Now that I live in the Pacific Northwest, British Columbia is a quick 45 minute drive away. My boyfriend and I have been taking advantage of this by going to Canucks games, exploring Vancouver, and enjoying as much of Canada’s natural beauty as we possibly can, including some of Canada’s National Parks.
To celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary, Parks Canada is offering free admission to all Canadian National Parks! Here are my top 5 picks!
Banff National Park
As Canada’s oldest National Park, Banff National Park has certainly earned its bragging rights. Founded in 1885, this 2500 square mile park is located near Alberta in the heart of the Canadian Rockies. No matter what time of year you plan on visiting, Banff has something to offer.
Winter sports enthusiasts have a variety of ski resorts to choose from and fall adventurers can take in views of golden aspen trees. Summer is the best season to take a hike to Moraine, a sapphire blue glacial lake that reflects the mountains towering over it. Out of all of Canada’s National Parks, this is my favorite!
Yoho National Park
Banff’s sister, Yoho National Park, has a distinctly wild and rugged West Coast vibe. Hike the short trail to the surging white waters of Takakka Falls. If you’re up for a longer trail, opt for the 6.8 mile Emerald Lake Loop. The views are just as breathtaking as Moraine Lake, but with fewer visitors, giving you the opportunity to enjoy some solitude in this pristine mountain wilderness.
Yoho’s Natural Bridge is a rock formation that spans each side of the Kicking Horse River. While spectacular in all seasons, it’s especially worth visiting in the winter. During the winter, you can walk under the frozen rapids and through crystal ice formations.
Gros Morne National Park
Gros Morne sits on the rocky shores of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. As Canada’s second largest National Park, it takes up nearly 700 miles of western Newfoundland. If you use the sleepy seaside town of Rocky Harbour as your base, most of the park’s destinations are within a forty minute drive.
Spend a summer day at Shallow Bay Beach, one of the few sandy strands in Newfoundland. Because it’s so remote, you’ll practically have the place to yourself. If you’re up for a challenge, try hiking the Gros Morne Mountain Trail for views of the lush, lake-dotted landscape.
Forillon National Park
Quebec’s oldest National Park, Forillon, has such a diverse landscape that you’ll never get tired of exploring it. From thick forests and high cliffs to pebble beaches, Forillon offers something for every type of wilderness traveler. Perch atop the Cap Bon Ami cliffs and watch the setting sun as you breathe in the salty sea air.
A trip to Forillon would hardly be complete without hiking or cycling the La Vallée Trail, which is a 5.7 mile loop. For an all-day hiking challenge, try the longer and less developed Le Portage Trail.
Bruce Peninsula National Park
Located on Lake Superior in Ontario, this 60 square mile National Park might be somewhat small, but that shouldn’t stop you from exploring this gorgeous preserve. Take a short hike to the Grotto and Indian Head Cove, a popular summer swimming destination filled with watery caves, and towering rock formations. It even has a designated bouldering area at Halfway Log Dump. Bruce’s annual hiking festival, which runs for a week in late September and early October, is a great experience for any outdoor enthusiast.
Do you have any plans to visit any of Canada’s National Parks in 2017? Which ones would you like to explore?