National parks serve as sanctuaries for the natural world, shielding it from deforestation and other forms of damage. Canada set a global precedent by establishing the first national park service, marking itself as a pioneer in conservation. The country is home to more than 126,641 square miles of protected land so selecting the best national parks in Canada is no easy task.

With its vast expanse and varied ecosystems, Canada’s national parks are a testament to the country’s natural beauty. From towering mountains and serene lakes to forests that stretch to the sea, the diversity is staggering.

While Canada’s array of parks and wilderness areas seems infinite, we’ve curated a selection of our top picks and crowd favorites to guide your exploration.

The 10 Best National Parks Canada

Banff National Park, Alberta

Banff isn’t just Canada’s poster child for national parks; it’s the OG, the trailblazer of the Great White North’s love affair with protected wilderness. Nestled in the heart of the Rockies, this park is a playground for the adrenaline junkie in all of us, no matter the season. Horseback riding with a wild twist, trail-blazing hikes, or shredding the slopes on a snowboard – Banff’s got your back.

Yet, it’s not just the dirt paths and snow-capped peaks that put Banff on the map. Ever heard of Lake Louise or Moraine Lake? These aren’t your average, run-of-the-mill ponds. Fed by glaciers, their surreal blue hues against the backdrop of towering mountains will have you questioning reality. Swimming? Forget about it unless you’re a fan of ice baths.

And let’s talk wildlife – Banff is a real-life Narnia, minus the talking animals (as far as we know). Bears, elk, and foxes roam free, but remember, you’re not in a petting zoo. Admire these majestic creatures from a safe distance, and keep the selfies to the scenery.

the best national parks in canada
Kayaking on Moraine Lake, Banff National Park

Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland

Located on the west coast of Newfoundland, lies the gorgeous Gros Morne National Park. It’s so beautiful in fact, that Gros Morne has been given the title of a UNESCO World Heritage Site! This national park is most well-known for the Western Brook Pond Fjord. You can hike to the view point and take in the incredible scene offered by the green cliffs and pond that flows through them.

Gros Morne is one of the best national parks in Canada for those that love unique experiences. While you hike through the Tablelands, you can pass by the Earth’s mantle! Which is a layer of Earth that is a few layers below the crust. Gros Morne has quite the interesting geology, so take advantage and visit the Tablelands here.

Western Brook Pond, Gros Morne National Park

Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta

Tucked away in Alberta’s southern reaches, Waterton Lakes National Park is a watery wonderland, living up to its name with a plethora of lakes. This park is a paradise for anyone with a penchant for water sports – think canoeing or kayaking across those stunning expanses. Fancy a swim? You can, if you dare brave the chilly waters that stay cold enough to make your teeth chatter all year long!

Not keen on getting wet? No sweat. Waterton is crisscrossed with trails for every type of landlubber, whether you’re just starting out or you’re practically part mountain goat. The peaks are prime for summer treks since they’re usually blanketed with snow from fall through spring, making any other time a bit of a slippery ordeal.

As you wander these trails, even if you’re not one to normally stop and smell the roses, the vibrant verdure is bound to catch your eye and maybe even steal a piece of your heart. Among the myriad paths you could tread, Red Rock Canyon Parkway and Lineham Falls are where it’s at – fan favorites for a reason.

Great Bear Rainforest

Craving a deep dive into the wilderness? Look no further than the Great Bear Rainforest, crowned as one of Canada’s most epic natural sanctuaries. Back in 2016, Canada pledged to shield this massive expanse, ensuring its wild beauty remains unspoiled. Spanning an area as vast as Ireland, this national park is your golden ticket to witnessing Canada’s untamed nature and majestic wildlife up close.

But the magic of Great Bear Rainforest doesn’t stop with its flora and fauna. A pivotal piece of its preservation puzzle involves partnering with First Nation communities, offering visitors a unique opportunity to immerse themselves in indigenous cultures.

Imagine trekking through the forest alongside the Bella Coola, uncovering ancient petroglyphs, or getting to know the art of a Nuxalk carver. With a wealth of immersive experiences waiting, the Great Bear Rainforest is a must-visit for anyone eager to connect with nature and culture in a profound way.

The best national parks in canada
Spirit Bear in the Great Bear Forest, Canada

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, British Columbia

Pacific Rim National Park is in the west of Vancouver Island. The park is along the Pacific Ocean, making a unique contrast of beach and lush forest. Hike through the old forest and take in the amazing greenery that surrounds you. There is a lot of rain in this region, so bring your best rain jacket!

It is best to visit Pacific Rim during the summer months, but if you are a surfer, you might want to go during the winter. Which may sound strange, but there is a reason for this. During the winter, Pacific Rim is filled with storms causing massive waves. Though the water is very cold, many adventurous surfers can’t help but to surf here. Reservations are currently needed to visit Pacific Rim, so make sure to do that before going there.

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia

Cape Breton Highlands stands out as a crown jewel among Canada’s national parks, captivating everyone who sets foot in its realm. Nestled in Nova Scotia, it boasts some of the most breathtaking landscapes the country has to offer.

With 26 hiking paths to choose from, the Skyline trail reigns supreme. Don’t let the length intimidate you; it’s surprisingly manageable. This trail leads adventurers to an awe-inspiring vista, where the dance of majestic cliffs against the backdrop of cerulean seas will leave you spellbound.

For those who prefer to take in the beauty without the trek, Cape Breton Highlands offers the Cabot Trail. Winding through the heart of the park, this road provides a scenic journey accessible to all, making it one of Canada’s most welcoming natural treasures.

Cabot Trail in Cape Breton Highlands National Park

Thousand Islands, Ontario

When you imagine Canada, you probably don’t think of islands. But, Thousand Islands will change your image of Canada. Thousand Islands is a small national park that is filled with numerous islands, inlets, forest, waterways and more. Its diverse terrain gives it an equally diverse animal population. Whether you want to explore Thousand Islands on land or water, there are options for all types of adventurers.

Even though the Thousand Islands park is small in size, it’s one of the best national parks in Canada for families. The park features an area called Mallorytown Landing that has a whole bunch of fun activities for the family to enjoy. From aquariums to playgrounds, there is plenty of action for all ages.

Thousand Islands, Canada

Fundy National Park, New Brunswick

Thrilled by the thought of a grueling, 3-day hike? Perfect. Not so much? Even better. Fundy National Park caters to both the adrenaline junkies and those who prefer their adventures in smaller doses. Many of its trails are designed for less than a day’s journey, allowing you to soak up several breathtaking sights without having to rough it overnight.

But if camping under the stars is your kind of bliss, the Fundy Circuit awaits. This mammoth route weaves through seven different trails, dotted with spots to pitch your tent. Traverse through Fundy National Park’s enchanting landscapes, from cascading waterfalls to the ocean’s edge itself. And when the tide pulls back, seize the chance to tread across the seabed’s mudflats. Just remember, beat a hasty retreat before the tide rolls back in, unless you fancy a bit of an impromptu swim!

Hopewell Rocks, Fundy National Park

Mont-Tremblant National Park, Quebec

Mont-Tremblant National Park stands out as a contender for Canada’s most eclectic natural playground. Imagine a place where rivers, mountains, and beaches converge, offering a slice of paradise for every taste. If you’re keen on hiking, you’ve got 18 trails to conquer. Prefer gliding over water? The park’s myriad river trails are perfect for kayaking enthusiasts.

Not everyone’s into the trek-and-trail life, and Mont-Tremblant gets that. Beach lovers, rejoice! With two sandy retreats, Crémaillère and Lac-Provost, you’re all set for some prime summer lounging, Canadian style. And for those looking to mix a bit of adrenaline with their nature exploration, there’s a trail equipped with a rock-climbing-esque wall, offering a thrilling climb without needing the expertise of a seasoned climber.

Worried you can’t fit all this adventure into one visit? Mont-Tremblant has you covered with ample camping spots. Stay a while, and give yourself the chance to dive into everything this diverse park has to offer.

Mont-tremblant National Park, Canada

Jasper National Park, Alberta

Located in western Alberta, Jasper National Park is a spectacular park that is perfect for hiking enthusiasts. The views at this Canadian national park are so beautiful they almost feel unreal. With its snow-covered mountains and deep blue lakes, Jasper looks more like a postcard! Seek all the hidden wonders at Jasper National Park on one of its many hiking and biking trails.

Though it is best to hike during the daytime, the beauty of Jasper does not end when the sun goes down. This park is also known as one of the best places to go stargazing. Each October, Jasper National Park is home to the Dark Sky Festival. Visitors from all over the world gather at this park to marvel at the incredible night sky. The sky becomes filled with stars, and leaves a lasting impression on all who see it.

The best national parks in canada
Spirit Island, Jasper National Park

Yoho National Park, British Columbia

Nestled in the Canadian Rockies is Yoho National Park. Many national parks are well maintained, but Yoho boasts untouched and free flowing nature. From its massive mountains to its unreal blue lakes, the views here are ethereal. If you are a fan of fossils, visit Mount Stephen and Mount Field. These two mountains have fossils of early beings.

One of the must-see sites in Yoho National Park has to be the Takkakaw Falls. These spectacular waterfalls are Canada’s second tallest waterfalls. There is a bridge that sits right in front of Takkakaw Falls, so you can get the best viewpoint and photo.

For the avid hikers, the Iceline Trail is one of Yoho’s most intensive hikes. Though it is a tough hike, it will give you unbelievable views of the local glaciers. So, grab your hiking boots and head to Yoho National Park!

Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park

This list barely scratches the surface of all of the incredible national parks Canada has to offer.

With the country’s immense size, there is no wonder that it is filled with so many incredible and diverse national parks. Take a break from city life, and reconnect to nature in some of the best national parks in Canada.