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The Globe and Mail

The best of Canada's national parks: an insider's guide

Kluane National Park.

Bruce Kirkby

As Parks Canada turns 100, Globe Travel asks the ultimate insiders - the people who work in the parks and marine reserves day in and out - to share their favourite corners and experiences.

Here we share the best of the best.

Gwaii Haanas, B.C.: National Marine Conservation Area Reserve and Haida Heritage Site

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"Sparkling blue water against deep green mountains, the sight and sounds of the humpback whales feasting in the krill-infused waters - that's what I love about Gwaii Haanas." - Terrie Dionne, manager, external relations

Gulf Islands, B.C.: "I love seeing the amazement on visitors' faces when seals, sea lions, porpoises and even orcas surface during my programs at East Point, Saturna Island." - Athena George, park interpreter

Vuntut, Yukon: "Sitting quietly on a ridge with thousands of caribou streaming by, close enough to hear the clicking of their hooves and the grunts of mothers calling to their young - surreal." - Rhonda Markel, partnering and engagement office

Nahanni, NWT: "Favourite spot in the park: The Cirque of the Unclimbables. Surrounded by pure granite walls you feel like an ant in a castle." - Jarret Hardisty, patrol person

Mount Revelstoke, B.C.: "Winter in Mount Revelstoke National Park is magical. Heavy snow coats the trees, bending branches low. There's no sound except for the quiet of snowflakes falling." - Tina Whitman, executive assistant

Glacier, B.C.: "Every time I stand on Abbot Ridge and look out on Mount Sir Donald and the Illecillewaet Glacier, I am overwhelmed with a sense of timelessness and beauty knowing that for 125 years others have hiked the same trail to the same spot and felt as small as I." - Jacolyn Daniluck, public relations and communications officer

Yoho, B.C.: "Emerald Lake is orchids, loons, owls, merganser chicks, brilliant turquoise-green water, stillness in winter, full-moon skis, family picnics and canoe songs." - Kathryn Cameron, acting team leader

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Kootenay, B.C.: "My favourite hiking destination is Numa Pass on the Rockwall. It is quite possibly the most beautiful and inspiring place in the Rockies." - Kathy Borsato, manager, finance and administration

Banff, Alta.: "Bike ride from Banff to Lake Louise on the Bow Valley Parkway, roll by roadside wildflowers, look up at snow-capped mountains, and see wildlife." - Sarah Fabbri, partnering and engagement office

Waterton Lakes, Alta.: "I love to visit the Bosporus in Waterton - I can see the mountains, lakes and prairie sky. It really is an inspiring and captivating place." - Catherine Reynold, interpreter

Tuktut Nogait, NWT: "Midnight sun reflecting on mountain ridges, caribou browsing peacefully, the sound of candle ice floating down the Hornaday river canyon." - Pierre Marchand, ecosystem scientist

Grasslands, Sask.: "There is no more magical experience than lying on a wind-blown butte watching a herd of bison graze peacefully below." - Wes Olson, resource management and public safety specialist

Riding Mountain, Man.: "I am awed to see our bison on the mixed-fescue prairie; imagining the past, inspiring us as a living piece of natural history as we move forward." - Angela Spooner, resource conservation officer, Lake Audy District, bison manager

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Quttinirpaaq, Nunavut: "Climbing Barbeau Peak in Quttinirpaaq National Park … feels like you're at the top and edge of the world."

- Andrew Maher, resource conservation manager

Sirmilik, Nunavut: "In a boat circumnavigating Bylot Island, at every vista there were glaciers spilling into the navy blue seas, glinting laser white in the high arctic light, and then a pod of narwhal, too." - Pauline Scott, visitor experience manager and prevention co-ordinator

Pukaskwa, Ont.: "The Southern Headland Trail allows you to take in all that Lake Superior has to offer … calm, roaring, peaceful and fierce all wrapped in one." - Joni Michano, visitor services attendant

Auyuittuq, Nunavut: "The noises of nature are amazing … rocks falling, rivers running, wind blowing and sand swirling." - Kristy Frampton, promotions and non-personal media officer

Bruce Peninsula, Ont.: "Backcountry camping in The Bruce ... : You are truly alone with nature. The cliffs, water and flora and fauna that surround you are inspiring." - Carolyn Doidge, senior visitor services attendant

Georgian Bay Islands, Ont.: "On an autumn day around Fairy Lake on Beausoleil Island, you can hear a pin drop - it's stunning, and the perfect place to reflect." - Victoria Evans, interpretation co-ordinator

St. Lawrence Islands, Ont.: "I love hiking the Jones Creek Trails and marvelling at the cliffs and towering pines that line Mud Creek as it meanders through the wetland." - Mary Beth Lynch, resource conservation technician

Torngat Mountains, Nfld.: "I enjoy showing visitors the land where my mother and my father were born." - Jacko Merkuratsuk, resource conservation

La Mauricie, Que.: "[Paddle]on Wapizagonke Lake while admiring the beauty of the water lilies and the magnificent landscape. Very inspiring." - Kathleen Barrett, interpretation co-ordinator

Mingan Archipelago, Que.: "Somewhere in the tight maze of Mingan Archipelago's granitic islets, I find that most exquisite of feelings: Being, for a time, lost." - Yann Troutet, ecosystems scientist

Forillon, Que.: "My favourite place? The Cap-Bon-Ami [observation] belvedere during an autumn storm to watch the Gulf rollers come barrelling into the cliffs below. Perfect. Every time." - Bruce O'Connor, Parks Canada

Fundy, N.B.: "Hiking Dickson Falls, stargazing into a dark sky, walking on the ocean floor discovering what the giant tide has left behind - simply awesome." - Norma-Jean Murphy, Parks Canada

Kejimkujik, N.S.: "I love paddling and portaging the same ancient waterways and canoe routes that first nations people have travelled upon for thousands of years." - Ashley Moffat, visitor experience product development officer

Gros Morne, Nfld.: "Plate tectonics has hauled hard on the land and made a real mess of this place; that's what makes it so awesome and beautiful!" - Fred Sheppard, public outreach education

Terra Nova, Nfld.: "On a starry summer's night, it's magical to canoe the still water of a fjord, where the sparkling sky and water appear as one." - David Saunders, new product development officer

And at National Marine parks and conservation areas:

Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area, Ont.: "From the Kama lookout, it's amazing watching the sun setting over Nipigon Bay. There is no other place like it." - Sylvio Pelletier, product development officer

Fathom Five National Marine Park, Ont.: "There's nothing like diving and peering over the edge of the submerged Niagara Escarpment. … Suspended there, I wonder what is looking back up at me." - Scott Parker, park ecologist

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