5 Unexpected Parks to Visit This Summer
Looking for adventure? Look no further than Canada’s beautifully diverse national parks. No matter the season, there’s a park that will offer not only stunning scenery, but also unique experiences — from luxurious camping to snowshoeing. And in 2017, all Canadian National Parks are free to visit, so be sure to check a few off your list and find more information about the Discovery Pass here.
Ah, summer. It’s (arguably) the best time to be outside. The weather is great, you’re on vacation, and the parks are lush. Though we like our parks in every season, it’s especially lovely to spend a day at a park laid out in the sun after hiking through the woods to a spectacular viewpoint. Here’s where to do just that in Canada’s National Parks.
Prince Edward Island: Prince Edward Island National Park
PEI National Park features over 25 miles of breathtaking coastline on the island’s north shore. The sand dunes, beaches, wetlands, and forests are home to over 400 species of plants and 300 species of birds and other wildlife.
Prince Edward Island on Canada’s East Coast is full of natural wonder. And this park along the island’s north shore is no exception. Witness red sand beaches along the Gulf of St. Lawrence, or head inland to discover salt marshes. Popular here is kayaking, picnicking, and bird watching. In fact, the park has beaches that are protected in order to preserve the endangered piping plover. With so many birds calling this park home, it’s been designated as an Important Bird Area in Canada. Come for the birds, stay for the sand dunes, golfing, hiking, and fishing. This park really has it all.
Nunavut: Quttinirpaaq National Park
Most of Quttinirpaaq National park is classified as an arctic desert.
If you’re looking for a once in a lifetime experience, this park might be it. Discover a land where ancient hunters, polar explorers, and military scientists once walked. Home to rugged landscapes and expansive vistas, Quttinirpaaq National Park is for true adventurers, in fact, some describe it as a challenge — you’re at the top of the world after all. Above the Arctic circle, this beautiful place is great for hiking through Arctic flowers, especially during the 24-hour sun in the summer months. Explore shimmering ice caps and jagged mountains here.
Saskatchewan: Grasslands National Park
Grasslands National Park is the only national park in all of Canada that protects the mixed-grass prairie ecosystem.
Head to Grasslands National Park and experience the living skies of Saskatchewan. This park boasts wide-open plains that dance with the wind. And at night, it’s just as magical. The sky lights up underneath thousands of dazzling stars. Besides the quintessential backpacking, birding, camping, hiking, and horseback riding, Grasslands also plays host to events like the Badlands Blast Weekend and Fossil Fever. If you couldn’t tell by those event names, Grasslands National Park is known for its geology and history, too.
Nova Scotia: Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site
Kejimkujik is a rare refuge for old growth forests and the species that depend upon them at the core of the second largest biosphere reserve in Canada.
This park is a tradition for Nova Scotians. Why you ask? Because of its incredible beauty and expansive landscapes that are perfect for all types of activities — from paddling to hiking. Besides the classic outdoor adventures, Keji, as it’s known by locals, is also home to some very important history. Throughout the park, you’ll find petroglyphs (or rock engravings), traditional encampment areas, and canoe routes that harken back to the Mi’kmaw First Nations people. Get to know the land and the history by biking, fishing, exploring the beach, or joining a guided Voyageur canoe journey.
British Columbia: Pacific Rim National Park
The south western coast of Canada drips with water and abounds with plant life; truly a rainforest.
This park is stunning no matter the season (can you say storm watching?!), but summer is particularly special. Kayak through the Pacific Ocean and be greeted by a First Nation Beach Keeper, surf the break at sunset, or camp in an oTENTik at Green Point Campground. If you’re looking for a particularly rugged experience, hit the West Coast Trail. Want to relax? Watch the sun dip into the horizon on the patio of the Kwisitis Feast House.
Canada is home to 46 national parks, and these are just a few of our favorites. Perfect to explore in all seasons, find more outdoor inspiration on Parks Canada’s website.