Google+ 2017: Time to explore Canada's National Parks (for free!) | Travel & Happiness I by Jenn Smith Nelson

2017: Time to explore Canada’s National Parks (for FREE!)

Celebrate Canada’s 150th!

In conjunction with, and to help celebrate Canada’s 150th anniversary, Parks Canada recently announced entrance fees to national parks will be waived in 2017. 

Yep, you read that right! In 2017, there will be no fees to enter Canada’s national parks! This also extends to national historic sites, marine conservation areas and free lockage to the historic canals and waterways! 

I highly suggest ordering your free discovery pass ahead of time online and when planning, consider visiting some of the parks during shoulder seasons. Parks like Banff for example, are expected to be incredibly busy!

So now that they’ve made it so easy, all you have to do is get planning your Canadian adventure! May I suggest picking up a copy of National Geographic’s Guide to the National Parks of Canada? It’s chock full of all types of information you’ll need in order to start compiling your park wish list. 


Get planning with this incredible guide to Canada’s National Parks!

Need some suggestions?

I may or may not have a thing for our national parks. OK, that’s not completely true. I TOTALLY have mad love for our parks. They are absolute treasures. So with that, here’s an assortment of the national parks I’ve visited over the past few years (and linked stories I’ve written about them) along with what’s on my wish list for 2017/18. I consider myself very fortunate as me and my family have really been able to do a lot of cool things in Canada’s incredible national parks.

Really, you can’t go wrong with wherever you choose to visit. Each park and historic site have their own unique offerings – all of which though share the stories of the local area, history and ecology. All of which are incredible!

A photo essay of 10 Parks Canada sites I loved visiting

Grasslands National Park 

Hiking Saskatchewan's Grasslands National Park

360 degree panoramic views await while hiking through Saskatchewan’s incredible Grasslands National Park.


My sons hiking through Grasslands National Park

My kids loved hiking the park, doing the junior naturalist’s Explore program and spotting wildlife (there is an abundance including a giant herd of bison)!

Read: Dancing skies and rolling hills


Mauricie National Park

Snow tagging in Mauricie National Park

Such fun was had snow tagging with this group led by a Parks Canada guide in Mauricie National Park located in Quebec.


Parks Canada oTENTik in Mauricie National Park

You may be deterred from winter camping because of the cold, but Parks Canada oTENTik’s keep you warm (just be careful of overheating).

Read: The Hot Trails of Mauricie National Park

Banff National Park

Ice climbing the Upper Falls of Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park

If you’ve been in the summer, try visiting Banff in the winter as there’s tons to do beyond skiing. Have you ever tried ice climbing? It’s easy to do – really. Hire an outfitter and head to the Upper Falls of Johnston Canyon in Banff National Park in Alberta to give it a try!


Lake Louise picture Banff National Park

Easily one of the most beautiful spots in all of Banff National Park, Lake Louise is beyond photo worthy!

Read: Embrace an icy getaway

Riding Mountain National Park

Lovely view in Riding Mountain National Park

I was looking for black bears (there are over 900 in Riding Mountain National Park in Manitoba) while continually coming across magnificent views like this. The black bears hid from me but all wasn’t lost. So much beauty was enjoyed!


Share the Chair Riding Mountain National Park

After a hearty venture fat biking with Parks Canada, my boys took a pit stop resting on the must-find red iconic red chairs.

Story coming soon!


Jasper National Park

Hiking in Jasper National Park

Strap on crampons and hike your way up to the top of a hill during winter in Jasper National Park, Alberta. Views like this are worth it!


Moraine Lake Jasper National Park

I suggest taking a spirit cruise while in Jasper National Park so that you can take in the immense beauty found at Moraine Lake.

Read: Cool winter sports in Banff and Jasper

Cape Breton National Park and
Fortress of Louisburg National Historic Site

Hike Cape Breton National Park

Soo many great places to hike while in Cape Breton National Park in Nova Scotia!


The Fortress of Louisburg National Historic Site

The Fortress of Louisburg National Historic Site offers an impressive time warp back to the 1700s.

Read: Where to walk off the lobster in Cape Breton

Elk Island National Park

Bison crossing road Elk Island National Park

Watch for wandering bison while in Elk Island National Park just outside of Edmonton, Alberta. These guys rule the park!


Equipped camping Elk Island National Park

Parks Canada offers equipped camping for those who may need help setting up, or for campers looking to make the process even easier for coming and going.

Read: Rockies road trip

Prince Albert National Park

Dog sledding Prince Albert National Park

Prince Albert National Park in Saskatchewan is lovely to visit in the summer but make sure you give winter a try too! Mush a team of sled dogs while you are at it!


Quinzhee in Prince Albert National Park

Winter camping is a fantastic thing to try while in Prince Albert National Park. Quinzhees (igloos) are surprisingly warm!

Read: Girl takes on the trail

Trent-Severn Waterway National Historic Site of Canada

 Lift lock at the Trent-Severn Waterway National Historic Site

That time me and my friend Magalie got to control Canada’s highest lift lock at the Trent-Severn Waterway National Historic Site, in Ontario.


Boats at the lift lock Trent-Severn Waterway National Historic Site

It’s a tight squeeze to get through and up but we successfully allowed these boats to move along! Lift locks are pretty darn neat!

Read: Home on the water

Torngat Mountains National Park 

Torngat Mountains North Arm

The “place of spirits,” the remote Torngat Mountains National Park is found on the northern tip of Labrador. Describing its intense beauty is darn near impossible.



Magnificent landscapes include sheer cliffs, fjords and islands are scattered around the park (many of which include important historical remnants from the nomadic Inuit who once lived there).

Story coming soon!


My top 8 Parks Canada wish list sites for 2017 and 2018

There are so many more parks I want to visit. But for now, here is my short list for the next couple of years and initial reasons for wanting to visit.

What’s on your wish list?

Did you know? Parks Canada is now on Instagram. Give them a follow @Parks.Canada and be sure to tag your images with #ParksCanada for the chance to be featured! Also, remember to #sharethechair!

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