Breathe In Some Fresh Air In Canada
From rainforest to glaciers, towering peaks to tranquil lakes, Canada has one of the oldest and most impressive National Parks systems in the world. Here’s a look at some of the beautiful treasures of Canada’s natural landscape.
Yoho National Park, British Columbia
It’s not surprising that this Rocky Mountain gem got its name from the Cree word for awe. Filled with snow-capped mountains, tumbling waterfalls, vertical rock walls, emerald lakes and roaring rivers, Yoho offers real outdoor adventure!
What to do: With its 400 km of paths, the park offers hikes of various distances among the Rockies. A daylong guided journey is also offered to experience one of the most important fossil sites in the world: the famous Burgess Shale beds.
Where to stay: Take in the dazzling panoramas of the Rockies from the comfort of a hotel room, a chalet or a hostel, located inside the park. For a truly grand experience, opt for a night in a tent or in one of the numerous car-accessible campgrounds.
Must-see: Take a picnic to the shores of majestic Lake Emerald and end the day with a savoury gastronomic meal in one of the area’s restaurants.
Torngat Mountains National Park, Newfoundland & Labrador
Home to Inuit for thousands of years, Torngat is Canada’s newest national park. Its name comes from an Inuktitut word meaning “place of spirits”, and it extends over 9,000 square kilometers to the northern tip of Labrador. Wild and remote, Torngat contains the highest mountains in mainland Canada East of the Rockies. Inland, huge herds of caribou migrate to and from their calving grounds, while polar bears hunt seals along the rugged coastof the iceberg-strewn Labrador Sea. Inuit still hunt, fish and live here. For obvious climactic reasons, the park is only open during the summer, from mid-July to mid-September.
What to do: A large range of excursions are available (sporting, cultural and historic) accompanied by Inuit and Parks Canada guides, that offer visitors the opportunity to explore the landscape and the environment that are characteristic of the Arctic.
Where to stay: The Park has no dedicated campgrounds, but visitors can camp wherever they like, except on archaeological sites. However, for a little more comfort, the base camp and research station at Torngat Mountains are regularly open to visitors from the end of July to the end of August. Maintained and utilized by Inuit from Labrador, these locations are protected from polar bears by an electric fence, and they offer several kinds of lodging, from furnished and heated tent-chalets to rudimentary hiking tents. Visitors can also pitch their own tent.
Must-see: At night, don’t miss sitting by the fire, dressed in warm clothes, enjoying the magnificent Northern Lights that illuminate the sky almost daily.
Gulf Islands National Park Reserve, British Columbia
The first Canadian national park created in the 21st century, this marine wonderland is a labyrinth of 16 islands and over 30 islets and reefs scattered throughout the Salish Sea off the southern coast of BC. Enjoying a pleasantly mild Mediterranean climate, the park is home to orcas, seals, otters and pods of porpoises and dolphins that patrol its temperate waters, while bald eagles and peregrine falcons soar overhead.
What to do: Those who are quite active can sail or kayak, hike or cycle along shore line trails, or climb to reach stunning mountaintop views. Those interested in history can explore historic lighthouses and fascinating remnants of First Nations settlements that have existed here for thousands of years, not far from Vancouver or Victoria.
Where to stay: In addition to the campgrounds available on several islands, chalets, hostels, homestays and resorts welcome visitors on Pender Island.
Must-see: On board your own boat or on a taxi-boat, don’t miss out on exploring the reserve’s numerous destinations accessible only by private boat.
Forillon National Park, Quebec
Protecting the tip of the Gaspé Peninsula on the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, Forillon National Park is a mountainous coastal peninsula containing forest, aquatic, coastal and marine habitats. From boreal woodlands to salt marshes, limestone sea cliffs, sand dunes and peat bogs… this park is renowned for its stunning vistas! Offshore, whales, seals and thousands of seabirds congregate, making Forillon a paradise for marine wildlife lovers. Its name come sfrom an old French word meaning, “a rocky little island with a vertical profile”.
What to do: Lie on the beach, enjoy some sea kayaking among the whales and seal colonies, or simply walk along one of the numerous hiking paths. This park, withits many natural landscapes, offers a breath taking diversity of experiences.
Where to saty: For a unique experience, try the micro-cube or the double-tent, two new kinds of lodging that have been available inside the park since last year. Or, for more comfort, you can rent a chalet just outside the park that will offer you an incredible view of the Gaspé Bay.
Must-see: In both good and bad weather, get on board a zodiac for a memorable chance to go snorkelling among the seals.
Nahanni National Park Reserve, Yukon
Located along Yukon’s southwest border, Nahanni National Park Reserve was awarded UNESCO World Heritage Site status in 1978 for its expansive network of dramatic canyons, rugged karstic caves, sulphur hot springs and its signature white water river, the Naha Dehé (South Nahanni).
What to do: Experienced mountaineers can attempt to climb the notorious Cirque of the Unclimbables, and hikers can follow the footsteps of the ancient Dene culture. Seasoned paddlers can tackle the mighty Naha Dehé.
Where to stay: In order to reduce over-crowding, wilderness camping is strongly encouraged throughout the park. However due to a large amount of visitors in certain places, designated camping areas have been set up.
Must-see: Participate in an aerial excursion so you can see the most remote and spectacular landscapes on the reserve.
The Parks Canada website contains updated information on all the parks listed here, as well as links to download travel guides.
Edited on 20 April 2018