Now that the summer sun is fading fast -- the first day of fall is September 22, after all -- and the kids are back in school, it’s time to start thinking about pumpkins, turkey and breaking out that rake that's been hidden away in the garage since last year’s leaves started tumbling down to the ground.
But the autumn leaves aren’t all work and no play. The idea of taking a vacation now might be in the rearview mirror now, but a weekend road trip in any of Canada’s 10 provinces is sure to be worthwhile for anyone who loves fall's colours without having to leave the comforts of home.
These top destinations for leaf peeping might not be in your actual backyard, but at least one of them is bound to be right next door.
Where To Watch Canada's Leaves Change Colour
Algoma Central Railway’s Agawa Canyon Tour Train, Sault Ste Marie, Ontario
If you’re in Northern Ontario, make sure to take the Agawa Canyon Tour Train for a one-day excursion 114 miles north of Sault Ste Marie. While the train runs year round, autumn is its most popular season because of the spectacular colours. Leaf colours vary every year, but you’ll see the best of them during the last two weeks of September and the first week of October. Photo Credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/loimere/" target="_blank">Derek Hatfield </a>
Queen Elizabeth Park, Vancouver, British Columbia
Vancouver’s 52-hectare Queen Elizabeth Park boasts beautiful evergreens — yes, their needles do stay green — alongside plenty of other trees that do make change for fall. The reds and yellows against a backdrop of green in this centrally-located park make it perfect for city dwellers who don’t want to stray too far from home. Photo Credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/wlcutler/" target="_blank">Wendy Cutler</a>
The Cabot Trail, Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia
The Cabot Trail, which winds around the northern coast of Cape Breton, is known as one of the world’s most beautiful drives. If you head there in the first two weeks of October, you’ll be sure to see the fiery reds, oranges, crimsons and golds that make it a top leaf-peeping destination. Photo Credit:<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/langille/" target="_blank"> gLangille </a>
Algonquin Provincial Park, Nipissing, Ontario
Algonquin Provincial Park’s 7,725 square kilometres are perfect for spotting beautiful reds and oranges on all the spruce, ash, pine, aspen and maple trees that dot its every corner. While the end of September or early October make for excellent leaf peeping, middle to end of October is primetime for spotting aspens, tamaracks and red oaks at their peak vibrancy. Photo Credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/axio/" target="_blank">松林Ｌ</a>
Stretching 470 km across Prince Edward Island, Confederation Trail is best seen on foot or bike. The abandoned railroad project is home to numerous maple and cherry trees that put fiery reds and oranges on display. Poplars, birches and beeches bring their bright yellows to the trail’s fall colour show too. Photo Credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/14824807@N00/" target="_blank">Larry</a>
The Laurentian Mountains, Quebec
Quebec’s known for its sugar maple trees, yellow birch and American beech, and the Laurentian Mountains are one of the best places to see them all change colours in the fall. Their metamorphosis tends to peak at the end of September and continues to mid- to late-October.
The Bruce Peninsula, Ontario
With one of the best parts of the Bruce Trail in its midst, the Bruce Peninsula is home to plenty of trees — <a href="http://www.explorethebruce.com/bruce_peninsula.php" target="_blank">some more than 1000 years old</a> — best gazed upon from the end of September to the beginning of October. Photo Credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/emmajane/" target="_blank">Emma Jane Hogbin Westby</a>
Fundy Coastal Drive, New Brunswick
Deep pumpkin oranges and vibrant reds are the colours to be seen along this maritime journey. Fundy Coastal Drive’s peak leaf-peeping time is the first two weeks of October, making it perfect for a Thanksgiving weekend road trip. Photo Credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/tourismnewbrunswick/" target="_blank">New Brunswick Tourism</a>
Humber Valley, Corner Brook, Newfoundland
Located in the picturesque town of Corner Brook, which sits on a hilly mountainside, Humber Valley’s autumn leaves attract thousands of tourists from far and wide each year.
Whiteshell Provincial Park, Manitoba
Fallgold Ash trees dominate Whiteshell Provincial Park, making it the perfect destination for anyone who loves peeping golden leaves. It even sits near the Ontario border, making it a popular spot for those in the neighbouring province to visit too.
Niagara Parkway, Ontario
Niagara Parkway, also known as River Road, is famous for being called <a href="http://www2.canada.com/vancouversun/travel/USA/story.html?id=84e8798f-e203-47ad-97c1-f07ba26fa721" target="_blank">“the prettiest Sunday afternoon drive in the world” </a>by none other than Winston Churchill. It follows the Niagara River, dividing Canada and the US, and shows its best colours near the towns of Queenston and Niagara-on-the-Lake in early October. Photo Credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/loozrboy/" target="_blank">Loozrboy</a>
Qu’Appelle River Valley, Lumsden, Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan might not be the first province to come to mind when thinking of fall foliage — wheat fields are more prominent here — but if you head northwest of Regina, you’ll reach the town of Lumsden, which sits in the Qu’Appelle River Valley. There you can see some <a href="http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/travel/fall-colours-of-the--quappelle-valley-rail-tour-217206771.html" target="_blank">rare reds, oranges and yellows</a> when autumn comes to Saskatchewan.
The Rocky Mountains, Alberta
While the Rockies are worth visiting any time of year, many consider September and October the best months for a couple of reasons: the summer tourists have gone home, and the reds and yellows of the sub-alpine larch and aspens have come out. Make sure to hike up to Lake Agnes from Lake Louise for one of the best viewing spots, or head to the more accessible Johnston’s Canyon and Tunnel Mountain if you’re near Banff. Photo Credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/jurvetson/" target="_blank">Steve Jurvetson</a>
The Eastern Townships, Quebec
The Eastern Townships of Quebec are well known for their spectacular fall colours starting from September and last all the way to November. The Sutton region is particularly good for leaf peeping, especially since chair lifts are run up to the top of Mont Sutton for a prime view of the entire area. Photo Credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/britsinvade/" target="_blank">Rob Taylor </a>
Annapolis Valley, Nova Scotia
Head northwest of Halifax to Annapolis Valley along the Evangeline Trail to places like Bear River and the Lookoff near<a href="http://canningnovascotia.ca/" target="_blank"> Canning, N.S.</a> to see breathtaking reds, oranges and yellows. Also make sure to stop off at Glooscap and Sunrise Trails -- staples for any fall foliage tour in this Maritime province.
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