Canada may be known for its friendly locals, but there's far more going on in this vast nation. With more lakes than any other country, along with a stunning 126,000 miles of coastline, and countless National Parks — all of which are true stunners — a trip through Canada simply wouldn't be complete without seeing at least a few of the natural wonders that this country lays claim to.
If you've been to North America, you've most certainly heard of the Rocky Mountains, the massive mountain range that spans over 3,000 miles. Jasper National Park is the largest national park, sitting in the Canadian end of the Rockies, and it offers endless opportunities for photos, biking, boating, hiking, and just about anything else you want to do outdoors. It's also the second-largest dark sky preserve in the world, which means there's endless stargazing to be done. Plus, if you take the Icefields Parkway into the park, you'll get to experience one of the world's most scenic and sought-after drives before you even get to the entrance.
Another Alberta destination, Banff, has everything from meadows and hot springs to striking pine forests, jarring mountains, and serene wetland habitat. Each area offers a list of adventures and there's no way to even see the whole park in a single short trip, so plan on returning for a lifetime of memories. If you go in the winter, you can hang out at one of the ski resorts tucked into the Canadian Rockies or you can plunge into the hot springs to warm your bones. During summer, you can take a canoe out on the lakes or go scuba diving in Lake Minnewanka.
"Yoho" is a term used as an exclamation of awe in the language of the First Nations Cree, making for an aptly named National Park. Situated amongst the Rocky Mountains in Canada's British Columbia, you're sure to hear about Takakkaw Falls (one of Canada's tallest waterfalls) and Emerald Lake, which is both true to its sparkling name and the largest in the entire park. Don't miss the Burgess Shale fossils, either, which date back over 500 million years.
Situated within the Arctic Circle, Auyuittuq National Park is one of the wildest in all of Canada. It isn't easily accessible, but that makes it ideal for those looking to get off the beaten path. To get here, you'll first need to fly into Iqaluit, Nunavut, which is a remote area in itself, before taking another plane to a local Inuit village where an outfitter will show you through the fjords to get you into the park. Once inside, you'll see stunning, truly untouched glaciated valleys, peaks of granite, and quiet wildlife — including polar bears — for miles on the horizon.
Continuously inhabited by multiple First Nations in British Columbia, historians in particular love visiting Pacific Rim National Park Reserve. Some tribes offer cultural experiences to enrich the tours of visitors, while others are Beach Keepers, both ancient legacies and active guides who help travelers stay safe as they navigate the sands. Once you've taken in this sight's incredible cultural significance, stick around to admire the rocky outcroppings, tide pools, crystal beaches, and countless trails.
With geography so unique, Gros Morne National Park has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. You'll find this park on the island of Newfoundland, with striking features including the Tablelands, where you can walk on part of the Earth's exposed mantle. You can also admire striking fjords along the park's coast. The coastal scenery is further made special by the park's location on the Gulf of St. Lawrence, which you can enjoy with the Coastal Trail. Ambitious hikers also climb to Gros Morne Mountain's top by continuing up the same trail past the pedestrian trail's end.
While it's interesting to brag about being the smallest national park in the Canadian Rockies, Alberta's Waterton Lakes National Park still consists of nearly 125,000 acres and borders Montana's Glacier National Park, which is often called "The Crowning Jewel of the Continent." If you're up for a multi-national park tour, you can cross the Canadian border into Montana to experience both, but Waterton's jaw-dropping wildlife, waterfalls, flowers, and mountains are must-sees.
Kootenay National Park is the best place to experience the glorious Canadian Rockies in British Columbia without the crowds of Banff. Here, you can enjoy the Radium Hot Springs for a relaxing afternoon or head to Stanley Glacier if you'd like to experience the Burgess Shale fossils. You can also take a scenic drive or even delve into some winter sports, with plenty of opportunities to see the wildlife along the way.
Anyone who loves hiking will love Kluane National Park and Reserve. Located in the Yukon over 20 trails ranging from brief 30-minute trips to multi-day treks, Kluane is a must-see. This park also boasts 17 of Canada's 20 highest mountains, including Mount Logan (the country's highest peak of all). So, whether you're out to hike, climb, or even raft along the glaciers of the Alsek River, you'll never forget your visit.
Manitoba's Wapusk National Park can only be accessed by plane or train, but don't let that discourage you from taking in this wild tundra. If you come during the right time of year, you'll get to experience mother polar bears and their cubs as they emerge from their dens, with themed tours running in November, February, and March. In June, the focus shifts to the water, where you can take a canoe down Owl River and wind through the snowy caps in crystal waters.
Whether you're a hiker, wildlife enthusiast, or both, the 250 miles of hiking trails are sure to keep you busy in the Manitoba woodlands as you look for lynxes, wolves, moose, black bears, and countless other wild critters. With over 1,900 lakes, you'll also get to enjoy plenty of downtime in a canoe, kayak, or motorboat exploring Clear Lake, which is so named for holding the clearest waters in the region.
In 1995, Kejimkujik became a National Historic Site due to its ties to the Mi'kmaw people, who have inhabited the area for over 4,000 years. You can engage with their culture in a one-of-a-kind life experience with a birch bark canoe building demonstration or on one of the many nature tours, with trails taking you past 300-year-old hemlocks. If you want to cool down, grab a paddle and traverse the park's waterways or spend an evening enjoying Nova Scotia's dark sky preserve stargazing opportunities.
Tucked away 80 miles off the mainland of British Columbia, the remote location of Gwaii Haanas on Moresby Island is challenging to get to, but those why try will be deeply rewarded with moss-covered forests, dramatic coastline, and UNESCO-sanctioned ruins pre-dating modern society. No marked trails exist so you must navigate the old-fashioned way with a map and compass, so bring your spirit of adventure with you.
The highest tides in the world sit at New Brunswick's Fundy park, but what's truly impressive is what happens when they recede. You can walk along the ocean floor here to discover crustaceans and shorebirds or hop aboard an ocean kayak and experience the tides in action. If you want to admire from afar, check out some of the park's over 60 miles of trails, that take you to beaches, lakes, waterfalls, and wildlife.
Cape Breton lies at the northern tip of Nova Scotia, and it's often called "where the mountains meet the sea." Cabot Trail is one of the park's most striking features and the best way to take in all of the unique scenery. It's a paved road that winds along the towering cliffs that front the coast and into the lush forest that covers the park. Skyline Trail is another incredible hike, especially at sunset.