From the grandeur of Rocky Mountains in Jasper to the salmon-filled streams of Gwaii Haanas, Canadian National Parks are natural treasures that draw visitors from around the country and around the world. This year, in honour of Canada 150, Parks Canada is offering free entry into all of these gems. It’s a wonderful offer, but with so many fantastic parks across our vast nation, choosing which park to visit can be a little overwhelming. That’s why we’ve invited you to journey with us across Canada as we highlight 13 of these fantastic Canadian National Parks—one for each province and territory.
Terra Nova National Park – NEWFOUNDLAND
The sun rises on our great nation at Terra Nova National Park! This, Canada’s most easterly national park, is a paradise for campers, hikers, and nature enthusiasts alike! With over 80km of boreal trail, tranquil Atlantic inlets, and towering headlands, Terra Nova is a place you won’t soon forget. Take an unforgettable ride in a sea kayak alongside seal pups and whales or camp with comfort of nearby amenities at Newman Sound Campground. The land, the sea, and the sky are your oyster at Terra Nova.
Prince Edward Island National Park – PEI
Unleash your inner child at Prince Edward Island National Park. Build a sand castle, frolic in the surf, or have a hot dog roast! There will never be a dull moment. Families can choose from hiking, fishing, bird-watching, cycling, golfing, geocaching, and more. This park also highlights the spectacular wildlife of Prince Edward Island. Here you can spot a heron in the famed red cliffs or take a stroll through the woodlands to find a red fox and waterfowl. PEI National Park also offers a plethora of interpretive programs which help build an understanding of the natural and cultural world of this unique province.
Sable Island National Park Reserve – NOVA SCOTIA
Welcome to the wild! Horses roam free on the vast and variable sand dunes of Sable Island National Park Reserve, and if you’re lucky you might stumble upon the world’s biggest breeding colony of grey seals! To find this unique gem, just head far out into the North Atlantic to one of Canada’s most remote offshore islands. Here you will find the definitively crescent-shaped Sable Island. Those who are searching for a bit of solace and isolation will find it on this sandy island which is famous for both its unique wildlife and its dubious distinction as the ‘Graveyard of the Atlantic.’ Over 350 vessels have been wrecked on the shores of Sable over four centuries thanks to the island’s unpredictable weather and submerged sand bars.
Fundy National Park – NEW BRUNSWICK
The water goes WAY up, the water goes WAY down! You’ll notice that at Fundy National Park—home of the world’s highest tide! Paddle the pristine waters in kayak as the waters rise up in excess of 12m, or experience a walk on the ocean floor at low tide! But the tide isn’t the only thing going on at Fundy! Hike through the Acadian forest to discover waterfalls, wildlife, and true natural tranquility or set up camp for the night in one of the many campgrounds offering, among other things, a unique chance to spend the night in a yurt!
Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve – QUEBEC
It’s not hard to understand why Mingan was chosen to be a National Park Reserve! This Archipelago of grandiose, even whimsical, limestone monoliths is like nothing you have ever seen! Add to that, spectacular wildlife from whales and puffins to seabirds and seals, and you have a recipe for one of the most fascinating national park experiences in the country! Mingan Archipelago, which includes over 1000 islands and inlets, is vast but discoverable by sea expedition, nature trails, and camping!
Thousand Islands National Park – ONTARIO
You’ve heard of the salad dressing, but did you know that legend connects the name to this fantastic area? Thousand Islands National Park is comprised of 21 islands (of the over 1800 in the area) and numerous small inlets much of which can only be accessed by boat. These granite islands are actually thought to be the tips of worn-down ancient mountains, and as if that weren’t enough to capture the imagination, this park is also home to extremely rare species of turtles and birdlife! Many visitors to Thousand Islands love the experience of overnighting in the unique oTENTik accommodation!
Wapusk National Park – MANITOBA
What’s a list of Canadian national parks without some polar bears?! You’ll find plenty in the vast, northern Manitoba Wapusk National Park! At over 11, 000 square kilometres, this is a beast of a park and includes awe-inspiring Canadian tundra, boreal, and arctic landscape. Commercial tour operators in Churchill are ready to usher visitors on an unforgettable expedition to see arctic foxes, hares, wolverines, caribou, countless birds, and, of course, the illustrious polar bear!
Grasslands National Park – SASKATCHEWAN
Wildlife is king at this Saskatchewan gem! The bison at Grasslands National Park are thankful to call one of the country’s last remaining areas of undisturbed prairie grassland home! But they are not the only ones—Grasslands is home to many rare and endangered fauna including pronghorns, grouse, burrowing owls, swift foxes, ferruginous hawks, wolverines, brown bears, and even prairie rattlesnakes! Camp at this national park in a teepee, serviced campground, or go back-country style if you don’t mind some animal company nosing around your tent!
Jasper National Park – ALBERTA
Banff’s bigger cousin, Jasper National Park is the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies. Warm up at this fantastic Alberta park in hot spring lakes or cool down in a waterfall of at the impressive Columbia Icefield. The majestic Canadian Rockies are the perfect backdrop for whatever activity visitors may choose in Jasper. From site-seeing to an endless choice of physical exploits such as hiking, fishing, rafting, kayaking, biking, and more, it is truly an adventurer’s paradise!
Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve – BRITISH COLUMBIA
Nature meets culture and history at Gwaii Haanas! Discover the ancient carvings and fallen longhouses of the Haida people among the lush rainforests of this national park. Let your imagination soar with the bald eagle high among the towering cedar and spruce trees, ground yourself in the greenery of the forest floor, or get swept away by the majestic waters teeming with whales, sea lions, and salmon. This natural paradise is located 130km off the mainland of BC on the former Queen Charlotte Islands now known as Haida Gwaii.
Nahanni National Park Reserve – NORTHWEST TERRITORIES
Step aside, Niagara! Virginia Falls in Nahanni National Park plunges more that 90m (over double the height of Niagara) around the awe-inspiring Mason’s Rock! This is just one of the spectacular features of this park which protects a 30,000 square kilometre expanse of the rugged Mackenzie Mountains Natural Region. The whitewater Nahanni River runs through spectacular canyons and natural labyrinths lending inspiration to not only the physical landscape but the culture of the region. Dehcho First Nations call the Nahanni region home and welcome visitors with aspirations of climbing, hiking, flying, or paddling in pursuit of the rugged treasures in this park.
Kluane National Park and Reserve – YUKON TERRITORY
Home to the elusive grizzly bear and the sky-scraping Mount Logan, Kluane is overflowing with all-Canadian grandeur. Tundra and forest speckle the landscape of this park which is dominated by the Saint Elias Mountains. Explore the largest ice field in Canada and some of the most rugged and remote scenery on the planet. Visitors to Kluane come in search of adventure and find it in day hikes, glacial rafting experiences, backcountry exploration, and alpine passes.
Auyuittuq National Park – NUNAVUT TERRITORY
Spot an Inuksuit (inukshuk) on the craggy landscape of Auyuittuq! This national park boasts 24 hour daylight during the summer, and it is a true northern treasure. With granite mountain peaks that tower over tundra valleys and pristine glaciers among rugged fiords and winding water systems, Auyuittuq is a landscape like no other. Ringed seals, narwhal, snow geese, and arctic foxes call this park home and can be spotted by visitors willing to brave this remote and unforgiving wilderness.
Hope you have enjoyed your journey. Happy 150 to our great nation! Take some time to celebrate at a fantastic Canadian National Park!