The Ottawa Valley is an outdoor wonderland, renowned for its natural beauty and warm, welcoming communities. It is the valley of the Ottawa River, created from glacial retreat thousands of years ago. What remains has shaped a valley rich with wild adventures in the north and thriving farmlands stretching out to the south.
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 Ottawa Valley?
It’s best to drive to the Ottawa Valley, giving you the freedom to visit various communities and explore hidden places off the beaten track. The distance between Ottawa to Mattawa is about 300 km (just over 3 hours of driving on the Trans-Canada Highway). From Ottawa to Bancroft is approximately 230 km (about 2.5 hours). You can also catch the Ontario Northland bus service from Ottawa. There are daily services with stops at Arnprior, Renfrew and Pembroke.
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.
The mineral capital of Canada is a hidden gem for ‘rockhounding’ enthusiasts.
Deep River and Chalk River
Previously known for their nuclear research centre, these two towns now boast a music scene with their own symphony orchestra, choral groups and community bands.
At the north-west tip of the Ottawa Valley, this town is a great starting point for boats and canoes along the Ottawa River.
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 white water rafting in the world.
Things to Know About Visiting Ottawa Valley
Whether you’re still in the planning stages or you’re already on your trip to 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
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.