This year, Canada is celebrating its 150th birthday by offering free entry to all National Parks. Plus, plenty of Provincial Parks and individual cities have planned events to celebrate Canada over the upcoming camping season. Why not join the celebration?
Between free park entry and extraordinary maple leaf pride, summer 2017 is the best time to pay a visit. Here’s a few places you might want to check out.
Fundy National Park
Explore miles of untouched coastline in Fundy National Park, New Brunswick. Picture rocky shorelines and sandy beaches. Inland, 75 miles of hiking trails wind through the Acadian forest, passing waterfalls, creeks, and rolling hills. While Fundy National Park is open year-round, the best time to plan a camping trip is July through September when the saltwater swimming is the warmest in Canada.
It’s hard to pinpoint just a few suggestions! Swim and picnic at Bennett Lake. Or, rent a canoe and try your hand at fishing with a day permit. Snap a picture at Fundy’s most photographed waterfall: Dickson Falls. Take a scenic drive to the coast, then set up camp at one of the Fundy Park campgrounds.
At the coast, watch the world’s highest tides wash in and out at the Hopewell Rocks. At low tide, walk on the ocean floor, and take advantage of the classic Canadian photo-op at the “flowerpot rocks.” A few hours later, return to the same spot to see how the ocean’s rising tide submerges the rock formations almost completely.
Before you leave, plan a whale watching excursion—a Fundy favourite for ocean adventurers.
Bruce Peninsula National Park
Travel southwest towards Ontario for your next adventure at the Bruce Peninsula. The turquoise water in Bruce Peninsula National Park is reminiscent of the water out west in the Canadian Rockies. This Ontario hotspot can fill up quickly in the summer, so aim for off-peak times if you mind camping with a crowd. Weekdays are less busy; morning and evening hikes are quieter.
Cyprus Lake, part of the Niagara Escarpment offers beautiful scenery of sharp cliffs rising from the clear water. Camp and hike within close proximity to the scenic swimming spot.
Seasoned hikers can hike to the Grotto via a moderate hike along the Georgian Bay Trail. Find the natural cave at Indian Cove, then cool off from your hike with a quick swim. Prepare yourself for a steep decline towards the Grotto, but the view is worth it! Pro tip: parking lots with Grotto access fill up quickly throughout the summer, so arrive early or later than the crowd.
For a more relaxing afternoon, take a boat cruise from Tobermory to Flowerpot Island. Flowerpot Island is technically in the Fathom Five National Marine Park—the Bruce Peninsula’s underwater national reserve. The natural rock formations on Flowerpot Island are similar to those in the Bay of Fundy, minus the massive tides. While on the boat, watch the water for sunken ships!
Algonquin Provincial Park
While Provincial Parks aren’t participating in the free entry promotion, they are still must-sees if you plan to explore Canada this summer. A fan favourite is Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario.
Ontario’s pride and joy offers a little something for everyone: canoeing, hiking, fishing, swimming, and wildlife watching. Algonquin Provincial Park is massive, and easily accessed from both Toronto and Ottawa.
Camp in Algonquin Park if you want to explore thousands—yes, thousands—of little lakes, pine forested trails, crystal clear creeks, and wildlife roaming the remote wilderness. Most of the park is only accessible by canoe or trail! The lakes are known for trout fishing, the forests for moose spotting.
Thrill seekers should paddle down the Petawawa River for white water canoeing. Enjoy panoramic views of the Canadian shield. Throw out your line to catch a trophy-sized trout. Return to your campsite in the evening for outdoor cooking.
Banff National Park
Hopefully your Canadian adventure will lead you west to the Rocky Mountains. Banff National Park is possibly Canada’s most famous destination. While there are quite a few campgrounds within the park, they book up fast. If you miss your chance at a reservation, head to Tunnel Mountain before noon for the chance to secure a first-come first-serve site.
The Rocky Mountain views of Banff National Park are unlike anywhere else in Canada. The moderate hike at Sulphur Mountain, accessible just a few miles from the town centre of Banff, is perfect for an afternoon. The view from the top includes the town of Banff and mountain ranges that seem to roll on forever. If you don’t feel like hiking, purchase a gondola ticket for a ride to the top.
For a relaxing walk and an iconic photo, stroll the path around Lake Louise. Canoe and kayak rentals are available in the summer. If scenic drives are your ideal afternoon, drive the Bow Valley Parkway from Banff to Lake Louise.
To take a break from the crowd, picnic beside Two Jack Lake. While there are hiking trails around the lake, it’s usually less busy than other must-see spots.
We’ve only mentioned four of the hundreds of National and Provincial Parks to choose from in Canada. Are you planning a camping trip in Canada this summer? Let us know where you go!