The 5 Most Remote National Parks In Canada

By Oishimaya Sen Nag on June 28 2019 in Environment

Tuktut Nogait National Park, the least visited national park in Canada.
Tuktut Nogait National Park, the least visited national park in Canada.

Canada currently contains 39 national parks and 8 national park reserves that encompass a combined area of approximately 328,198 km2. Canada's first national park was established in 1885 and now each of the country's ten provinces and three territories features at least one park. According to Parks Canada, the country's national parks, park reserves, and marine conservation areas recorded a total of 16,833,896 visitors in 2017-18. Alberta’s Banff National Park was Canada's most visited national park, with an attendance 4,181,854 visitors, while Tuktut Nogait National Park in the Northwest Territories was the least visited, with only 4 visitors in 2017-18. The five least visited Canadian national parks are highlighted below.

5. Wapusk National Park

Wapusk National Park is located in the Hudson Plains ecozone of northern Manitoba, on the shores of Hudson Bay. The park was established in 1996 and encompasses an area of 11,475 km2. Cape Churchill, which is considered the world’s best location to observe polar bears in their natural habitat and is accessible only by helicopter or Tundra Buggy, is located within the park. Wapusk National Park's remote location and the costs associated with visiting are deterrents for high levels of tourism. Additionally, access to the park is also restricted in an attempt to help preserve the landscape and habitat. However, numerous researchers, biologists, and conservationists have visited Wapusk National Park, and the park has even been featured in a documentary film. Besides polar bears, Wapusk National Park is also inhabited by timber wolves, lemmings, wolverines, Caspian terns, and peregrine falcons.

4. Ivvavik National Park

Ivvavik National Park is the fourth least visited national park in Canada. Located in the extreme northern part of the Yukon, the park's name means "birthplace" in the indigenous Inuvialuktun, which refers to its importance as a calving ground for caribou. The national park is known for its picturesque landscapes, indigenous cultural sites, and a significant Porcupine caribou population. Other wildlife that inhabit the park include moose, lemmings, wolverines, grizzly bears, Dall sheep, and timber wolves. Tourism in Ivvavik National Park is highly restricted in order to protect the Porcupine caribou herd. Additionally, the park's extreme northerly location and its short visiting season deter many tourists from visiting. In 2017-18, Ivvavik National Park recorded only 119 tourists.

3. Quttinirpaaq National Park

Located on northeastern corner of Ellesmere Island, Nunavut, Quttinirpaaq National Park is the world’s second most northerly national park. The park's name means "top of the world” in the indigenous Inuktitut language. First established as Ellesmere Island National Park Reserve in 1988, it was renamed and designated a national park in 2000. Quttinirpaaq occupies an area of 37,775 km2, ranking as Canada’s second most extensive national park. Nunavut's highest point, Barbeau Peak, which has an elevation of 2,616 m, is located in Quttinirpaaq National Park. The park experiences a polar desert climate featuring large ice caps and glaciers, and species that inhabit Quttinirpaaq are adapted to the extreme climate. Wildlife in the park include Arctic wolves, polar bears, seals, walruses, Arctic hares, and birds of prey. Like Canada's other northerly national parks, Quttinirpaaq also records a limited number of visitors, with a total of only 33 in 2017-18. The park is accessible by plane, with landing strips at Tanquary Fiord Airport and Lake Hazen serving as the primary access points. Quttinirpaaq National Park does not contain any tourist facilities, with the exception of two backpacking routes.

2. Aulavik National Park

Aulavik National Park, whose name means the "place where people travel" in the indigenous Inuvialuktun language, is Canada's second least visited national park, recording only 24 visitors in 2017-18. The park occupies an area of 12,274 km2 on Banks Island in the Northwest Territories. One of North America’s most northerly navigable rivers, the Thomsen River, flows through the park, and its remoteness makes Aulavik difficult to access by tourists. In fact, the most practical way to reach Aulavik is to charter a plane, as it is a fly-in park that features four landing sites. In addition to it remoteness, the polar desert climate and harsh winds experienced in the park are significant deterrents for tourism. Aulavik has the world’s highest concentration of muskoxen concentration, and is also inhabited by the endangered Peary caribou. Two species of birds, ravens and ptarmigans, live in the park throughout the year, while 43 species can be observed in Aulavik seasonally. Many marine animals, such as ringed seals, beluga and bowhead whales, bearded seals, and polar bears inhabit the park, as well as birds of prey, including snowy owls and peregrine falcons.

1. Tuktut Nogait National Park

Established in 1998, Tuktut Nogait National Park is located in the Northwest Territories and encompasses an area of approximately 18,000 km2. The park is known as the calving grounds of the Bluenose-West caribou herd, but is also inhabited by species such as grizzly bears, Arctic ground squirrels, Arctic chars, wolves, and red foxes. Remnants of campsites, graves, kayak rests, and other archeological evidence suggests the region has been occupied by humans since approximately 1000 AD. Despite its rich history, Tuktut Nogait is Canada's least visited national park, recording only 4 visitors in 2017-18. One of the biggest barriers to tourism in the park is its remote location, as it is situated 170 km north of the Arctic Circle and experiences extremely cold climatic conditions. However, recent initiatives have been undertaken by park to encourage tourism in the park, and it is hoped that the Tuktut Nogait will attract more visitors in the coming years.

List of the 5 Most Remote and Least Visited National Parks in Canada

RankNational ParkNumber of Visitors (2017-18)
1Tuktut Nogait National Park4
2Aulavik National Park24
3Quttinirpaaq National Park33
4Ivvavik National Park119
5Wapusk National Park 162

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