Begin planning early
Early planning is critical, Parks Canada travel media-relations officer Eric Magnan says. “The reservation system opens in January and key destinations can be fully booked fast,” Magnan says. If you miss that window, it’s still possible to make last-minute reservations as there could be cancellations, so check online. “Research carefully as some destinations require admission fees and permits. You also want to make sure that you arrive early to some destinations to avoid traffic headaches. Visit the Parks Canada website before departing and don’t be afraid to ask questions to ensure a successful trip.
Start at home
Hopping on a plane to enjoy a superb Parks Canada vacation may not be necessary. “Take time to see what’s nearby. For example, if Ottawa is your home, Laurier House National Historic Site and Rideau Canal National Historic Site are within city limits,” Magnan says. The interactive map on the Parks Canada website makes it easy to see what’s nearby.
Find your comfort zone
“You don’t have to be a survivalist to enjoy the outdoors, there’s something for everyone,”Magnan says. “If you enjoy hiking there are challenging trails such as Coastal Hiking Trail in Pukaskwa National Park, a hidden gem tourists will love. It’s just as challenging as the jaw-dropping West Coast Trail but not as busy. There are also several family-friendly trails like Marsh Boardwalk Trail at Point Pelee National Park.”
Build new skills
Magnan explains there are “learn to camp” classes for those just starting out. Parks Canada also provides opportunities to build awareness about conservation with programs like BioBlitz. The Parks Canada guides and experts are also outstanding teachers.“Parks Canada is the ultimate classroom,” Magnan says. “Make a point to get out there and see Canada at its best.”
Tailor to your interests
Stargazers will love Alberta’s Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve, which encompasses, Elk Island National Park. Animal lovers can swim with the salmon at Fundy National Park in New Brunswick. Several locations provide opportunities to discover Canada’s Indigenous peoples, including Grasslands National Park in Saskatchewan where ancient tipi rings still exist. And history buffs can see underwater archaeology at Ontario’s Fathom Five National Marine Park.