Canada’s 10 Most Beautiful National Parks to Visit

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As such a vast country that’s renowned for its spectacular scenery, it’s no surprise that Canada is home to many spectacular national parks. From the iconic Banff National Park in Alberta to the natural beauty of Cape Breton Highlands and bison watching in Prince Albert, nature lovers are spoiled for choice with incredible places to visit and explore. Among Canada’s collection of national parks and national park reserves, here are the most breathtaking of all.

Banff National Park, Alberta
Banff National Park, Alberta

Banff National Park, Alberta

Canada’s first national park opened back in 1885, and it still overwhelms visitors with its jaw-dropping beauty today. Tucked away in a valley surrounded by jewel-colored lakes, hot springs, canyons and dramatic mountain ranges, there are few places that could be considered more stunning. Moraine Lake may be its most spectacular highlight of all. Glacially fed, it sits within the heart of the park at an elevation of about 6,000 feet, and in early summer the water levels rise and cast a striking shade of blue that you’ll never forget. This is truly an outdoor lover’s paradise, with just a few of the available adventures here including whitewater rafting on the Kicking Horse River, sky diving over the Rockies, hiking, caving, fishing, biking, zip-lining and climbing. If you’d rather participate in a more gentle pursuit, head up the Banff Gondola and you’ll get a bird’s eye view of magnificent Lake Louise.

Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland
Gros Morne National Park

Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland

Gros Morne National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site on the west side of Newfoundland that stretches across almost 700 square miles as part of the Long Range Mountains. It offers some of the most magnificent natural beauty on the planet. Still a work in progress, after over a half-billion years nature continues to shape this landscape of freshwater fjords, striking cliffs, lush forests and picturesque shorelines. The Tablelands, a mountain of flat-topped rock typically found far below the Earth’s surface, deep in the mantle, is particularly jaw-dropping. With some 5,000 moose calling the park home, odds are you’ll catch at least a glimpse of one of the majestic creatures, and you’ll have the chance to kayak, canoe, fish, hike or camp too.

Nahanni National Park, Northwest Territories
Nahanni National Park

Nahanni National Park, Northwest Territories

Nahanni National Park sits across 7,000 acres, made up of true remote wilderness along the Continental Divide separating the Yukon and Northwest Territories. An adventurer’s haven, paddlers come to explore the heart of the park, while climbers head to the Cirque of the Unclimbables and hikers trek over lush meadows, karst and mountains to view the thundering waterfalls, limestone caves and practically endless number of rugged canyons. Its centerpiece is the South Nahanni River, while wildlife like grizzlies, wolves, caribou, eagles, sheep and mountain goats, all call it home. There are no public roads, so visitors must access the park via air or hike in; most do so by chartered floatplane.

Torngat Mountains National Park, Newfoundland and Labrador
Torngat Mountains National Park, Labrador (Newfoundland and Labrador)

Torngat Mountains National Park, Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland and Labrador’s newest national park is made up of 3,745 square miles of unspoiled wilderness that stretches from Saglek Fjord to the northern tip of Labrador, and west from the Atlantic seacoast to the Quebec border. Another great park for the very adventurous, Torngat isn’t easy to get to. There are no roads or even campgrounds, which means you’ll need to hire a charter, join a special tour or utilize the services of Torngat Mountains Base Camp. But once in this remote region, you’ll not only be able to spot animals like polar bears, gaze up at some of the highest peaks in Eastern Canada and maybe the colorful lights of the aurora borealis, but you’ll be able to immerse yourself in Inuit culture. This is the only park in the world where the entire staff is Inuit, providing the rare opportunity to learn about a culture you probably know little about.

Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia
Cape Breton, Nova Scotia

Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia

Cape Breton offers an especially idyllic summer escape with its alluring natural beauty, picture-postcard beaches, live traditional Celtic music every night and the chance to enjoy watching whales, dolphins, seals, puffins, bald eagles and more. Its scenic 185-mile drive along the Cabot Trail is one of the most stunning stretches of road, winding by ocean-side cliffs. And, as you hug that world-famous coastline, you’ll wind through Cape Breton Highlands National Park, home to lush, forested river canyons that carve into the ancient plateau that makes up 90 percent of the park. There are miles and miles of hiking trails, like Middle Head Trail, once used as a carriage road, now offering awe-inspiring Atlantic Ocean views. You might even catch a minke or pilot whale breaking waves and you’ll never be far from a steaming plate of local lobster fresh from the frigid ocean waters.

Prince Albert National Park
Prince Albert National Park

Prince Albert National Park

Prince Albert National Park, located in the Saskatchewan prairie, is Canada’s most popular national park of all. The mostly flat landscape features some rolling hills of spruce, pine, aspen, and birch shelter pockets of fescue and sedge meadows. In the winter, it attracts cross-country skiers from all corners of the nation, and in the summer, countless visitors come to enjoy water skiing and wakeboarding. It’s particularly notable for a bison herd that roams along its southwestern border, the only free-range herd of wild plains bison in the country that still occupies its ancestral territory. In the summer, visitors can tag along with the Canadian cowboys who round up the park’s buffalo.

Pacific Rim National Park, Vancouver Island, BC
Pacific Rim National Park, Vancouver Island, BC

Pacific Rim National Park, Vancouver Island, BC

Pacific Rim National Park, stretching along the southwestern coast of Vancouver Island, is made up of three distinct units, Long Beach, the West Coast Trail and Broken Group Islands, which protect the rugged shoreline and coastal forests. Each offers a unique experience, with those who want to hike often heading to the historic 47-mile route that features sandstone cliffs, waterfalls and beaches. Many visitors also enjoy Long Beach, a 10-mile strip of undeveloped coastline set against a backdrop of lush rainforest and distant mountains. As one of the country’s most visited tourist attractions, it draws a mix of surfers, beachcombers and marine life enthusiasts.

Waterton Lakes National Park
Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta, Canada

Waterton Lakes National Park

Waterton Lakes, connected to Glacier National Park in Montana, may be the country’s smallest national park, but it’s surely one of its most stunning. This is the only park in the world that’s a US-Canada peace park, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a biosphere reserve, sitting at a point where the plains meet the mountains with a distinct ecosystem that supports more biodiversity than anywhere in the Rockies. If you go in the fall, you’ll enjoy an especially tranquil time that’s perfect for peaceful solitude. The days are still long and often unseasonably warm, while the landscape takes on magnificent new hues as it transitions into the season. Look forward to fishing on serene lakes and hiking peaceful trails as well as enjoying plenty of wildlife watching opportunities.

Kluane National Park, Yukon
Kluane National Park

Kluane National Park, Yukon

Kluane is home to more than 2,000 glaciers, Canada’s largest ice fields, most diverse grizzly bear population, and its highest mountain peak, the 20,ooo-foot-high Mount Logan. To really experience it, you need to hike or fly. Take in the 8,500 square miles of wilderness by helicopter or prop plane for a bird’s-eye view of the icy rivers, mountains, bears , caribou and Dall sheep. There are over 100 species of birds too, including the rock ptarmigan and the golden and bald eagle. In the Front Ranges closer to Haines Junction, Alaska, visitors can enjoy more casual strolls as well as challenging day hikes and extended wilderness backpacking trips.  Kathleen Lake Campground makes a great base for enjoying access to a variety of short treks, interpretive programs, fishing and boating.

Fundy National Park, New Brunswick
Moose Horn Trail Fall, Fundy National Park

Fundy National Park, New Brunswick

New Brunswick’s first national park was created in 1948 and offers more than 75 miles of hiking trails that wind through mountains, lush forest and valleys, passing cascading falls and crystal clear streams. Rent a canoe or kayak and explore beautiful Bennett Lake, or hike up to the highest tides in the world at Hopewell Rocks. You can even take a dip in the cool water and snorkel with the Bay of Fundy Atlantic Salmon. There are three campgrounds for staying overnight, along with a heated saltwater pool that’s ideal for relaxing after a day of hiking, paddling or other outdoor pursuits. Just outside of the park, visit the fishing village of Alma, for fantastic fresh seafood.

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