Exploring Our National Parks
For all of you lovers of the great outdoors (and who wouldn’t be), there are so many incredible national parks to enjoy in both the USA and Canada, what are you waiting for?
Exploring a vast landscape is always good for the soul, so trying adding some of these to your road trips or weekend getaways this year. You won’t regret it!
White sand beaches, swamps, stalagmite-filled caves, glaciers, hot springs you can swim in (and ones you definitely can’t), rainforests, scorching deserts, volcanoes (dormant and active). The USA’s 60 national parks, scattered throughout the U.S. and its territories, truly have it all.
|State||National Park||Year Established|
|Gates of the Arctic||1980|
|Wrangell – St. Elias||1980|
|American Samoa||American Samoa||1988|
|Arizona (3)||Grand Canyon||1919|
|California (8)||Channel Islands||1980|
|Colorado (4)||Black Canyon of the Gunnison||1999|
|Great Sand Dunes||2004|
|New Mexico||Carlsbad Caverns||1930|
|North Carolina||Great Smoky Mountains||1934|
|North Dakota||Theodore Roosevelt||1978|
|South Dakota (2)||Badlands||1978|
|Tennessee||Great Smoky Mountains||1934|
|Texas (2)||Big Bend||1944|
|U.S. Virgin Islands||Virgin Islands||1956|
|Washington (3)||Mount Rainier||1899|
|Wyoming (2)||Grand Teton||1929|
National parks are a country-wide system of representative natural areas of Canadian significance. By law, they are protected for public understanding, appreciation and enjoyment, while being maintained in an unimpaired state for future generations.
- Banff – National Park. UNESCO World Heritage Site and Canada’s first National Park (1885).
- Elk Island – National Park. Alberta plains oasis for rare and endangered species.
- Jasper – National Park. UNESCO World Heritage Site and glacial jewel of the Rockies.
- Waterton Lakes – National Park. International Peace Park; where the Rocky Mountains meet the prairie.
- Glacier – National Park. British Columbia’s lush interior rainforest and permanent glaciers.
- Gwaii Haanas – National Park Reserve. Haïda culture and coastal rainforest on Queen Charlotte Islands. National Marine Conservation Area Reserve. This rich natural and cultural environment protects 138 of the Queen Charlotte Islands.
- Kootenay – National Park. UNESCO World Heritage Site featuring the famous Radium Hot Springs.
- Mount Revelstoke – National Park. Rainforest of 1,000-year-old cedars and spectacular mountains.
- Pacific Rim – National Park Reserve. Pacific Coast Mountains make up this marine and forest environment.
- Yoho – National Park. UNESCO World Heritage Site in Rockies.
- Riding Mountain – National Park. Protected “island” area in the Manitoba Escarpment.
- Wapusk – National Park. One of the largest polar bear denning areas in the world.
- Fundy – National Park. Atlantic’s sanctuary with world’s highest tides.
- Kouchibouguac – National Park. Intricate Acadian blend of coastal and inland habitats.
Newfoundland and Labrador
- Gros Morne – National Park. UNESCO World Heritage Site amid Newfoundland’s wild natural beauty.
- Terra Nova – National Park. Remnants of the Eastern Newfoundland Ancient Appalachian Mountains.
- Aulavik – National Park. Over 12,000 km² of arctic wilderness on Banks Island.
- Tuktut Nogait – National Park. Calving ground for the Bluenose caribou herd.
- Nahanni – National Park Reserve. Northwest Territories’ UNESCO World Heritage Site.
- Wood Buffalo – National Park. UNESCO World Heritage Site larger than Switzerland.
- Cape Breton Highlands – National Park. Home to Cabot Trail, a land blessed with spectacular cliffs.
- Kejimkujik – National Park. Nova Scotia’s inland of historic canoe routes and portages.
- Auyuittuq – National Park. Baffin Island landscapes containing northern extremity of Canadian Shield.
- Quttinirpaaq – (Ellesmere Island) National Park. Most remote, fragile, rugged and northerly lands in North America.
- Sirmilik – National Park. Northern Baffin Island landscape containing Eastern Arctic Lowlands and Lancaster Sound.
- Bruce Peninsula – National Park. Landscapes including the northern end of Niagara Escarpment.
- Fathom Five – National Marine Park. The spectacular underwater of the Niagara escarpment in Georgian Bay.
- Georgian Bay Islands – National Park. Captivating islands representing Lake Huron’s landscape.
- Point Pelee – National Park. Most southern point on Canadian mainland.
- Pukaskwa – National Park. Canadian Shield’s ancient landscape on Superior’s North Shore.
- St. Lawrence Islands – National Park. Canada’s smallest national park located in Ontario.
Prince Edward Island
- Prince Edward Island – National Park. A protected area with spectacular coast.
- Forillon – National Park. The Jewel of the Gaspé where land meets sea.
- La Mauricie – National Park. Lakes winding through forested hills for canoe and portage activities.
- Mingan Archipelago – National Park Reserve. A string of islands carved out by wind and sea.
- Saguenay–St. Lawrence – Marine Park. A rich diversity of marine life : whales, seals, plants and birds of all kinds.
- Grasslands – National Park. Saskatchewan’s rare prairie grasses, dinosaur fossils, and badlands.
- Prince Albert – National Park. Protects slice of northern coniferous forest and wildlife.
- Ivvavik – National Park. Calving ground for the Porcupine caribou herd.
- Kluane – National Park and Reserve. Yukon’s UNESCO World Heritage Site contains Canada’s highest peak.
- Vuntut – National Park. Northern Yukon’s unique non-glaciated landscape.
Author: Carrie Mitchell
Carrie A. Mitchell is the founder of L’Aventure Travel, the host of the Suitcase Sojourn Podcast, and author of the children’s travel book “To Be We”. Carrie is a global travel and hospitality expert who works with publications, brands and entertainment outlets on a number of travel related projects, from marketing consulting to editorial coverage to hosting & producing content for the web, TV and podcasts. She is always seeking to learn from people and places around the world, and share through her cultural exploration (40+ countries and counting)