From sea to sea, there is much to see, but for iconic Canadian landscape, it's hard to beat the Rockies.
You can pull out the map and chart scenic highways between Calgary and Vancouver, but if you're keen to see the region by rail, Rocky Mountaineer ( rockymountaineer.com) does it in luxurious style, combining all-daylight travel with off-train sightseeing and hotel stays at postcard properties such as the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. One seven-day trip, for instance, includes Hell's Gate, helicopter tours and the site of the Last Spike (surely a necessary stamp in any Canadiana passport).
Shorter and less expensive options are also available (and tend to skip the chopper). There's also Via Rail ( viarail.ca): You can board its transcontinental in Jasper, Alta., for an overnight trip to Vancouver (although you will sleep through some of the scenery).
Via also offers a seven-night Rockies package that combines hotels, sightseeing (ride the Ice Explorer on the Athabasca Glacier) and one night on the train.
Whatever route you choose, wildlife sighting is never guaranteed. To increase your odds, check out the more than 40 bear-viewing operations in B.C., says Cindy Burr from Tourism British Columbia. (Search "bear watching" at hellobc.com.) Knight Inlet Lodge ( grizzlytours.com) situated in the Great Bear Rainforest, for instance, brings you to a riverside viewing platform where, in the fall, you can sometimes catch a dozen bears gorging on spawning salmon.
But if you want a less-expensive option, Burr suggests checking out the Grizzly Wildlife Refuge on Vancouver's North Shore ( grousemountain.com/wildlife-refuge). Here you can watch former cub orphans Grinder and Coola at play. It may not offer the magic of the true wildlife sighting, but I won't tell if you check "grizzly" off your national sightseeing do-list.
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Karan Smith is a former editor of Globe Travel. Special to The Globe and Mail
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