I tend to avoid travelling to a country during high season, but planning this time around isn't allowing me much leeway, and so I'm looking into being in Canada for what would probably be mid June to mid August. Not at all being used to having to deal with places at the peak of their popularity, I have to ask: Just how bad does high season get?
I'm mostly interested in being out in nature, hiking in mountainous regions, seeing stunning scenery, doing a bit of photography, but also hitting the big cities and seeing some sights. Vancouver, Jasper, Banff, Toronto and Montreal would be obvious points to build an itinerary around, although I'd hope to hit at least one more out of the way place as well (Yellowknife? St. John's? ...?)
So, how much in advance would accommodation (hostels or B&Bs) in places like Jasper or Banff really need to be booked? Is it like in Yosemite, where there's just not a single bed left, or can you rock up and still expect to find something, even if it wouldn't be your first choice? And for something nice, do you have to book a week in advance, or rather a month? Also, are there enough hiking trails that you can have a feeling of relative solitude once you're more than half an hour out of town, or should I prepare for a constant stream of fellow hikers on the trails?
And how's things in the big cities? And how about transportation options?
The Rockies are one of the most popular visitor destinations in the country without reservations you'd be hard pressed to find anywhere to stay.
Newfoundland and Northern Vancouver Island both offer unique experiences-not that difficult of access and uncrowded.
July/August is VERY busy at most of the usual tourist destinations, especially the Rockies.
That said, 99% of the tourist hordes are within a 15 minute waddle of the parking lots so it's easy to get away from the crowds, but don't expect to be alone anywhere unless you put in some real effort.
Despite what others have said, if you go to Jasper, Vancouver and/or Banff during these months you should still be able to find accomodation somewhere. Unfortunately Canada is relatively expensive compared to some places (Europe, etc.). If your not to worried about money you should be fine. Don't be scared off however Canada (esp. the west) is absolutely beautiful, and not a place you should turn down. But I also agree Newfoundland is wonderful!
As far as hiking is concerned, if you hit up the right spots you should be fine. There are so many places to go hiking, and once you get past the first bit in the woods you should be quite secluded.
Transportation is not so good here as everyone owns cars, but you can find busses most places if you do proper research. They also have regular trains going cross-Canada, but that as well is pricey.
Hopefully that helped some! Safe travels!
It can be really crowded at some places, especially around Jasper/Banff/Lake Louise, but there are enough places with few visitors.
In 2007 I went to Canada in the first 3 weeks of July (rough itinerary in my profile), and we encountered also some places with very few tourists, so it is possible, unless you go to the more well known/'famous' spots.
Wells Gray Provincial Park is a nice addition if you want to go hiking/canoeing. Not too crowded, as well as Mt Robson. Great hiking opportunities, and nice sights. Jasper (including Athabasca Glacier), Vancouver and Harrison Hot Springs were the only reall crowded places encounterd that trip.
Don't know if you also plan on camping? If so, than it must also be possible to find some places to sleep, without making reservations in advance. We stayed at 2 or 3 campsites with only 1 or 2 other tents, so that's not always the problem. I can't speak for hostels along the route.
As for hiking; especially around Wells Gray and Mt Robson you can hike without an overkill of tourists, and quite some chance to see wildlife (including bears...).