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10 Canadian National Parks you must visit this summer

10 Canadian National Parks you must visit this summer

Posted by PanamericanWorld on May 15, 2017

We Canadians have been long blessed with tremendous national parks that attract visitors from around the world. This year we’ve got an added benefit; all our national parks, historic sites and national marine conservation areas are free as we celebrate Canada’s 150th birthday. There’s also free use of our national historic river lock systems, including the famous Rideau Canal. (You can pick up your free passes at CIBC outlets and Mountain Equipment Co-op stores across Canada.)

Here’s a look at a range of national parks around the country.

GROS MORNE This is one of the great hiking regions of Canada, with rugged mountains and sensational views galore. Less adventurous travellers can take a short walk to the boats that ply Western Brook pond, a fjord-like body of water that snakes its way along the bottom of massive cliffs of ancient rock. The nearby town of Woody Point stages an annualwriters’ festival with world-class music and readings from folks such as Margaret Atwood and Jim Cuddy of Blue Rodeo. For lighter entertainment, try the goofy, rollicking Anchors Aweigh musical show at the Ocean View Hotel

PACIFIC RIM The West Coast Trail is a rugged, 75-km-long trail along the western shore of Vancouver Island in B.C. You’ll pass through glorious rainforests filled with ancient, towering trees, rippling creeks and endless beaches littered with twisted bits of driftwood. You’ll also traipse over suspension bridges that hover over deep canyons. It’s a stunning part of Canada. 

PRINCE ALBERT This is one of our national parks that deserves more recognition. Located in central Saskatchewan (an underrated province in my opinion), the park is on the edge of Canada’s boreal forest and contains a wide variety of plant and animal life, including Canada’s only fully protected white pelican nesting colony, the lakeside cabin of famed Canadian conservationist Grey Owl and a group of free-range bison, some of our most majestic animals. You’re only a couple hours from Saskatoon, where you’ll find several sleek hotels and wonderful restaurants. 

WATERTON LAKES This is one of the gems of the Parks Canada system, a stunning series of lakes and mountains at the south end of Alberta, hard up against the U.S. border. It’s actually a dual national park, with Glacier National Park in the U.S. adjoining Waterton Lakes. Take a drive out to Cameron Lake (watch for wild animals on the road) and stop to see Alberta’s first oil drilling site. There’s a nice, affordable golf course, and you also can take a boat cruise along Waterton Lake. 

POINT PELEE This spot southeast of Windsor, Ontario is the southernmost point in mainland Canada; roughly parallel with the California-Oregon border. There are fine beaches and hikes along the shore, and it’s a popular spot for migratory birds and butterflies. There’s also wonderful canoeing in the marshes, and the relatively flat terrain makes it great for cycling. When you’re finished enjoying the park try some of the great wineries in the area. 

DAWSON CITY Parks Canada guides lead entertaining tours of funky Dawson City in the Yukon, telling stories about the Klondike Gold Rush and the colourful characters of the town. When I did the tour my guide explained that one of the local women ran a house of ill repute but was considerate enough to bar married men from visiting. She also used to give out tea and cookies to school children on their way home. And you thought Julia Roberts was nice in Pretty Woman. 

LACHINE CANAL Not so much of a wilderness person but still like to celebrate Canadian history and famous places? Try a walk or a bike ride along the Lachine Canal in Montreal. The canal runs 14.5 km’s from the port of Old Montreal to Lake Saint-Louis. It’s perfect for cycling, but you also can try a kayak or canoe. Stop in at the Atwater Market, one of Canada’s best markets, for awesome food. Or explore the trendy shops and bars in the nearby Little Burgundy area. 

PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND Seemingly endless beaches backed by deep, orange-red cliffs and acres of grassy dunes; Prince Edward Island National Park is a fantastic destination for families. There are lovely boardwalks and plenty of places for the kids to play, as well as bird-watching and other nature activities. Try a night at the historic Dalvay by the Sea, where Prince William and Kate stopped by a few years ago. You’re just a few minutes from Anne of Green Gables territory. The charms of Charlottetown are also just a short drive away. 

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