If you’re looking for an adventure that will take you through some of Canada’s most picturesque and diverse regions, a Toronto to Calgary road trip in winter is a must-do. This journey will take you through the Canadian Shield, the prairie provinces, and the Rocky Mountains, offering a unique experience that is both challenging and rewarding.

A Toronto to Calgary winter road trip offers scenic beauty & challenges. Drive carefully in snow & ice, use winter tires. Stop at Rocky Mountain peaks & plan rest stops. Find warm, cozy places to stay overnight. Enjoy the journey & take your time.

When planning your road trip, it’s important to take into account the unique challenges that come with driving in winter weather. It is crucial to pack warm clothing and blankets, as well as an emergency kit in case of unexpected weather changes or other issues. It is also important to pack enough food and snacks for the journey, as well as a first aid kit, and a flashlight.

A Toronto to Calgary road trip in winter can be dangerous, especially if you are not adequately prepared. The winter weather in Canada can be unpredictable, and the roads can quickly become hazardous. Snow and ice can make driving conditions slippery and visibility can be reduced significantly when snowfall is heavy. So ensure you are a competent driver in the winter and that the roads are considerably more dangerous at this time of year.

If you want a safer and quicker journey, the flight from Toronto to Calgary is your best option. You won’t have to worry about treacherous roads or wasting time while driving. On the other hand, if winter drives are something you relish or need to take your car while moving to Calgary then go ahead and make it an unforgettable one!

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Routes for a Toronto to Calgary road trip in winter

There a two main routes for a Toronto to Calgary road trip in winter; you can either enter the USA or only stay within Canada.

For those of you who enjoy a bit of international travel, crossing the United States/Canada border is an option. If you take this route you will pass through the provinces of Ontario and Saskatchewan before entering the United States. Your route continues across Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota and Montana until you reach Canada and cross the border near Regina. This route will take around 32 hours of driving with a distance of 3,400 km.

If you stay within Canada the road trip from Toronto to Calgary is around 3,200 kilometres, and it will take about 32 hours of non-stop driving. This more direct route via the Trans-Canada Highway will take you through Toronto, Sudbury, Thunder Bay, Winnipeg, Regina, Medicine Hat, and Calgary. Along the way, you’ll have the opportunity to visit heritage sites, national parks, and other exciting sights.

Image by Chris Amat via Travel Alberta
playing ice hockey in the mountains

Things to see during a Toronto to Calgary road trip in winter

A road trip from Toronto to Calgary offers the opportunity to see some of the most beautiful and diverse landscapes in Canada. We have split the list into two lists, one for if you stay in Canada, and another for if you go through the USA.

Canada route

Lake Ontario

Lake Ontario is a large freshwater lake located on the border between Canada and the United States. With a surface area of almost 19,000 square kilometres, it is the smallest of the five Great Lakes that make up the Great Lakes region. It has a maximum depth of 243 meters, making it one of the deepest lakes in the world.

The Canadian Shield

As you leave Toronto and head west, you’ll pass through the Canadian Shield region, known for its rocky terrain and thousands of lakes. This is a great area to explore if you’re interested in outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, and fishing.

The Prairie Provinces

As you continue west, you’ll pass through the prairie provinces of Manitoba and Saskatchewan. This region is known for its wide open spaces, rolling grasslands, and picturesque sunsets.

The Badlands

Along the way, you will also see the badlands of Alberta, where you will be able to see the unique and dramatic landscapes that are formed by erosion.

Banff National Park

Once your travels take you back to Canada, make sure to explore Banff National Park! Located in Alberta, this captivating park is filled with 6,600 square kilometres of untouched wilderness.

Olympic Plaza

USA route

Lake Ontario

Straddling the border between Canada and the United States, Lake Ontario is an awe-inspiring sight with its vast expanse of nearly 19,000 square kilometres. Not only does it boast incredible beauty but also profound depths – reaching up to 243 meters! This makes it amongst the largest freshwater bodies in North America and all five Great Lakes.

Lake Erie

As you traverse through the United States, Lake Erie is one of the many gorgeous sights along your route. It’s the fourth-largest lake in North America and boasts an impressive surface area of 25,000 square kilometres!

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Theodore Roosevelt National Park is an iconic national park located in the western part of North Dakota. Spanning over 70,000 acres, it’s home to a wide variety of wildlife, such as bison, elk, wild horses, and prairie dogs. It’s also home to numerous geological formations and breathtaking landscapes that offer visitors spectacular views.

Glacier National Park

To complete your US trip, you must add Glacier National Park to your itinerary; this is one of the most stunning national parks in the nation comprised of over 1 million acres and inhabited by bears, wolves, moose, bighorn sheep and a wide variety of other wildlife.

Banff National Park

After crossing the border back into Canada, you should make sure to include a visit to Banff National Park. Located in Alberta, this majestic park encompasses 6,600 square kilometres of pristine wilderness. Here you can take in glacier-fed lakes and stunning mountain scenery while taking part in activities like hiking and camping.

Image by Mike Seehagel via Travel Alberta
winter in banff

Prepare your vehicle for a Toronto to Calgary road trip in winter

Preparing your vehicle for a winter road trip from Toronto to Calgary is essential for a safe and comfortable journey.

Here are some important steps for preparing your vehicle for a Toronto to Calgary road trip in winter:


Make sure your vehicle has winter tires with good tread, as they provide better traction on snow and ice.


Have your vehicle serviced before the trip, including checking the battery, brakes, heating and cooling systems, and windshield wipers.

Emergency kit

Pack a winter emergency kit with items such as a shovel, extra clothes and blankets, a flashlight, and food and water.


Keep your gas tank at least half-full to avoid fuel line freeze-up.


Have a reliable GPS or map and a backup power source for your device.


Check the heating system and make sure it is working properly to keep you warm in cold weather.


Check that all lights are working properly, including headlights, taillights, and marker lights.

Pack extra supplies

Pack extra washer fluid, antifreeze, and windshield wiper blades.

winter driving

Navigating winter road conditions during a Toronto to Calgary road trip in winter

Navigating winter road conditions can be challenging, but it is important to be prepared and stay alert while driving. Here are some tips for navigating winter road conditions safely:

Check the weather and road conditions

Check the weather and road conditions before you leave. The Canadian government’s website and the Alberta 511 website provide up-to-date information on road closures, visibility, and other weather-related issues.

Slow down

Snow and ice can make roads slippery, so it is important to slow down and give yourself extra time to react to traffic and road conditions.

Increase following distance

It takes longer to stop on slippery roads, so increase your following distance to give yourself more time to react.

Use of winter tires

Using winter tires is essential for better traction on snow and ice, which is important for maintaining control of your vehicle in adverse weather conditions.

Avoid sudden movements

Avoid sudden movements, such as sudden braking, accelerating, or turning, which can cause your vehicle to skid on slippery roads.

Take it easy on curves

Be especially careful when driving on curves, as they can be especially slippery in winter weather. Slow down and take curves at a reduced speed.

Be aware of black ice

Black ice is a thin layer of ice that forms on roads, often appearing as a glossy or wet surface. Be aware of this condition, especially on bridges and overpasses, and take extra care when driving over these areas.

driving in winter

Finding accommodation during a Toronto to Calgary road trip in winter

Here are some options for finding accommodation during a Toronto to Calgary road trip in winter:


Book in advance at major cities along the way.

Bed & Breakfast

Consider staying at a bed and breakfast for a unique experience and a chance to interact with locals.


Rent a home or room in a local area for a more authentic experience.


Consider staying in a hostel as a budget-friendly option, especially in big cities.


A Toronto to Calgary road trip in winter is a journey filled with stunning scenery and unique experiences. From the Canadian Shield to the prairie provinces, the Rocky Mountains and the Badlands of Alberta, there’s something for everyone in this Toronto to Calgary road trip in winter wonderland.

With tips on preparing your vehicle, finding accommodation, and recommendations on things to see along your route, you can be sure that your trip will be both comfortable and memorable. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your next adventure today!

Nicola Wightman

Nicola Wightman is a regulated Canadian Immigration Consultant (RCIC) under the College of Immigration and Citizenship Consultants (CICC). Her professional immigration consultant number is R706497.

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