Everything Minnesota Riders Need to Know About Riding in Ontario

The rider's guide to Canadian motorcycling—right across the border from your home state.

There comes a time in every rider's life when the backroads of their home state don't cut it anymore—when they start putting up maps on the walls of the garage and making plans for something... big.

If this is you, the time is now to start making bigger plans. To expand your riding destinations, and get outside of your comfort zone. To experience something new, thrilling, and eye-opening.

To help you out, we've prepared the ultimate guide to expanding your horizons into... where else? Ontario. Our vast motorcycle playground offers some killer twisties, great views of the lakes, rivers, forests and cliffs we're known for, as well as friendly people with motorcycle-friendly hotels, motels, and restaurants. We've vetted hundred of miles of freshly-paved provincial highways for the motorcycle rider, so there's never a dull moment.

Among other recommendations we're going to look at these six rides that are perfect for the adventurous Minnesotan rider:

Crossing the Border into Ontario

It might seem like a completely different world, but Ontario and Minnesota share a lot in common. Our riding seasons are very similar, we all speak English, and we all love the open road. And getting into Ontario might be the easiest part—with four easy access entry points at Pigeon River (Thunder Bay), Sault Ste. Marie, International Falls and Baudette, this might be the easiest international trip you've ever taken. We've created a list of quick tips for smooth passage.

Top Routes for Minnesotans

OK, so you've made it across the border—where do you go? The Western section of Ontario, that you'll be riding in, is known for its long winding roads through the woods and along the coast of Lake Superior. Check out our top choices for Minnesota riders below:

1. Ride Lake Superior (RLS)

Ontario Bucket List Ride, Ride Lake Superior is also Ontario's longest ride, perfect for riders with a week or more. And the greatest of the Great Lakes never disappoints, with motorcycle-specific parking, amazing views, and incredible food and hotels throughout the route. We highly recommend doing this tour clockwise for the best possible scenery.

2. Nor'Wester

Part of Ride Lake Superior's suite of routes, the Nor'Wester is perfect for Minnesotans. Hop into Ontario at International Falls and explore the heart of the North American continent, before finishing the loop in Baudette. Stay overnight in Thunder Bay, which has plenty of hotels with motorcycle-specific parking. This route is known for its incredible views of the glacial-scarred rocks and picturesque lakes with every shade of blue.

You can also stay overnight in Kenora, on Lake of the Woods. Home to Northwestern Ontario's cottage culture, this is a wonderfully laid-back town with some great grub (definitely stop in at the Lake of the Woods Brewpub).

3. Ride the Giant

The Sleeping Giant is an iconic rock formation that looks like a massive sleeping man in Lake Superior. This route takes riders from Thunder Bay down to the Sleeping Giant Provincial Park.

The best part, aside from the views, is the incredible road—known as the Sibley Road—that winds peacefully back and forth across the peninsula leading to the park. It's so nice, you'll be happy to do it twice. You'll know you're on the right track when you pass under the massive railway trestle at the start of the road. Ride down to Silver Islet and take a step back in time at their general store.

4. Waterfalls and Scenic Lookouts


With more water flowing over it than Niagara Falls, Thunder Bay's Kakabeka Falls is a true hidden gem in Ontario, and something every rider should see. A few dollars gets you into the park with the walking bridge right over the falls just a few steps away from the parking lot. Next stop is Mount McKay's scenic lookout that towers over the city and Lake Superior—and then on to Chippewa Falls, sitting at the exact halfway point between the Atlantic and Pacific oceans in Canada.

5. Grand Algoma Tour

If you're looking to combine a highly scenic tour with a highly technical one, the Grand Algoma is for you. This incredible route includes the mind-blowing eastern coastline of Lake Superior, the spectacular roads between Sault Ste. Marie and Wawa, and then takes you through a rip-roaring curve fest in the the Mississagi River Valley

6. Algoma ADV Loop

If you're more of the adventurous type—looking to add a little dirt to your tour, balanced with some scenic road riding—the Algoma ADV is just the thing for you. Enjoy the scenery of Lake Superior, then dive deep into the forests and mountains of inland Algoma for some thrilling backcountry riding. 

Top 30 Roads in Ontario 

If you just want to cross off the best roads in the province, and aren't interested in a route, we have a list of our 30 favourite roads—but there's always more, so don't hesitate to get off the beaten path!

All Routes in Ontario

There are literally dozens of motorcycle routes in Ontario—the ones above were chosen based on their proximity to Minnesota and the rigorous process they've gone through to be approved and included in this article. However, if you're willing to explore, and go a bit further, here's a list of every known route in the province. You can also review our just-released list of top motorcycle routes for 2020.

Trip Planning Resources

There are some pretty great resources for planning your trip to Ontario—on top of the articles, maps and websites listed above, we also have a fully customizable trip-planning website that allows you to download directly to your phone or GPS. Check out GoTourOntario.ca for all the information you could ever possibly need for the trip of a lifetime. 

Videos of Routes in Ontario

One of the best ways to get familiar with a riding destination before going there is by watching videos—to make sure it lives up to the hype, of course. We've got you covered—here's a list of videos people have made of their rides to Ontario, just to get you in the mood!

Motorcycle Events in Ontario

Ontario is home to literally thousands of motorcycle events throughout the year—from manufacturer shows, to charity rides and rallies, to the world's largest one-day motorcycle event, Port Dover's Friday the 13th, you'll always find something to ride to, no matter when you're here. Check out our full list of motorcycle events, and don't hesitate to plan your trip around one!

Repair Shops and Dealers in Ontario

While we sincerely hope you never need it, we want you to know you're covered—there are plenty of repair shops, dealers, and even a few motorcycle rental places throughout Ontario.

This is it! Ontario's guide for Minnesota riders—if there's something we haven't answered or you need help planning your trip, please reach out to us on Facebook!

About Mike Jacobs

Mike is an avid Northern traveller, having spent years traversing its backroads, and visiting its remote lodges and fun cities by car, RV, motorcycle, and boat. There's always something new to discover in the North and Mike never shies away from the next great adventure. Mike is the chairman of the board for the Tourism Technology Company.

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