Do untamed wilderness and fantasy fueled landscapes make your heart flutter? If yes, then Canada is calling your name.
Want to relax by the shore? Kayak down a river? Sit in silence amongst ancient trees? Or, have an adventure that will last a lifetime? All of that and more can be found in the best national parks in Canada.
- Best National Parks in Alberta
- Best National Parks in British Columbia
- Best National Parks in Manitoba
- Best National Parks in New Brunswick
- Best National Parks in Newfoundland & Labrador
- Best National Parks in Northwest Territories
- Best National Parks in Nova Scotia
- Best Provincial National Parks in Ontario
- Best National Parks in Quebec
- Best National Parks in Saskatchewan
- Best National Parks in Yukon
But not only do the best national parks in Canada promise you experiences that you will never forget, they also showcase the best of the natural beauty of Canada. From the tallest mountains to the highest tides, you know you are in for something extraordinary.
No matter where you may find yourself in Canada, there’s a national park close by. But to make it easier for you, here are the best in each province. A new adventure awaits as you explore the best national parks in Canada.
Best National Parks in Alberta
Banff National Park
The first and oldest national park in Canada, Banff continues to delight and amaze visitors making it also the most visited park (read most crowded). Even with the crowds, Banff will capture your imagination and your heart. It’s pristine wilderness, vivid colors, and epic viewpoints always amaze.
It’s unreal beauty calls to you, drawing you in to keep exploring. And with so many hiking trails to choose from, there’s always an adventure waiting. Besides hiking, Banff is a great place for kayaking and even skiing in winter. No matter how long you plan to visit, it will never seem like enough time to explore one of the best national parks in Canada.
Highlights – Moraine Lake, Lake Louise, Lake Agnes, Plein of Six Glaciers, Peyto Lake, Johnston Canyon, and Sulphur Mountain. Or, grab a full guide on all things to do in Banff.
Top Tip: Plan an early start to your days. As Banff National Park is extremely popular, parking lots fill up quickly in the morning especially at Moraine Lake and Lake Louise. Getting to your destination just after sunrise ensures parking spots, but it also gives you a chance to enjoy nature in peace and quiet.
Where to Stay – the iconic Fairmont Chateau at Lake Louise, but majority of lodging is in Banff. And cheaper options can be found in Canmore, 20 minutes outside the park.
Closest Airport: Calgary International Airport (YCC), 144 km
Jasper National Park
Linked with Banff via the enchanting Icefields Parkway, Jasper National Park continues the pristine and photogenic scenery found at Banff. Lakes that are a color you have to see to believe, glaciers, and mountain ranges come together to make Jasper a special place to discover and one of the best national parks in Canada.
Stand at the base of a mighty glacier. Marvel at the sculpted beauty of Maligne Canyon. And find yourself mesmerized by the sheer perfection of Spirit Island. With so much to do, Jasper National Park picks up right where Banff leaves off.
Highlights: Maligne Canyon, Maligne Lake & Spirit Island, Athabasca Glacier
Top Tip: Book your lodging early (including campsites). And again, get to popular destinations early in the morning or visit during meal times to take advantage of smaller crowds.
Where to Stay: Jasper
Closest Airport: Calgary International Airport (YCC), 429 km
Waterton Lakes National Park
Imagine stepping into a painting. That is what it’s like to visit Waterton Lakes National Lake. Waterton Lake perfectly framed by the sprawling Rocky Mountains is a slice of heaven. And, to add a little special something, there are thunderous waterfalls, enchanting streams, and colorful wildflowers to revel in.
With 120 miles of trails and jaw dropping vistas, Waterton Lakes is a nature lover’s paradise. And, Waterton Lakes is joined with Glacier National Park in Montana making it possible to hike from one park to the other (don’t forget your passport).
Best Time to Visit: July through mid-September
Top Tip: Don’t rush through Waterton Lakes on a day trip from Glacier National Park (US). There’s tons of hiking trails and scenic viewpoints to take in. It’s a place to enjoy at a slow pace.
Where to Stay: Waterton Park
Closest Airport: Calgary International Airport (YCC), 271km
Best National Parks in British Columbia
Pacific Rim National Park
If you love the drama of ocean waves pelting rugged cliffs, then a visit to Pacific Rim National Park is a must. Though an extremely popular summer destination as one of the best national parks in Canada, the feeling of being in the remote wilderness never leaves you. And it’s having that ability that makes Pacific Rim one of the best national parks in Canada.
And Pacific Rim has it all: sandy beaches and rugged cliffs in its Long Beach region; hundreds of islets ideal for kayaking and camping in the Broken Group Islands; and an unforgettable multi-day trek through ancient coastal rainforests on the epic West Coast Trail.
A journey to Pacific Rim National Park is a journey to land’s end, where sea meets shore, blazing sunsets drench the waves and sand in orange hues, and where the drama of Mother Nature unfurls at every moment.
Highlights: Surfing at Long Beach, Kayaking at Broken Group Islands, Hiking the West Coast Trail
Top Tip: The weather can be unpredictable throughout the year at Pacific Rim, so always have a rain jacket with you and wear water proof shoes.
Where to Stay: Tofino
Closest Airport: Vancouver Airport (YVR), 132 km
Best National Parks in Yoho National Park
A natural extension from Banff National Park is a visit to Yoho National Park. If you think you can get bored by teal colored lakes or the stunning mountain displays of the Canadian Rockies, don’t worry. It’s not possible!
Besides featuring the dreamy Emerald Lake, thundering Takakkaw Falls, and the alpine gem, Lake O’Hara, Yoho is a lot less crowded than Banff. Imagine having all that natural beauty but without the crowds? That’s reason enough to visit this Canadian national park.
Highlights: Emerald Lake, Takakkaw Falls, Lake O’Hara
Top Tip: Due to its close proximity to Banff, Yoho National Park can get crowded in the summer. Consider visiting in September when the weather is still nice and most of the crowds have left.
Where to Stay: Golden
Closest Airport: Calgary International Airport (YCC), 241km
Glacier National Park of Canada
If you love the feeling of being on top of the world, then you can’t miss the hiking adventures at Glacier National Park of Canada. The hikes may be grueling, but the rewards make it all worth it. Standing on a narrow ridge with an endless array of mountain peaks surrounding you, what can compare?
But Glacier isn’t just about heights. Stunning glaciers, powerful waterfalls and tranquil old-growth rainforests round out this perfect slice of the great outdoors. With so many options, no wonder it’s one of the best national parks in Canada.
Highlights: Abbot Ridge, Asulkan Valley, Hemlock Grove
Top Tip: Bring your hiking boots! This is one park that you will want to hike. Not to mention, the best views are along the trails. And carry warm layers with you at all time.
Where to Stay: Golden
Closest Airport: Calgary International Airport (YCC), 334km
Best National Parks in Manitoba
Riding Mountain National Park
If you’re looking to leave behind the daily grind and just relax in nature, consider a trip to Riding Mountain National Park. There’s an ease about being in nature here. Though it’s tranquil, there are still plenty of activities to keep you busy for days.
From prairies to forests, from lakes to streams, you can enjoy the park via hiking, bicycling, fishing, and kayaking. And, the park is home to plenty of wildlife including black bears, moose, elk, foxes, lynx, and bison.
Highlights: Clear Lake, Gorge Creek Trail, Ominnik Marsh
Top Tip: Though the park is open year-round, try to plan your visit between late May and early October to maximize all you can do outdoors.
Where to Stay: Wasagaming
Closest Airports: Brandon Airport (local) 93 km, Winnipeg James Armstrong Airport (YWG) 266 km
Best National Parks in New Brunswick
Fundy National Park
Waterfalls always elicit delight and awe. And in Fundy National Park, there are 25 incredible waterfalls to be amazed at including Dickson Falls and Laverty Falls.
But it’s the coastline where the action lies at Fundy National Park. Twice a day, behold the world’s highest tide as it floods the exposed beaches and basins. At low tide, you can walk beside towering cliffs of volcanic rock along the ocean floor and weave around oddly shaped sea stacks.
Highlights: High Tide, Dickson Falls, Sea Stacks
Top Tip: As you’ll be along the coast during your visit to Fundy, always carry a warm layer and rain jacket with you. You never know when the weather may suddenly change.
Where to Stay: Alma
Closest Airport: Greater Moncton Leblanc International Airport (YQM), 80 km
Best National Parks in Newfoundland & Labrador
Gros Morne National Park
You never know where exactly you’re at when at Gros Morne National Park. The moon? Norway? And that is just a start of why Gros Morne is one of the best national parks in Canada.
The varying landscape will keep you in disbelief as you spend every day pinching yourself. And the pinching begins with Western Brook Pond. This inland fjord is lined with steep mountain walls and cascading waterfalls. And you cannot miss a boat ride around the fjord.
But for a truly memorable experience, take a hike up to one of the most iconic and jaw-dropping views you’ll ever encounter over the fjord.
But it’s at Gros Morne that plate tectonics became fact. Hiking through the Tablelands, you are walking on the earth’s mantle that was thrust to the surface millions of years ago. The rocky landscape is more fitting on the moon than here on Earth.
Highlights: West Brook Pond, the Tablelands, Shallow Bay Beach
Top Tip: If you want to do the boat ride around West Brook Pond, book in advance! Waiting to get tickets for when you arrive means you may miss out. And you definitely don’t want that happen.
Where to Stay: Rocky Harbor
Closest Airport: Air Deer Lake Regional Airport (YDF), 35km
Best National Parks in Northwest Territories
Wood Buffalo National Park
Not only is Wood Buffalo the largest of all the national parks in Canada, but it is also home to one of the few remaining free-roaming herds of bison in the world. And, it’s the ultimate wilderness experience. Be prepared to lose yourself in its mighty and varied terrain.
Take a swim in Pine Lake, a massive sinkhole. Walk across the remains of an ancient sea in the giant salt plains. Set up camp in a boreal forest and feel a million miles from civilization. Hit the trails through forests and meadows while looking for bears, bison, wolves, and moose. Or, stare in awe at one of the largest Dark Sky Preserves. A day here can pass in the blink of the eye.
Highlights: Bison herd, Salt Plains, Pristine Wilderness
Top Tip: Don’t expect to get cell service when in Wood Buffalo. During the summer months, have mosquito repellant with you. And, it’s best to visit during summer as the roads in the park are gravel and dirt and can be hard to maneuver in with snow or after heavy rains.
Where to Stay: Hay River
Closest Airport: Fort Smith Regional Airport (YSM), 26km
Best National Parks in Nova Scotia
Cape Breton Highlands National Park
Who doesn’t love a good road trip? And one of the world’s most scenic drives is the Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia. And, one third of the Cabot Trail passes through Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Countless vistas are around every bend on this epic coastal drive.
But sometimes the best part of a road trip is when you can get out and stretch your legs. And there are 26 hiking trails at Cape Breton. But you can’t leave without taking in the views from the end of the Skyline Trail. Perfect for all ages, this easy trail ends at a cliff overlook over the park and the Gulf of St. Lawrence. It’s breathtaking, and why Cape Breton is one of the best national parks in Canada.
Highlights: Cabot Trail, Skyline Trail
Top Tip: July and August are the warmest and driest months to visit, but always have a rain jacket with you. During September and October, you’ll be immersed in fall colors (but bring lots of warm layers). For better views while driving the Cabot Trail, go counter-clockwise. If don’t like driving next to steep drop offs, drive clockwise.
Where to Stay: Chéticamp
Closest Airport: J.A. Douglas McCurdy Sydney Airport (YQY), 148km
Best Provincial National Parks in Ontario
Bruce Peninsula National Park
Ancient forests, limestone cliffs, and turquoise waters combine to create the magical haven that is Bruce Peninsula National Park. Feel like an explorer as you journey into the Grotto, a limestone cave flooded with teal waters. And nearby, feel like a kid again as you go boulder hopping at Indian Head Cove.
And with the combination of forest that stops directly above the shoreline, you can count on many fun hiking trails with amazing views, including Overhanging Point and Singing Sands. Once there you can easily see why this is one of the best Provincial National Parks in Ontario. For quietude, go kayaking in any of the three lakes in the park.
Highlights: The Grotto, Overhanging Point, Singing Sands
Top Tip: As the Bruce Peninsula is located in a vast space of wilderness, animal crossings are common. Always obey the speed limits and slow down for animals. And, if you want to go swimming, the beaches on the west coast of the peninsula have shallower and warmer waters. Beaches on the east coast are better suited for boating activities.
Where to Stay: Tobermory
Closest Airport: Toronto International (YYZ), 289km
Best National Parks in Quebec
Forillon National Park
From land or sea, Forillon National Park is sure to knock your socks off! Towering cliffs meet the sea in dramatic fashion. Hiking up Mont-Saint Alban to Cap-Bon-Ami gives you the best view in the park. From the extraordinary vistas, popular hikes also lead to captivating waterfalls.
And, to see a different side of Forillon, experience it from the water. Spot humpback whales on a whale watching tour or go snorkeling with seals. Or, take in all the splendor at your own pace as you kayak in Gaspé Bay.
Highlights: View from Mont-Saint-Alban, Whale Watching, Gaspé Bay
Top Tip: Visit Cap-des-Rosiers in the northern part of the park for sunrise. The sun rises from the ocean and turns the cliffs bright orange. It shouldn’t be missed!
Where to Stay: Percé
Closest Airport: Michel-Pouliot Gaspé Airport (YGP), 43km
La Mauricie National Park
If you could only use one word to describe La Mauricie National Park, it would most likely be perfection. Here, the elements come together to create an understated yet stunning pastoral of woodland scenery. And tucked away in the sprawling Laurentian forest are over 150 lakes that you can dive into or just relax along their shores.
From breathtaking vistas to idyllic waterfalls, you can count on forgetting about daily life while immersed in La Mauricie, one of the best national parks in Canada.
Highlights: Le Passage and Île-aux-Pins Lookouts, Waber Falls, Solitaire Lake
Top Tip: Best time to go is from mid-May to early October. If you are visiting Waber Falls, start early in the morning as it’s a 9km hike. And, bring your swimsuit if going between the end of June and early September as swimming under the falls is allowed at that time.
Where to Stay: Grand Mere
Closest Airport: Trois-Rivieres (YRQ), 51km/Montreal International (YUL), 194km
Mont-Tremblant National Park
A perfect year-round destination, there is never a wrong time to visit Mont-Tremblant National Park. The tallest peak in the Laurentians, Mont-Tremblant offers spectacular hiking opportunities in the summer and awesome skiing in the winter.
Additionally, the park is home to countless lakes, meandering rivers, waterfalls, and wildlife including moose. From rock climbing to kayaking, you will never run out of option for outdoor activities.
Highlights: Mont Tremblant, Lac Tremblant, Chute-aux-Rats
Top Tip: In the summer, wear long sleeve shirts and pants and have plenty of mosquito repellant with you!
Where to Stay: Mont Tremblant
Closest Airport: Montreal International (YUL), 134 km
Best National Parks in Saskatchewan
Grasslands National Park
Imagine the sweeping, open prairies of tall grass that the first settlers experienced. But who needs to imagine when you can visit the Grasslands National Park? Yes, it’s a 4-hour drive from Saskatoon, but the drive is worth it when you get there.
Enjoy the views of the Frenchman River Valley along the Ecotour Scenic Drive. Journey deep into the grasslands on the Otter Basin Trail. And ake in views over the grasslands from atop the 70 Mile Butte.
But there is something buried beyond the grass. Unexpectedly, badlands appear in the eastern portion of the Grasslands. Fantastical hoodoos and geological patterns beckon visitors to explore the Valley of the 1,000 Devils.
Highlights: Ecotour Scenic Drive, Otter Basin, Valley of the 1,000 Devils
Top Tip: To see the park at its greenest, visit between late May and June. And you should plan on at least staying 2-3 days if you want to see the entire park. There are two different sections and its 150 km between them! With open plains, it can get very windy. And temperatures can fluctuate any time of the year, so always have warm layers with you!
Where to Stay: Val Marie
Closest Airport: Saskatoon International Airport (YXE), 410km
Best National Parks in Yukon
Kluane National Park
Epic. That’s the only way to describe Kluane National Park. It’s home to 17 of Canada’s tallest mountains including the tallest, Mount Logan. Not to be out done, the world’s largest non-polar icefield also resides in Kluane. Prepare for jaw-dropping views as you soar over the mountains, glaciers, and valleys on a flight sightseeing tour.
But true adventure is found when your feet are planted on the ground. Day and overnight hikes make you familiar with the landscape while you watch for wildlife. Caribou, wolves, grizzlies, black bears, eagles and mountain sheep call this Canada national park home.
And rest your weary feet by river rafting or enjoying the tranquil waters of Kathleen Lake.
Highlights: Mount Logan, Kathleen Lake, Alaska Highway
Top Tip: The summer season is very short, mid-June to early September but always bring extra layers with you. Hiking boots are a must as the trails here are really just routes.
Where to Stay: Haines Junction
Closest Airport: Whitehorse International Airport (YXY), 218km