With 90 percent of the Canadian population living within 160 kilometers of the US border, most of the northern geography of the country is uninhabited. Many of these remote locations are stunning in their beauty, but remain relatively inaccessible by car, given sporadic weather conditions, long winters with short days, and relatively sparse infrastructure in the way of roads and pit stops.
Fortunately, access to these regions is no longer limited to owners of massive SUVs, heavy-duty vehicles, or helicopters. Select Volkswagen models, including the Tiguan, Atlas, and Golf, are equipped with an intelligent all-wheel drive system called 4MOTION®, which tackles extreme conditions with ease. 4MOTION®-equipped vehicles can read the road, redistributing torque to the wheels with the most secure grip, allowing the car to grind through slippery roads and take you places that might as well have been off the map for another vehicle.
No matter the conditions this winter, take advantage of the newfound freedom brought on by Volkswagen by visiting some of the best winter getaways that Canada has to offer—and, better yet, enjoy them while they’re free from the summer crowds.
- Columbia Icefield in Jasper National Park
The largest glacier in the Rocky Mountains, Columbia Icefield is off limits for vehicles specially designed for glacial travel. Even getting there can be challenging enough. The Icefield Parkway is a 227-kilometer-long trail that’s been described as “North America’s Backbone.” The parkway is clear enough in summer, but winter conditions can be tricky. The website Global Guide has published an entire article on the hazards this one road has to offer. Don’t let this stop you, though, as winter is the best time to see local wildlife like caribou, elk, and bighorns.
- Québec City
Most tourists flock to Québec City in the spring when the weather warms and one of North America’s oldest cities reaches into the positive temperatures. But this city on the Saint Lawrence River is a gem in the winter months, too, when the city is coated in a blanket of snow like a European fairy tale. The compact city roads can ice over quickly but aren’t a problem for an always-on all-wheel-drive system that can watch out for surprise conditions like black ice. Crowds pick up again in February for the annual winter carnival, but you can take advantage of tourist-free months by grabbing a table at some of this foodie-destination’s hottest restaurants or by reserving a room at Hotel de Glace, an ice hotel.
- Churchill, Manitoba
Located on the west shore of the Hudson Bay, Churchill is actually inaccessible by road. To get there, you’ll need to fly from Thompson, Manitoba, an eight-hour drive north of Winnipeg through some tricky roads. But winter is the best time to visit this remote town if you’re after its two main tourism draws: the Aurora Borealis and one of the largest concentrations of polar bears in North America. A Volkswagen will get you to Thompson, but after that you may feel more comfortable in the reinforced tundra vehicles used in local safaris.
- Halifax, Nova Scotia
For those who don’t regularly live through the harsh Canadian winters, wintertime in Canada likely calls to mind jingle bells and cheery sleigh rides through maple forests. Sugar Moon Farm will bring those dreams to life. Located remotely in a forest outside Halifax, in the hills of Nova Scotia, Sugar Moon Farm offers sleigh rides and tastings of the country’s largest export. The roads running through the Cobequid Hills can be snowy and slow in the winter, but keep our six tips for winter driving in mind and you’ll make it over the river and through the woods without a hitch.
- Plaster Rock, New Brunswick
This small, remote village in New Brunswick swells in size for one weekend in February every year as crowds descend for the annual World Pond Hockey Championship. First held in 2002, the tournament last year drew over 8,000 visitors and 120 teams who compete round-robin style on rinks spread over 20 ponds. New Brunswick is 80 percent forested land, making for a scenic backdrop for Canada’s national winter sport played in its purest form.
Whether you’re going mushing in Saskatchewan or camping on Prince Edward Island, Canada is at its best in the winter. This season, there’s no reason to hole up and stay at home. A Volkswagen equipped with 4MOTION® all-wheel drive can take you wherever you want to go, and beyond.