Don’t let the year end without a visit to some of Canada’s greatest national parks. After all, autumn is one of the best seasons to immerse yourself in the Canadian wilderness, and capture the fall colours in all their glory.
To celebrate the country’s 150th birthday, Parks Canada is giving out Discovery Passes for the entire year of 2017 to celebrate our natural scenery – and it’s a great time to take advantage!
From the temperate island retreat of British Columbia’s Gulf Islands National Parks Reserve to the rugged Maritime coastline of Fundy National Park, to the arctic tundra housing Ivvavik National Park, you’ll definitely find some gems to cross off your bucket list.
Akami / Uapishku / KakKasuak / Mealy Mountains National Park Reserve. (http://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/nl/mealy/ )
Located in Labrador, this epic landscape of mountain, tundra, ocean coastline and boreal forest holds great cultural significance for the Inuit.
Aulavik National Park (http://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/nt/aulavik )
A whopping 12,000 square kilometres of arctic lowlands, you’ll find river valleys, polar deserts and rolling hills here.
Auyuittuq National Park (http://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/nu/auyuittuq )
Like something out of a lunar excursion film, this Baffin Island park features a landscape that is 85 percent rock and ice. According to its Parks Canada description, it’s a great place to watch “snow geese, Arctic foxes and human-shaped Inuksuit basking in Midnight Sun.”
Banff National Park (http://pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/ab/banff )
Arguably one of Alberta’s best scenic attractions, Banff Natural Park features Rocky Mountain Peaks gently cradling a series of turquoise glacial lakes and is classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Bruce Peninsula National Park (https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/on/bruce )
Situated in the heart of Ontario’s cottage country, this is a great place to admire the sheer cliffs and crystal waters of Georgian Bay.
Cape Breton Highlands National Park (http://www.novascotia.com/see-do/outdoor-activities/cape-breton-highlands-national-park/1901 )
Travel the world-renowned Cabot Trail coastline as you wind your way through forested riverbanks and rust-coloured cliffs. If you’re lucky you might catch a glimpse of a whale breaching the waves of the Atlantic Ocean.
Elk Island National Park (http://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/ab/elkisland )
This prairie gem serves as a refuge for bison, elk and over 2,500 bird species. It’s a popular spot for overnight campers too, and makes a great place to admire the prairie’s quintessential big sky.
Fathom Five National Marine Park (http://www.pc.gc.ca/en/amnc-nmca/on/fathomfive )
Dive, camp, or admire the fall colours in this Lake Huron ecosystem.
Forillon National Park (https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/qc/forillon )
Take your pick at this Quebec destination: stroll by the sea, along cliffs or through the forest. In the summer it’s a great spot for snorkelling.
Fundy National Park (https://www.tourismnewbrunswick.ca/Products/Parks/Fundy-National-Park.aspx )
Wide open sky, rugged coastline and over 75 miles of Maritime hiking trails are just some of the features you’ll find here.
Georgian Bay Islands National Park (http://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/on/georg )
The world’s largest freshwater archipelago, this is a great spot to admire groves of white pine and the granite shores of the Canadian Shield.
Glacier National Park (https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/bc/glacier )
Featuring spectacular alpine scenery, moss-draped cedars, deep valleys and expansive meadows, this is one of the country’s most prized natural wonders.
Grasslands National Park (https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/sk/grasslands )
Experience big sky country, as a sea of prairie grass and the solitude of the wide-open plains welcome you.
Gros Morne National Park (http://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/nl/grosmorne )
Glaciers converge here to shape a selection of soaring fjords, barren cliffs, beaches and bogs. Wander the coastline and spot herds of moose and caribou among the alpine highlands.
Gulf Islands National Park Reserve (https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/bc/gulf )
Eagles and gulls soar above the Salish Sea here, while seals and otters play amongst the shoreline in this Island getaway. If you’re lucky you might even see a pod of Orcas! This is a popular spot for hiking, cycling and kayaking as well.
Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve (http://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/bc/gwaiihaanas )
A rich and remote landscape, this is the land of the Haida people, situated on BC’s most western coast. You’re just as likely to find towering Cedar and Spruce forests as you are a cast of bears, bald eagles and sea lions.
Ivvavik National Park (https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/yt/ivvavik )
This Nunavut destination is the first national park in Canada to be created as a result of an Aboriginal land claim agreement. It protects a portion of the Porcupine caribou herd.
Jasper National Park: (https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/ab/jasper )
At over 11,000 square kilometres this is the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies. Hike, cycle or camp amongst a series of beaches, prairie trails and breathtaking mountain scenery.
Kejimkujik National Park (http://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/ns/kejimkujik )
This Nova Scotia gem is perfect for hiking, paddling and camping amongst a natural historic site.
Kluane National Park and Reserve (https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/yt/kluane )
Nestled high in the mountains of the Yukon, this spot features ice fields, a large grizzly population and stunning scenery.
Kootenay National Park (https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/bc/kootenay )
A place of unique contrasts, you’ll find icy mountain rivers and steamy hot springs here, along with deep canyons and waterfalls, making it one of the most scenic hiking destinations in the west.
Kouchibougnac National Park (https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/nb/kouchibouguac )
Nestled into New Brunswick’s Acadian Coast, these lush forests give way to salt marshes, warm beaches and picturesque golden sand dunes.
La Mauricie National Park (https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/qc/mauricie )
This hidden gem is a hub for waterfalls and crisp, refreshing pools that invite you to jump in and refresh yourself. You’ll also find conifer forests and a diverse species of birds, like the great horned owl .
Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area (http://www.pc.gc.ca/en/amnc-nmca/on/super )
If you’ve never been to Lake Superior, also called Gitchi Gummi or “The Big Lake” by the Anishinaabe, you’re missing out. The conservation area features epic coastline hikes and some of the country’s greatest fall colours.
Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve (https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/qc/mingan )
Limestone croppings, 1,000 islands to explore and a vast blue horizon dotted with seabirds and whales are just some of the perks you’ll find here.
Mount Revelstoke National Park (http://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/bc/revelstoke )
This lush rainforest in BC is a great place for hiking and taking in mountain vistas.
Nahanni National Park Reserve (http://pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/nt/nahanni)
Based in the Dehcho Region of the Northwest Territories, this park protects a portion of the majestic Mackenzie Mountains and showcases the South Nahanni River, amongst granite spires and lush alpine meadows.
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve (https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/bc/pacificrim )
Even in the winter this West Coast beauty makes a great spot. Watch the storms rage and the breakers crash on the craggy shoreline, or spend the day hiking and kayaking in the summer. Steeped in nature and culture, this one is a must-see.
Point Pelee National Park (http://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/on/pelee )
At the southernmost point of Canada’s mainland you’ll find the country’s smallest but most ecologically diverse park. Hike, cycle and paddle your way around, whether it’s summer or winter!
Prince Albert National Park (https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/sk/princealbert )
Check out Grey Owl’s legendary cabin, portage a canoe between crystal clear lakes or hike through solitary forests.
Prince Edward Island National Park (http://pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/pe/pei-ipe )
Situated along the island’s North Shore, this park features the quintessential Maritime red cliffs, along with warm beaches, woodland and picturesque sand dunes. It’s a great option for kids and families.
Pukaskwa National Park (http://pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/on/pukaskwa )
This North Ontario gem features stunning views of Lake Superior, along with windswept pine and spruce trees, impressive cliffs and makes a killer spot for sunsets.
Quasuittuq National Park (https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/nu/qausuittuq )
Situated on northwest Bathurst Island in Nunavut, here you’ll find alpine meadows, herds of caribou and a windswept tundra.
Quttinirpaaq National Park (http://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/nu/quttinirpaaq )
A truly off-the-beaten-path destination, this park features glittering ice caps punctuated by rugged black peaks and flowing rivers. White hare and caribou populate dot the arctic tundra under the glow of Midnight Sun.
Riding Mountain National Park (https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/mb/riding )
This prairie destination is a great place to spot black bears, elk, or just admire the expansive sky and aspen fields.
Rouge National Urban Park (https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/on/rouge )
Rouge National Urban Park is home to some of the last remaining working farms in the GTA. Beaches, hiking and forested groves that make you forget you’re even close to the country’s largest city, are some of the features that make this national park a must-see.
Sable Island National Park Reserve (http://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/ns/sable )
One of Canada’s farthest offshore islands, this park off the coast of the north Atlantic ocean is characterized by a population of wild horses, one of the last in Canada.
Sirmilik National Park (https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/nu/sirmilik )
Glaciers, seabirds and sheer cliffs that rise majestically from the water are just some of the northern scenery that makes this Nunavut park one worth exploring. Hiking, snowmobiling and kayaking amongst the seals are all popular pastimes here.
Terra Nova National Park (http://pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/nl/terranova )
The Maritime seascape and dramatic boreal forests converge in this quiet hideaway, which happens to be the country’s most Easterly national park.
Thousand Islands National Park (https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/on/1000 )
Discover birds and sea turtles while hiking the many paths in this Ontario park, or explore the hidden bays by kayak. Granite islands and pine groves give it a picturesque feel.
Torngat National Park (https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/nl/torngats )
Nestled into the Labrador Peninsula, this park features stunning views of the subarctic Torngat Mountains, along with fjords, glacier-dotted waters and a roaming cast of polar bears and caribou.
Tuktut Nogait National Park (http://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/nt/tuktutnogait )
Likely one of the most secluded destinations on this list, getting here requires travelling 170 kilometres north of the arctic circle. If you love epic, natural scenery, this is a must-try. Rolling hills, flowing rivers and waterfalls make it a picturesque hideaway.
Ukkusiksalik National Park (http://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/nu/ukkusiksalik )
Rich with northern wildlife, this park is home to polar bears, grizzlies, Arctic wolves and caribou. It’s lush tundra and rolling ochre hills give it that quintessential Arctic scenery .
Wapusk National Park (http://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/mb/wapusk )
Expansive, remote and dazzling in its Arctic beauty, you’ll find tundra and boreal forest here, along with plenty of wildlife, including Arctic foxes and Wolverine.
Waterton Lakes National Park (https://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/ab/waterton/ )
This Alberta gem borders Montana’s Glacier National Park and features a network of secluded lakes, open prairie, bound by the Rocky Mountains.
Wood Buffalo National Park (http://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/nt/woodbuffalo )
An outstanding place to immerse yourself in Canada’s Northern Boreal Plains, this expansive park is one of the largest in the world.
Yoho National Park (http://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/bc/yoho )
In case you’re wondering, the word Yoho is a Cree term that expresses awe, an apt name for this park nestled into the western slopes of the Rocky Mountains. It’s waterfalls and vertical rock walls draw visitors from across the globe.