Riding Mountain National Park
This is a jewel for campers and wildlife lovers. Robust forests contrast with surrounding prairie farmland in Riding Mountain National Park, looming 1,500 feet above the resort town of Wasagaming in Manitoba. Traditional Canadian rustic design greets drivers at the park’s historic east entrance gate and registration complex. Backpackers and horseback riders can get up close and personal with over 60 species of mammals, including black bear, elk, moose and lynx, which occupy grassy and gravely terrain perfumed by poplar trees and wildflowers. A must-see are the herds of bison peacefully roaming within protected enclosures.
Waterton Lakes National Park
Hugging Montana’s northern border is the compact biosphere reserve of Waterton Lakes National Park in Alberta. Honored as a World Heritage Site in 1995, its hybrid of rugged snowcapped mountains and luscious prairie landscapes provide the perfect venue for avid photographers. At dusk, trekkers can enjoy the stunning Prince of Wales Hotel that casts its towering shadow over sparkling azure waters, the deepest in the Canadian Rockies. This Prohibition era hotel has been serving guests since 1927. Peak months to avoid are July and August.
La Mauricie National Park in Quebec
Halfway between Montreal and Quebec City, tucked in the Laurentian Mountains, is the natural treasure of La Mauricie National Park. Foliage painted in vibrant oranges, yellows, and reds – including the iconic Maple Leaf – showcase the quintessential Canadian setting. Spend the day swimming with the gorgeous Waber waterfall, or take a self-guided tour via kayak or canoe to over 150 secluded lakes and ponds. Spend the night at the historic Domaine Wabenaki-Andrew, a sprawling retreat formerly rented by the Kennedy family.
Pacific Rim National Park
Just off the western edge of Vancouver Island near the Pacific Ocean is Pacific Rim Park. This unique park is comprised of three distinct landscapes: 10-miles of sun-soaked coastline and prime surfing, 100 tiny islands accessible only by boat, and an unexpectedly thriving rainforest. Travelers should also be mindful of wolves, cougars, and black bears who call the country’s first national park reserve home.
Nahanni National Park
Nahanni National Park was one of the world’s first designated UNESCO Heritage sites, and home to the magnificent Virginia Falls, double the height of its more famous counterpart Niagara Falls. Known as the “mini grand canyon” of Canada due to its limestone and jagged mountains, it also produces spruce and aspen trees where caribou and alpine goats graze. Sure to excite history buffs, its prime location in the Northwest Territories, west of Yellowknife, was once part of the storied route to the Klondike Gold Rush.
Written by Lauren Lanier