It seems folks are finally figuring out that Canada has a lot more to offer than just maple syrup and Tim Hortons (though we love both of those) – a lot more! Canada is huge and part of the allure is the vast, largely unspoiled landscapes that rekindle the WILD in one’s soul. For folks that are energized by this kind of adventure, Parks Canada is speaking to you (and everyone else) when they offer FREE admission in the coming months. Take a minute to make sure you don’t miss out on what’s new regarding the public lands in Canada.

Parks Canada Banff

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Parks Canada’s Free Admission Offers

You heard right…Canada’s coming up on 150 years and the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change plans to give the gift of the great outdoors to everyone a little early! They want you to make the most of YOUR years here on Earth by experiencing the National Parks for FREE in 2017!! Learn all about how you can score your free pass AND start planning your Canadian adventure.

Bonus: Eight of the parks to the north that have stolen my heart or landed on my bucket list!

New government, new adventures! There are several offers on the table that make experiencing Canada’s National treasures more accessible than ever to the masses.

Starting in 2018, officials are also making it FREE to everyone 18 and under to enter the parks! Talk about starting out life right — maybe more kids will have bucket lists that say things like “visit all 46 National Parks” and be able to see that dream come true without the burden of entrance fees! (There are over 100 sites when you start counting historical parks and monuments!)

Bonus? Adults that have just received citizenship will also get one year FREE admission to the parks!

So, what does this mean for you? If you have an annual pass this year, you won’t have to figure out renewal or how to squeeze in all those parks across Canada’s massive landscape in one year–you’ll have until 2018!! It also means that it’s the perfect time to start planning a Canadian vacation (or two, or three…).  Below are parks that have either touched our collective hearts or are on our travel “bucket lists.”

Currently, admission costs for one adult (annual) pass costs around $68.00 CAD. Family and group passes are priced around $136.00 CAD. Seniors pay almost $58.00 and youth passes are around $33.00, both in CAD.

Eight Not-to-Miss Canadian National Parks

Banff

Canada’s first park, christened such in 1885 and one of the most popular parks (along with sister park Jasper, see below) in the whole country (if not world!). This great little ski town is happening in the winter and offers luxury and family-friendly resorts and hotels year-around, including a “castle” hotel — the Fairmont Banff Hotel.

Jasper

Parks Canada Pinterest

Photo credit: Pixabay

This is the slightly lesser known park that is a bit overshadowed by Parks Canada — it offers slightly less traffic (in my opinion is the better park if you don’t like crowds and “bear jams”) and just as rugged is the terrain. Miette Hot Springs was also our preferred experience to the more popular and wider known Banff Upper Hot Springs.

Fundy

This park piqued our curiosity when we found out that the Bay of Fundy (New Brunswick) boasts the biggest tides in the world, over 20 waterfalls, and some pretty rugged coastline. After living in a tidal-dependent community in Parks Canada, we learned to LOVE the ebb and flow of the big blue.

Wood Buffalo

This is a big one – Canada’s biggest in size in fact. In the upper NE portion of Alberta this sprawling park does actually have plenty of bison (thankfully the name isn’t just for show) and lots of hiking opportunities for the family that loves to camp and generally be out in the bush. Protected here are the “northern boreal plains” — put it on the list for both an edu and eco tour for your kids.

Quetico

Quetico is like the less populated but still so amazing sister park to our Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness here in the United States (which is USDA Forest Service owned, not USDI Park Service) and also neighbors our water-based Voyageurs National Park. All three are beauties, but since we’re talking Parks Canada, we voted Quetico high on the list for a getaway by paddle, full of solitude and the eerie calls of loons and bullfrog belching to quench the desire for outdoor adventure. Miles from anything sometimes you can even escape cell phone capabilities there!

Yoho

Another very popular park, Yoho National Park is bisected by the Trans-Canada Highway. It boasts big peaks, monstrous glaciers and quite a few waterfalls. It claims both Lake O’Hara and the UNESCO designated Burgess Shale (the awesome rocks that often have fossil remains preserved within them). Since our little dinosaur-loving kids adore all things prehistoric, this is one that we plan to venture to when they are still small enough to be blown away by nature.

Kluane

Hard to say and even harder to get to, (Kloo-aw-Nee) National Park is located in the Yukon, northwest of Haines and Skagway, and just about straight north of Yakutat, Alaska, a tiny cold-water surfing community in Alaska. This lovely park has immense ice-fields and snow-capped peaks that are almost blindingly white when seen from a plane — and the park is home to Canada’s highest mountain, Mt. Logan, reigning high at just over 19,550 feet. Covering the breadth of options (drive-by, day hike, and backcountry adventure) Kluane offers something for even multigenerational families to agree upon!

Prince Edward Island

Cliffs and dunes. ‘Nuff said. This is a really distinct landscape and sort of embodies the perfect seashore vacation. Lighthouse enthusiasts, rejoice! You will be seaside for this one, obviously, since it’s an island, but the splendor of the birds, natural landscapes, and slow pace of life there seem downright rejuvenating! Bring your appetite for seafood, as this region boasts some of the best. It’s also given credit as the “birthplace of Canada.”

If you’re not at least thinking of a Canadian Parks vacation after reading about these eight parks, then you’re probably content watching Jeopardy from your armchair and enjoying the cozy fireside of your own home–which is totally okay. But if you have a wanderlust and itchy feet that need to keep finding new soil to experience, the coming year or two may just be when you want to look at experiencing the splendor of Canadian National Parks!

Do you have a favorite Canadian National Park? Did it make my short list?