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.
There’s something special about fall in Canada. The air has a certain crispness to it, leaves light up trees in shades of crimson and yellow, and surprisingly, communities across the country explode with festivals and events. Sure, it may be colder than the season preceding it, but there’s something particularly appealing about bundling up and heading into the wilderness. Here are some of the best National Parks to explore during this picturesque season.
New Brunswick: Fundy National Park of Canada
At Fundy National Park you can experience the world’s highest tides.
New Brunswick is the perfect place to take in fall colours by the sea. In Fundy National Park, not only is there classic hiking and biking — Matthews Head and Kinnie Brook trails come highly recommended — but there’s also the world’s highest tides. Hit the trail in the morning, then see either four-story high water or the ocean floor, depending on the tide table. Through the year there are a ton of festivals in this park, but fall plays host to a special Thanksgiving Weekend and Fundy Pumpkin Festival, as well as Salmon Days. Join in on the fun before heading out into nature and tracking down the Parks Canada red chairs scattered around the park — these chairs mark the best and most tranquil viewpoints.
Alberta: Jasper National Park
Extending over 10,000 square kilometres, it is the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies and part of UNESCO's Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site.
Jasper National Park is stunning — no question. But in fall? It’s extra special. You’ll catch the changing leaves and maybe even a glimpse of snow, while wandering through forests and next to crystal-blue lakes. Hike through the Rocky Mountains on favourite trails like the Jasper Discovery Trail and the Wapiti Trail, or hop on a mountain bike to cover more ground. After a long day of adventure, go for a dip in the Miette Hot Springs, the hottest hot springs in the Canadian Rockies. Then follow that up with an evening of stargazing — the park is the second largest dark sky preserve in the world, meaning there’s minimal light pollution to maximize your viewing.
Ontario: Thousand Islands National Park
Thousand Islands National Park was established in 1904, the first Canadian national park east of the Rocky Mountains.
If you’re looking for picture-perfect fall colours and weather, look no further than Ontario. This province boasts some of the most stunning autumn scenery and Thousand Islands National Park is no exception. Located in the St. Lawrence River and made up of several islands, there’s plenty to do here. You can camp in a rustic-luxe canvas tent cabin, called an oTENTik, that will act as the perfect home base for hiking and paddling. If you want to see more, book a boat tour and see the park from the river. While you’re on the water or on foot, be sure to keep you eyes peeled — this park is full of wildlife like white tail deer, heron, osprey, mink, and turtles.
Quebec: Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve
Human occupation of the Mingan Archipelago goes back at least 2,000 years. The first inhabitants, groups of Aboriginal Peoples, were attracted by the marine resources of this part of the Gulf and, amongst other things, gathered molluscs, fished salmon, and hunted the seal.
Located in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, this archipelago in Quebec is a must-visit destination. Known for its unique geography — there are limestone outcroppings that look otherworldly — this park is equal parts beauty and history. Explore exhibits throughout the park that shed light on the nature and culture of the area. Then, be sure to track down the park’s unofficial mascot: the puffin! These clown-like birds are definitely worth a picture or two. If you want to extend your day trip, book a room in a historic lighthouse — the 50s decor is perfectly quaint.
Northwest Territories: Tuktut Noagait National Park
This remote park is located 170 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle and is home to the Bluenose West caribou herd, wolves, grizzly bears, muskoxen, arctic char, and a high density of raptors.
Up for an adventure? Tuktut Noagait National Park is the challenge you’ve been looking for. Besides unbelievable natural beauty — from waterfalls, to forests — this nearly 1,900-square-kilometre park is built for adventure. Take a guided paddling trip on the Hornaday River and find yourself dwarfed by towering canyons as you paddle through Class III and IV whitewater. If that’s not enough nature for you, you can camp in the backcountry (there are no marked sites — just pitch your tent and stay awhile) and fish, too. If you’re planning a trip out here, make sure to do your research. This is a remote destination and remains largely untouched which explains the robust wildlife, including caribou, grizzly bears, red foxes, and falcons.
Canada is home to 46 national parks, and these are just a few of our favourites. Perfect to explore in all seasons, find more outdoor inspiration on Parks Canada’s website.