We love a good birthday party. So, naturally, over the past year we’ve been celebrating the heck out of our National Parks in recognition of their 100th birthday. From the grandiose sequoias in northern California to the majestic Grand Canyon in Arizona, let’s just say we can only hope to look as stunning as they are when we’re centenarians!
But with the 100-year party winding down here in the states, Canada’s park system is like, “We see you, neighbor, and we raise you this…” Canada is turning 150 this year. To celebrate its big birthday, the country is granting free admission to its parks. In all, Parks Canada manages a network of 46 national parks, 171 national historic sites, four national marine conservation areas, one national urban park and eight historic canals.
The 2017 Discovery Pass is your free ticket to the parks. Here’s how you can get your free pass. (P.S. We just gave it a try, signing up with a U.S. address, and it didn’t even charge for shipping, though says it can take eight weeks for the pass to arrive.)
Canada’s parks are filled with glaciers, waterfalls, mountains and bears, oh my! We put on our park ranger hats and scouted out some of Canada’s most Instagram-worthy parks to gather some trip inspiration.
In no particular order, here are eight magnificent national parks in Canada.
1. Mingan Archipelago Natural Park Reserve
Step foot here and it’s like you’re time traveling to a primeval time, with colossal limestone rock formations and more than 1,000 islands and islets. This park is also home to whales and seals.
2. Pacific Rim Forest
Surfers have been flocking to this park since the 1960s, and there are stretches of beach suitable for all levels of wave riders.
3. Fundy National Park
You can’t spell Fundy without “fun.” This park has some of the highest tides in the word, and you can walk the sea floor at low tide or kayak in the high tides. There are also stunning waterfalls, camping options that include yurts and even regular musical performances.
4. Kejimkujik National Park
Yeah, you’ll want to stick around until nighttime at this national park that earned itself a “dark sky” designation. Parks with the distinction are known to put on a spectacular star show because they’ve shut out artificial lighting that steals the stars’ spotlight. (Our own National Parks in the U.S. say city dwellers can see 500 stars on a good night. But those with dark sky designations can scout out 15,000 stars.)
5. Torngat Mountains National Park
In the colder months, you can take a boat through the fjords, spotting icebergs and whales. In the warmer months, hike to the waterfalls and take a dip in one of this pastoral park’s lakes.
6. Yoho National Park
YOLO, so do some yoga in Yoho! On the western slopes of the Canadian Rocky Mountains, this park has the dramatic duo of waterfalls and high peaks.
7. Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve
Wildlife lovers, here’s one for the bucket list. This park has it all: bears fishing for wild salmon, bald eagles soaring the sky, and whales and sea lions filling the ocean’s waters.
8. Forillon National Park
Stroll along the pebble beaches or go snorkeling with the cliffs in the background. You can watch whales from the picnic areas that are strategically scattered throughout the park, too.