Spring is one of my favourite seasons. The weather is getting better, fresh flowers are blooming, and everything becomes more colourful as each day passes. In Canada, the seasons are far more pronounced than in the UK, winter is much harsher, and spring therefore arrives just a little bit later than at home. As the snow melts, more trails become open and furry friends that have spent the last few months hibernating are beginning to wake and sniff around for berries.
It’s a brilliant time to explore the Great White North. The weather is still unpredictable. It’s not unknown to get snow storms in April but the temperatures are warmer so it doesn’t last too long. Another bonus is that it is a quieter time to visit. You are not scrambling to get a glimpse of the sights, you can take your time (and your photos) without a single other person nearby… its bliss.
Last spring Matt and I ventured through the Rocky Mountains stopping in Banff, Japer and Lake Louise on our way to Edmonton. This year we explored Cape Breton and the Maritimes. After travelling during two Canadian springs, here are my top tips for a great trip:
Keep an eye on the weather
This is my number one tip for spring in Canada. Like I said above it is super changeable. On our Nova Scotia road trip, we had 70mph winds, snow and 20-degree sunshine all in one week! If you are planning on hiking make sure you check in advance so you don’t get caught out. Also make sure you pack for this weather too. A waterproof coat is essential, while it won’t need to be super warm you’ll want it to stay dry!
Average temperatures in April
Vancouver: 5 to 13 degrees Celsius Toronto: 1 to 11 degrees Celsius
Edmonton: -3 to 9 degrees Celsius Montreal: 1 to 11 degrees Celsius
Ottawa: 3 to 15 degrees Celsius Halifax: 1 to 9 degrees Celsius
Check season opening times
Many attractions close for winter and won’t open until mid-May at the earliest. This can be anything from restaurants to boutiques, hotels and hiking trails. We often found it hard to find an independent coffee shop for elevenses, but Tim Hortons (Canadian Starbucks) was always open! Hiking trails will sometimes be closed too. If a trail says it is closed then obey it. It may be that it is an avalanche risk, a bear is in the area or that it is just unsafe… no one wants to test out their travel insurance that badly! Many times, spring clean-up hasn’t started and fallen trees are still around and the trail is impassable.
Signs at Peyto Lake were still buried in snow… proceed with caution!
This is the same for roads, we wanted to drive the Icefields parkway from Banff to Jasper but, when we visited it wasn’t open in that direction due to snowfall. Luckily, we still managed to drive a section of it on our journey to BC.
Take advantage of nature
As the snow starts to melt, waterfalls in particular are amazing during spring. We stopped off at Grand Rapids in New Brunswick and Montmorency Falls in Quebec and both were literally overflowing. In fact, Grand Rapids during the spring can throw down 9/10ths of the water that Niagara Falls does but it’s a fraction of the size… that’s A LOT of water!
Another example would be going to see the blossom trees in Vancouver, whilst not Japan they are still pretty cool.
Enjoy the quiet time
The main attractions will always have people there, but the lines ups will be less, the trails less trodden and restaurants less crowded. We enjoyed a beautiful brunch at the Sou’wester restaurant next to Peggy’s Cove lighthouse, without a single cruise-shipper insight. Once cruise ship season starts that place is packed.
We also got to enjoy the Skyline Trail and saw around nine other people… and a couple of moose! Enjoy these moments, breathe in the fresh air and appreciate your surroundings, you are on holiday after all!
Be animal aware
I had a fantastic time tracking animals in Nova Scotia this spring, it’s fun but its also necessary. Matt thinks I’m a little over the top but when you are in natures backyard you better know who you’re sharing it with. Not only are animals coming out of hibernation, but they are being born too. Angry Mama’s are not something to contend with so make sure you are equipped to deal with these situations.
Moose may look cute and docile, but they are huge and can kick. Check in at your local tourist office before hiking, obey trail signs, learn what to do with different animals and don’t try to take a selfie with them!
Canadian animals you don’t want to mess with include bears, moose, coyotes, wolves and cougars.
Quick tips for spring travel
- Take bear spray
- Waterproof everything, especially your boots
- Regularly check the weather
- Check seasonal closure before booking
- Stay clear of rocks near waterfalls, they are much more powerful at this time of year
- Be ready with your camera for nature spotting
- Obey trail closures
- Wear layers
- Still pack your hat and gloves
Have you ever visited Canada during the spring time, where did you go? Drop me a comment below, if you enjoyed this post give it a little like or share and thanks for stopping by.