Canadian Provincial and National Parks to Visit Right Now
Western Canada is an outdoor enthusiast’s paradise, with endless year-round recreational activities to satisfy every interest. The spectacular landscapes are somehow both rugged and majestic, featuring pristine glacial lakes that are accessible only by hiking, as well as world-class oceanfront resorts and everything in between.
The country has gone to great lengths to protect its natural beauty and wildlife by creating an extremely well-maintained parks system. Whether you’re hoping to summit the tallest peak in the Canadian Rockies or find an ancient dinosaur fossil, there’s a national or provincial park that will allow you to do it.
A trip to any of Canada’s national or provincial parks is an excellent way to enjoy your summer outdoors while also safely social distancing. We know you’re itching to get away, so the only question is how many parks will you visit this year?
British Columbia National and Provincial Parks
British Columbia is renowned for its soaring mountains and world-class skiing, but it’s also a fantastic summer destination, with seven national parks and more than 600 provincial parks.
- Yoho National Park – “Yoho” means “awe” or “wonder” in Cree, a language spoken by Canada’s First Nations, or indigenous peoples. Yoho is situated along the border of southeastern British Columbia and on the western edge of the Canadian Rockies. Known as a hiker’s paradise, a trail favorite includes the famed Iceline Trail which takes you along a ridge above the treeline and provides views of glaciers and Takakkaw Falls.
- Mount Revelstoke National Park – This is one of the smallest national parks in Canada, and if you’ve heard of it, it was likely in the context of skiing. However, Revelstoke has much to offer summer visitors, including driving scenic Meadows in the Sky Parkway and strolling along one of several boardwalks perched above rainforests, swamps, and other diverse ecosystems.
- Wells Gray Provincial Park – Known as Canada’s “waterfall park,” Wells Gray has over 40 named waterfalls. Remarkably, nearly all of them are easily accessible from the road. There’s no question that waterfalls and boating are top activities here, but don’t miss out on hiking or wildlife viewing.
- Joffre Lakes Provincial Park – About 2.5 hours from Vancouver along the scenic Sea to Sky Highway is Joffre Lakes. The park is comprised of three individual glacier-fed lakes: Lower, Middle, and Upper Joffre Lakes. This is also a great place to stop if you’re taking a BC road trip.
- Kootenay National Park – One of seven parks that makes up the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks UNESCO World Heritage Site, Kootenay is magically diverse. You’ll find everything from soaring mountain peaks and waterfalls to canyons and the Radium Hot Springs.
- Pacific Rim National Park Reserve – Tofino, located just outside Pacific Rim, is considered Canada’s surf capital. In fact, Outside magazine once called it “the best surf town in North America.” Absolutely try surfing, but know there’s far more to do here. The diverse terrain includes rainforest, mountains, tide pools, whale-watching, hiking, or indulging in the farm-to-table foodie scene.
- Strathcona Provincial Park – This tremendous 607,385-acre park includes glacial lakes, waterfalls, and mountain peaks. If you’re up for a challenge, hike the strenuous backcountry to Della Falls, Canada’s highest waterfall. At 440 meters, or 1,445 feet, it’s nine times higher than Niagara Falls.
- Newcastle Island Marine Provincial Park – Just a short ferry ride from Maffeo-Sutton Park in Nanaimo, Newcastle offers 17.5 km (11 miles) of hiking and cycling trails, summer swimming in Midden Bay or Kanaka, and several well-preserved historical sites, including several-thousand-years-old Salish First Nations villages.
Alberta National and Provincial Parks
It’s true that Alberta is home to some of the world’s best skiing and has the coldest winters around, but this province serves up plenty of summer adventures, too.
- Banff National Park – Banff is arguably the most visited national park in Canada – for good reason. Skiers and snowboarders flock to Banff in the winter, but the main summer attraction is pristine, glacier-fed Lake Louise. To reach the lake’s iconic turquoise-blue waters, visitors must drive Icefields Parkway, which Conde Nast Traveller named one of the world’s top scenic drives.
- Jasper National Park – Adjacent to Banff, Jasper is Canada’s biggest national park. With glaciers, fossils, waterfalls, and wildlife galore, as well as being the second-largest Dark Sky Preserve in the world, it’s no wonder that Jasper is one of the most popular Canadian national parks.
- Glacier National Park of Canada – There’s a Glacier National Park in the U.S., but there is no connection between them. In fact, Canada’s is 24 years older. As its name suggests, Glacier gets tons of snow, but there’s plenty to do year-round. The Amazing Forests Experience takes you through diverse ancient forests, while Rogers Pass follows abandoned railroad tracks and tells an important part of Canada’s history.
- Dinosaur Provincial Park – It may not be the most well-known, but many would argue that this is Canada’s best national park to visit. Step into another world when you visit the “Badlands,” an expansive barren desert that’s rich in dinosaur fossils. Over 150 full dinosaur skeletons have been uncovered in the park and more than 50 species discovered.
- Kananaskis Country – Kananaskis Country is technically an enormous wilderness area comprised of hundreds of provincial parks, recreation areas, and wildlife preserves. It’s south of Banff National Park and west of Calgary, and is much quieter than neighboring Banff and Jasper. Take a hike or go mountain biking, see how many bears you can spot (from a safe distance!), or try your luck at fishing.
Known as the “Land of Living Skies,” Saskatchewan is the ideal destination for anything outdoors. While it’s just as cold as the rest of Canada, Saskatchewan also has sand dunes and purple sand beaches, and is an excellent place for viewing aurora borealis, or Northern Lights.
- Grasslands National Park – If you’re looking for something off the beaten path, Grasslands is Canada’s best national park to visit. It lies along the international border adjacent to Montana and it’s flat with no trees. Grasslands is Canada’s darkest Dark Sky Preserve, and it’s also the home to many species of wildlife not found anywhere else, including black-tailed prairie dogs and prairie rattlesnakes. Wolverines, grizzly bears, bison, and many other animals also call Grasslands home.
Where to stay
With more than 20 properties located throughout Western Canada, Coast Hotels is an ideal lodging choice for your Canadian parks trip. Check out our promotions, and rest assured that we’ve amped up our cleaning and safety protocols. We’re also offering a flexible cancellation policy, so book with confidence and enjoy your summer travels.