The Best Canadian National Parks
The end of the summer is almost here and if there’s a time to easily visit our neighbor to the north, it’s now. For me, I’ve briefly stepped out into Ontario, but other than that, there’s pretty much the entire area of the second largest country in the world that I’ve yet to explore. Not a bad idea for a road trip, folks.
You could start with their great cities like Toronto or Vancouver, but there’s one wilderness wonder that’s always been on the top of my list. And, as such, it’s on the top of this list.
Banff National Park – Alberta – The oldest national park in Canada and the name that makes me want to catch the first plane north. In my mind, I’ve always imagined visiting in the summer, as Banff’s fellow Rocky Mountain parks to the south are most accessible then. But Banff is home to three different ski resorts, so winter travel would be just as pleasurable. Either way, an evening soak in the park’s hot springs is a great way to cap any day.
Forillon National Park – Quebec – The first national park in Quebec established in 1970, Forillon lies at the end of the Gaspe Peninsula. There is plenty of natural beauty there as it’s on the far eastern side of the Appalachian Mountains. But there’s also the cultural history as people have been residents to the area for over nine thousand years. That’s not a typo.
Nahanni National Park Reserve – Northwest Territories – The first thing I saw when I looked into this park were the words, “Four great canyons line this spectacular whitewater river.” Looking a bit deeper into the description for whitewater canoeing, there’s a section called The Moose Ponds (or locally as the Rock Gardens) that offers about 30 miles of continuous whitewater. That’s almost worth being tracked down by locals and being made to squeal like a pig.
Riding Mountain National Park – Manitoba – This forested area in the middle of farmland was established as a national park in 1933 and had its infrastructure created by laborers working for the government during the Great Depression. As a fishing fan, I’m drawn to one of the park’s lakes with northern pike and walleye. Those suckers are worth learning how to fish fry themselves.
Terra Nova National Park – Nova Scotia – Looking at Terra Nova National Park, the name that seems the most important is Ocean Quest. There’s a seven-day adventure package that includes sea kayaking, whale watching and snorkeling to look at shipwrecks. Let me repeat that: Snorkeling. To look. At shipwrecks. But, if you don’t have the $2,600 to spend on that, the evening BBQ tour with “refreshments” is the more thrifty alternative.
Ukkusiksalik National Park – Nunavut – Ok, it’s probably already too late to visit this park as the season to visit is basically July and August. During the fall and winter, the park doesn’t recommend trips due to bear hazards, weather (high wind chills) and darkness. But, during the summer, the Aurora Borealis and the possibility to watch polar bears from afar should get you up there. Adding to that hundreds of archaeological sites to explore during the almost around the clock daylight, and it’s worth putting in the calendar for next year.
Wood Buffalo National Park – Alberta – This park is the largest national park in Canada, home to a large herd of bison and the only known nesting location of the whooping crane. For best wildlife viewing, it sounds like Sweetgrass Station should be the destination, which can be reached by paddling about ten hours in a canoe. Totally worth it? No matter what, the best advice I’ve come across says to go in September to avoid peak mosquito season.
Know any more wilderness locations you’d recommend, either in Canada or, well, anywhere else in the world? Leave them in the comments.
About Jason McClain Jason is an aspiring novelist, which means there is a lot of time to put off writing and watch baseball or go fly-fishing, hiking and traveling. By "a lot of time", Jason means "procrastination."