Each year millions of people from Canada and around the world head out to our incredible backcountry to enjoy our 42 breathtaking National Parks. Ranging from rugged Canadian Rockies, to vast prairies, and thundering ocean tides, the array of adventures to be found within these national treasures are endless.
This July 16th we celebrate our National Parks and all of their natural beauty. Canada’s Parks Day is designed to not only get people out and enjoy our backyards, but to learn how to keep them just as beautiful as they are. Many organized activities will be held at various parks around the country, and we encourage you to get out and celebrate, enjoy, and most importantly learn about protecting our National Parks’ fragile ecosystems.
With 42 National Parks, and millions of square kilometers of Provincial parks, reserves and wilderness areas, it’s hard to see it all. That’s why we’ve put together a list of 11 Canadian National Parks that you HAVE to see.
1. Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve – BC
Located 130 km off of the mainland of BC, you’ll find an island oasis like none other. The Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve protects an archipelago of 138 islands and is the first area in the world to be preserved from mountain top to sea floor. While the impressive National Park is only accessible by boat or floatplane, taking the effort to get there will be well worth it. Established as an outcome of the logging protest on Lyell Island, the Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve features pristine landscapes to explore and in depth history to discover. Take a guided tour by float plane, cruise though the channels by boat, take a dip in the natural hot springs, and learn about the impressive totem poles and their history – any adventure in Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve is certain to be a unique one.
Our latest edition Haida Gwaii Waterproof Map will get you going on the best route to explore the mystical beauty of Gwaii Haanas National Park.
2. Pacific Rim National Park – BC
One look at the coastline of Pacific Rim National Parks coastline of Long Beach, and you’ll know exactly why over 700,000 visitors from around the world flock there every year. Whether you’re looking to surf, feel the pacific sand between your toes, or take on the challenge of the West Coast Trail, there are endless adventures to be had in this incredible National Park. Taking Highway 4 from the Nanaimo Ferry Terminal (if you’re coming from Vancouver’s mainland), will take you along a windy but beautiful cruise towards the infamous Long Beach, but plan your accommodations ahead of time as you’ll certainly want more than just a day to enjoy all there is to see. A popular place to storm watch as well, the foggy coastline is littered with adventures, and history galore, and is a true island treasure.
Check out our Vancouver Island Mapbook for all of the adventures to be found in Pacific Rim National Park.
3. Waterton Lakes National Park – Alberta
The best place to experience a slice of the true diversity of Southern Alberta’s landscape is Waterton Lakes National Park. The viewpoints from every point of this park will leave you feeling serene and the spectacular area offers countless adventures. The beautiful azure lakes feature great opportunities to fish, and the 3,250 meter (10,660 ft) high mountain peaks make for the perfect backdrop or scrambling adventure. Waterton Lakes National Park can be enjoyed year round, with the 190 km (120 mi) of trails and ample hiking, biking, fishing, horseback riding, golfing, rock climbing, scuba diving, swimming, wilderness camping, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing explorations. With so much to see and do in the park, you’ll want to stay the night for sure, and there are plenty of options for that as well. Take your pick between one of the six hotels, motels and resorts or camp in any of the surrounding sites for a true backcountry experience.
Read up on all the detailed adventures of Waterton Lakes National Park in our Southern Alberta Mapbook.
4. Grasslands National Park – Saskatchewan
Situated among the expansive prairies of Saskatchewan, Grasslands National Park is the perfect representation of the Prairie Province’s unique landscape. As the only national park in all of Canada that protects a mixed-grass prairie ecosystem, the diversity of wildlife and vegetation you’ll find here is astounding. Protecting this incredible ecosystem is just as important as exploring it, as we have already lost 80% of our native prairie land and hope to preserve Grasslands National Park as the most intact and largest display of Canada’s native prairies. History can be found in between the rolling hills, dating as far back as the prehistoric era, and many tours are offered for the whole family to learn about the history of the area. Take your pick of hiking the barren backcountry, uncovering prehistoric fossils or sleeping under the starry sky – the opportunities for adventure are as vast as the prairie lands themselves.
See all the endless adventure opportunities of Grasslands National Park in our Saskatchewan Backroad Mapbook and GPS Maps.
5. Wapusk National Park – Manitoba
Deep in the tundra of Manitoba, you’ll find a landscape filled with incredible wildlife, frozen foliage and amazing adventures. In Wapusk National Park the soil is permanently frozen and often covered in blankets of snow, but that doesn’t mean your views there will be completely blank. Here, you’ll have the opportunity to see caribou, polar bears, arctic fox and much more. Wapusk National Park features tons of adventures as well, such as tours where you’ll get the chance to see wild polar bears up close and personal, canoe excursions, guided hikes through historic archeological sites and aerial tours of the wide open tundra. Getting there is half the adventure as well, as there is no road access to Churchill. So pack your bags for the experience of a lifetime and make your way to Wapusk National Park.
Find more cool adventures, and all the details of Wapusk National Park, in our Manitoba Mapbook and GPS Maps.
6. Bruce Peninsula National Park – Ontario
Comprising 156 km² (60 mi²) of the Niagara Escarpment, Bruce Peninsula National Park is one of the largest protected areas in southern Ontario. The diverse landscape, wildlife, and vegetation is what makes Bruce Peninsula Park such a paradise for explorers of all kinds, and people come here from all over the world to hike, bike, paddle, camp and experience its natural wonders. Catch a view of the turquoise waters of the Georgian Bay from the Bruce Trail, immerse yourself in the 400 million year old geology on the Niagara Escarpment, or relax under the stars of the night sky preserve – any adventure in Bruce Peninsula National Park is bound to bring you coming back for more.
Our Southern Ontario Mapbook has all the details you need to know about this wonderful park.
7. Cape Breton Highlands National Park – Nova Scotia
Featuring everything from steep mountain cliffs to deep river canyons to spectacular ocean views, Cape Breton Highlands Park is easily one of the most incredible parks in Canada. Setting the bar high, Cape Breton Highlands Park was the first ever Atlantic Canada National Park, and is the perfect representation of the kinds of views and adventures you will find on the east coast. A portion of the world-famous Cabot Trail follows the coastline through Cape Breton Highlands Park, where you’ll be able to set your sights on dense forests, deep river canyons and glorious rustic mountain cliffs. The wildlife is almost as abundant as the landscape, with plenty of moose, bald eagles and even whales to be seen. Offering 26 scenic hiking trails, Cape Breton Highlands Park is certainly a hikers paradise, but there are plenty of other actives to enjoy such as camping, cycling, geocaching, fishing, swimming and simply just exploring. Cap off some great fun visiting Cape Breton Highlands Park in Nova Scotia.
Our Atlantic Canada GPS Maps and Nova Scotia Mapbook will guide you through all the beauty of Cape Breton Highlands Park!
8. Kouchibouguac National Park – New Brunswick
Protecting the Acadian forest, lush bogs, salt marshes, lagoons and fresh white sand dunes, Kouchibouguac National park is place like no other. You’ll find this unique destination only one hour from Moncton, New Brunswick, but the rustic landscape and beautiful scenery will make you feel like you’ve arrived in a whole other world. The 60 km (37 mi) of bike paths make this an ideal destination for any cyclist, but the scenes of engaging Canadian wildlife, beautiful dark sky preserve, and warm ocean beaches will draw anyone to this park. Whether you arrive in summer or winter, there is plenty to do and even more to see. Discover all the natural wonders of the east coast in Kouchibouguac National Park.
You can find evolving ecosystems like Kouchibouguac National Park, and more, in our New Brunswick Mapbook and Atlantic Canada GPS Maps.
9. Gros Morne National Park – Newfoundland
The ancient landscape of Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland only gets better with time. Between towering mountains, a vast scene of beaches, bogs, forests and cliff sides, there’s no wonder why people come from all over the world to marvel at Gros Morne’s glory. The incredible geology found in Gros Morne isn’t the only thing that makes it such a great place to explore, and the engaging history adds to the excitement as well. There are many interpretive programs offered where you can enjoy and learn the history of Gros Morne, and discover the beauty from all angles. As well, you can take your pick at kayaking, camping, swimming, hiking, cross-country skiing, snow shoeing and cycling throughout this UNESCO World Heritage Site. You’ll find a grand amount of adventures in Gros Morne National Park.
To find even more adventures in Gros Morne and Newfoundland, grab a copy of our Newfouldand and Labrador Mapbook or Atlantic Canada GPS Maps.
10. Prince Edward Island National Park - PEI
Despite being the smallest Canadian Province, Prince Edward Island boats one of the most visited and well explored National Parks. Made up of rolling sand dunes, endless beaches and lush marshes, the adventures you can find in Prince Edward Island National Park are one in a million. The varied coastal terrain offers activities such as hiking and biking, and you can take a dip in the Atlantic waters for a quick canoe cruise or kayak. The interpretative programs available will teach the whole family about this historic park, and are offered on a daily basis throughout every season. A special treasure you’ll find in the park is the beautiful Green Gables, the inspiration behind the popular novel Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery. To find your next island oasis, take an adventure though the incredible Prince Edward Island National Park.
Find the national treasure of Prince Edward Island National Park and more in our Prince Edward Island Mapbook and Atlantic Canada GPS Maps.
11. Kluane National Park - Yukon
If you’re looking for an extreme adventure, you’ll find it in Kluane National Park. Deep in the mountains of the southwest Yukon Territory, this park is home to Mount Logan, Canada’s highest peak, and North America’s most genetically diverse grizzly population. People come from all over the world to explore this dramatic terrain. Grab a raft to explore the Alsek River, set off on a multi-day backcountry trek, or even enjoy Kathleen Lake casually from the side of the highway – Kluane National Park offers incredible experiences for all. As a true northern ecosystem, you’ll be able to find ample wildlife, ranging from wolves, coyotes, lynx and wolverines to hares, marmots, foxes and beavers. No adventure is too big for Kluane National Park, so be sure to put it at the top of your exploration check list.
Our brand new Yukon GPS Maps provide the best navigation through Kluane National Park, and will give you ample new adventures to find in the area as well.
Did we miss your favourite Canadian National Park? Tell us which one in the comments below, and let us know how you’re celebrating this Canada Parks Day!