Picture this: a winter wonderland with miles of snowy trails that are perfect for winter hiking and nordic skiing, skies full of stars and colorful auroras, and cozy lodges (or winter camping if you’re feeling adventurous). This is winter in Québec, a giant outdoor playground with endless opportunities for adventure. Whether you’re looking to get your adrenaline pumping, relax in world-class lodges, ice-skate on frozen lakes, or, more likely, all of the above, these are some of the best things to do during winter in Québec.
1. Ice Climbing in Parc National d’Aiguebelle
Parc national d’Aiguebelle, in Québec’s Abitibi-Témiscamingue region, offers access to nearly every winter sport in the book, including snowshoeing, skiing, kicksledding, skishoeing, snow tubing, fat biking, and more. As the locals say, tout au même endroit (it’s all in one place). The park is also known for views, moose sightings, traces of the last ice age, lava flows, and rocks that are 2.7 billion years old.
But ice climbing is undoubtedly the most unique activity you can enjoy here. Ice-climbing routes in the park are certified by the Québec Mountain and Climbing Federation. Experienced climbers who already have gear and know-how can explore on their own, but the park is also a great place to learn the sport: introductory climbing packages are available through Camp de Base Abitibi. True nature awaits you in Abitibi-Témiscamingue.
2. Skiing in Parc National de la Gaspésie
Parc national de la Gaspésie in Eastern Québec is home to 25 mountains over 3,300 feet high, with spectacular views from every vantage point. The Mont-Albert sector, in the majestic Chic-Choc Mountains, receives more than 9.8 feet of snow annually on average, which means plenty of snow for winter activities all season. There’s something for every level: snowshoeing on trails ranging from one to 11 miles, plus nordic skiing on a variety of short and long trails, some with warming huts and shelters for spending the night.
Skiers can also enjoy backcountry skiing, telemarking, snowboarding, or splitboarding in four ski areas featuring snowfields and glades. The park also offers winter camping, rustic huts, and cozy cabins, as well as accommodations in Gîte du Mont-Albert, a magnificent lodge in the heart of the park.
3. Zip Lining in the Laurentians
Have you ever considered winter zip lining? At Tyroparc in Sainte-Agathe-des-Monts in the Laurentians region of Québec, this typically summertime activity is available year-round. Here you’ll find two mega zip lines, which combined extend nearly one mile in the air. Each offers a dreamy aerial overview of the snowy winter landscape as you glide overhead.
The adventure park also offers winter vertical hiking along a via ferrata, abseiling on a 150-foot vertical cliff, and guided snowmobiling tours.
4. A Stay in Kenauk Nature Reserve
Kenauk Nature in the Outaouais region is one of North America’s largest private reserves. The park is known for five-star service in its luxurious chalets, as well as wintertime glamping and access to winter activities.
As one of Canada’s top locations for ice fishing, the reserve is a great place to experience this traditional winter activity. Bundle up and gather around a fishing hole to catch rainbow and speckled trout in one of the reserve’s frozen lakes. For a more active experience, try dogsledding or cross-country skiing.
5. Nordic Skiing with Aventure Rose-des-Vents
Aventure Rose-des-Vents is a friendly, unpretentious youth hostel in the Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean region. A new offering this winter is guided nordic skiing. This immersive experience is a chance to discover the best-kept secrets of the north shore of the Saguenay as you ski through some of the most beautiful fir and yellow birch forests in Québec. Equipment rental is available onsite.
The hostel also offers access to ice fishing in huts on the Saguenay Fjord, plus an onsite café that regularly features live music. Guests have access to a fully equipped communal kitchen, as well as warm common areas stocked with books and board games.
6. Backcountry Skiing Along Hudson Bay in Parc National Tursujuq
Head north for a backcountry skiing adventure off the beaten path in Parc National Tursujuq, the largest national park in Québec. On a guided adventure, you’ll explore the eastern coast of Hudson Bay, winding between cuesta mountains, over plateaus and giant frozen lakes, and through breathtaking landscapes on skis, with the occasional help of snowshoes and snowmobiles. Discover a vast territory that was occupied by nomadic peoples for more than 3,000 years. Here, you’ll get to know the Inuit in their homeland in the nearby tight-knit Indigenous community of Umiujaq. One of the most unique parts of the trip is the immersion in Inuit culture. Visitors get the chance to share the Inuit way of life and learn about ancestral traditions and knowledge.
The nine-day itinerary includes all equipment, round-trip flights from Montréal, and all meals, lodging, and transportation. Dates for 2023 run from February through March.
7. Winter Camping in La Mauricie National Park
La Mauricie National Park is the only national park between Montréal and Québec City, with 150 lakes on more than 200 square miles of protected land. Onsite accommodation in oTENTik tents keeps you immersed in nature with a touch of comfort. The tents feature woodstoves inside and outside, barbecue grills, beds, dishes, and everything you need for a comfortable stay. Prefer to rough it? Winter tent camping is also permitted at the Rivière-à-la-Pêche campground, and backcountry camping is allowed near cross-country ski trails.
The park is an ideal playground for cross-country skiing enthusiasts: it features 50 miles of cross-country ski trails in the heart of a protected natural area. Enjoy a well-marked network of trails for both classic and skate skiing, along with heated rest stops every three miles or so. For those who prefer winter hiking or snowshoeing, eight marked trails stretch over 34 miles. Authentic Québec is a destination of choice in winter.
8. Snowshoeing and Stargazing in the Mont-Mégantic Dark-Sky Reserve
One of the snowiest spots in southern Québec is Mont-Mégantic National Park, which offers more than 37 miles of alpine trails with sweeping views. The 6.6-mile hike to the top of Mont Mégantic follows the road to the ASTROLab observatory at the 3,645-foot summit. Since the road is closed in the winter, the only way up is to snowshoe. You can rent snowshoes at the park entrance. Along the way, you’ll see Whoville-like trees encrusted with ice and snow. The park was the first designated dark-sky reserve in the world, so it’s no surprise nighttime views are particularly stunning. Sign up for a Winter Astronomy Evening at the ASTROLab, which includes a presentation about the James Webb Space Telescope and a guided star walk.
For unique lodging in the area, the yurts at Hébergement aux Cinq Sens are located in Piopolis, on ancestral Native land. It offers year-round accommodation in traditional Mongolian yurts, each named after a sense (see, touch, smell, taste, and hear). Several other outdoor activities are available in the Eastern Townships region.
9. Backcountry Skiing the Traversée de Charlevoix
The Traversée de Charlevoix covers more than 65 miles of mountainous wilderness in the heart of a World Biosphere Reserve. If you’re up for a challenge, try a three-to-seven-day self-guided nordic or backcountry skiing tour through the boreal forest while admiring sweeping panoramas that are unique to Québec.
The tour is meant for self-sufficient advanced skiers, with opportunities to traverse from December through March. Expect days covering nine to 12 miles with 10,800 feet of total elevation gain. Accommodation is in picturesque log cabins with the option of having food provided at chalets during your stay. Experience even more winter activities offered by Québec Adventure Outdoor.
10. Join in Québec’s Winter Festivals
Winter festivals showcase a destination’s unique culture, food, history, and best outdoor experiences. You’ll find festivals that center around winter activities across the province all season long. Some favorites include Le Grand Prix Ski-Doo de Valcourt, the most important winter motorized sport event in the world, and the Québec Winter Carnival, a magical winter bash with parades, an ice palace, snow sculptures, and shows that amaze festivalgoers year after year. The Festival de la Banquise in Portneuf will introduce you to the ice canoe, along with ice sculptures and music. Enjoy winter in Québec and its many attractions.
Whatever your outdoor wintertime pleasure and skill level, there’s an abundance of options throughout Québec, from the southern cities to the eastern townships, the far north, and everything in between. Go for the snow and stay for the hospitality, regional cuisine, and stunning wintry landscapes.
Bonjour Québec’s mission is to promote the destination. We are proud to highlight this magnificent land, its creative culture, and authentic experiences, and to encourage people from near or far to discover Québec as never before. It’s a place you will fall in love with at first sight or change your’s by saying you have to come back again.