Canada is the second biggest country in the world, spanning from the Atlantic to the Pacific and north into the Arctic Ocean. So while predicting exact fall foliage timing in huge Canada may be tricky, you can get a leg up on your fall vacation by visiting prime viewing locations. Intensity and pervasiveness of autumn color tend to be best in the eastern parts of Canada; so, although the western provinces have something to offer, if the sole purpose of your visit is to see fall foliage, Ontario, Quebec, or the Maritime provinces are probably your best bet.
In September and October, the days are warmish and dry in Alberta's Rocky Mountains. The summer crowds have gone home, providing a peaceful atmosphere as you drink in the reds and yellows of the sub-alpine larch and aspen trees. Try accessible spots near Banff National Park, which has mountains all around. One option is Johnston Canyon—beautiful with waterfalls, a creek, and limestone cliffs. Tunnel Mountain offers lovely views of Banff and Bow River. Or hike up from Lake Louise to Lake Agnes and warm up with a cup of tea at the historic 1905 Lake Agnes Tea House on top of the mountain.
The size, beauty, and proximity to Toronto of this 2,955 square-mile park make Algonquin one of the most popular parks in Ontario. The oldest provincial park in Canada, it is comprised of dense forests and thousands of lakes and rivers that can only be explored by foot or canoe.
The maple trees are at their best at the end of September or early October, while aspens, tamaracks, and red oaks reach their peak in the middle or end of October. Consult the Algonquin Fall Colour Report for fall color activity and specific viewing spots.
The Agawa Canyon tour train, which runs north from Sault Ste. Marie in northern Ontario, is an excellent way to see the colors around the end of September and beginning of October. One train a day is available; it takes you 228 miles round trip with views of gorgeous rivers, lakes, forests, and granite rocks. In the fall there's usually a 1.5 hour stop at Agawa Canyon Wilderness Park, which has a diversity of trails to four waterfalls and other beautiful spots.
Your ticket includes a meal voucher for food, or bring your own.
There is nothing more spectacular or romantic than the dramatic changes autumn brings to the forests of Eastern Canada, and there's something also romantic about experiencing the colors by train. Via Rail offers a fall foliage vacation that features some of Canada's most dramatic viewing spots through popular cities such as Toronto, Montreal, Quebec City, and Halifax.
The train has various routes and packages available all year for your family's enjoyment.
The historic Niagara Parkway, or "River Road,” is the route that former U.K. Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill called "the prettiest Sunday afternoon drive in the world." This parkway follows the winding curves of the Niagara River, which divides Canada and the United States.
The loveliest stretch in autumn, between the small community of Queenston and the historic town of Niagara-on-the-Lake, reaches its pinnacle of color in early October. Of course you'll want to visit world-famous Niagara Falls. Finish your day by enjoying a glass of wine from one of the many wineries in the area.
The Bruce Peninsula between Georgian Bay and Lake Huron is full of indigenous history and features one of the best portions of the Bruce Trail—an almost-500-mile hiking trail—comprised of splendid Ontario flora, fauna, and water vistas. Some of the trees are more than 1,000 years old. In the autumn, especially from the end of September to the beginning of October, the colors are something to behold.
The peninsula also has 14 parks and several lighthouses for visitors to enjoy. Check the Ontario Parks Fall Colour Report for seasonal activity, great viewing spot suggestions, and park information.
Québec is famous for its autumn colors because of the sugar maple trees. Also prevalent are the provincial yellow birch and the American beech. Try the Laurentian Mountains in southern Quebec—north of the St. Lawrence River and Ottawa River—for one of the most beautiful displays of fall foliage in North America. Colors begin their peak at the end of September and continue until mid- to late-October in lower elevations and more southern locations.
Celebrate the season by visiting resort town Mont Tremblant for its annual Symphony of Colours festival, usually held on weekends in September through the first week of October.
Prince Edward Island (PEI) forests have an exceptional range of colors in autumn. The warm waters of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and the Northumberland Strait give PEI a relatively moderate climate and help create one of the longest fall foliage periods in northeastern North America. In addition, PEI's forests are free of bears, deer, and moose, ensuring a safe, hunter-free environment.
Access the island via Confederation Bridge, which connects it to New Brunswick and Canada's mainland and is the world's longest bridge that crosses water covered by ice.
Hailed as one of the world's most beautiful drives, the Cabot Trail winds around Cape Breton Island's northern shore and rewards fall color seekers in a spectacular way. Fiery reds, oranges, crimsons, and golds blanket the highlands and reach their peak the first or second week of October.
Enjoy the Celtic heritage of Cape Breton through the locals, food, and music. You may also want to visit Cape Breton Highlands National Park or Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site.
The Bay of Fundy spans from Maine's northern coastal area into Canada— between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Like the Cabot Trail, the Fundy Coastal Drive is another outstanding maritime journey. See some of the highest tides in the world and enjoy the vivacious reds and deep pumpkin oranges. The colors are at their peak the first two weeks of October during Canada’s Thanksgiving weekend, which is a smaller celebration than that of the U.S. Tree variety and colors are similar to New England's, yet crowds are minimal in New Brunswick by comparison.