The Ottawa Valley is renowned as the Whitewater Capital of Canada and home to some of the fastest, cleanest, warmest and safest rivers in all of Canada! Created from glacial retreats thousands of years ago, the Valley offers a unique blend of outdoor recreation and heritage combined with small-town charm.
To learn more about all there is to see and do in the Ottawa Valley, scroll down or visit the area’s tourism website.
Where is the Ottawa Valley?
The Ottawa Valley is a road tripping destination. It’s best to drive to fully enjoy the freedom of wandering the various communities and exploring hidden gems off the beaten track. From downtown Ottawa, the town of Arnprior is located 65km west off the Trans-Canada Highway. From Mattawa, the hamlet of Deux Rivières is located 34km east along the Trans-Canada Highway. From Toronto, travel north for approximately 315km to reach Barry’s Bay. You can also catch the Ontario Northland bus service from Ottawa or Sudbury with daily service and stops in Arnprior, Renfrew, Pembroke and Petawawa.
Things to Do in the Ottawa Valley
Thanks to a bevvy of outdoor activities, the Ottawa Valley is a destination hotspot for adventurers. You will visit for the beauty and return to watch the landscape shift and change with the weather. Each season brings its own list of activities, perfectly suited to both the terrain and the Ontario spirit. There are amazing trails to explore throughout the valley, including Ottawa Valley Recreational Trail open for bikes, hiking and snowmobiles.
The Ottawa Valley is best known for its active outdoor wonderland. There are a plethora of activities available for every enthusiast and every season. With the Ottawa River winding along the upper border of the Ottawa Valley, many activities are centred around the water and wilderness. The area is particularly noted for its world-famous whitewater rafting, with rapids ranging from beginner up to Class IV. In quieter sections of the river, you can spot the amazing wildlife that shares this beautiful area, including the majestic Canadian moose.
In the Ottawa Valley, you will find as much cultural history as there is natural history. Each town has its own story to tell, and no two towns are the same. As you travel through the Valley, learn about the history dating back to the Algonquin First Nation and the immigration of many diverse cultures to the area. Many of these stories are shared through the burgeoning arts scene, community theatre performances and outdoor exhibits.
Ottawa Valley Neighbourhoods & Districts
There are a multitude of towns and districts within the Ottawa Valley. The heart of the Valley starts with Renfrew County and expands out to neighbouring communities. The area can be divided into Upper Ottawa Valley (closer to the river) and Lower Ottawa Valley.
Many adventurers start their journey at either end of the Ottawa River and follow the network of trails through wildness and townships.
Considered the western gateway, from Ottawa into the Upper Ottawa Valley, Arnprior has access to both the big city and the natural outdoor wonderland. There are plenty of nature trails, including a walk through Gillies Grove, home to the tallest tree in Ontario.
Known for being a nuclear research centre, this picturesque town boasts some of the best beaches on the Ottawa River, incredible snowmobiling and, not to mention a symphony orchestra.
The birthplace of the famous BeaverTails pastry, and a great place to stock up before you hit the campsites and hiking trails in nearby Bonnechere Provincial Park.
A small city at the heart of the Ottawa Valley is a great place to spend the day discovering over 30 historic murals, more than almost any city in Canada.
Sitting between the Petawawa River and the Ottawa River, Petawawa is bursting with water activities for any time of year.
Every hockey fan stops at Renfrew, the birthplace of NHA/NHL. Many visitors use the town as a launchpad for outdoor activities, but make sure you swing by Renfrew Swinging Bridge for the stunning view.
Named after the stretch of whitewater on the Ottawa River, this is THE place for the best whitewater rafting in the world.
Visit the Zurakowski Park to see the Canadian supersonic interceptor jet aircraft known as the CF-105 Avro Arrow, flown by Polish-Canadian pilot Janusz Zurakowski in 1958.
Known as the Ordovician Fossil Capital of Canada and home to the infamous Bonnechere Caves, recreational geologists, spelunkers and rockhounders flock to the Eganville area to learn bout the story of our Earth.
Things to Know About Visiting the Ottawa Valley
Whether you’re still in the planning stages or you’re already on your trip to the Ottawa Valley, it’s nice to learn what the locals know about the area.
Where to snap a great Instagram pic
Insiders tip for family fun
There are several Lending Hub locations across the Ottawa Valley that offer free winter adventure equipment like snowshoes, skates and more.
Samuel de Champlain spent the years between 1613 and 1615 traveling the Ottawa River with Algonquin and Huron guides. He was the first documented European to see the Ottawa Valley.
Follow the A.Y. Jackson Trail to see the sights throughout the Ottawa Valley that this famous group of seven member artist painted.
Last updated: September 8, 2021