Think that Nationals Parks are just for summer? Think again. There are magical, natural experiences waiting at majestic parks across Canada. And consider this – these eye-popping sights and outings are authentic and oh-so-good for you. Now, we’re not suggesting that you climb a mountain or sleep in a snowdrift, but check out these family-friendly activities and plan for some awe this winter.
**Please note: All park websites should be consulted for up-to-date COVID protocol before visiting.
Elk Island National Park, Alberta
Just 35 minutes east of Edmonton, Elk Island National Park is a natural wonderland open all year long. When ice conditions allow, you can skate around an island on Astotin Lake or try some pond hockey. Check out the stars in the Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve – see the calendar for special Snowshoe and Stargaze events. And always be on the lookout for bison and elk, viewing from a safe distance.
La Mauricie National Park, Quebec
La Mauricie National Park is located north of Trois-Rivières, two hours from Montréal. Here you can snowshoe or winter hike on the park’s snowy hills. All you need is good winter gear and boots; you can rent walking sticks, snowshoes (children and adults), and even a baby carrier backpack at the Information desk. The Du Camping – Trail no. 1 is best for families and beginners, an easy terrain totalling 3.1 or 4.5 km, depending on which route you choose.
Point Pelee, ON
Take an eco-adventure in Point Pelee National Park, 3.5 hours from Toronto. You can catch cool natural ice formations, go for winter hikes, or take in the night sky during the new moon in the Dark Sky Preserve.
Fundy National Park, New Brunswick
Fundy is fat bike heaven (more than 23 km of trails open to fat bikes in the Chignecto Recreation Area), the perfect way for families to bike in the snow. Or enjoy tobogganing and then warm up in the Salt and Fir Welcome Centre. Local outfitter Outdoor Elements rents fat bikes and also offers guided snowshoe hikes.
Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta
Three hours from Calgary, Waterton Lakes is great for winter wildlife viewing: depending on conditions, elk, deer, bighorn sheep, moose, river otters, red squirrels, snowshoe hares and marten might be spotted, or large herds of elk. Sledding, especially on the Prince of Wales hills, is super fun. And then try a winter picnic – bring your own wood for the kitchen shelter stove and enjoy some hot chocolate.
Bruce Peninsula National Park, ON
Right at the tip of the peninsula, near Tobermory and about 3.5 hours from Toronto is this beautiful area. Bring some cross-country skis or snowshoes and see the gorgeous Bruce Peninsula. But please admire that amazing coastline from a safe distance – stay to the marked trails and avoid cliffs and the water’s edge.
Glacier Park, B.C.
This awe-inspiring park is four hours from Calgary and 6 hours from Vancouver, and is definitely worth a visit. There are family-friendly hikes that meander through valleys of majestic trees and through alpine areas with astonishing views. Hemlock Grove is a great place to adventure. The boardwalk there offers a barrier-free trail to view towering ancient hemlocks, and you can warm up in the log cabin at the Hemlock Grove Picnic Area. The Meeting of the Waters trail is also suitable for children, a 30-minute loop that traverses a bridge where Asulkan Brook and the Illecillewaet River meet.