Top 10 National Parks of Canada
Canada Travel Destinations- Best National Parks of Canada
Canada has one of the best national park systems in the world. There are over 40 parks that are located in every province and territory. Some of these parks are close to populated urban centres while others are located in remote areas where only a few adventurous souls will go. Several parks are situated in mountainous terrain while others are situated along shores of lakes and oceans. They are located on the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic coasts, across the interior mountains and plains and Great Lakes. They vary in size and include renowned names like Banff and lesser known names like Pukaskwa. Here is a list of my favorite Canadian National Parks.
Banff National Park, Alberta
Banff National Park is Canada's first and oldest national park. It was established in 1885 and is considered the gem of the Canadian National Park system. Located in the province of Alberta about a 1.5 hr drive from Calgary, the park covers 6,641 square kilometres of mountainous terrain, and features numerous glaciers and ice fields, dense coniferous forest, crystal clear rivers and lakes amidst spectacular alpine landscapes.
People from around the world come to ski and hike the many mountains and admire the scenic beauty making it one of the world's most visited national parks with over 5 million visitors per year.
Some of the many attractions in Banff which are a must see include the Icefields Parkway which connects Banff with Jasper National Park, Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, Johnston Canyon and the town of Banff itself.
Jasper National Park, Alberta
Jasper National Park is situated next door to the north of Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies of Alberta. Established in 1907, it is one of the oldest and largest national parks and has become a popular destination attracting over 2 million visitors per year. Jasper features kilometers of trails, numerous glaciers, canyons, waterfalls, pristine lakes, alpine meadows, rivers and an abundance of wildlife. Here you will most definitely spot black bears, grizzly bears, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, white tailed deer, moose, and elk often from the roadways. Popular scenic attractions include the Columbia Icefields, Maligne Canyon, Mount Edith Cavell, Maligne Lake, Athabasca Falls and the Icefields Parkway.
Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ontario
Bruce Peninsula National Park is located in Ontario on Georgian Bay about 4.5 hours from Toronto. The park is comprised of high shoreline cliffs, crystal clear turquoise waters, sea caves, ancient coral reefs, kilometers of hiking trails and over 40 species of orchids. It offers visitors spectacular sunrises and sunsets, numerous water activities like sailing, kayaking and great hiking along the Bruce Trail which runs along the Niagara Escarpment providing beautiful views of Georgian Bay. The park is also next door to Fathom Five Marine Park which is considered as one of the best spots for diving for shipwrecks in Canada.
Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland
Gros Morne is a large national park situated on Newfoundland's west coast. It is part of the Long Range Mountains that stretch along the provinces west coast. The park is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its unique geology and exceptional beauty. You'll find a rich variety of wildlife and many great recreational activities such as hiking, backpacking and camping.
The park has some of the most beautiful scenery including waterfalls, marine inlets, sandy beaches, colorful nearby fishing villages and towering cliffs carved out by glaciers known as fjords. The fjords that rise several hundred feet are one of the main features that attract visitors to the park. Highly recommend is the boat tour that travels through the fjords.
Pacific Rim National Park, British Columbia
Pacific Rim National Park is situated on the west coast of Vancouver Island. The park consists of rugged coast, lush temperate rainforests, and long sandy beaches. Long Beach is the most visited area in the park and is a popular spot with surfers who come out to ride the waves. The park attracts avid backpackers who come to hike the West Coast Trail which is a 75 kilometer challenging trail which runs along the island through rainforests and along sandy beaches. The trail typically takes 5-7 days to traverse.
Kluane National Park, Yukon
Kluane National Park is set amidst a sweeping landscape of mountain valleys carved by glaciers which dominate much of the area. Kluane is home to the world's largest non-polar icefields and to Canada's highest mountain Mont Logan at 5959m. The park is a top wilderness adventure destination attracting visitors who come to raft the Alsek and Tatshenshini River, horseback ride the Alsek Pass, spot grizzlies, hike the many trails and the ultimate must-do, a flightseeing tour of the massive 100km long glaciers that flow down Kluane's sweeping valleys. Kluane NP is located in the southwestern corner of the Yukon and is a World Heritage Site.
Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta
Waterton Lakes National Park is located in southern Alberta on the border with Montana. It is part of the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. The great thing about this park is the tranquility. It's not as crowded as Banff and offers equally spectacular scenery. Stay at the Prince of Wales Hotel which sits on a cliff overlooking Waterton Lake and provides one of the nicest views in the park. Hike the Crypt Lake Trail and visit Cameron Falls and Red Rock Canyon. Waterton Lakes is where the prairies meet the mountains. Out of nowhere the mountains emerge. If travelling from Calgary stop at the Head-Smashed-in-Buffalo-Jump and the Bar-U Ranch. Glacier National Park in Montana is right next door and is worth visiting.
Forillon National Park, Quebec
Forillon National Park is located at the northeastern tip of the Gaspe Peninsula in the province of Quebec. It is part of the Appalachians and includes forests, sea coasts, salt mashes, sand dunes, and cliffs. This a fabulous place for wildlife and includes large nesting colonies of sea birds, different species of whales, seals, atlantic white-sided dolphins, black bears and moose. The park is shaped by erosion and features high cliffs overlooking the sea. It is dotted with meadows of wilflowers and coves lined by pebble beaches. One of the most prominent features besides the cliffs is the lighthouse at Pointe-au-Pere National historic Site which rises 30 metres above the waters of the St. Lawrence.
Fundy National Park , New Brunswick
Fundy National Park is located on the Bay of Fundy in the province of New Brunswick. The park stretches along the Bay of Fundy which has the highest tidal fluctuation in the world. What makes this park so unique is that at low tide, visitors can walk the ocean bottom which previously was 9 metres or more below the water's surface at high tide. The park is composed of inland lush forests and deep valleys and beautiful seashores. A highly visited point of interest is Hopewell Rocks which are flower pot rock formations that are eroded and shaped by the tides.
Prince Edwards Island National Park, PEI
Prince Edwards Island National Park is located along the north shore of the tiny island of PEI stretching for 40 kilometres. The park included red sandstone cliffs, offshore bars and some of Canada's longest and most beautiful beaches. The park is home to Green Gables House, of Anne of Green Gables fame and Dalvay-by-the-Sea.