Fun fact: Parks Canada, established in 1911, was the world’s first official national park service. Today, the agency oversees 38 Canadian National Parks and hundreds of other units, including National Historic Sites and National Marine Conservation Areas.
With the country’s vast size (it’s the second-largest in the world!), it’s no surprise that the best national parks in Canada are incredibly diverse. From the iconic Canadian Rocky Mountains to arid prairie lands to sandy beaches and hidden sea caves, you’ll find plenty of adventure and breathtaking scenery.
We want to make it clear that it wasn’t at all easy to choose just six of the best Canadian national parks, but we hope this guide gives you the inspiration to start planning your trip!
6 Best National Parks in Canada
With 38 Canadian national parks, it was difficult to narrow it down to just six, but without further ado, here are the six most beautiful national parks in Canada.
1. Banff National Park, Alberta
Banff is not only one of the best national parks in Canada, but it is also the country’s first (and one of the oldest in the world, established in 1885)! Located in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, Banff is home to soaring mountain peaks, pristine glacier lakes, natural hot springs, and nearly 1,000 miles of trails.
Don’t miss: World-famous, impossibly blue, glacier-fed Lake Louise.
Insider tip: The park’s lakes are too cold to swim in, as they’re glacier-fed.
When to go: Year-round; Banff is a world-renowned winter sports destination and many of the best trails are only accessible in the summer.
2. Waterton National Park, Alberta
Together with Montana’s Glacier National Park, Waterton National Park makes up the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. It’s an absolute gem for outdoor lovers, defined by diverse terrain that includes glacial lakes, rugged mountains, and vast prairie.
Don’t miss: Treat yourself to High Tea at the historic Prince of Wales Hotel. This unique experience alone helps make Waterton one of the best national parks in Canada!
Insider tip: For the best photo ops of the Prince of Wales Hotel, head to Driftwood Beach.
When to go: Spring and fall, when crowds are fewer, temperatures are comfortable, and you have a great chance of seeing the Northern Lights.
3. Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ontario
You’ll swear you’re in the Caribbean when you see the incredibly clear shimmering turquoise blue water at Bruce Peninsula. Flanked by Lake Huron on one side and the Georgian Bay on the other, it’s easy to see why this is one of the best national parks in Canada.
Don’t miss: Hike to the Grotto sea cave, a 45-minute to one-hour trek along the rocky coastline.
Insider tip: Parks Canada offers a seasonal shuttle bus from Toronto to Bruce Peninsula. Reservations are required from April 30-October 1.
When to go: Summer for the best weather, but beware it’s a popular getaway for Torontonians. Arrive early or visit on weekdays.
4. Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland
On Newfoundland’s western coast, Gros Morne is one of the most beautiful national parks in Canada. This UNESCO World Heritage site is a hiker’s paradise, with a huge variety of trails. Hike along the rugged shoreline, summit Gros Morne Mountain, or take the rare opportunity to hike right on the Earth’s mantle!
Don’t miss: Take the Western Brook Pond boat tour, where you’ll cruise in a fjord between ancient sheer cliffs.
Insider tip: Gros Morne has one of the largest moose populations in the world. Watch for them on trails and roads.
When to go: Year-round, but summer is best, as whales migrate just off the coast.
5. Grasslands National Park, Saskatchewan
It’s not the most well-known, but Grasslands is easily one of the best Canadian national parks. On the international border between Saskatchewan and Montana, Grasslands is home to vast, diverse terrain including badlands and prairie land. Here, you’ll find landscapes and wildlife species like nowhere else in Canada, including bison and black-tailed prairie dogs.
Don’t miss: Drive the scenic Badlands Parkway and stop at the overlooks.
Insider tip: Grasslands is an International Dark Sky Preserve, so it’s an excellent stargazing destination.
When to go: Spring, when wildflowers are in bloom and temperatures are mild.
6. Wood Buffalo National Park, Alberta and the Northwest Territories
We couldn’t complete this list without highlighting the biggest national park in Canada (not to mention all of North America)! At over 27,800 square miles, Wood Buffalo National Park is larger than Switzerland! It’s an excellent choice for those looking to get off the beaten path and who enjoy boondocking.
Don’t miss: Hike around the salt plains, and watch for the park’s namesake buffalo!
Insider tip: Wood Buffalo National Park is incredibly remote. Bring plenty of food, water, and supplies, and get gas before entering the park.
When to go: Summer is the best time to visit this fantastic Canadian national park.
“Cruise” Your Way Through the Best National Parks in Canada
Whether you plan to visit several parks or RV camping in just one of the most beautiful national parks in Canada, Cruise America can make the trip even better! With several convenient Canada rental locations, all you have to do is make a reservation, decide which national park to visit first, and pick up your RV rental! Contact us today for more information.