Canada is home to over 200 national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas administered by Parks Canada. We want you to explore these special places! Start your adventure by clicking on a letter below!
Life can be so busy that we sometimes forget to stop and smell the flowers. Canada’s beautiful national parks, historic sites and marine conservation areas help remind us of the wonder of nature and the true meaning of “awesome.” Helping to protect species at risk, hiking through hundred-year-old forests or canoeing in crystal-clear lakes? Now that is pretty awesome!
Did you know that a beaver’s pelt was once so valuable it was used like money? Today, this animal is a symbol of Canada’s national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas. You can learn more about this cool critter at Fort Langley National Historic Site.
You’ve probably seen this animal on a quarter, but what about in the wild? Wapusk National Park, in the arctic, is home to a herd of 3,000 caribou! They rely on the beach ridges and tundra to provide them with food and a place to have their babies. You can find caribou throughout Canada, including in Jasper, Banff, Mount Revelstoke and Glacier national parks.
= Dark Sky Preserve
Did you know? Artificial light can be harmful for animals that rely on the dark to look for food. Dark Sky Preserves are areas without light pollution that were created to encourage people to use less artificial light. These areas also provide some of the most breathtaking stargazing skies in the world. Wood Buffalo National Park is home to Canada’s largest Dark Sky Preserve, encompassing nearly 45,000 km2. Other dark sky preserves can be found at Jasper, Elk Island, Fundy, Grasslands, Kouchibouguac, Point Pelee, Bruce Peninsula and Kejimkujik national parks. At these places, if you want to see something amazing, all you have to do is look up!
Parks Canada’s special places are the perfect setting to experience some truly amazing things! Watch plains bison roam the hills and forage along lakes at Elk Island National Park, or walk beneath a 1,000-year-old rainforest at Mount Revelstoke National Park. Our country is full of experiences that are waiting for you!
Just like the doctor will prescribe you medicine, a forest gets prescribed fire when it’s unhealthy. Fire creates biodiversity by getting rid of built-up plant decay that prevents new plants from growing. So in some Parks Canada places, fires are started on purpose. These controlled or prescribed fires are important at places like La Mauricie National Park where 93% of the park is covered by forest!
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= Gros Morne National Park
Gros Morne means “big hill” but this national park and World UNESCO Heritage Site is much more than that. Gros Morne National Park’s unique Canadian landscape, made up of tall cliffs, valleys, beaches and waterfalls, means that you can find so many different animals here, ranging from forty-tonne whales to featherweight warblers.
= Hot Springs
Have you ever gone swimming in one of nature’s hot tubs? The hot springs at Cave and Basin National Historic Site are one of the coolest ways to warm up. This place is also the home of a species at risk called the Banff Springs Snail which is only about the size of your fingernail and that is found nowhere else on earth.
= Intertidal Zone
“Intertidal” means between tides and this means that the intertidal zone is home to some tough animals. These creatures have to be able to live in salt and fresh water, and even be able to withstand getting completely dried out in the sun at times. Despite these tough conditions, the intertidal zone is brimming with life! You can discover a world of brightly coloured flowers and sea stars, mussels, snails, fish and more in the intertidal zones at Pacific Rim National Park Reserve or at Fundy National Park, home to the world’s highest tides.
With Canada Day and Parks Day both happening during this summer month, July is a time of celebration! Canada’s national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas are awesome places to celebrate the country and its wonderful wildlife. Where will you go?
= Kluane National Park
This vast empire of mountains and ice is where you will find the largest non-polar icefield in the world, as well as, most of the tallest peaks in North America. The rest of Kluane National Park is covered by forests and tundra where you can find stable populations of species at risk like eagles and grizzlies.
As an Earth Ranger, you know a lot about wildlife and are always learning more! Visiting Canada’s national parks and national marine conservation areas is another way to learn how to protect animals and their habitats, all while seeing them with your own eyes! At La Mauricie National Park, you can learn all about wildlife while in a canoe, on a hiking trail or from the side of a pond by taking part in activities with parks naturalists.
The Rocky Mountains are one of the most beautiful regions in Canada. Most of the area is protected by national parks, including Banff, Jasper, Kootenay, Yoho and Waterton Lakes national parks. You can experience the snow-capped peaks, thundering waterfalls and turquoise lakes of this special environment by foot, on a bicycle or even on horseback!
= Northern Lights
Although it might look like a beautiful light show, the Northern Lights are actually collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the earth’s atmosphere. Also called aurora borealis, you can witness this natural phenomenon in many of Canada’s special places, including Banff, Jasper, Grasslands and Wapusk national parks.
Did you know Canada has the longest coastline in the world? It touches three different oceans: the Pacific, the Atlantic and the Arctic. National Marine Conservation Areas (or NMCAs for short) are marine areas protected and managed for sustainable use. One of Parks Canada’s four NMCAs is the Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park that protects more than fifteen species, including the St. Lawrence Beluga.
= Piping Plover
The Piping Plover is one of 300 species of birds that can be found along the shores, ponds and marshes at Prince Edward Island National Park. For the endangered Piping Plover, the beaches provide a safe and important spot for them to breed.
= Quttinirpaaq National Park
Quttinirpaaq National Park is the most northern park in Canada! Here, you can find animals not found in many other parts of the world, such as muskoxen and narwhals. They’ve adapted to the snowy climate; Muskoxen have a thick coat of fur to keep them warm while narwhals have a layer of fat called blubber.
Restoration is a huge part of the work that Parks Canada does. These projects help restore important habitats. Parks Canada has helped restore grasslands, aquatic ecosystems, creeks where salmon spawn and much more!
= Species at Risk
Species at risk are animals or plants that are in danger of becoming extinct or extirpated (gone from a certain part of the world) because of changes in their environment. Grizzly bears and beluga whales are two examples of the many species at risk that Parks Canada works to protect in our national parks and national marine conservation areas.
There are a ton of great hiking trails in Parks Canada’s special places. The West Coast Trail, located on the western shore of Vancouver Island, is a more well-known one. Originally built in 1907 as a lifesavings route and telegraph line for shipwrecked mariners, you can now hike the 75km trail and see some of Pacific Rim National Park Reserve’s most beautiful wildlife habitats, including old growth forests, waterfalls and vast beaches. You may even encounter black bears, wolves and cougars along the trail!
Parks Canada’s special places are full of unique landscapes, unique wildlife and unique experiences. At Gros Morne National Park, the rocks and fossils help scientists learn about ancient oceans; at Cape Breton Highlands National Park you can see the snowshoe hare change colours, from brown in the summer to white in the winter; at Prince Edward Island National Park, you can find yourself face-to-face with a lobster in the Discovery Dome.
= Vuntut National Park
Vuntut means “among the lakes” in the Gwitchin language. The Old Crow Flats in Vuntut National Park are designated as a wetland of international importance. Half a million birds use the flats as a place to breed. The flats are also home to muskrats, moose, black and grizzly bears, marten, wolverine, lynx, foxes and wolves and the Porcupine Caribou Herd!
Believe it or not, these swampy areas are an important part of Canada. In Prince Edward Island National Park, the wetlands are home to an amazing variety of plants, invertebrates, fish and birds. There are over 40 species of the bright, jewel-coloured dragonflies and damsel flies.
An Earth Ranger is the perfect kind of person to become a Parks Canada Xplorer. Discover and “Xplore” Canada’s national parks, national marine conservation areas and national historic sites by taking on wildlife activities and challenges. You can find a list of participating places here.
= Yoho National Park
“Yoho” is a Cree expression of awe and wonder, so it makes sense why it’s the name of a national park with towering rock walls, spectacular waterfalls and soaring peaks. Yoho National Park is also home to the elusive wolverine. This animal has a chocolate brown coat with blonde stripes down the sides and silvery markings on their broad face. If you see one in the wild, say “Yoho!” and consider yourself lucky – these solitary creatures are few and far between.
What’s that sound? You might hear them, but you can’t always see them – they’re the insects that live in the many special places throughout Canada. They’re tiny but very important to the overall ecosystem, providing a food source for many species of animals.