Choosing just one national park to go visit this summer is like trying to choose your favourite chocolate (or chip, for the savoury fans) – there are so, so, SO many good ones. And if this is an adventure you’ve been putting off for awhile, why not let the incentive of free admission for Canada 150 entice you to plan a family vacation. It’s a great opportunity to see some of the national treasures Canada is known for. These beauties shine in summer or fall (and even winter…) so get planning, get packing, and prepare to be awestruck.
Gros Morne National Park – Newfoundland
Newfoundland is all kinds of gorgeous, and Gros Morne is one of the jewels in the crown. It’s got fjords, sheer cliffs and looks like something out of Lord of the Rings. There are neat rock formations (they look like a desert landscape) created by shifting tectonic forces and Gros Morne itself is a peak in the Long Range Mountains with a trail that overlooks Ten Mile Pond Gorge. In other words? Stunning.
Pacific Rim National Park Reserve – British Columbia
Photo: Kevin M Klerks via Flickr
Trust BC to be home to a park that is this amazing. It’s got something for everyone: Long Beach for the surf (wear a wetsuit, it’s chilly!), the West Coast Trail for hikers and fans of “Wild”, and the Broken Group Islands, just made for a paddle around in kayaks. Surfing, hiking and kayaking? Finally, a triathlon we can all enjoy. And, and then there is the jaw-dropping scenery. Ok, we’re in love.
Forillon National Park – Quebec
Photo: Andrea Schaffer via Flickr
This magical park marks the beginning of the International Appalachian Trail, a world-renowned hiking experience. But there’s so much more to this park – seals, snorkelling, pebble beaches and a ton of history (plus – a lighthouse!!! We adore lighthouses!). We also love the glamping options – they’re practically nicer than our own house and super comfortable and simple to use.
Bruce Peninsula National Park – Ontario
Photo: Tibor Kovacs via Flickr
Oh, the awe-inspiring Bruce Peninsula! Families are charmed by the “flowerpot” stone formations rising up from the water, plus the cliffs, islands, birds – and, of course, the super cool coastline cave known as The Grotto. Very pretty but very busy, consider visiting in fall after the crowds have thinned out to have more room to gawk – plus September swimming is warmer than June swimming!
Jasper National Park – Alberta
Photo: Miguel Vieira via Flickr
If the kids are all about the wildlife, it’s time to go to Jasper. Viewing (from a safe and respectful distance, of course) could include grizzly bears, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, cougars and wolves. That feast for the eyes is set against a scenic backdrop that is a visual extravaganza on its own – mountains, turquoise lakes and majestic trees. We also love the red Muskoka chairs strategically placed throughout the park offering an opportunity to rest and take in gorgeous views and learn about the location.
Where are you headed this summer?