The Best National Parks in Canada

In celebration of its 150th birthday, Canada is offering free access to its national parks throughout 2017 with the 2017 Discovery Pass.

The summer season is a great time to go on vacation, when the perfect weather provides an opportunity for many outdoor activities including hiking and road trips. The North American summer begins in May and ends in September providing about four months of perfect weather. When choosing for an ideal vacation destination this summer, one should consider taking up an excellent offer being provided by the Canadian government in celebration of the country’s 150th anniversary. Canada is providing a package dubbed “The 2017 Discovery Pass” which grants tourists free entry to all national parks all over the country excluding all provincial parks. The one-of-a-kind offer provides visitors with a broad range of picturesque locations to choose.

10. Banff National Park

Lake Peyto, Banff National Park.

Established in 1885, Banff National Park is the oldest national park in Canada. It is located in western Alberta, adjacent to the border with British Columbia. The park covers 2,564 square miles of beautiful rocky mountain landscapes. Visitors are attracted by to the pristine scenery of the park including beautiful clear-water lakes such as Lake Louise and Moraine Lake, as well as the largest cave system in the country, the Castleguard Caves.

Banff National Park is around a 2.5 drive from Calgary International Airport.

9. Grasslands National Park

Prairie dogs in Grasslands National Park.

Grasslands National Park is one of two national parks found in the prairie province of Saskatchewan (the other being Prince Albert National Park). The park covers an area of 350 square miles and is a popular tourist destination with over 11,000 tourists visiting the park in 2016 alone. The park is famed for being the only park in Canada with the black-tailed prairie dogs. Visitors get to enjoy the beautiful grassland with herds of pronghorns grazing.

The closest major airport to Grasslands National Park is about a 4 hour drive from Regina International Airport.

8. Thousand Islands National Park

The lush Thousand Islands.

Thousand Islands National Park is one of the smallest national parks in Canada, with an area of 9.4 square miles. However, despite its small size it is comprised of 26 islands and 90 islets found in a 49.7-mile stretch of St. Lawrence River. It is a popular tourist destination especially for its fishing and picnic facilities as well as several trails where visitors spot wildlife such as beavers, deer, raccoons and weasels. The park was established in 1904.

Thousand Islands is just a few hour drive from both Toronto Pearson International Airport or Ottawa International Airport.

7. Cape Breton Highlands National Park

The beautiful low mountains of Cape Breton.

Located in Nova Scotia, Cape Breton Highlands National Park is a 366-square mile national park on Cape Breton Island. The park has a combination of Acadian, Taiga, and Boreal habitats which host unique animal and plant species found nowhere else, a fact attributed to its cool maritime climate. Visitors to the park are encouraged to sample the Cabot Trail which offers picturesque views of the wildlife in the park as well as its rugged landscape. For golf fans, another star attraction within the park is a 18-hole golf course known as the Highlands Links which was ranked the best public golf course in the country by the Golf Magazine.

The closest airport to Cape Breton is JA Douglas McCurdy Sydney Airport.

6. Forillon National Park

Cliffs in Forillon National Park.

Forillon National Park is located at the tip of the Gaspé Peninsula in Quebec, covering 94 square miles. The national park was established in 1970 and is the oldest national park in Quebec. The park offers diverse attractions from the sea, the steep cliffs, and the lush forests. Several hiking trails are found in the park including the five-mile Les Graves trail which takes hikers through the woods and to Cap-Gaspe on a cliff rising 312 feet. The park offers views of many species of animals including spectacular views of breaching large whales.

The closest major airport to Forillon National Park is Michel-Pouliot Gaspé Airport.

5. Point Pelee National Park

The boardwalk at Point Pelee.

Point Pelee National Park is park located in southwestern Ontario, on a peninsula stretching 4.3 miles into Lake Erie. Point Pelee is also famed for being the southernmost tip of the country, covering 5.8 square miles. Point Pelee National Park is located primarily on a marsh and offers paddling canoes where visitors can paddle their way inside the wetland. The park is also famed for its numerous bird species, thanks to its locataion at the crossroads of two main migration routes.

The closest airport to Point Pelee National Park is Windsor International Airport, which is about 45 minutes away by car.

4. Fundy National Park

Hopewell rocks at the Bay of Fundy.

Fundy National Park is an 80-square-mile park located on the Bay of Fundy in the eastern province of New Brunswick. The park has many unique attractions including views of the highest tides found anywhere in the world. During low tide in the Bay of Fundy, visitors can see several marine creatures exposed on the beach. The park is one of the most scenic in the country with the presence of over 25 waterfalls and extensive forests where visitors can admire the diverse flora and fauna of the park.

Fundy National Park is closest to Saint John Airport.

3. Gros Morne National Park

Dramatic landscape of Gros Morne.

Gros Morne National Park is a 697-square-mile national park located in the easternmost province of Newfoundland and Labrador. The Gros Morne National Park is named after Gros Morne, a 2,644-foot mountain located in the park and a member of the Long Range Mountains. The Gros Morne National Park was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987 due to its geological history and unique offering of scenery. The mountain ranges in the park offer perfect hiking trails including the 10-mile trail over the Gros Morne Mountain. Lucky visitors also can see the resident animals of the park including arctic foxes, red squirrels, and many species of birds.

The closest airpors to Gros Morne rea Deer Lake Airport in Corner Brook and Stephenville International Airport in Stephenville.

2. Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

The Canadian Pacific coast.

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is a national park reserve located on the British Columbia coast. The national park reserve was established in 1970 and is the oldest of its kind in the country. The 197-square mile park is comprised of Long Beach, the West Coast Trail, and the Broken Group Islands. Of the three regions, Long Beach is the most popular due to its accessibility and large beach. Long Beach also hosts several campsites as well as many nature trails running through the expansive temperate rainforest. The Broken Group Islands is another key attraction of the Pacific Rim and is made of over 100 tiny islands in Barkley Sound. It is a popular destination for both kayakers and surfers.

The closest major airport to Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is Victoria International.

1. Jasper National Park

Maligne Lake, Jasper National Park.

Jasper National Park is a 4,200-square mile national park located on the western edge of Alberta, Canada. The national park is famed for its mountainous landscape, including Mount Columbia which is the highest peak in Alberta. The large forest is home to many animal species which visitors can be lucky to spot including grizzly bears, elk, coyote, and golden eagles. The Columbia Ice Field, the largest glacier in the Rockies is another star attraction, located on the route between Banff National Park and Jasper.

The closest airport to Jasper National Park is Edmonton International.

About the Author

Benjamin Elisha Sawe holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Statistics and an MBA in Strategic Management. He is a frequent World Atlas contributor. 


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