10 cool alternatives to Canada’s most popular national parks
Popular national parks can be really busy during summer. If you want to avoid crowds, check out our suggestions below which include an alternative park nearby as well as a similar park elsewhere in Canada.
If you love Banff National Park…
Banff is Canada’s oldest—and most visited— national park. Set in the pristine beauty of the Rocky Mountains, more than four million visitors come to appreciate its charms each year.
Not too far from Banff, explore Yoho National Park
Just across the border in British Columbia is Yoho. Renowned for its tranquil wilderness, some of Canada’s highest waterfalls, the half billion-year-old fossil beds of the Burgess Shale, and even its very own shimmering Emerald Lake! Connect with nature on a guided hike high in the mountains, experience a classic fossil expedition to Walcott Quarry or discover more about Parks Canada’s work saving species at risk.
Like Banff? You’ll love Gros Morne National Park
Gros Morne is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with plenty of places to stay, and exciting things to do. That includes thrilling backcountry winter sports adventures, summer hiking, biking and camping. Gros Morne’s unique geology helped confirm tectonic plate theory, and you can walk on the earth’s mantle when you visit! Take to the water at Western Brook Pond and admire the cascading waterfalls and billion year-old cliffs in this huge glacier-carved land-locked fjord.
If you love Jasper National Park…
The largest park in the Canadian Rockies, each year more than two million visitors come to Jasper to experience its laid-back mountain charms, snap selfies at Maligne Lake, and relax in Miette’s natural hot springs.
Not too far from Jasper, explore Glacier National Park
Glacier may be 390 km from Jasper, but the views are worth every second! The Trans-Canada Highway to Glacier is spectacular; sit back and soak up the incredible glacial views the park is named for. Take a hike into history along alpine trails blazed by early mountaineers or amongst the towering old-growth trees of the world’s only inland cedar rainforest. You may even spot black bears, grizzlies, or pikas. Looking for a shorter outing? Have a picnic and enjoy one of the many easier hikes right off the highway.
Like Jasper? You’ll love Kluane National Park and Reserve
Fewer than 40,000 people visit this Yukon marvel yearly which is home to 17 of the country’s 20 tallest mountains, including Canada’s highest peak, 5,959-metre Mount Logan and also the world’s largest concentration of ice fields and glaciers. Let your inner adventurer roam free through the vastness of Kluane National Park and Reserve’s backcountry on alpine day hikes, mountain biking and paddling its crystal clear waters.
If you love Pacific Rim National Park Reserve…
Just over a million people visit Pacific Rim each year to get a taste of that wonderful West Coast lifestyle. From surfing on Long Beach and hiking the West Coast Trail, to enjoying lazy days on pristine sandy beaches and learning more about the ancient legends and living culture of the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation.
Not too far from Pacific Rim, explore Gulf Islands National Park Reserve
A less visited jewel in B.C. 's crown, discover the forested islands of Gulf Islands, dotted around the Salish Sea in waters teeming with seals, sea lions, orcas and pods of porpoises, just a few hours from the bustle of Vancouver. From paddle boarding, kayaking and beachcombing, to geocaching, backcountry and car camping, there’s plenty to explore and experience.
Like Pacific Rim? You’ll love Cape Breton Highlands National Park
With over 100km of rugged wave-pounded cliffs, sheltered coves and some of the most beautiful beaches in Canada, it’s time to discover the East Coast’s charms at Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Explore the storied Cabot Trail on a self-drive adventure with stunning seaside views, and take your pick of 26 stellar hiking trails offering everything from ocean views to hidden waterfalls and enchanting old growth forests. Immerse yourself in the traditions of the Mi'kmaq, Acadian and Celtic Peoples, and make a lasting connection with this area where scenic beauty and vibrant cultures blend naturally.
If you love Bruce Peninsula National Park and Fathom Five National Marine Park…
The dual treasures of Fathom Five and Bruce Peninsula attract almost 750,000 visitors each year. Droves of visitors seek out the unique rock formations of the Flowerpots and dive sites of 22 shipwrecks, blue water cave of the Grotto and singing sands on the Georgian Bay shoreline.
Not too far from Bruce Peninsula and Fathom Five, explore Georgian Bay Islands National Park
Just two hours north of Toronto, swim in the clear waters of Georgian Bay, and boat or paddle in the world’s largest freshwater archipelago. Rent a bike at the Cedar Spring visitor centre and pedal Beausoleil Island to find your favourite trail through the sun-dappled forest.
Like Bruce Peninsula and Fathom Five? You’ll love Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve
Rising up from the ocean, Mingan Archipelago’s curiously shaped limestone sculptures form the largest group of monoliths in Canada. Watch for whales and seals in the ocean and enjoy the diverse marine life on a scuba diving trip. Experience fascinating Innu culture with members of the Ekuanitshit community. Taste the edible species in the park on a Boreal Flavours Guided Hike.
If you love Prince Edward Island National Park…
Red sand beaches, the charming legacy of Anne of Green Gables, the fascinating history of the Confederation and pristine hiking and biking trails winding through dunes, marshes and woodland. No wonder some 1.5 million people visit Canada’s smallest province each year to explore Prince Edward Island National Park.
Not too far from PEI, explore Fundy National Park
Island hop to nearby New Brunswick to experience the marvel of the world’s highest tides at Fundy National Park. Paddle in a kayak then walk the ocean floor. Head inland and explore trails through the Acadian forest and feel the spray from soaring waterfalls. Tap your toes and get a taste of an authentic Kitchen Party at the childhood home of Molly Kool, North America’s first female sea captain.
Like Prince Edward Island? You’ll love Kouchibouguac National Park
Enjoy the waves at one of Canada's warmest saltwater beaches and find the perfect place to build a sand castle as you explore 25 km of golden dunes! Love to canoe or kayak? Paddle like the Mi'gmaq have done for thousands of years and enjoy the tranquility of the lagoons and rivers. More of a bike rider? There are 60 km of relatively flat bike trails passing between forest and waterfront. At night, this Dark-Sky Preserve is transformed into a celestial masterpiece.
To have the best time possible at a national park, see our tips to make the most of your visit at Parks Canada. And if you choose to visit a popular national park, know before you go and plan ahead. Here are some tips to help you plan your visit to Banff, Jasper and Bruce Peninsula national parks.