One of the best things about living in Canada is the easy access to nature. There are countless provincial parks and protected areas and every province or territory has at least one national park to visit. Most offer hiking and camping, so put on those sturdy boots, pack your tent, get your Discovery Pass and head to one of the 20 best Canadian national parks to explore this summer. While you’re exploring, keep an eye out for the red chairs placed in scenic spots in many of these parks.
Banff National Park, Alberta
Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta
Canadian wildlife here is varied and abundant and the best way to explore is on a hike or a bike ride. Overlooking Waterton Lake itself is the Prince of Wales Hotel, a grand railway hotel built by the Great Northern Railway of the United States during Prohibition. The idea was to lure American tourists to a place where they could have a decent nightcap.
Prince Edward Island National Park, Prince Edward Island
Kluane National Park and Reserve, Yukon
Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan
You’ll still find teepee rings and arrowheads here and yes, you can also camp in a teepee. The park is home to Canada’s only black-tailed prairie dog colonies. It’s also a dark-sky preserve, making it the perfect place for stargazing at night.
Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site, Nova Scotia
Wood Buffalo National Park, Alberta
Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve and Haida Heritage Site, British Columbia
Riding Mountain National Park, Manitoba
Among the many wildlife species you can find here is North America’s largest population of black bears. If you’re a history buff, you’ll want to visit the World War II-era Whitewater POW camp and if literature is your thing, you won’t want to miss the cabin that once was home to Grey Owl, the British-born conservationist and writer whose story was told in the eponymous 1999 movie.
Jasper National Park, Alberta
Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve, Quebec
Then there are the limestone monoliths sculpted by waves and weather. If you can’t stand the thought of spending the night in a tent, Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve has a unique accommodation option to offer too: a converted lighthouse station.
Nahanni National Park Reserve, Northwest Territories
Sable Island National Park Reserve, Nova Scotia
The island’s redeeming features more than make up for everything, though. Not only will you find wide beaches that you’ll share with nobody else except for the world’s largest breeding colony of grey seals; you can also admire the island’s wild horses. Be aware though that you’ll have to bring your own food and water because amenities on Sable Island are just about non-existent.
Thousand Islands National Park, Ontario
The main attraction is the river. In fact, most of the islands are accessible by boat only. As you kayak past the islands, keep an eye out for Cedar Island’s Cathcart Tower, a Martello tower built by the British in 1848 to help protect Kingston’s harbour.
Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ontario
Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia
The landscape features mountains and valleys, freshwater lakes and seaside beaches and the best way to experience it is on a hike, for instance along the Skyline Trail. Wildlife abounds on land and in the water and you might spot deer, coyotes, moose, bobcats, otters, black bears, whales, seals and much, much more. Also within the park is the Highlands Links Golf Course, regarded as one of the best public golf courses in Canada.
Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland and Labrador
The best way to admire the scenery, of course, is on a hike. Along the way you may spot animals like black bears, caribou, foxes, otters, beavers, seals and whales. You’ll almost definitely see some moose too. For a shot of culture, the park is home to several music and arts festivals during the year.
Auyuittuq National Park, Nunavut
Fundy National Park, New Brunswick
While tides elsewhere in the world have an average range of about one metre, here the range is around sixteen metres. One moment there’s water everywhere and the next – actually around six hours later – you find yourself standing on the ocean floor, digging for tiny and slimy sea creatures.