2-Week Responsible Road Trip: Québec City to Gaspésie
Strike out along the South Shore of the St. Lawrence River for a journey full of great people, memorable adventures, stunning beauty and responsible businesses. This 8-stage, 2-week road trip departing from Québec City corners the market for anyone into Québec’s nature and culture.
This road trip is presented in partnership with Sépaq, Québec’s largest outdoor adventure network.
- Park Canada's National Historic Sites
- National parks among the most emblematic and beautiful in the province of Québec
- Variety of cultures, encounters and flavours along the way
- Stage 1: Portneuf and the Charm of Québec City
Stage 1: Portneuf and the Charm of Québec City
- Jeff Frenette Photography
Old Québec, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is like nowhere else in North America—a place where you can stroll through history. The city is built on two levels, so to get the most out of it, try exploring it in two parts. Start with the Lower Town, where you’ll fall hard for the romance of Place Royale, the cobblestone streets of Petit Champlain, and the Old Port. Then it’s off to the Upper Town to see the walls and ramparts and take in historic sites like the Augustinian Convent and Citadelle de Québec.
- Jeff Frenette Photography
Aquarium du Québec
Aquarium du Québec is the amazing provincial aquarium where you can see 10,000 representatives of close to 300 aquatic species. The polar bears, walruses, and harbour seals never fail to make a splash. Get your hands on seagoing invertebrates with a zoology interpreter or pet the stingrays in their touch pool. Aquarium du Québec is also actively involved with Ocean Wise, a sustainable seafood program and has created the Conservation Fund to help projects related to the protection of marine species.
Le Chemin du Roy (The King’s Road)
Welcome to the first carriage-worthy road built in 17th-century New France. Connecting Québec City to Montréal made the Chemin du Roy the continent’s longest road north of Mexico. Today it’s a 280 km stretch of Route 138 and a much nicer alternative to the main highway. It follows the St. Lawrence, has amazing views of the river, and takes you past all kinds of historic sites, especially in beautiful Portneuf. Stop by the old Deschambault rectory for 2 centuries of history against the stunning backdrop of the St. Lawrence, the Moulin de la Chevrotière mill from 1802, or the ancestral Grondines windmill built in 1674. Attention all touring cyclists: most of the Chemin du Roy is an approved Route Verte bike route.
- Vallée Bras-du-Nord, Philippe Jobin
There are at least 2 good reasons to include Bras-du-Nord Valley on your route through the Québec City area. First, it’s a giant park where nature reigns supreme—ideal for all kinds of outdoor fun (hiking, canoeing, kayaking, mountain biking, canyoning, via ferrata, you name it) and with lovely green accommodations such as shelters, cabins, campsites, and yurts. Plus, it’s a cooperative with sustainability as its core mission. Another nearby favourite: Au Chalet en Bois Rond (“at the log cabin”) combines wide-open spaces and cushy comfort in a woodsy holiday village.
- Stage 2: Montmagny and the Islands
Stage 2: Montmagny and the Islands
- G&R Filmmakers
Parc des Appalaches (Appalachians Park)
You can be a go-getter or a contemplator. You can be a camper, hiker, SUPer, or bicycler. You can like woods, mountains, lakes, or rivers. You can be all in for all those things. Appalachians Park is like a giant temple for communing with the land. You’ll have 140 km of trails studded with rivers and creeks, footbridges, and dramatic views. In summer, there’s an amazing canoe route crisscrossing the park through the depths of the Appalachian forest. And with all the different accommodation options (shelters, campsites, cabins, and lodges), it’s easy to extend your stay.
Resort Cottages & Daaquam Outfitter
Quebecers love the Resort Cottages & Daaquam Outfitter wilderness resort for the outdoor adventures and the homey atmosphere. Couples, families, and groups of friends come to enjoy this little piece of paradise, often with a stay in a cabin or at the campground. Activities include horseback riding, fishing, kayaking, a hot tub, a pool, and a sauna—all in the great outdoors. Now that’s fine living!
- Stéphanie Allard - TCA
Grosse Île and the Irish Memorial National Historic Site
Canada is in large part a land of immigrants. Experience a side of their story here on Grosse-Île, an island in the middle of the St. Lawrence River. From 1832 to 1937 tens of thousands of mainly Irish immigrants were quarantined on this island on arrival. On Parks Canada’s interpretive trail, you’ll walk in the footsteps of men and women who came seeking a better life as you visit historic facilities and absorb deeply moving accounts. Those recollections give a remarkable power to Grosse Île and the Irish Memorial National Historic Site.
- Ève D-L
Step out of the fast lane and onto Isle-aux-Grues. The only inhabited island in the archipelago of the same name is home to a mere 100 people year-round and double that number of bird species. Get a sense of its incredible biodiversity as you hike through ancient forests and along shorelines lapped by the tides, then taste the island’s famous cheeses and other terroir products, for an adventure that satisfies all senses. A trip to another world, a 25-minute ferry ride away.
- Stage 3: Land, Sea, and Woods in Rivière-du-Loup
Stage 3: Land, Sea, and Woods in Rivière-du-Loup
- Nicolas Gagnon
Kamouraska is known for its picture-postcard sunsets over the St. Lawrence Estuary and its wonderful coastal ecosystem. SEBKA, Kamouraska’s tideland ecological corporation, gives you all kinds of ways to explore the environment (sea kayaking, hiking, climbing, bicycling, guided nature walks, and wildlife watching) and over 100 basic campsites where you can spend the night, many of them right on the water. A sustainable way to visit an amazing place.
- Mathieu Dupuis
Just off Rivière-du-Loup are a few untamed islands inhabited mainly by birds and seals. Caring for these wild gems is the responsibility of Société Duvetnor, a non-profit ecotourism corporation dedicated to protecting Île aux Lièvres and the Pot à l’Eau-de-Vie islands—a nesting sanctuary for seabirds like the common eider. As part of its mission, the company offers sea excursions, hikes, and interpretive tours as well as campsites, lodges, and cottages so that people can experience the raw beauty of the islands. For an unforgettable stay, spend the night at the Pot à L’Eau-de-Vie lighthouse, a wonderful piece of 19th-century seafaring heritage.
- Marc Loiselle
Parc national du Lac-Témiscouata
Bas-Saint-Laurent is where you’ll start to feel that seaside vibe. But there’s also a backcountry full of lakes and forests to discover. Parc national du Lac-Témiscouata has 175 km2 of that glorious combination along a lake of the same name. The undulating terrain, lakes and streams, and great facilities make it a mecca for hiking, canoe camping, and lots of other splashy ways to have fun. That includes fishing, biking, wildlife watching (including the ever-so-regal bald eagle) as well as guided tours of the park’s natural and archaeological riches. You can stay there in prospector tents, campgrounds, or cabins.
- Gaëlle Leroyer
Prepare to be dazzled by these terroir artisans and their fresh new takes on Canadian maple. Domaine Acer is a beehive of invention for spirits, aperitifs and wines derived from maple water, along with other sugar shack delights. It’s also a mini maple museum with tantalizing tastings and enlightening explanations. A great place to pick up unique and tasty souvenirs.
- Stage 4: Adventure on the Shores of Baie-des-Chaleurs
Stage 4: Adventure on the Shores of Baie-des-Chaleurs
- Jolène Dubé,
When it comes to wowing outdoor adventurers, Gaspésie has more than a few tricks up its sleeve. There are the mountains and the sea, of course, but there's also the lush green Matapédia River Valley with its fabulous fishing. Trout and Atlantic salmon abound in these rivers. You can even go snorkelling and see what the fish get up to in their spare time thanks to Matapédia’s Nature Aventure, which also has canoe, kayak, and SUP excursions with or without guides. A new take on the wonders of the Gaspésie Area!
- Pietro Canali, Le Québec maritime
Parc national de Miguasha
Parc national de Miguasha is a UNESCO World Heritage Site encircling the world’s richest and best-preserved Devonian fossil bed. The park’s fossil collection and the trail along the cliffside dig site take you back 380 million years to the age of boney fishes. Headlining the park collection is the Elpistostege watsoni, the only complete fossil of that species ever found.
- Roger St-Laurent
For nature, culture, and fine living, be sure to stop in Bonaventure. The Québec Acadian Museum relates the troubled and moving history of the Acadians and their place in the cultural mosaic of the Gaspésie Peninsula. Bioparc de la Gaspésie is a zoo with 40 native animal species and no shortage of fascinating activities. For garden produce and local flavours, look no further than Bourdage Tradition Farm. For thrills, the award goes to Cime Aventures, where you can stay in a cabin, yurt, or tent and shoot the rapids of the Bonaventure River with its famously clear waters.
- Marc Loiselle
Paspébiac National Historic Site
Gaspésie has a number of places that speak to the region’s salty history. Paspébiac National Historic Site is particularly pretty and enlightening. This open-air museum lets you re-live the golden age of King Cod through vivid exhibits, impressive 18th- and 19th-century buildings, and guides in period costume. There’s also L’Ancre restaurant, a great place to get a taste of the high seas.
- Stage 5: Percé, the Essential of the Essentials
Stage 5: Percé, the Essential of the Essentials
- Parc Bourg de Pabos
Parc du Bourg de Pabos
One of the Chandler area’s best-kept secrets. Kick back and relax at Parc du Bourg de Pabos with a little biking, hiking, or beach time. Then follow in the footsteps of fishers at the historical and archaeological Interpretive Centre. The biggest wow comes from Nova Lumina and Ura, two outdoor multimedia adventures sure to blow you away.
- Mathieu Dupuis
Parc national de l'Île-Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher-Percé
Percé Rock is a multi-million-ton limestone rock with a natural arch carved out by the waves—a staple of Gaspésie postcards. It’s the best-known feature of a national park that also harbours an incredible gannet colony on Bonaventure Island, as well as beautiful historic homes from the heyday of a centuries-old fishing industry. Sea excursions and hiking on Bonaventure Island are both a must.
- Mathieu Dupuis, Tourisme Gaspésie
Percé UNESCO Global Geopark
Tank up on sensations, virtual (the interactive Tektonik experience on Percé’s fascinating geology) or panoramic (the windowed platform 200 metres in the air or the gigantic zipline) at Percé UNESCO Global Geopark. There’s also a groundbreaking multimedia exhibition, 23 geosites, 18 km (11 miles) of hiking trails, a campground and prospector tents to make the magic last. Another major Percé attraction.
- Mathieu Dupuis
Rivière aux Émeraudes
Get off the beaten path in a municipal park just a few minutes down the road from Percé towards Gaspé. You’ll have to scramble a bit to get to the river, but it’s fully worth it for the waterfall alone, which plunges down into a natural sparkling emerald pool. The wonders of nature!
- Stage 6: Land’s End at Gaspé
Stage 6: Land’s End at Gaspé
- Marilou Levasseur
Micmac Interpretation Site of Gespeg
Visitors can count on a warm welcome from representatives of the Mi’gmaq Nation, the “People of the Sea” whose ancestors welcomed the first European arrivals centuries ago. That story, along with a culture and way of life handed down for millennia in Gaspésie, are brilliantly told at the Micmac interpretation Site of Gespeg. On top of the permanent exhibition and fabulous Mi’gmaq craft shop, you’ll love the traditional village and 17th-century encampment that have been reconstructed outside the centre. The interpreters and artisans of the community bring their story to life.
- Vincent Gaillard
Want to paddle across the waters of Forillon National Park? Head to Cap Aventure. The company specializes in guided sea kayaking and standup paddleboarding (SUP) excursions and is part of the Québec Adventure Outdoor network, an organization that certifies businesses for quality, safety, and sustainability. The ultimate experience: a 3-hour sunset sea-kayak expedition along the coast to see a big colony of grey and harbour seals. Unforgettable.
- Mathieu Dupuis, Le Québec maritime
Forillon National Park
Forillon National Park at the tip of the Gaspésie Peninsula is a dramatic meeting of land and sea, with a multitude of ways to play outside and an abundance of wildlife—the waters of Gaspé Bay being a favourite haunt for whales and seals. Everyone raves about the hike to Land’s End at the very tip of the peninsula, as well as the Mount Saint-Alban loops you can do from Cap-Bon-Ami or Petit-Gaspé beach. The park also has some incredible heritage sites. For overnight stays, Parks Canada has its own special prefab camping options, including oTENTik, micrOcube, and Ôasis setups, as well as regular campsites.
- Marc Loiselle
Whale-watching in Gaspé Bay
After the magic of Forillon comes the thrill of whale-watching in Gaspé Bay with Croisières Baie de Gaspé, accredited by Aventure écotourisme Québec. On board the Narval III, you’ll see how important the waters off the tip of Gaspésie are for whales. At least 6 species come here to feed, including the blue whale, the biggest animal ever to roam the earth. Just settle in and keep your eyes peeled. The captain will find ’em as your guide tells the tale.
- Stage 7: Mountains and Sea in Sainte-Anne-des-Monts
Stage 7: Mountains and Sea in Sainte-Anne-des-Monts
- Mathieu Charland
Parc national de la Gaspésie
Truly a peak experience! Parc national de la Gaspésie boasts 25 mountains over 1,000 metres (3,280 ft.), including southern Québec’s highest—Mount Jacques-Cartier, mantled in alpine tundra. There are hiking trails for every level of ability, from the easy walk to Lake des Américains to the epic 100 km challenge on a section of the mythic International Appalachian Trail. Mount Albert is particularly gorgeous—we recommend a stay at Gîte du Mont Albert, a 4-star mountain lodge and a standout among the many wilderness accommodations options in the area.
- Chok Images,Tourisme Gaspésie
Exploramer is a remarkable natural history museum and aquarium complex that gives you a glimpse behind the scenes of the St. Lawrence marine environment. It’s a place where you don’t just get to look at the sea and its denizens—you get to shake hands, gather them at low tide, and even take a little bite, with the Dare to Taste workshop. Exploramer also plays an active role in protecting the area’s thriving biodiversity with its Smarter Seafood program for sustainable marine resource management. A fascinating sustainable stop.
- Mathieu Dupuis
Chic-Chocs Mountain Lodge
This resort and adventure destination alone is worth the trip. Perched 615 metres up the mountainside in the heart of a wildlife reserve known for its thriving moose population, Chic-Chocs Mountain Lodge is truly one of a kind. Outside, you’ll find 60 km2 of raw, unspoiled nature for guided activities, hikes, canoeing, kayaking, e-mountain biking, and wildlife watching. Inside, it’s all comfort, fine dining, and luxury. Wow.
- Valmont Plein Air
Valmont Plein Air
The sea on one side, the mountains on the other. It can be tough to tear yourself away from the beauties of Route 132 once you get rolling on your Gaspésie road trip. But Valmont Plein Air makes a compelling case for stopping off at Cap-Chat. Starting with the ice cream parlour and restaurant, it follows up with river kayaking, standup paddleboarding on the gulf, or e-biking along the coast. Hikers take note—there’s shuttle service to the International Appalachian Trail too.
- Stage 8: Québec City, UNESCO World Heritage Site
Stage 8: Québec City, UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Jeff Frenette
Parks Canada National Historic Sites and Dufferin Terrace
The founders of Québec City chose Cap Diamant (Cape Diamond) for its strategic position high above the very spot where the river narrows. Dufferin Terrace at the base of Château Frontenac is the ideal place for an introduction to a fascinating chapter of history that began with Samuel de Champlain’s arrival in 1608. Start by visiting the ruins of St. Louis Forts and Chateaux National Historic Site, then head to Frontenac Kiosk for a guided tour of Fortifications of Québec National Historic Site. It’s a crash course in Québec’s military history under French and English rule.
- Croisières AML, Pascal Duchesne
The view of the St. Lawrence River from the Old City is fantastic, but how ’bout that view of the city from out on the water? Head for the Old Port and AML Cruises to see a new side of Québec City, the fortifications, and spectacular Montmorency Falls. AML Cruises are proud members of Green Marine, Tourisme durable Québec and Aventure écotourisme Québec. There are lots of packages available for guided tours, some with brunch or dinner on board.
- Jeff Frenette Photography
Musée de la civilisation
Any stop in Québec City deserves a visit to Musée de la civilisation (museum of civilization). Whatever your age, you’ll have fun learning new things about Québec and its people through amazing exhibitions like People of Québec: Then and Now, a deep dive into Québec’s history and cultural riches, and This is Our Story, in which the First Nations and Inuit introduce themselves, their roots, and the realities of their lives today.
- Plains of Abraham, Jeff Frenette Photography
Plains of Abraham
National Battlefields Park, better known as the Plains of Abraham, was Canada’s first historic park. It’s also Québec City’s biggest urban park and a great picnic spot. To learn all about the confrontations that sealed the fate of New France on this very spot, check out the Plains of Abraham Museum for a great interactive experience. Then stretch your legs on the Plains themselves—site of the 1759 battle that marked the beginning of the British conquest of Canada. A place of wonder, learning, and fresh air!
Did you know that the province of Québec has an Electric Circuit with more than 3400 charging stations for electric vehicles?