With crisp air, bright blue skies and spectacular colourful foliage, autumn may be the ultimate season for outdoor adventures in Canada’s capital. The region boasts easy access to fresh air options for everyone from adrenaline junkies to nature-loving families. Clear your schedule for some of these outdoor adventures and activities in the Ottawa area this fall.
Ziplines, caves and coasters
You can experience Canadian wilderness from all angles just over a half hour’s drive from downtown Ottawa in Gatineau, Québec. Four-season recreational centres such as Arbraska Laflèche offer a range of options for all ages and levels: colourful nature trails for hiking, an aerial park for kids, as well as more challenging options for adults including ziplining through the treetops, walking over suspended bridges, and exploring underground caves. Guided night treks are also available!
Camp Fortune, a four-season activity centre in Gatineau Park, is also known for its aerial park activities (ziplines, bridges and tightropes). But this hilly spot also offers challenging mountain biking and hiking, plus its latest attraction, a thrilling mountain pipe coaster. Enjoy a scenic chairlift ride up to the top, board your own “toboggan” and zoom down the monorail track through the forest at speeds of up to 40 km/h (25 mph)!
If you’re a city adrenaline junkie, there’s a zipline just for you! Interzip Rogers—the world’s first interprovincial zipline—takes you soaring between downtown Ottawa, Ontario and Gatineau, Québec. As you travel 1,400 feet (425 metres) across and 120 feet (37 metres) above the majestic Ottawa River, you can take in unique urban views, including Parliament Hill and surrounding changing colours.
Get a bird’s eye view of the beautiful fall colours by flying over the Ottawa region. The more adventurous can feel the crisp fall air on their face during an open cockpit vintage biplane flight with Ottawa Biplane Adventures. Two passengers at a time can ride in the authentic WWII-era biplane. The less adventurous (including younger children) can take a family flight in the company’s three-passenger Cessna plane.
If comfort is the priority, you might prefer to ride in a bubble canopy helicopter with Héli-Tremblant Helicopter Tours. The large wraparound windows shield you from the wind and provide unparalleled views of the land around and below you. A great option to take panoramic photos! Helicopters fit up to three passengers.
Both companies usually operated out of the Canada Aviation and Space Museum and both offer flights of varying lengths with fall views of Parliament Hill, the Ottawa River and Gatineau Park.
Canada’s highest bungee jump
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 (water contact optional), or choose to RIPRIDE (zipline) over it. For the ultimate experience, do both!
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.
You don’t have to go far to be immersed in a symphony of fall colours when hiking in the Ottawa area. For instance, the protected lands of Canada’s Capital Greenbelt surrounding the urban core feature 150 kilometres (93 miles) of trails that link to the Capital Pathway network, the Rideau Trail and The Great Trail of Canada. Diverse landscapes including beaches, forests and wetlands offer a variety of activities year round, including hiking, paddling and birdwatching in the fall.
The region’s most challenging terrain—and most concentrated display of fall colours—is found in hilly Gatineau Park. Most visitors access the park’s main entrance, located just 15 minutes from downtown Ottawa in Gatineau, Québec. But you can easily avoid the crowds in this 361-square-kilometre conservation park! Explore the farther sectors which include challenging trails, picturesque lakes and panoramic lookouts, and visit at off-peak times for the best experience. 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.
With more than 800 kilometers (497 miles) of beautiful recreational pathways, cycling in Ottawa is a perfect way to soak up the fall colours. If you need a bike, a guide or a tour, visit the experts at outfitters like Escape Bicycle Tours and Rentals or RentABike.
Riding the Capital Pathway network can take you to iconic urban sites like Parliament Hill, the Rideau Canal, the Ottawa River and national museums, as well as areas on the Gatineau, Québec side of the Ottawa River. Most of this multi-use pathway network is paved.
You can also see historic sites, breweries and farms in communities surrounding the city by exploring self-guided rural bike routes. You have the option to ride all the way from downtown to the countryside, or take your bike on public transit or by car to your destination for a shortcut.
Challenge yourself to mountain biking with a backdrop of fall foliage. The hills of Gatineau Park (including Camp Fortune), the Greenbelt, and even an indoor training centre are all easily accessible.
Having close encounters with wildlife from the safety of your vehicle is a unique adventure! Take a unique, 12-kilometre (7.5-mile) self-drive Canadian safari at Park Omega, a wildlife and nature park located just 45 minutes from downtown Ottawa in lovely Montebello, Québec. See Canadian animals in their natural habitats as you drive through the 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.