Top National Parks in Canada

Updated on Dec 06, 2023 | Canada eTA

Canada is one of the few countries in the world where nature reigns supreme. Canada’s wilderness has always been distinctive and unique part of the country, although when it was first colonised the wilderness was seen as an anathema. But over the centuries the people who share this space with nature have come to have the same attitude towards it as the country’s indigenous population always had, which is to treasure and preserve the natural wonders the country is blessed with. To this effect Canada has a huge system of National Parks which is probably unsurpassed by any such system anywhere else in the world. The Canadian National Parks are protected areas that the Government of Canada owns and administers in order to protect the ecology, environment, wildlife, and all ecosystems, to make sure these natural phenomena are preserved for generations to come, and also to allow the public to explore and enjoy what nature has to offer in Canada in a sustainable way.

Since the Canadian National Parks showcase the most breathtaking and inspiring sceneries and landscapes of Canada, they are also one of the biggest tourist attractions in Canada. If you are visiting Canada, seeing its National Parks must be on your itinerary.

Here are the top National Parks to explore in Canada where not only can you witness Canada's natural beauty but also partake in such activities as hiking, cycling, camping, skiing, snowshoeing, etc.

Banff National Park, Alberta

Banff is unarguably Canada's most popular national park and also one of the most famous tourist attractions of Canada. This is because it is situated at the centre of the Rocky Mountains, one of the most famous places that Canada is known for worldwide. It is also Canada's oldest national park and the third national park to be built in the whole world. It’s known for its glaciers and ice fields, coniferous forests, meadows surrounded by alpine sceneries, and some of the most scenic lakes in all of Canada, the most famous of which is Lake Louise. You can do such things here as hiking, biking, canoeing, kayaking, and backcountry camping. The town of Banff is also a popular resort town, with some of the best resorts, such as the famous Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. You can have a comfortable stay at any place here and get the best of everything, from boutiques and shops to restaurants and breweries.

Pacific Rim, British Columbia

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is situated along the shoreline of Vancouver Island, and makes up the coastal plains located in the region of Pacific Coast Mountains, which is a mountain range stretching along North America's West Coast all the way down to Mexico. The Park is made up of the two coastal regions of Long Beach and the West Coast Trail, and the archipelago found in between these two, the Broken Group Island. You will find rugged coasts, temperate rainforests, coastal cliffs, and sandy beaches in the Pacific Rim, untouched by humans, as well as such wildlife as humpback whales, ochre sea star, and Vancouver Island wolves. The Park is famous amongst tourists for providing such recreational and adventurous activities as surfing, windsurfing, sea kayaking, scuba diving, as well as hiking.

Thousand Islands National Park, Ontario

An island chain in the Saint Lawrence River, consisting of some 20 islands, many small islets, and two mainland areas, the Thousand Islands National Park is Canada’s smallest national park. The terrain is made up of marshland, pine forests, pristine waterways, and it is home to some of Canada's richest wildlife. You can go on a hiking trail on the mainland but other than that the rest of the island is accessible by boat and the most popular recreational activities for tourists here are kayaking and power boating in the waters in between the islands. You will get to see secluded and solitary bays as well as some of the most unique coastal life including rare species of turtles and birds. Other than such adventurous activities, the mainland known as Mallorytown Landing is where you would find other touristy places to visit such as aquariums, picnic and camping sites, theatres, etc.

Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia

Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia

The northern highlands area of the Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia makes up the Cape Breton Highlands National Park. It is a tundra like forested plateau with both temperate and coniferous forests. There are also mountains, valleys, waterfalls, river canyons, and rocky seashores here. It is also home to some of Canada's unique wildlife such as the endangered Canada lynx and the North Atlantic right whale, and western and eastern moose, harbour seals, and bald eagles. The Park is famous for the Cabot Trail, a famous and scenic highway, one third of which passes through the Park, which makes for a lot of hiking trails for tourists. In fact there are a total of 26 hiking trails in the Park. There are also five salt water ocean beaches and two freshwater lakes for tourists to explore. Apart from the panoramic views offered here, there are also such recreational areas as a golf course and museums.

Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland

Gros Morne National Park

The second largest national park in Canada, Gros Morne is found on Newfoundland’s West Coast. It gets it’s name from the peak of Gros Morne, which is Canada's second highest mountain peak, and whose name is French for “great sombre” or “large mountain standing alone”. It is one of the most unique of Canada's national parks because it is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is because it provides a rare example of a natural phenomenon, which is called a continental drift in which it is believed that the earth's continents drifted from their place across the ocean bed over geologic time, and which can be seen by the exposed areas of deep ocean crust and the rocks of the earth's mantle. Apart from this fascinating geological phenomenon whose example the Park provides, Gros Morne is also known for its many mountains, fjords, forests, beaches, and waterfalls. You can engage in such activities here as exploring the beaches, hosting, kayaking, hiking, etc.

Before you a plan a trip to these national parks and reserves, familiarize yourself with Canadian weather.

If you are planning on visiting Canada, then make sure you read about requirements for the Canadian eTA.