North America, Tourism

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!

Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado

USA

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
Alaska (8) Denali 1917
Gates of the Arctic 1980
Glacier Bay 1980
Katmai 1980
Kenai Fjords 1980
Kobuk Valley 1980
Lake Clark 1980
Wrangell – St. Elias 1980
American Samoa American Samoa 1988
Arizona (3) Grand Canyon 1919
Petrified Forest 1962
Saguaro 1994
Arkansas Hot Springs 1921
California (8) Channel Islands 1980
Death Valley 1994
Joshua Tree 1994
Kings Canyon 1940
Lassen Volcanic 1916
Redwood 1968
Sequoia 1890
Yosemite 1890
Colorado (4) Black Canyon of the Gunnison 1999
Great Sand Dunes 2004
Mesa Verde 1906
Rocky Mountain 1915
Florida (3) Biscayne 1980
Dry Tortugas 1992
Everglades 1947
Hawaii (2) Haleakala 1916
Hawaii Volcanoes 1916
Idaho Yellowstone 1872
Kentucky Mammoth Cave 1941
Maine Acadia 1919
Michigan Isle Royale 1940
Minnesota Voyageurs 1975
Montana (2) Glacier 1910
Yellowstone 1872
Nevada Great Basin 1986
New Mexico Carlsbad Caverns 1930
North Carolina Great Smoky Mountains 1934
North Dakota Theodore Roosevelt 1978
Ohio Cuyahoga Valley 2000
Oregon Crater Lake 1902
South Carolina Congaree 2003
South Dakota (2) Badlands 1978
Wind Cave 1903
Tennessee Great Smoky Mountains 1934
Texas (2) Big Bend 1944
Guadalupe Mountains 1966
U.S. Virgin Islands Virgin Islands 1956
Utah (5) Arches 1971
Bryce Canyon 1928
Capitol Reef 1971
Canyonlands 1964
Zion 1919
Virginia Shenandoah 1935
Washington (3) Mount Rainier 1899
North Cascades 1968
Olympic 1938
Wyoming (2) Grand Teton 1929
Yellowstone 1872

Canada

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.

Alberta

  • 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.

British Columbia

  • 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.

Manitoba

  • 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.

New Brunswick

  • 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.

Northwest Territories

  • 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.

Nova Scotia

  • 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.

Nunavut

  • 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.

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Ontario

  • 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.

Québec

  • 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.

Saskatchewan

  • Grasslands – National Park. Saskatchewan’s rare prairie grasses, dinosaur fossils, and badlands.
  • Prince Albert – National Park. Protects slice of northern coniferous forest and wildlife.

Yukon

  • 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 Mitchell is the founder and content director of L’Aventure Travel. She has traveled to over 40 countries, is the host of the Suitcase Sojourn Podcast, and author of the children’s travel book “To Be We: The Adventures of Owen and Lucy”. A writer, producer, entrepreneur, and communications strategist, Carrie is always seeking to learn from people and places around the world.