Wilderness areas across Canada are rich with Indigenous heritage, teeming with stories that define Canada's culture today. Yet to experience them fully, you need to head out into the wild. Here are some of the outdoor experiences you can have with Indigenous tourism businesses across Canada, from horseback rides and hiking to snowshoeing and mountain biking.
Giddy up with the family-owned Horseback Adventures who run a ranch in Alberta, just north of Jasper on Highway 16 in Brule. Choose your level of adventure, from hourly trail rides for novices to wilderness adventures for more experienced riders, heading into the back country on roads less traveled. Longer adventures include home-cooked meals prepared by a private chef who travels with you.
Set out to experience the stark beauty of the Arctic tundra with a reindeer signature package offered by Tundra North Tours, an Inuvialuit company based in Inuvik, Northwest Territories. Travel in your own snowmobile alongside local reindeer herders who have crossed this terrain generation after generation, venturing into the icy-blue horizon lines while herding thousands of reindeer.
With Takaya Tours in North Vancouver, British Columbia, do an interpretive paddle in replica ocean-going canoes, similar to those used by the Tsleil-Waututh First Nation historically. Onboard, listen to ancient knowledge and learn the wisdom of traditional methods for identifying and harvesting indigenous flora and fauna, as guides from the Coast Salish Nation sing songs, tell legends and point out ancient village sites.
In Churchill, Manitoba, go dog sledding with Wapusk Adventures. This small kennel is owned and operated by local musher Dave Daley, who’s Métis heritage is threaded throughout the stories you hear as you meet the dogs, learn about dog sledding and set out for an adventurous ride. Ask Dave for some tales from the trail as he is also the founder of the Hudson Bay Quest, a self-sustaining dog sled race that takes place each winter and attracts races from around the world.
Dive deep into Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve in British Columbia to celebrate the heritage of the Haida Nation with Haida Style Expeditions. Hear out for a jaunt around these islands on a 28-foot Titan zodiac, visiting ancient Haida villages en route, marveling at the beauty of weathered totems and sea lion rookeries, while looking out for whales and black bear. Storytelling and songs are weaved into every tour.
Kluane National Park, a dazzling land of extremes in the Yukon, is the perfect spot to hike towering mountains, giant ice fields and lush valleys. Do so on guided treks with Shakat Tun Adventures, who also offer summertime hiking and mountain biking on the extensive network of trails that crisscross Montana Mountain (great for skiing and snowshoeing in winter) and grizzly bear spotting in the remote Ni'iinlii Njik Park (from mid-Sept through mid-Nov).
With Narwal Northern Adventures in Northwest Territories, go on guided lakeside walks to ice caves; canoe or kayak on one of Yellowknife’s many scenic paddle routes (from day jaunts to six-day adventures); or admire Aurora from a 29-foot voyageur canoe, with a traditional meal of soup and bannock.
In Nunavut, Arctic Bay Adventures takes visitors to Arctic Bay in the northwest corner of Baffin Island, a traditional hamlet that ranks among the world’s top ten most northerly communities. Head to the floe edge of Admiralty Inlet, at the north end of Baffin Island where the fleeting spring and summer brings 24-hour sun. Travel by traditional qamutiq sleds to the edge of the sea ice in search of narwhal, the unicorn of the sea, as you keep a watch out for nanook, the great white polar bear.