National Parks of Canada You Might Not Know About

Great view of Mt. Thor from a distance
Great view of Mt. Thor from a distance

I spent quite a bit of time researching the national parks of Canada for a book on outdoor adventure travel in Canada. Naturally some of the best places for outdoor adventures take place in Canada’s national parks. But I admit to being shocked about how many national parks of Canada I’d never heard of.

Here are 11 national parks of  Canada that I hadn’t heard of – and perhaps you haven’t either. One day I hope I’m lucky enough to visit every last one of them.

La Mauricie National Park

La Mauricie National Park in Quebec sits in the Laurentian foothills, bordered by two wildlife refuges. It includes a network of valleys, lakes, streams and falls amid a gigantic forest which lights up in the fall when the colours change. It’s known for its canoeing and kayaking in summer and cross country skiing and snowshoeing in the winter.

Note: Now that I’ve visited the park read A Winter Visit to Beautiful La Mauricie National Park.

National Parks of Canada - La Mauricie in Quebec
Beautiful lakes for paddling in La Mauricie National Park

Forillon National Park

Forillon National Park in Quebec sits at the eastern end of the Gaspé Peninsula. It boasts fantastic hiking trails including the Canadian section of the International Appalachian Trail, traditional Gaspé fishing villages, pebble beaches and rugged cliffs. It’s a 10 hour drive from Quebec City though the park can be reached by Via Rail on the Montreal – Gaspé Chaleur route.

I visited in August 2013 and would highly recommend this coastal hike.

National Parks in Canada and beautiful coastal scenery in Forillon National Park
Beautiful scenery on the Coastal Trail in Forillon National Park

The Mingan Archipelago National Park Preserve

The Mingan Archipelago National Park Preserve in Quebec is accessible by driving two hours east of Sept-Îles on Highway 138 along the north shore of the St. Lawrence River.

The park encompasses more than a thousand islands and islets. You’ll find erosion monoliths, cliffs, arches and grottos. The park offers 24 km of hiking trails on four islands and about 100 kilometres of ocean sea kayaking. Camping is possible on many of the islands. And boat tours are also a possibility.

Read: A Trip to Mingan Archipelago National Park in Quebec

National Parks of Canada - Mingan Archipelago
Beautiful rock formations in Mingan Archipelago National Park Preserve

Kouchibouguac National Park

Kouchibouguac National Park sits on New Brunswick’s east coast, only one hour away from Moncton. It protects Acadian forest, salt marshes, bogs, lagoons, tidal rivers and 25 kilometres of fragile white sand dunes.

The park is one of the best cycling destinations in all of Atlantic Canada – boasting 60 kilometres of bikeways – and most are flat. Canoeing and kayaking are both possible and in winter you can cross-country ski and snowshoe.

Read: Cycling in Kouchibouguac National Park

Heading for Kelly's Beach in Kouchibouguac National Park - one of the great things to do in Acadian New Brunswick
Heading for Kelly’s Beach in Kouchibouguac National Park

Wapusk National Park

Wapusk National Park is located in northeastern Manitoba. Hudson’s Bay forms its eastern boundary. Wapusk is Cree for white bear and so naturally its home to polar bears. And that’s why people visit. There are no roads or trails into the park and it’s only accessible via commercial tour operators in Churchill.

Peak visiting times are in late October and early November when approximately 1,000 polar bears move through the park’s Cape Churchill area. The park is also home to the 3,000 strong Cape Churchill caribou herd, wolverines, red fox, Arctic fox, moose and many rare birds.

Polar Bears Cape East, Wapusk National Park
Watching the polar bears in Wapusk National Park, in Northern Manitoba, via live web cam is a science lesson in itself. Photo courtesy of Travel Manitoba.

Vuntut National Park

Vuntut National Park, located in northern Yukon is the cultural homeland of the Vuntut Gwich’in people, whose language gives the park its name, meaning among the lakes. The park is home to the Porcupine caribou herd and half a million migratory birds.

Caribou migrating - Photo credit: Bob Clark on Flickr
Caribou migrating – Photo credit: Bob Clark on Flickr

Ivvavik National Park – one of the remote but accessible national parks of Canada

Ivvavik National Park is located in the northwest corner of the Yukon Territory. Access is difficult. Most visitors go to raft the Firth River where you have a chance to witness the massive caribou migration.

Note: I visited in June 2017 and highly recommend the Ivvavik National Park basecamp experience.

4 Arctic Hikes in Ivvavik National Park
10 PM – Inspiration Point, Ivvavik National Park

Tuktut Nogait National Park

Tuktut Nogait National Park is located 170 km north of the Arctic Circle. It is home to the Bluenose West Caribou herd, wolves, grizzly bears, muskoxen and a high density of raptors.

It’s another tough park to visit with only a small window of good weather occurring every summer. Canoeing the Hornaday River Canyon is an option as are multi-day backpacking trips.

Muskoxen – Photo credit: David Mark from Pixabay

Aulavik National Park

Aulavik National Park in the Northwest Territories is one of the most remote parks in Canada. It sees an average of only 15 visitors a year partly because it’s so expensive and challenging to get to.

It’s spectacular, wildlife rich lowland  protects over 280 archaeological sites. Once there you can float or paddle your way down the Thomsen River.

Some sort of wild willow
Some sort of wild willow

Sirmilik National Park – one of the remote national parks of Canada

Sirmilik National Park in Nunavut is one of the easier high Arctic parks to visit via Pond Inlet. The park covers a good chunk of the north tip of Baffin Island. It includes the Bylot Island Bird Sanctuary.

Outfitters offer boating, skiing, kayaking and hiking expeditions and some of the expedition cruise ships spend up to a few days in the sounds and inlets around the park too. Wildlife to look for includes polar bears, narwhals, beluga whales and walruses.

Walrus - Photo credit: Polar Cruises on Flickr
Walrus – Photo credit: Polar Cruises on Flickr

Ukkusiksalik National Park

Ukkusiksalik National Park in Nunavut surrounds the inland sea of Wager Bay. The park is famous for its rich concentration of marine wildlife as well as polar bears.

It’s located on a flyway so there are great opportunities to see migrating birds. There are over 500 documented archaeological sites in the park as the Inuit have been visiting for hundreds of years. The park also has a rare tidal reversing falls.

Polar bear swimming in Wager Bay - Photo credit: Steve Sayles on Flickr Creative Commons
Polar bear swimming in Wager Bay – Photo credit: Steve Sayles on Flickr Creative Commons

Are these 11 national parks of Canada ones you’ve heard of before?

More reading on things to do in national parks of Canada

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11 national parks in Canada you might not know about




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