Canada has the oldest National Park system in the world. Banff National Park was the first park created in 1885, and since then an additional 37 parks have been created in the 13 provinces and territories of Canada. The parks are protected natural spaces that represent unique geographical regions. The parks span the range of Canada’s great nature – from rocky mountains to sandy beaches, from frozen tundra to grassland expanses. Some of the most popular are visited by upwards of 3 million people a year, and others see only a handful. Explore them with us in this top 10 list!
10. Cape Breton Highlands National Park
Cape Breton Highlands National Park is in Nova Scotia on the east coast. Bordering the Atlantic Ocean, the park is well known for steep cliffs and narrow river canyons. The Cabot Trail runs through the Park and is famous in its own right as a beautiful and scenic drive along the coast. There are numerous viewpoints along the roads in the park giving you the chance to enjoy the scenery, watch the wildlife (moose, bald eagles, and whales are popular) and just to stop for a picnic. There is camping and hiking as well as kayaking and fishing in the park.
9. Jasper National Park
Jasper National Park is in Alberta in the western half of the country and is comprised of a large section of the Rocky Mountains. Jasper is one of the world’s largest Dark Sky Reserves and there is an annual Dark Sky Festival during the Perseid meteor shower in August. In the winter there is skiing and snowboarding in the park, and in the summer camping, hiking, canoeing and exploring are all popular activities. Bears and elk are common sights throughout the park.
8. Fundy National Park
Fundy National Park is back on the east coast, this time in New Brunswick. Home to the highest tides in the world, the Bay of Fundy waters rise as much as 15 meters (50 feet) twice a day as the tide comes in. Kayaking along the coast is a popular pastime, as are exploring the coastline at low tide and hiking and biking the trails in the park. There are campsites and yurts to stay in, as well as a nine-hole golf course – but watch out for the resident deer.
7. Bruce Peninsula National Park
Bruce Peninsula National Park takes us to the middle of the country in northern Ontario. At the tip of a peninsula separating the beautiful Georgian Bay from the rest of Lake Huron, the park is part of the Niagara Escarpment which stretches from Watertown, New York, up to just south of Sault Ste. Marie, and then southwest almost to Chicago. The rocks of the escarpment create a particularly rugged landscape on the shores of the bay, with caves and steep cliffs. One of the highlights of the park for many people is hiking out to the Grotto, a natural cave in the limestone just above the waterline.
6. Auyuittuq National Park
Auyuittuq National Park lies in the far northeast of Canada on Baffin Island near Greenland. Auyuittuq means “the land that never melts” in Inuktitut. Almost entirely within the Arctic Circle, this park encompasses the harsh environment of the far north: glaciers and towering peaks look down on tundra valleys and deep fjords. Because of the extreme environment, visitors must register with the park office before entering and attend an orientation course. Backpacking and mountain climbing are the most common pursuits in this park, and Mount Asgard and Mount Thor are common destinations.