Natural Wonders of North America – If you live a sustainable life and try to encourage your children to keep the environment top of mind, too, you know how important it is to appreciate Mother Nature.
One of the best ways to do this, and remind yourselves why you make daily eco-friendly decisions, is to spend time in natural surroundings.
Natural Wonders of North America to Visit
North America is full of beautiful, awe-inspiring places, so you don’t have to travel too far to witness such splendor.
Check out some of these American and Canadian natural wonders on your next close-to-home vacation.
Niagara Falls, Canada/USA
Niagara Falls is one of the most iconic waterfall systems in the world and always worth visiting.
Made up of three distinct waterfalls, the American Falls, Horseshoe Falls, and Bridal Veil Falls, this phenomenon is famous because of the amount of water that cascades over the crestline of the falls each minute.
It is located on the border between Canada and the United States.
There are multiple ways to get a good look at Niagara Falls.
For instance, join one of the top Niagara Falls tours on offer.
During these days, you can get up close to the natural wonder on a boat run by Hornblower Niagara Cruises, or for a different angle, enjoy the Journey Behind the Falls experience that takes visitors through a bedrock tunnel running behind Horseshoe Falls.
Another option is to take a ride on the Niagara SkyWheel, a Ferris wheel that provides excellent views over the Falls.
Everglades National Park, USA
In America, a fascinating natural wonder in Florida is the Everglades National Park.
This park is the largest subtropical wilderness in the nation and extends to almost 1.5 million acres.
Here you’ll find a mind-blowing array of flora and fauna, including many rare and endangered species.
On a trip to the World Heritage Site, look for creatures such as sea turtles, manatees, the American crocodile, American alligator, and Florida panther.
The park is also home to many birds, including bald eagles, wood storks, the Everglades snail kite, and the Cape Sable seaside sparrow.
Hopewell Rocks, Canada
Back in Canada, make your way to the province of New Brunswick to see some remarkable rocks.
Located in the Bay of Fundy, around Hopewell Cape, lie the famous Hopewell Rocks.
Unique formations carved out by erosion over thousands of years of tidal movements, the tops of the Rocks peak out from the waters of the Atlantic Ocean during high tide.
At low tide, though, when billions of tons of water empty from the Bay of Fundy, you can see the whole of the sculptural rocks, which look a bit like flower pots.
Walk along the ocean floor in this area for over a mile, if you’d like, and explore coves otherwise covered by water.
You can also explore the nearby interpretive center for more information about the Hopewell Rocks and their history.
Death Valley National Park, USA
Straddling both California and Nevada in the USA, Death Valley is a large, hot, dry national park that sits 282 feet below sea level.
It covers around 3.4 million acres and provides visitors with a harsh yet breathtaking landscape to explore.
In Death Valley, a place of extremes, there is a steady drought and very high temperatures during summer, but in winter, the towering peaks in the park are often topped with snow.
Plus, anytime a rainstorm occurs, vast fields of wildflowers blossom soon after.
Grand Canyon, USA
Another one of the most famous natural wonders in the world (it receives around six million visitors per year) is the Grand Canyon.
Located in Arizona, this landmark features layered bands of stunning red rock that’s not only a sight to behold but also reveals millions of years of geological history.
To get an excellent view of the canyon, head to the Grand Canyon Skywalk.
This tourist attraction is at Eagle Point on the edge of a side canyon in the western area of the sweeping desert plateaus.
The Skywalk is a horseshoe-shaped cantilever bridge with a transparent platform for visitors to walk along.
If you want to explore the Grand Canyon further, consider signing up for a rafting expedition along the Colorado River that gushes through the rocks, or for an overnight or multi-day hiking trip.
This is just a sample of natural wonders found within North America that you might like to visit with your family this year or next.
No matter which one(s) you visit, they’re sure to help you to appreciate the beauty of Mother Nature more than ever.
Exploring the Best of Canada ~ Where to Go and What to Do
Exploring the best of Canada – With its beautiful unspoiled landscapes, its multicultural society, and bilingualism, Canada is a delight for all who decide to travel around the country or move there permanently.
Thanks to its multiculturalism policy, put in place back in the 70’s, communicating across cultures is one of the things that make The True North so attractive for travelers and expatriates.
Here’s what to expect when exploring the best of Canada. Tips for Traveling with Your Dog
So, what exactly is there to visit in Canada?
Welcoming around 250,000 newcomers each year, Canada is one of the most popular places for foreign residents.
The largest country in North America and the second largest in the world – right behind Russia – offers you something new and exciting to see at every turn.
Exploring the Best of Canada
First of all, if you have the luck of actually moving to Canada, you will have plenty of time to explore its wonders.
But if you are there on vacation, you might have some sort of time limit.
The best cities to visit are, of course, the ones that are well-known; yet surprisingly enough, you might find something of interest when visiting some lesser known towns, like Winnipeg, the center of the Canadian Prairies, or Whitehorse in Yukon Territory, starting point of the legendary Yukon Quest race.
Places like these might show visitors a completely different side of Canada.
Top Cities to Visit in Canada
Want to see what Canada is all about, although you only have about one week or so for your visit?
Here are the highlights you shouldn’t miss out on:
One of the country’s largest and most popular cities, and often mistaken for Canada’s capital, attracts a huge number of tourists for multiple reasons.
Located only a couple hours from Niagara Falls and the US border, Toronto boasts, for example, a world-famous film festival: Its vibrant cultural life and the landmark CN tower are only a few reasons for its fame.
In recent years, Toronto has become known as one of the most ethnically and culturally diverse cities in the world, with over half the city’s residents being born outside Canada.
This has resulted in a great diversity of cultures to explore, from cuisine to events.
Toronto is also nicknamed “the city within a park” thanks to its miles of parkland around the streams and rivers that flow through the city.
Ranked as one of the most livable cities in Canada, will dazzle you with its French and English influences.
Whether you want typical Canadian specialties or a Québec experience with a quaint French feel, Montréal has it all.
A “Parisian New York”, “City of festivals”, “City of a hundred bell towers”.
There are many ways to describe Montreal, a city which is unlike any other in the world.
In Montreal 17th century architecture and beautiful cathedrals rub elbows with typical 1970’s skyscrapers.
Montreal is famous for its European flair. Despite being one of Canada’s largest cosmopolitan cities, the city has a nice a laid back attitude.
Montreal was named the second best city to dine in North America.
It is a food lover’s heaven with cuisines from all over the world mixing with European influenced local specialties.
Montreal is also famous for its many festivals and events, which ranges from the Jazz fest which is held in different places around town, to
Montreal International Auto show which is held in the Palais des congrès convention center.
When visiting the city, make sure to check what events will be on while you’re there.
One of the most visited cities in Canada, Quebec is known for its breathtaking surroundings and unique history.
Quebec’s Old Town is a UNESCO Heritage site and the city walls surrounding it are the only remaining fortified city walls in North America north of Mexico.
Although not as buzzing as Montreal, it’s a great city for a relaxing romantic weekend
Although Whistler is more a village than a city, it is still one of the most popular destinations in Canada, both in summer as well as winter.
Whistler is one of those places where people come for a weekend visit and somehow end up staying for 25 years – a story which is far from uncommon there.
Many locals who have moved to Whistler say they came for the awesome skiing, but stayed because of the summer.
Winter is the most popular time to visit Whistler; however, summer has a lot to offer.
For example, the mountain biking is some of the best in the world.
Exploring the best of Canada will lead you to unexpected places and no doubt, amazing scenery.
Dog Sledding in Okanagan Wilderness, Canada
Five hours’ drive north from the US-Canadian border lies a city called Kelowna, BC.
Tucked into the Monashee mountain range nearby, you’ll find Big White Ski Resort, home to some of the most family-friendly skiing, snowboarding, and outdoor winter activities my family and I have ever experienced.
At the top of our Big White activity list: the Dog Sled Tour experience, run by musher and tour company owner Tim Tedford.
I arrived for my Big White dog sledding experience with my mom, a long-time follower of the Iditerod and dog-lover.
From the minute we met Tim’s kennel full of happy, wagging, enthusiastic sled dogs, we knew we were in for an unique experience dog sledding in Canada.
These were not the large, mostly-wild Siberian huskies we had envisioned.
In fact, most of Tim’s team are of mixed breed, rarely aggressive, and small in stature.
This does not mean they aren’t equipped for the job: in fact, many of his team, including the lead dog during our tour, are past Iditerod athletes.
While selecting and harnessing his team, Tim described sled dog culture to us, the science behind team selection, and the distinctive kinesiology behind what makes a great sled dog.
Some dog sledding ventures will simply put you on a sled and take your money, but as soon as we started talking to Tim, it was obvious that he cares as much about educating guests as he does about ensuring you have a great ride.
After teaching us what the dogs eat (let’s just say they probably eat better than you and me), where they sleep (in cozy crates nested with straw), and whether they get along with one another (better than my kids), Tim finished preparing the team (and us) for departure.
My mom and I learned how to load and unload the sled as the previously calm and quiet kennel area erupted with excited barking.
“No matter if they just ran, they want to run again,” Tim explained.
Their unbridled joy was contagious: when we finally took off, Tim on the runners and my mom and me in the sled, I was grinning ear-to-ear.
The first thing I noticed was how fast we were going.
The second: how silent the previously barking dogs had become.
We could hear a pin drop (or more accurately, only our own shrieks of joy) as we sailed over the packed snow.
The sight of the graceful, united dogs combined with the beautiful Monashee mountain scenery would have brought tears to my eyes had I not been wearing ski goggles.
Halfway through our 5K (3.2 mile) run, Tim slowed the team and stopped them, offering me a turn at the back of the sled.
He warned me that ‘there’s nothing quite like being on the runners’ and he was right.
I could truly feel their power as they pulled.
Before we knew it, we were arriving back at the kennel, where we praised the dogs one by one (a ritual at Big White) and Tim rewarded the eight dogs with a tasty frozen meat snack.
We appreciated how clearly Tim loved his animals, and we came away from the experience with a greater respect for this species, this sport, and the humane people who give it the heart it has.
What you need to know before booking
Each sled has a weight limit (rather than a person limit) of 340 pounds.
Up to two sleds can depart together most days.
The dog sled experience can be booked nearly any day during the ski season, and reservations can be made ahead of time at the Village Centre Mall Activities Desk and through Central Reservations.
Cost is $195 per sled.
Kids as young as age 3 are welcome, but if some family members would rather not ride, they could come (supervised) with you to visit with the dogs before departure.
Wear ski gear (snow pants, warm gloves, jacket, and googles).
A hat or helmet is also recommended, and you’ll need snow boots.
Have you been dog sledding?
What was your experience like?
As I disclose whenever applicable, we were hosted for our dog sledding experience, for the purpose of review.
(photo credit: 1)