With crisp autumn air and trees ablaze in colour, autumn in Ottawa is the ultimate season for action-packed outdoor adventures. Make your trip to Canada’s capital a colourful and exciting one with these eight fall outdoor activities.
Ziplining and caving at Arbraska Laflèche
Experience scenic Canadian wilderness from different angles within just over half an hour’s drive from downtown Ottawa at Arbraska Laflèche. Choose from light activities like hiking the nature trails, or guided, adventurous fun like ziplining through the colourful treetops, walking over suspended bridges, and exploring underground caves.
Jumping for joy at the Great Canadian Bungee
Check an item off your bucket list by braving “The Rock”, the highest bungee jump in Canada at Great Canadian Bungee, about a half hour drive from downtown Ottawa. Soak up the surrounding fall colours before taking the 61-metre (200-foot) leap over the clear turquoise water of the quarry below, or choose to RIPRIDE (zipline) over it. For the ultimate experience, do both!
Sky high with Ottawa Biplane Adventures
Feel that crisp fall air on your face as you fly over the colourful Ottawa area in an open cockpit vintage biplane. Ottawa Biplane Adventures offers biplane flights for two passengers at a time with options to see views of Parliament Hill, the Ottawa River and Gatineau Park. For the less adventurous (and younger children), take a family flight in a 3-passenger Cessna plane. Flights currently depart from the Rockcliffe Airport (their usual home is the Canada Aviation and Space Museum).
Hiking the trails
You don’t have to go far to be immersed in a symphony of fall colours. Explore the protected land of Canada’s Capital Greenbelt surrounding Ottawa. It offers 150 kilometres (93 miles) of trails that link to the Capital Pathway network, the Rideau Trail and The Great Trail of Canada. Varied landscapes include beaches, forests and wetlands.
The region’s most challenging terrain—and most concentrated display of fall colours—is found in hilly Gatineau Park, just 15 minutes from downtown Ottawa. Avoid the crowds by choosing the difficult routes which run along picturesque lakes, to panoramic lookouts and through marble caves. Note: Certain roads and parking areas may be closed to traffic during select periods. Please consult the Gatineau Park website for the latest information and plan accordingly.
Cycling in and out of the city
With more than 800 kilometers (497 miles) of beautiful recreational pathways, Ottawa is a cyclist’s dream. Riding the Capital Pathway network takes you to iconic urban sites like Parliament Hill, the Rideau Canal, the Ottawa River and national museums. For a taste of the countryside, including historic sites, breweries and farms, choose from several self-guided rural bike routes. Or challenge yourself to fun mountain biking with a backdrop of fall foliage. If you need a bike or a guide, visit the experts at outfitters like Escape Bicycle Tours and Rentals or RentABike.
Self-drive safari at Park Omega
Having close encounters with wildlife from the safety of your vehicle can be quite an adventure! Take a unique, 15-kilometre (9-mile) self-drive Canadian safari at Park Omega, a wildlife and nature park located just 45 minutes from downtown Ottawa in lovely Montebello, Quebec. See Canadian wildlife in their natural habitats as you drive through the multi-coloured landscape. The park even offers overnight accommodation options, including glamping in a beautiful yurt-like Wi-Tent, or observing real wolves in their den from the panoramic windows of a Wolf Cabin.
Rock climbing the Eardley Escarpment
Rising 270 metres (886 feet) from the Ottawa Valley floor, the Eardley Escarpment—the dividing line between the rock of the Canadian Shield—offers interesting rock climbing in Gatineau Park. The five rock faces officially open to climbing lead you to breathtaking views over the colourful landscape below. As this geological formation is home to some of the richest and most fragile flora and fauna in the park, users must respect a code of conduct.
If photography is your adventure of choice, take a look at our suggestions for Top places to photograph in Ottawa this fall.