It’s finally hiking and camping season, and at COVE we’re ready for a summer full of adventure. We compiled a list of the best provincial and national parks in the country for you to start planning your road trip.
What is a provincial park?
Provincial parks are areas of land and water that are designated as areas of conservation, preservation, tourism, and education. The first provincial park was Queen Victoria Park in Niagara Falls and it was established in 1885. Shortly after came Algonquin in 1893, which was the first provincial park established to protect a natural environment. National parks are designated for the same reasons. They represent the power of Canada’s natural environment.
These wild places, located in every province and territory, range from mountains and plains, to boreal forests and tundra, to lakes and glaciers, and much more. National parks protect the habitats, wildlife and ecosystem diversity representative of — and sometime unique to — the natural regions.
Alberta – Banff National Park
Banff National Park is easily the province’s most popular tourist destination, as well as one of the most picturesque spots in the country. Known for its wildly coloured lakes, majestic mountains and endless opportunity for adventure, it’s Canada’s first national park. The park spans 6,641 square kilometers of scenic valleys, peaks, glaciers, forests, meadows and rivers. The actual town of Banff is uniquely located within the National Park itself.
The Park allows for camping as well as luxurious chalets and hotels. Banff National Park requires a park pass when you go to visit, and if you want to camp, you’ll have to register online.
There are tons of guided tours: mushing with dog sleds in the winter, tours via horseback, and even western-wilderness themed cookouts.
British Columbia – Northern Rocky Mountains Provincial Park
Northern Rocky Mountains Provincial Park is in the heart of the Rockies. Known for its vivid landscapes, ecosystem and of course the mountain view, it spans over 665,709 hectares of wilderness in Northern B.C. One of the notable features of the Northern Rocky Mountains Park is the diversity of water features. The area is accentuated by major rivers, clear, cold streams, waterfalls, rapids, small glaciers and lakes. While recreational use isn’t year-round, access to the area is either by hiking, boat, aircraft or horseback.
Manitoba – Atikaki Wilderness Provincial Park
One of our more rural options, Atikaki Provincial Park is where you’ll find Mother Nature at her most pristine. It’s just east of Lake Winnipeg bordering Ontario and is in Canadian Shield country – a huge area of exposed igneous rock. Bordering it is kilometers of rugged Boreal forest, rivers and lakes perfect for canoeing and fishing. There is also an abundance of wildlife, especially Caribou – Atikaki is Ojibwe for “country of the caribou”. You can stay at a fly-in lodge, chalet, or fishing base camp. The park is still truly untouched by man.
Ontario – Lake Superior Provincial Park
Located in the Northern region of Ontario along the coast of Lake Superior, this Provincial Park is one of Canada’s most notable. It’s rich in history; you’ll find pictographs littering the coast line – most of which you can see up close, and it’s one of Canada’s only accessible pictograph viewings. This park has amazing hiking trails and a stunning landscape. The park has a campground located within itself for tent, RV, trailer and cabin camping. Katherine’s Cove, a beach within the park has a breathtaking natural “bathtub” made from igneous rock and water erosion over the years. It is truly a sight to be seen.
New Brunswick – Fundy National Park
Fundy National Park is located on the Bay of Fundy, near the village of Alma. The park protects Acadian Highlands, the site of the world’s tallest tides. You can even walk on the floor of the Atlantic Ocean when the tide reaches low enough, having a chance to look at the creatures left behind. There are exclusive foliage that belong to Fundy, like the birds-eye primrose, found only in this park! If you’re looking to go camping, there are 3 campgrounds – from comfortable Otentiks to isolated primitive campgrounds, you’ll find something ideal for your group. Then, off to adventuring!
Newfoundland – Barachois Pond Provincial Park
The Barachois Pond Provincial Park occupies part of the Appalachian Mountains known as the Long Range Mountains, formed over 450 million years ago. Erosion reduced the peaks to less than 400 meters and glaciers formed the valley now filled by Barachois Pond. This park is ideal for the weekend getaway full of excitement. You can swim, fish, and go waterskiing. The Erin Mountain trail is one for the avid hiker, and boasts breathtaking views of the landscape of the Maritimes. With plenty of camping options, boat rentals, and guided tours, you’ll be sure to have a weekend of non-stop adventure.
Yukon – Kluane National Park and Reserve
In case you have a real sense of adventure, Kluane National Park and Reserve is the spot for you. The land of extreme is home to Canada’s highest mountain peak at 5,959 meters, the largest ice field and North America’s most genetically diverse grizzly population. Kluane’s known for its wilderness recreation and mountaineering – explore mountains with multi-day hikes or a more accessible adventure where great hikes await you just off the highway. You can raft the unbelievable Alsek River fed my glacial meltwaters. With tons of options for camping, exploring the Yukon is a must-do.