North America

7 best national parks in Canada

Filled with rocky trails and horny beasts, Canada’s national parks are an outdoorsy wonderland. From the polar bears of Churchill to the whales of Pacific Rim, here’s our pick of the best national parks in Canada.

 

Banff National Park

Located in the Rockies, Banff is a changing landscape of snow-capped peaks, flower-filled meadows and emerald green lakes. As well as incredible walking trails, the park is also home to man-made hot springs, museums and swingers’ clubs, also known as golf courses.

Fun fact: Established in 1885, Banff was Canada’s first national park.

Activities: Hiking, wildlife-spotting, whitewater rafting, mountain climbing, skiing.

Highlights: Lake Louise, Moraine Lake, Peyto Lake

 

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Jasper National Park

The wild one, ‘Jah-spa’ isn’t a place where Rastafarians get manicures, it’s a place where grizzlies jaywalk and Caribou openly display their horniness. It’s the largest park in the Rockies and home to some of the country’s most remote backcountry trails.

Fun fact: Columbia Icefields are one of the few in the world that are accessible by road.

Activities: Hiking, wildlife-spotting, canoeing, ice climbing, skiing.

Highlights: Athabasca Falls, Marmot Basin, Maligne Lake

 

 

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Yoho National Park

If You Only Hike Once (YOHO) then this mountainous national park isn’t a bad place to stretch your legs. Wooded trails lead you around alpine lakes, waterfalls and rocky spiral staircases.

Fun fact: Some of the oldest fossils on earth were found in Yoho National Park.

Activities: Hiking, wildlife-spotting, kayaking, cycling, skiing.

Highlights: Takakkaw Falls, Emerald Lake, Lake O’Hara

 

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Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

On wave-whipped west lies a scenic nature reserve of rugged coastline and brooding rainforests. It’s one of the best places in the world for wild camping and whale spotting.

Fun fact: Long Beach was once a hideout for draft dodgers, hippies and surfers.

Activities: Hiking, wildlife-spotting, wilderness camping, kayaking, surfing.

Highlights: Long Beach, Broken Group Islands, Rainforest trail

 

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Waterton Lakes National Park

 

Wat-er-ton of fun you can have here! Set where Alberta’s prairies meet the Rocky Mountains, Waterton’s isolated position protects it from hordes of weekend warriors. The park is a sanctuary for grizzlies, elk, deer, cougars and 800-odd wildflower species.

Fun fact: Waterton is part of the world’s first international peace park.

Activities: Hiking, wildlife-spotting, cycling, climbing, kayaking.

Highlights: Waterton Lake, Cameron Lake, Red Rock Canyon

 

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Churchill

The polar bear capital of the world, Churchill is also known for its whistling whales and ephemeral dancing lights. If you want to get nose to nose with a hungry bear, then this is the place!

Fun fact: No roads lead to Churchill so you need some wings (or a train).

Activities: Tundra buggy adventure, wildlife-spotting.

Highlights: Seeing the northern lights, polar bears and beluga whales in the wild.

 

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Algonquin Provincial Park

Playground for the common loon (the feathered kind), Algonquin is a thickly pined park of cycle trails, campgrounds and canoe routes. There are thousands of lakes and streams dotted around maple forests and rocky outcrops, a fine place for a spot of birding.

Fun fact: There are 1500 lakes in Algonquin Provincial Park

Activities: Hiking, wildlife-spotting, cycling, canoeing, trout fishing.

Highlights: Autumnal leaves, Canadian moose and wild camping.

 

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Desperate to grab your hiking boots and go be at one with nature? Check out more about these National Parks and turquoise lakes on our Canada destination page.