8 Canadian National Parks to Visit at Least Once in Your Life

Canada has some of the best wilderness the world has to offer. If you want to experience it, here are some of the best places to go at least once in your life.

Jasper National Park, Alberta

One of the best national parks from which to experience the Rockies, Jasper is famous for its wildlife tours (with emphasis on the bison) and the Columbia Icefield. There’s nothing in the world like walking on a glacier, and this is one of the best places to do it. Also, we bet you didn’t know that Jasper is home to the world’s second-largest dark sky preserve—so if you want to do some star gazing with the naked eye, this is where you need to be.

Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia

This is where the mountains meet the sea. You can easily experience it by driving the Cabot Trail. Or, if you’re looking for a more active outing, you can hike the Skyline Trail. The area is rich in wildlife, including lynx, moose, otter, hawks, and beaver. This is also one place where you can reliably whale watch from the shore. The usual suspects, such as minke and humpbacks, are present, but if you’re lucky, you may spot a North Atlantic right whale.

Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland & Labrador

If you want to see icy fjords, ancient cliff faces, and some truly spectacular hiking, then Gros Morne is for you. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, thanks to the fact that it features exposed mantle and crust.

Gaspésie National Park, Quebec

Home to the only caribou herd south of the St. Lawrence River, Gaspésie is also home to more than 20 mountains and more than 80 miles of hiking. Oh, and if you wanted to hike part of the International Appalachian Trail, you’d do it here.

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, British Columbia

Ancient cedar groves, coastal rainforest, tide pools teeming with sea life, and trails through the ferns and mist—all this can be experienced at the Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. There’s lots to do in the way of water sports, hiking, camping, and biking, but the coolest things about this park are the many First Nations cultural experiences to be had. These include interpretive centres, guided tours of the trails, meeting with beach keepers, and more.

Banff National Park, Alberta

One of our oldest national parks, Banff brings a bit of luxury to the party, thanks to the hotels and shopping in the actual town of Banff. But rest assured that there are lots of hiking trails and other ways to experience the Rocky Mountain wilderness. But maybe plan on going in the offseason. Lakes Louise and Minnewanka are beautiful, and the whole world wants to see them in person.

Kootenay National Park, British Columbia

If you want Banff without the crowds, look no further than Kootenay. Famous for its Radium Hot Springs, the park is also known for its spectacular hiking, white-water rafting, and winter sports.

Wapusk National Park, Manitoba

Accessible only by plane or boat, this northern Manitoba park is all tundra and polar bears. Polar bear tours are possible in the winter months. In the summer, the main activity the park offers is canoeing down the Owl River. Of course, this isn’t your lazy paddle in cottage country—experienced outdoor adventurers only!