Yesterday we shared our favourite national parks in America in honour of National Park Week and to keep the outdoor celebrations going (since it’s the safest thing to do these days) we want to share the best national parks in Canada. Canada has 48 national parks – and one day we want to see them all. But in the meantime, we have had the privilege of exploring many of our great protected lands in Canada. To inspire you to get yourself a national parks pass to explore later this summer we wanted to round up our experiences in the national parks of Canada. Are you ready? Let’s go!
- Stay up to date with COVID restrictions as Canada slowly climbs out of the lost year of 2020 and check with Parks Canada to see what is open and restricted before making any plans.
- Get your Canada National Parks Pass at pc.gc.ca A Discovery Pass cost $139 per family (up to 7 people) and give access to 80 parks for 12 months. Nice!
Best Canadian National Parks
Table of Contents
The best way to get to National Parks in Canada is by car. You can check out car rental comparisons at RentalCars.com. Other national parks can only be reached by plane as many of Canada’s national parks are in remote regions of the country.
Wapusk National Park – Manitoba
Home to the Polar Bear Highway, Wapusk National Park is located in a remote region of Manitoba on the Hudson Bay. We stayed on the edge of it when searching for polar bears with Churchill Wild at both Seal River Heritage Lodge and Nanuk Lodge. They act as bookends to the park! When flying over this slice of the Arctic we saw at least a dozen polar bears walking along the coast. You can’t visit this park on your own, but you can book polar bear tours with skilled guides in remote lodges to witness the incredible wildlife of the north. It’s not just polar bears that you’ll see, we saw black bears, wolves and arctic fox. So cute! Read more: Walking with Polar Bears
- Location: Manitoba – South of Churchill on the Hudson Bay reached by plane.
- Size: 11,745 Square km
Banff National Park
I would have to say that Banff is Canada’s most famous National Park. Located in Alberta just 1 hour and 30 minutes from Calgary, Banff is Canada’s first national park and it is the third olds national park in the world. There is a reason everyone flocks to Banff, Alberta. With snowcapped mountains, glacier lakes and world class four-season outdoor activities, it’s Canada’s outdoor playground. It is so beautiful, that one of its most famous lakes, Moraine Lake is depicted on Canada’s twenty dollar bill. Its only downfall is how busy it is. So make sure to get into the back country away from the crowds. Read more at Things to Do in the Winter in Banff Alberta and Driving the Icefields Parkway from Banff to Jasper Alberta
- Location: Banff national park is located in Alberta in the Rocky Mountains just 90 minutes from Calgary.
- Size: 6641 11,000 square kilometres
Just up the street from Banff is the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies. Just slightly less visited than Banff, Jasper is “dare I say it” Spectacular! Rocky mountains, an abundance of wildlife including, grizzly bears and big horn sheep. Jasper is less crowded than Banff with the same stunning landscape filled with snowcapped peaks, glacier lakes and four season outdoor adventures to be had. Read more at Amazing Things to do in Jasper, Alberta
- Location: Alberta – Jasper National Park is located 4 hours west of Edmonton.
- Size: 11,000 square kilometres
Waterton Lakes National Park
Located in Southern Alberta, Waterton Lakes National Park is often left of the Alberta travel list, but it shouldn’t be. I’ll say it once and I’ll say it again, Waterton Lakes NP is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, an International Peace Park, and a Biosphere Reserved that shares this honor with neighboring Glacier National Park in Montana. With awesome backcountry hiking, the famous red rocks, and the scenic Prince of Wales Hotel, it’s got it all. Plus, you can see a wild herd of bison here. Read more: Things to do in Waterton Lakes National Park
- Location: Alberta – 2 hours and 40 minutes south of Calgary
- Size 505 square km
- Book a night to remember at the Prince of Wales
Ivvavik National Park is as remote as it gets. We flew to Whitehorse Yukon, and then onward through little towns in Northern Canada as we picked people up on a small plane like a northern bus route before stopping in Inuvvik NWT for the night. It was then onward by biplane to camp in the middle of Ivavvik National Park in search of Grizzley Bears. This Parks’ Canada campsite is located directly along a grizzly bear highway that you are smack dab in the middle of. Surrounded by the rolling British Mountains, Ivavvik is also home to Canada’s oldest river. Check out: Ivvavik National Park: Falling in Love with the Rugged and Remote
- Location: Far Northern Yukon on the Beaufort Sea – Only way in is by plane
- Size: 10,168 square km
Fundy National Park
Home to the world’s highest tides, Fundy National Park in New Brunswick is a natural wonder. With more than 100 km of hiking trails, it is a place to spend days. Take a drive to the high lookouts overlooking sea cliffs that roll along the Bay of Fundy, have a picnic on one of its beaches, and make a day trip to the Hopewell Rocks and Cape and Rage to really see the power of these high tides. Fundy NP has fantastic camping including yurts for rent through Parks Canada. See more at: Amazing Bay of Fundy Adventures – Ways to Experience the Highest Tides
- Location: New Brunswick between Saint John and Moncton
- Size 207 sq. km
Kouchibouguac National Park
Not as famous as its southern New Brunswick National Park, Kouchibouguac National Park is located on the Acadian Coast. The 239 sq. km national parks is famous for its sand dunes, and marshlands. But it is also a premier destination for dark skies. This is the place to go swimming on the East Coast, it has the warmest waters in the Maritimes with soft sands that are perfect for wading in the warm waters of the North Umberland Strait. Read more: 25 Best Things to do in New Brunswick, Canada
- Location: New Brunswick – 1 hour north of Moncton
- Size 238 Square km
Cape Breton Highlands National Park
Home to one of the greatest drives on the planet, Cape Breton Highlands National Park in Nova Scotia is the place where the mountains meet the sea. It’s home to Canada’s most beautiful sea cliffs. The Cabot Trail runs within the national park, so it is easy to drive from one spectacular view after another. Go whale watching, hiking or camping in an oTentik. This is truly a place to enjoy east coast hospitality and the beauty of Canada. Read more: 22 Incredible Stops on the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia
- Location: Cape Breton Island Nova Scotia 5 hours from Halifax
- Size: 949 sq. km
Pukaskwa National Park is located along the north coast of Lake Superior and is in the heart of Ontario’s untamed wilderness. Hiking along its coast reminds you of being on the East Coast of Canada as it rolling rocky shoreline climbs high above the inland sea of Lake Superior. There’s backcountry camping and it houses one of the best hikes in Canada that truly takes you on a wilderness experience. We came face to face with a mama moose and her calf that we assume was spooked by a nearby black bear after seeing its fresh paw prints in the mud below. See our experience: The Wild Coastal Trail of Pukaskwa National Park
- Location: Ontario – Lake Superior North Shore
- 12 hours north of Toronto / 5 hrs north of Saulte Ste. Marie
- Size: 1878 sq. km
Georgian Bay Islands
Staying in Ontario, we make our way to the world’s largest freshwater archipelago. Located on Lake Huron, Georgian Bay Islands National Park is home to the 30,000 islands. Watch the landscape change before your eyes as you head north where evergreen forests giveway to the rocky Canadian shield. This is the heart of cottage country so there are activities for the whole family with hiking trails, boat tours, cycling and camping. Read more: Epic Things to do in Ontario
- Location: Ontario – 2 Hours North of Toronto
- Size: 13.5 squ. km – Georgian Bay Islands is the smallest national park in Canada
Thousand Islands National Park
Located along the St. Lawrence River Thousand Islands National Park is one of Canada’s smallest national parks with an area of only 24.4 sq. km and most of that is water. This is a great place to go paddling to explore the islands between Kingston and Brockville. Be sure to stop in at Mallorytown Landing on the 1000 Islands Parkway to get all the information you need to explore the first national park in Eastern Canada. Read more: 25 Day Trips from Toronto to Escape the City
- Location: Between Kingston and Brockville on the St. Lawrence River.
- Size: 24.4 sq. km
Prince Edward Island National Park
Home to Anne of Green Gables, PEI National Park houses Green Gables and the national historic site, Dalvay by the Sea located at Dalvay Lake. Be sure to go for a walk along the boardwalk taking you across marshland to the sand dunes. With other hiking trails, and a very long sandy beach, this is the perfect stop on a PEI road trip. Get more information: Things to do in Prince Edward Island (PEI)
- Location: Prince Edward Island (PEI) – 30 minutes north of Charlottetown.
- Size: 27 sq. Km
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve
Located on Vancouver Island, Pacific Rim National Park is where you will hike the famous West Coast Trail. With paddling at Broken Group Islands or surfing at Long Beach and world class whale watching, this national park has it all. Read more: Kayaking to the Broken Group Islands
- Location: British Columbia – Vancouver Island: 7 hours northwest of Victoria.
- Size: 511 sq. km
Prince Albert National Park
Okay, this is taking us way back into the vault. Years ago, I sang in a show in Prince Albert Saskachewan called P.A.Boys. It was during that time that I had the chance to explore a bit of the province in the north. The year round destination encompasses a boreal forest, grasslands, lakes and rivers. At 3,874 square kilometres, it’s a big one! Read more about Saskatchewan: 15 Best Things to do in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan
- Location: Saskachewan – 1 hour north of Prince Alberta
- Size: 3874 sq. km
Visiting the Gaspésie Region of Quebec offers the chance to visit 4 National Parks in Canada of varied landscapes and exeriences. If you want to see woodland caribou in the wild, Gaspésie National Park is the place to do it. It was designated to protect the Gaspésie Caribou. Apparently it is the only place you can see caribou south of the St. Lawrence (and I mean, literally, just south of the St. Lawrence). Located inland in the Appalachian Mountains, it’s a beautiful landscape of rolling hills. For the dramatic sea cliff views of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, head to, Forillian and l’Île-Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher-Percé. And Miguasha National Park is designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its 370 million year old fossils. Needless to say, this is a great place to spend a summer vacation.
- Location: Quebec – 8 hours North of Quebec City in the Gaspé Peninsula.
And finally, I know what you are thinking, where is Torngat Mountains National Park? Well, we have yet to visit Newfoundland so it will have to wait. But once we do, this space right here will be reserved for the Torngat Mountains.
And these are the best Canadian national parks that we’ve seen. There are still several more on our bucket list and we can’t wait to get outside and explore more of amazing Canada.