Best National Parks in Canada

Canada's geography is grand in both scale and scenery, giving locals and visitors enough adventures to last a lifetime. Much of Canada's brilliant landscape can conveniently be found in the confines of its incredible national parks, offering the opportunity to get up close and personal with natural wonders ranging from glaciers to granite peaks. To determine the best of the best, U.S. News considered scenic beauty, accessibility, expert opinions and traveler sentiment to determine the best national parks in Canada. Have a favorite? Vote below to influence next year's ranking. (Note: Some of the below destinations may be affected by the coronavirus outbreak. Check with the CDC and the U.S. Department of State before traveling.)

SUMMARY

Best National Parks in Canada

  • Jasper National Park
  • Gros Morne National Park
  • Kluane National Park and Reserve
  • Yoho National Park
  • Waterton Lakes National Park
  • Auyuittuq National Park
  • Cape Breton Highlands National Park
  • Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve
  • Riding Mountain National Park
  • Grasslands National Park
  • Point Pelee National Park
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    Jasper National Park

    #1 in Best National Parks in Canada

    Jasper National Park is by far the best place to experience the Rocky Mountains. The largest national park in the Canadian Rockies offers endless opportunities to go hiking, biking, boating and more. Jasper also holds the unique distinction of being the world's second-largest dark sky preserve, so you can expect excellent conditions for stargazing when you visit. To soak up the best of this Alberta national park, drive down the famous Icefields Parkway, which is considered one of the most scenic drives in the world.

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    Gros Morne National Park

    #2 in Best National Parks in Canada

    Gros Morne National Park's geography is so special, it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Situated on the island of Newfoundland, the park stands out for its striking fjords and the Tablelands, where visitors can walk upon the exposed Earth's mantle. Gros Morne's location on the Gulf of St. Lawrence also affords access to impressive coastal scenery, which is best viewed along the spectacular Green Gardens trail. Meanwhile, ambitious hikers can climb to Gros Morne Mountain's summit on the trail of the same name.

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    Kluane National Park and Reserve

    #3 in Best National Parks in Canada

    If you live for hiking, then Kluane National Park and Reserve needs to be on your bucket list. The park features 23 different trails and routes that range from quick half-hour hikes to multiday treks. Kluane is also home to 17 of Canada's 20 highest mountains, including the highest peak in the country, Mount Logan. Whether it's hiking, rafting next to glaciers on the Alsek River or enjoying a "flightseeing" excursion (or air tour) over Canada's largest icefield, there's an adventure activity that'll appeal to you here.

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    Yoho National Park

    #4 in Best National Parks in Canada

    The word "Yoho" is an exclamation of awe in the First Nations Cree language, and you'll certainly be amazed by this park in British Columbia's Rocky Mountains. Highlights include Takakkaw Falls (one of the highest waterfalls in Canada) and the aptly named Emerald Lake (the park's largest lake). You'll also want to save time for checking out the Burgess Shale fossils, which are estimated to be more than 500 million years old.

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    Waterton Lakes National Park

    #5 in Best National Parks in Canada

    Though it's the smallest national park in the Canadian Rockies, Waterton Lakes National Park manages to pack a lot of impressive sights within its 124,800 acres. Situated in an unassuming corner of southwestern Alberta, Waterton Lakes borders Montana's Glacier National Park and offers visitors jaw-dropping views of waterfalls, mountains, wildflowers and wildlife. Can't-miss sights include the Chief Mountain Overlook (where the park's mountains seamlessly transition into the prairie), the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and the paved Red Rock Parkway (which promises outstanding views of the park's highest peak, Mount Blakiston).

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    Auyuittuq National Park

    #6 in Best National Parks in Canada

    Located within the Arctic Circle is Auyuittuq National Park, one of Canada's wildest national parks. The park is not easily accessible; you have to fly to remote Nunavut before taking another plane to one of two Inuit villages, where adventure outfitters guide you through sky-high fjords to get into the park. But once inside, you'll find breathtaking landscapes composed of granite peaks and glaciated valleys, as well as arctic wildlife, including polar bears and caribou.

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    Cape Breton Highlands National Park

    #7 in Best National Parks in Canada

    Situated on the northern tip of Nova Scotia, Cape Breton Highlands National Park is often called the area "where the mountains meet the sea" by Canadians. The park's greatest attribute, the Cabot Trail, is the best way to take in this varied scenery. The paved road winds along towering coastal cliffs and through lush forestry that blankets the park. For an unforgettable hike, hit up the oceanfront Skyline Trail at sunset.

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    Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve

    #8 in Best National Parks in Canada

    Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve's remote location on Moresby Island off of the western coast of Canada is no doubt a challenge to reach, but once you get an eyeful of its incredible offerings, you'll realize the destination is worth the journey. Gwaii Haanas features moss-laden forests, dramatic coastal terrain and even UNESCO-sanctioned ruins. Keep in mind that there are no marked trails at this park; everything must be navigated the old-fashioned way (with a map and compass).

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    Riding Mountain National Park

    #9 in Best National Parks in Canada

    Nestled in the wooded highlands of Manitoba, Riding Mountain National Park beckons to wildlife lovers and hikers alike. As you traverse the park's more than 250 miles of hiking trails, keep your eyes peeled for wolves, lynxes, black bears and moose, among other animals. When your feet need a break, head out on the water: RMNP encompasses more than 1,900 lakes. You can canoe, kayak or hop in a motorized boat to explore the aptly named Clear Lake, which is considered the clearest lake in the southern prairies.

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    Grasslands National Park

    #10 in Best National Parks in Canada

    This Saskatchewan park is Canada's first and only park to preserve and represent the mixed-grass prairie ecosystem. The ecosystem is home to animals like bison, black-tailed prairie dogs and short-horned lizards, and visitors can even see dinosaur fossils here. To see these animals and the park's terrain, plan a road trip along the Ecotour Scenic Drive at dawn or dusk. Grasslands is also the darkest dark sky preserve in Canada, which means stargazers are in for some spectacular celestial views come nighttime.

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    Point Pelee National Park

    #11 in Best National Parks in Canada

    Point Pelee National Park is a bird-watcher's paradise: More than 390 different species have been sighted here. Each May, the Ontario park hosts the Festival of Birds so visitors and birders can watch the spring migration and participate in a variety of programs and classes about birds. Plus, travelers can take a shuttle provided by the Friends of Point Pelee to the southernmost tip of mainland Canada, where they can watch the migrations of birds in spring and dragonflies, monarch butterflies and birds in fall. The park is also home to 12 miles of sandy beaches.

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