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Canada contains some of the wildest, most pristine, and most stunning national parks in the world. Many of these parks are also UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Whether you enjoy visiting the wilderness through rugged outdoor adventures or you prefer to view dramatic scenery from luxurious lodges and trains, Canada’s national parks have something for everyone. Here are a few of the best and most popular of Canada’s parks:
Banff National Park
Located in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta, Banff National Park is known for its stunning mountain scenery, glacier-fed lakes, and wildlife, including grizzly bears, elk, and wolves. This park is the most popular in the country and with good reason. Here you can find the best hiking and paddling, stunning scenery, areas for wildlife viewing, and take a boat ride on Lake Louisa. Although getting to this remote park might sound difficult, it is actually rather simple. Most airlines fly into Calgary, where you can rent a car or take a shuttle to the park.
Algonquin Provincial Park
Algonquin Provincial Park is a popular destination for camping, canoeing, and hiking. Located in Ontario, this park offers visitors a chance to see moose, beavers, and other wildlife. This large stretch of wilderness is a good place for hiking, wildlife viewing, and kayaking. Algonquin Provincial Park is a long drive from Toronto, but many people will drive from there rather than fly to one of the smaller regional airports. If you are without transportation you can rent a car Toronto or take the ParkBus.
Jasper National Park
Also located in the Rocky Mountains of Alberta, Jasper National Park is the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies and offers visitors a chance to explore its beautiful glaciers, canyons, and lakes. This park is a great place for hiking and other outdoor sports. Most people fly into Edmonton or Calgary and drive or take public transportation to get to the park. Other people visit Jasper after visiting Banff National Park. Some people visit this area by taking train tours and avoid the transportation issue altogether.
Pacific Rim National Park
Pacific Rim National Park is known for its rugged coastline, beaches, and rainforest. Located on the west coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia, this park is made up of three distinct areas: Long Beach, the Broken Group Islands, and the West Coast Trail. The Long Beach Unit is made up of long sandy stretches of beach, tide pools, and rocky islands. The Broken Group Islands are a beautiful collection of rocky islands and shell-covered beaches in Barkley Sound. Finally, the West Coast Trail is a 75-kilometer trail through the backcountry of western Vancouver Island.
Gros Morne National Park
Located in Newfoundland and Labrador, Gros Morne National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that offers visitors a chance to explore its stunning fjords, mountains, and ancient rock formations. This amazing park is one of the best places in the world to see the results of the shifting of tectonic plates. Access to this park, which is located on an island, is by ferry if you are coming in a vehicle. You can also fly to regional airports and rent a car. No matter which way you are coming from, expect a bit of a journey to get to this park.
Grasslands National Park
If you want to see the prairies of North America, consider visiting Grasslands National Park. Located in Saskatchewan, this vast wilderness area is home to wildlife like bison, deer, pronghorns, and prairie dogs. In addition to wildlife viewing, you can enjoy scenic drives through the pristine grasslands or choose one of many trails to hike along. Access to Grasslands National Park is by gravel roads, so keep that in mind when choosing vehicles to travel in. You can also fly into one of the nearest cities, like Regina or Calgary, and rent a vehicle. Keep in mind the slower driving speeds and long distances when you are planning for lodging and meals.
Fundy National Park
Fundy National Park is located in New Brunswick along the Bay of Fundy. The park’s most well-known claim to fame is the world’s highest tides. You can experience these tides while on the water or by watching from a nearby beach. During low tide, you can explore the muddy seashore left behind by the receding waters. You can also hike, camp, snowshoe, and kayak in this park. There is no public transportation to the park so you need to plan on driving, whether you make it a road trip or fly to a nearby airport and then drive a rental car to the park.
Cape Breton Highlands National Park
Visit Cape Breton Highlands National Park, located in Nova Scotia, to see the stunning, rugged scenery of mountains and the sea. This park has amazing hiking trails but perhaps the most famous of its “trails”, the Cabot Trail, is actually a road. Filled with amazing views and countless places to stop for hikes and picnics, this is one of the most scenic drives you could find anywhere. Getting to Cape Breton Highlands National Park requires a bit of a drive no matter what direction you are coming from. If you need to fly to get to this park, you will probably use Halifax Stanfield International Airport.
Whether you live in Canada or are traveling internationally, the national parks of this great country are an important part of its natural and cultural history. No visit is complete without at least one trip to a national park. While these are a few of the best and most popular parks, there are many other options as well.