Many of the extreme activities you can do in Canada involve negotiating your way across the diverse landscape—the exalted mountains, rushing rivers, pristine lakes and far-reaching forests—but urban adventures that test your mettle are also on the menu. Here are some of the most extreme things you can do in Canada.
CN Tower EdgeWalk, Toronto
For some, merely peering down from the CN Tower's sky-high glass observation decks is nerve-wracking enough. However, those seeking an even more intensely stratospheric thrill can embark on the CN Tower EdgeWalk, the world’s highest full circle hands-free walk on a 1.5 m (5 ft) wide ledge encircling the top of the Tower’s main pod, 356m/1,168ft (116 stories) above the ground.
Scary and exhilarating, this 90-minute exercise in keeping your heart in your chest has participants walking around the 360-degree circumference of the tower harnessed to a track. Lean back or lean over the side and enjoy views of Toronto unlike any other.
West Coast Trail, Vancouver Island
Canada's West Coast shoreline is some of the country's most spectacular landscape. Thankfully much of it has been preserved as Pacific Rim National Park, including the famous West Coast Trail, a 75 km (47 miles) trek through forests, bogs, up and down ladders, across craggy and sandy shoreline and more. Some points require either a short boat trip or cable car ride. The week-long journey is not just an everyday hike but demands physical strength and stamina so don't embark on it lightly. Everything you need, from supplies to food, is on your back as you will likely encounter few people on your trek.
Open from May through September, the West Coast Trail only accepts 52 hikers per day, so book your spot early.
Canada, with all its shoreline, has lots of opportunity to see whales during their migratory passage or in search of food. The majority of people take their spot aboard a large ferry type vessel or a smaller nimbler Zodiac. But the truly audacious dive right into whale-infested water and swim along with the magnificent beasts.
It's best to book this kind of excursion with the experts, and there are none better than Ocean Quest Adventures in Newfoundland, Canada's most easterly (and arguably friendliest) province.
Rick and Debbie Stanley have been at the whale game a long time. They love to host guests and introduce them to the wonders of whales but also about marine conservation and tourism sustainability.
Ice Hotel, Quebec
Perhaps it's romantic and cozy to sleep in a hotel made of ice, or maybe it's just extremely crazy. Decide for yourself by booking yourself into the Quebec Ice Hotel. This arctic accommodation is rebuilt each year around January as the temperatures plunge.
Your experience begins with a drink in the bar, which like the rest of this feat of icy architectural engineering, is entirely built of... you guessed it... ice. The temperature throughout the hotel hovers around -3°C and -5°C.
Before bedtime, guests are invited to soak up some warmth under the stars in the outdoor hot tubs and sauna.
Finally, tuck yourself in upon your solid ice bed for slumber and hope you don't have to get up to go to the bathroom.
Bobsleigh on an Olympic Track, Calgary
Back in 1988, Calgary, Alberta, famous for its annual stampede, hosted the Winter Olympics. Today, Calgary Olympic Park continues to welcome adrenalin junkies to careen down its bobsleigh, luge and skeleton tracks.
Used both for high-performance training and as a recreational facility, Calgary Olympic Park offers bobsleigh runs with a trained professional steering the cart as well as the more extreme luge run where individuals hurtle feet first down the slippery track at speeds up to 60 km/hr.
Calgary Olympic Park offers its thrilling feats of folly year-round.
Wonderland's Leviathan, Toronto
This ridiculously steep and skinny roller coaster is a star attraction at the country's biggest theme park, Canada's Wonderland in Toronto, Ontario. At 5,486 feet (1,672 m) long, 306 feet (93 m) tall, and with a top speed of 92 miles per hour (148 km/h), Leviathan is the tallest and fastest roller coaster in Canada.
Sure, the Leviathan engineering is sound. There have been no accidents and by a long shot it is riskier to drive a car on a Canadian highway than ride a roller coaster at Canada's Wonderland... and yet, something just seems wrong about willfully putting yourself aboard this scrawny concoction of steel and fiberglass, even just for three and half minutes.
But that's definitely a minority opinion—the line for the coaster is famously long and some people ride it a dozen times per visit.
Bungee Jump in Nanaimo
Definitely falling into the category of "extreme" is jumping 150 feet from a bridge with nothing but a long elastic cord attached to your ankle. Canada does not claim rights to bungee jumping, but it does have some good place to take the plunge, including this one in British Columbia.
The bungee jump at WildPlay Elements Park in Nanaimo on Vancouver Island invites its courageous guests to free fall 150 feet from a bridge and brush the Nanaimo River below before rebounding up and down.
Budget-minded visitors Nanaimo on in February will be interested to learn that each year WildPlay Nanaimo offers big time bungee jumping discounts during a mental health fundraising and awareness event to benefit the British Columbia Schizophrenia Society. But you have to jump naked. Apparently, there is no shortage of takers. Spectator tickets are also available.
Tidal Bore Surfing in the Bay of Fundy
The tidal bore phenomenon is caused by the famous Bay of Fundy tides (the world's highest). The outflowing Petitcodiac River flows back upstream as the tide comes in creating a powerful, long, continuous wave. Surfers have taken note.
Lots of brave souls grab their boards in hopes of catching one of the super long waves. Rumour has it some surfers rode the same wave over 25 kms (15 miles).
Even if you don't have the spunk to surf the tidal bores yourself, just watching the tidal bore is an incredible spectacle. It's amazing to see the wave come rushing up the river and to see how quickly the river rises with the tide. Ask at the tourist office or check for the schedule online for when the bores will occur. There is an excellent viewing platform outside the tourist info office in Moncton.