Canada has some of the best national parks in the world. The country is scattered with tall mountain peaks, glacial lakes and valleys, mountain streams, rugged coastlines, islands, and not to mention the biggest lake in the world.
There are 44 national parks and national park reserves in Canada. Each park has a unique attraction, representing the varied landscapes of Canada and protects the natural environments and natural heritage.
“These special places are gateways to nature, to adventure, to discovery, to solitude. They celebrate the beauty and infinite variety of our country.” – Parks Canada
Banff National Park, Alberta
Known for its glacial carved valleys, ice fields, tall mountain peaks, and hot springs, Banff National Park is located in Canada’s Rocky Mountains in Western Alberta. Banff is the oldest national park in Canada and was established in 1885.
The park is bordered to the south by Kootenay National Park in British Columbia and to the north by Jasper National Park. The townships of Banff and Lake Louise are popular tourist destinations and jumping off points for exploring the wilderness.
There are more than 1,500 kilometers of hiking trails for backcountry travelers to explore in Banff National Park. Backpacking is popular and huts, campsites, and shelters are available for backcountry camping. To plan a safe and enjoyable wilderness trip in Banff, check Parks Canada’s website for trip planning information.
There are also 13 campgrounds and more than 2,000 campsites within Banff National Park. Visitor information and Banff camping information is available online
Georgian Bay Islands National Park, Ontario
Georgian Bay Islands National Park is comprised of 63 islands surrounded by the turquoise blue water of Lake Huron in Ontario. The park is noted for its diverse wildlife, flora and fauna and glaciation and the Canadian Shield also contribute to the islands diversity.
With 33 species, more types of amphibians live in the national park than anywhere else in Canada. On one island you might find Shield rock with lichens, pines, junipers and red oak, and on another island you’ll see thick hardwood forests and a variety of orchids, or a forest carpeted with white trilliums.
The Georgian Bay Islands are only accessible by boat, canoe, kayak or water taxi. Beausoleil Island, the largest in the national park, has nine campgrounds with a total of 120 campsites and 10 rustic cabins. Georgian Bay Islands National park even offers equipped campsites for those who want to camp, but don’t have the gear.
Travel, recreation, and camping information is available online at the Parks Canada website.
Kootenay National Park, British Columbia
With its glaciated peaks of the southwestern Canadian Rocky Mountains and grasslands of the lower valleys, Kootenay National Park is home to a diverse landscape. The park is located on the west slope of the Continental divide in British Columbia and bordered to the north by Banff National Park.
Though Kootenay is known for its stunning natural landscapes and wildlife, the park is also home to 97 archaeological sites, one National Historic site, one federal heritage building and many historic artifacts and cultural features.
The park is home to a range of wildlife including badgers, grizzly and black bears, and Canada lynx. Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep live in the south end of the park near Radium Hot Springs. Among points of interest in Kootenay National Park are the hot pools at Radium Hot Springs, Numa Falls, and Marble Canyon.
Campgrounds are open mid-May to mid-October in Kootenay National Park. There are four campgrounds with more than 300 campsites with varying amenities. Backcountry camping is available and campsites can be reserved. Visit Parks Canada’s website for more travel, recreation and camping information.
Prince Edward Island National Park, Prince Edward Island
Situated on the north shore of Prince Edward Island (PEI) in the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, Prince Edward Island National Park is home to sand dunes, barrier islands, beaches, sandstone cliffs, wetlands, and forests.
The park was established in 1937 and was extended in 1998 to preserve and protect Greenwich, the fragile sand dune system. The park is home to 300 species of birds including the Piping Plover, a species at risk of being endangered.
Plenty of outdoor recreation opportunities are available at PEI National Park. Visitors enjoy hiking, bird watching, beach — combing, and camping.
There are three campgrounds available for camping at PEI National Park. Each campground is located near beaches and hiking trails and ranger-led interpretive programs are available. Visit Parks Canada’s website for more information about visiting Prince Edward Island.
Terra Nova National Park, Newfoundland and Labrador
Rugged cliffs, sheltered coves, boreal forests, and the North Atlantic Ocean create a stunning landscape for Terra Nova National Park in Newfoundland and Labrador. The park is home to an abundant population of wildlife including the native and endangered Newfoundland marten.
Terra Nova became the province’s first national park in 1957. Today, outdoors enthusiasts from around the world visit for the stunning scenery and recreational options. Interpretive programs and ecological exhibits are available for summer visitors.
Two main campgrounds and primitive backcountry camping offer a variety of camping in Terra Nova National Park. Electrical sites are available and reservations for all camping options can be made online. For more travel and camping information visit, Parks Canada’s Terra Nova National Park website.
Gwaii Haanas, British Columbia
Protected by Parks Canada and the Haida people, Gwaii Haanas is a ruggedly remote landscape of old growth moss-covered cedar trees, ancient carved totem poles and traditional longhouses in old Haida Village sites surrounded by beautiful rainforests. Teeming with nature, the islands of Gwaii Haanas are home to bald eagles and breaching whales.
Kluane National Park and Reserve, Yukon
Home to Canada’s highest peak (5,959-meter Mount Logan), Kluane National Park is high in southwest Yukon's mountains. The park is home to Canada’s largest icefield and North America’s most genetically diverse grizzly population. Backcountry hikers and rafters come to Kluane to explore the alpine passes on day hikes, ride the glacial rapids, or see the stunning scenery from the highway.
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, British Columbia
Located on Canada's most westerly coast on Vancouver Island, Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is home to lush rainforest where epic multi-day hiking trails such as the West Coast Trail can be found, alongside rocky shorelines and extensive beaches. Surfers come to the area to catch waves in the cold Pacific and the Park also provides a glimpse into the history, traditions, and culture of the Nuu-chah-nulth peoples.
Thousand Islands National Park, Quebec
Just a few hours from Montreal is the picturesque Thousand Islands National Park, which was the first National Park established east of the Rockies. Explore the park's 20 pine-tree covered granite islands and their secluded bays by foot, kayak or powerboat. Stay overnight in waterfront oTENTik accommodations by the St. Lawrence River at the park’s Visitor Center at Mallorytown Landing, which features plenty of family-friendly fun from an aquariums and small live animals to a kids activity area.
Gros Morne, Newfoundland and Labrador
Gros Morne’s ancient landscape is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that was created by epic glaciers that shaped the soaring fjords and majestic mountains. Visitors can hike the alpine highlands, looking out for Arctic hare and ptarmigan on the tundra. Beaches and bogs, forests and barren cliffs are also home to moose and caribou. Visitors can cruise the awe-inspiring, sheer-walled gorge of Western Brook Pond to get a sense of the true scale of nature here.