Most tourists that visit Canada usually visit some of the national parks in the country. As of July 2021, there were 38 national parks, 10 national park reserves, and one national urban park, covering an area of approximately 342,456 km2 (132,223 sq mi), or about 3.3% of the total land area of Canada, and representing 31 of its 39 natural regions.
All of Canada’s 48 national parks encompass marine and coastal reserves, sites of historic significance, and unique geographical areas, showcasing the incredible diversity of this vast and wild land. This is why they will always attract visitors from within Canada and other parts of the world.
Best National Parks In Canada
Table of Contents
- Jasper National Park, Alberta
- Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia
- Yoho National Park, British Columbia
- Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ontario
- Kluane National Park, Yukon Territory
- Prince Edward Island National Park
- Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta
- Fundy National Park, New Brunswick
- Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland
- Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, British Columbia
Jasper National Park, Alberta
Jasper national park in Alberta, Canada is the largest national park in Alberta’s Rocky Mountains spanning 11,000 km2 (4,200 sq mi). It was established as a national park in 1930 and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. Its location is north of Banff National Park and west of Edmonton. The Park contains the glaciers of the Columbia Icefield, springs, lakes, waterfalls, and mountains.
When you visit Jasper national park, some of the popular attractions can easily be reached by road and they include the Mount Edith Cavell hiking area, Maligne Lake (which features hiking and boating opportunities), Maligne Canyon, Miette Hot Springs, Pyramid Lake, the Jasper Skytram and the Athabasca Glacier, (an outlet glacier of the Columbia Icefield which features snow coach tours).
The Marmot Basin ski area is the most popular winter attraction in the park. Some of the popular summer recreational activities in the park include hiking, fishing, mountain biking (in select areas), wildlife viewing, rafting, kayaking, and camping.
Winter activities include Alpine skiing, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing. Some companies offer dog sled tours in the park.
Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia
Nova Scotia’s Cape Breton Highlands National Park is surrounded by the sparkling waters of the Atlantic Ocean, and the park features some of the best landscapes you’ll find in the entire country. The world-famous Cabot Trail winds through the park, so you can experience the rolling vistas without leaving your car.
You will want to pull over every so often to walk a few of the park’s 26 hiking trails, which range from short and easy boardwalk loops to more challenging hikes up to 12 kilometers long.
Be sure to put the Skyline trail at the top of your must-hike list: this trail is usually on the longer side (8.2 kilometers for the full loop) but is relatively easy, leading you out to viewpoints over some extremely daunting– but beautiful – cliffs overlooking the sea. It’s also a popular hike for moose-spotting, but you have a chance of spotting moose just about anywhere in the park.
Yoho National Park, British Columbia
Yoho National Park is located within the Rocky Mountains along the western slope of the Continental Divide of the Americas in southeastern British Columbia, bordered by Kootenay National Park to the south and Banff National Park to the east in Alberta.
The ‘word’ Yoho is a Cree expression of amazement or awe, and it is an apt description of the park’s spectacular landscape of massive ice fields and mountain peaks, which rank among the highest in the Canadian Rockies.
Yoho covers 1,313 square kilometers (507 sq mi), the smallest of the region’s four contiguous national parks, which also include Jasper, Kootenay, and Banff National Parks, as well as three British Columbia provincial parks—Hamber Provincial Park, Mount Assiniboine Provincial Park, and Mount Robson Provincial Park.
These parks form the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site. Yoho’s administrative and visitor center is located in Field, British Columbia, beside the Trans-Canada Highway.
Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ontario
Bruce Peninsula National Park is a national park on the Bruce Peninsula in Ontario, Canada. Located on a part of the Niagara Escarpment, the park comprises 156 square kilometers and it is one of the largest protected areas in southern Ontario, forming the core of UNESCO’s Niagara Escarpment World Biosphere Reserve. It was established in 1987 to protect the rock formations and shoreline of the Niagara Escarpment.
The park offers opportunities for many outdoor activities, including hiking, camping, and bird-watching. The park has trails ranging in difficulty from easy to expert, and connects to the Bruce Trail. Bruce Peninsula National Park is known for its crystal-clear blue waters, cobblestone beaches, rocky cliffs, and karst formations.
Bruce Peninsula National Park is open year-round and offers visitors vistas to view either the sunrise or sunset, the rocks of the Niagara Escarpment, and the wildlife, which includes black bears, many species of birds, wild orchids, massasauga rattlesnake, and much more.
Kluane National Park, Yukon Territory
Kluane National Park and Reserve is a Canadian national park that is located in Yukon territory. The National Park Reserve was set aside in 1972 to become a national park, pending settlement of First Nations land claims. It covers an area of 22,013 square kilometers (8,499 square miles).
When an agreement was reached with the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations over an eastern portion of the Reserve, that part—about 5,900 square kilometers (2,300 square miles)—became a national park in 1993, and is a unit of the national park system administered co-operatively with Parks Canada. The larger western section remains a Reserve, awaiting a final land claim settlement with the Kluane First Nation.
The Park borders B.C. to the south, while the Reserve borders both B.C. to the south, and the United States (Alaska) to the south and west. The Reserve includes the highest mountain in Canada, Mount Logan (5,959 meters or 19,551 feet) of the Saint Elias Mountains.
Mountains and glaciers, including Donjek Glacier, dominate the park’s landscape, covering 83% of its area. The rest of the land in the park is forest and tundra—east of the largest mountains and glaciers—where the climate is colder and drier than in the western and southern parts of the park. Trees grow only at the park’s lowest elevations.
Prince Edward Island National Park
Prince Edward Island National Park is a National Park of Canada that is located in the province of Prince Edward Island. Situated along the island’s north shore, fronting the Gulf of St. Lawrence, the park measures approximately 60 km (37 mi) in length and ranges from several hundred meters to several kilometers in width.
Established in 1937, the park’s mandate includes the protection of many broad sand beaches, sand dunes, and both freshwater wetlands and salt marshes. An extension was added to the park in 1998 when an extensive sand dune system in Greenwich was transferred from the provincial government to Parks Canada.
The Prince Edward Island National Park also includes Green Gables, which was the childhood inspiration for the Anne of Green Gables novels by author Lucy Maud Montgomery, as well as Dalvay-by-the-Sea, a Victorian-era mansion currently operated as an inn.
Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta
Waterton Lakes National Park is a national park that is located in the southwest corner of Alberta, Canada. It borders Glacier National Park in Montana, United States. Waterton was the fourth Canadian national park, formed in 1895 and named after Waterton Lake, in turn after the Victorian naturalist and conservationist Charles Waterton.
Its range is between the Rocky Mountains and prairies. Waterton Lakes National Park contains 505 km2 (195 sq mi) of rugged mountains and wilderness.
Waterton Lakes National Park is operated by Parks Canada, and it is open all year, but the main tourist season is during July and August. The only commercial facilities available within the park are located at the Waterton Park townsite. It offers many scenic trails, including the Crypt Lake trails.
Fundy National Park, New Brunswick
Fundy National Park is a national park of Canada located on the Bay of Fundy, near the village of Alma, New Brunswick. It was officially opened on 29 July 1950. The Park showcases a rugged coastline that rises up to the Canadian Highlands, the highest tides in the world, with more than 25 waterfalls.
The Park covers an area of 207 km2 (80 sq mi) along Goose Bay, the northwestern branch of the Bay of Fundy. When one looks across the Bay, one can see the northern Nova Scotia coast. At low tide, park visitors can explore the ocean floor where a variety of sea creatures (e.g., dog whelk, periwinkles, various seaweeds) cling to life.
At high tide, the ocean floor disappears under 15 m (50 ft) of salt water. There are 25 hiking trails throughout the park. The Caribou Plains trail and boardwalk provide access to upland forest and bog habitats. Dickson Falls is the most popular trail in the park.
Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland
Gros Morne National Park is a Canadian national park and World Heritage Site that is located on the west coast of Newfoundland. At 1,805 km2 (697 sq mi), it is the second largest national park in Atlantic Canada after Torngat Mountains National Park, which has an area of 9,700 km2 (3,700 sq mi).
Gros Morne National Park got its name from Newfoundland’s second-highest mountain peak (at 806 m or 2,644 ft) located within the park.
Its French meaning is “large mountain standing alone,” or more literally “great sombre.” Gros Morne is a member of the Long Range Mountains, an outlying range of the Appalachian Mountains, stretching the length of the island’s west coast. It is the eroded remnants of a mountain range formed 1.2 billion years ago.
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, British Columbia
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is a 511 km2 (197 sq mi) national park that is located in British Columbia, Canada, which comprises three separate regions: Long Beach, the Broken Group Islands, and the West Coast Trail. The Pacific Coast Mountains are characterized by rugged coasts and temperate rainforests.
Widespread vegetation found in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve includes western hemlock, Sitka spruce, western red-cedar, deer fern, and sword fern.
Animal species vary from marine and intertidal species, such as humpback whales and ochre sea stars, to terrestrial mammals, such as Vancouver Island wolves. For recreational purposes, Long Beach is used for surfing and windsurfing, the Broken Group for sea kayaking, and the West Coast Trail for hiking, as well as camping.
It is important to note that aside from the 10 national parks listed above, there are other beautiful parks you can visit whenever you are in Canada. The fact that we listed these 10 parks does not mean that they are better than the other 38 national parks that are not listed here.