Ten spectacular reasons to consider outdoors Canada for your next vacation!
Jan 23, 2010
Well, OK ... you caught me! Eleven reasons!
Canada and Canadians around the world have a reputation for being reserved, quiet, polite and respectfully withdrawn. But I think it's high time that we stood up and waved our flag a little and showed the world that we're pretty special. If the ten national parks that I've selected (and they're just a small portion of our national park and reserve system) don't convince you that you should put outdoor Canada on the radar for your next vacation, then ... well, I'll just suggest that you head to the nearest Howard Johnson for a nice quiet urban vacation! But I think you'll agree that my selection demonstrates that Canada is probably the the most geographically diverse and spectacularly beautiful country in the entire world ... bar none ... seriously ... no, I'm not kidding!
A slice of high arctic hiking heaven, 21,000 sq km and less than1000 people per year see it. Talk about splendid isolation! Mt Thor and Mt Asgard are two of the premier rock climbing destinations in the world. Watch out for mosquitoes only slightly smaller than B-52 bombers!
Banff National Park - Canada's first national park - 1 1/2 hrs drive west of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. From Banff's humble beginnings as a 26 square kilometre hot springs reserve, Banff National Park now consists of 6,641 square kilometres of unparalleled mountain scenery nestled in the heart of the magnificent Canadian Rockies. Each year, millions of visitors come to Banff to marvel at the emerald waters of Lake Louise, walk amongst the flower-filled heavens at Sunshine Meadows, and drive beneath the towering jagged peaks lining the Icefields Parkway. Snow-capped peaks, glistening glaciers and sweeping vistas are just one part of the allure of Banff National Park. You can enjoy all the comforts of home in the town of Banff and the village of Lake Louise, or step out into the wilderness and the home of some of North America's wildest creatures, including grizzly bears, caribou and wolves.
Not everyone wants to do the roughing-it camping thing. For some people, a driving vacation is just the ticket. Americans think of the coast highway from San Francisco through Carmel and Monterey, but for Canadians, the quintessential coastal drive is the Cape Breton Highway. Maritime hospitality, bed and breakfasts or motels if you want comfort, camping if you prefer and scenery to die for!
Fundy National Park of Canada encompasses some of the last remaining wilderness in southern New Brunswick. Here, the conifer dominated Caledonia Highlands roll down to meet the fog-generating Bay of Fundy. The tidal fluctuation of the Bay of Fundy is the highest in the world. Watch fishing boats come and go to the rhythm of the bay. Inland, explore lush forests and deep stream valleys.
Grasslands is the first national park of Canada to preserve a portion of the mixed prairie grasslands. Eavesdrop on a prairie dog town or learn about how Sitting Bull took refuge here after the battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876. Guided hikes, interpretive trails, bird watching, and nature photography are popular activities in Grasslands.
Gros Morne National Park of Canada was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987. It is an area of great natural beauty with a rich variety of scenery, wildlife, and recreational activities. Visitors can hike through wild, uninhabited mountains and camp by the sea. Boat tours bring visitors under the towering cliffs of a freshwater fjord carved out by glaciers. Waterfalls, marine inlets, sea stacks, sandy beaches, and colourful nearby fishing villages complete the phenomenal natural and cultural surroundings of Gros Morne National Park of Canada.
Beyond the 50th parallel, along the North Shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence, lies a remarkably beautiful scattering of some thirty limestone islands and more than 1000 granitic islets and reefs. The territory, the "Mingan Archipelago", became a national park reserve in 1984. This necklace of land carved out of the limestone bedrock is the site of spectacular natural monuments which bear witness to the never-ending wear of the sea and of the centuries. And there is an abundance of life in this strange half-world: plants of variegated hues and shapes, seabirds gathered in colonies, seals, dolphins and whales, swarming the blue vastness in which the islands bathe. Mingan Archipelago: a treasure to discover and preserve…
Backed by the Vancouver Island Range and facing the open Pacific Ocean, Pacific Rim presents the rich natural and cultural heritage of Canada's west coast. Its cool and wet maritime climate produces an abundance of life in the water and on land. Lush coastal temperate rainforest gives way to bountiful and diverse intertidal and subtidal areas. These natural wonders are interwoven with the long and dynamic history of the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations and European explorers and settlers.
Wildlife heaven ... Wood Buffalo National Park, located in northeastern Alberta and southern Northwest Territories, is the largest national park in Canada at 44,807 km². The park was established in 1922 to protect the world's largest herd of free roaming Wood Bison, currently estimated at more than 5,000. It is the only known nesting site of whooping cranes. The park contains one of the world's largest fresh water deltas, the Peace-Athabasca Delta, formed by the Peace, Athabasca and Slave Rivers. It is also known for its karst sinkholes on the Northwest Territory side. The national park is also located directly north of the Athabasca Oil Sands.Wood Buffalo National Park contains a large variety of wildlife species, such as moose, black bear, wolf, lynx, brown bear, snowshoe hare, sandhill crane, Wood Buffalo, ruffed grouse, and the garter snake, which form famous communal dens within the park. Wood Buffalo Park contains the only natural nesting habitat for the critically endangered whooping crane.
Want to sample world class wilderness camping in a northern boreal forest ... hiking, canoeing, kayaking, black bear, moose on the world's biggest freshwater lake? Lake Superior is so huge and potentially dangerous that it's best characterized as an inland ocean.