
Sea-to-Sky Highway, British Columbia
For British Columbians, or even people just in Canada's Pacific province for the Victoria Day long weekend, here's the route for you: Highway 99, the Sea-to-Sky highway.
"Imagine traveling alongside the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean and in just under two hours taking to the sky where you can enjoy a bird’s eye view," Vann says of this route, that takes you through mountain ranges, waterfalls and bustling towns en route to one of Canada's most famous resorts.
Travel is easiest in the summer time, but careful drivers shouldn't shy away from the road at this time of the year, although Weather Network meteorologist Matt Grinter warns that you can encounter a high wind event on the drive throughout anytime of the year. If you find yourself being rocked by those strong mountain winds, it's best to reduce speed.
IN DEPTH: Read Krissy Vann's look at the best landmarks along the Sea-to-Sky highway.