Canada is huge! With rugged mountains, deep oceans, large rivers, dense forests, flat prairies, northern tundra, hot deserts and arctic terrain, Canada stretches across North America from the Atlantic Ocean to the east and the Pacific Ocean on the west and the Arctic Ocean to the north. Its geography is absolutely distinctive and diverse.
Each area is so significant and unique that Canada’s goal is to create a system protecting 39 areas across the country to represent and protect them not only for the public’s appreciation and understanding today, but for generations to come. Included are national historic sites, national park reserves and national marine conservation areas all taken care of by Parks Canada. Listed below are just a few samples of what RVers may find along their travels in Canada.
National historic sites
Historic sites can be found in the wilderness, in a city or town or a specific location where events took place that were important to Canada’s history. They may include a building, a specific street, an archaeological site or even a person. As of today, there are more than 1,500 places, events or persons who have been declared as being significant to Canada’s history.
National marine conservation areas
Did you know that Canada’s coastline is the longest in the world? Not only that, if you combine all of the water systems, including the oceans, lakes and rivers, it’s equivalent to about 60 percent of the country’s land mass. They have played a very large role in Canada’s history, and preservation of these areas is important. These protected areas also include submerged lands and the water above them, wetlands, estuaries, islands and all land along the coastlines.
Banff National Park in Alberta
Considered to be one of the most popular destinations within the park system is the 125-year-old Banff National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site bursting with unspoiled wilderness within the majestic snow capped Canadian Rockies.
Exploring this area in an RV is perfect for those who enjoy viewing wildlife and breathtaking scenery. Not only is the outdoor recreation within the park second to none, the town of Banff is the highest town in Canada and one of only two towns located within a national park. More than 3 million visitors who come to Banff National Park each year can’t be wrong when they say it’s an experience not to be missed.
Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve in Quebec
Limestone islands and more than 1,000 granite islets and reefs are scattered along the North Shore of the Gulf of St. Lawrence within the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve. Carved out of the limestone bedrock is an example of the power of the sea over the centuries of time. The waters and land are abundant with a strange mixture of plants, colonies of seabirds, seals, dolphins and whales.
Cape Breton Highlands National Park in Nova Scotia
Between the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the Atlantic Ocean is the Cape Breton Highlands National Park protecting almost 20 percent of the island. RVers who travel here will appreciate the remarkable highlands as well as the breathtaking ocean scenery. Bordering the Atlantic Ocean visitors will find steep cliffs and deep river canyons as they travel the world-famous Cabot Trail and through one of the largest protected wilderness areas in Nova Scotia.
For those RVers seeking the unusual there are many rare plants and animals not found anywhere else in Canada. There’s even arctic-alpine plants left over from the last ice age. Depending on which route you travel will determine what you find along the way because traveling each direction brings a completely different but awesome scenic view.
Grasslands National Park in Saskatchewan
For those RVers who enjoy the wide open spaces the Grasslands National Park should be your destination, a place to enjoy a sea of grasses stretching as far as the eye can see. This is the only national park in Canada established to protect the mixed-grass prairie ecosystem which is highly endangered. This is important to the 70 different grass species and 50-plus different species of wildflowers and to the remaining native prairie.
Step back into time and take a wagon ride just like you would have done if you lived here during the 1800s. A perfect evening could be described as being able to spend the night sitting around a crackling campfire or lay out in a lounge to watch the display of stars and meteors in the wide night’s sky. There’s tipi rings to explore and dinosaur bones to examine and, if you keep your eyes open, you will see the Buffalo roaming over the prairies and maybe see the deer and antelope at play.
Kluane National Park and Reserve in Yukon
This is one of the most interesting and unique places to see a variety of things while driving this area in your RV. The ice field within the park is the largest in the country and Canada’s highest mountain peak can be found here at Mount Logan. Keep your eyes open though because this is also home to grizzlies, Dall sheep, mountain goats, caribou and some very large moose.
More than 80 percent of the area is covered in mountains, snow and ice but because of the air flow from the Pacific and Arctic overlapping there is a very diverse amount of plants in the rest of the area including white spruce, aspen, balsam and in what is called the transition zone there’s willow, dwarf birch and alder. During the summer months in areas above 4,600 feet in the alpine tundra, there are over 200 varieties of alpine flowers flowering vividly.
Park fees and camping
Most national parks and heritage sites charge an entrance fee to help support and preserve the park for future generations as well as pay for services and amenities within the parks.
Campgrounds can range from full-service sites to the very primitive, but one thing they all have in common, and that’s a recommendation to make reservations due to their popularity. Not all sites are on the reservation system and at times its possible to grab a spot by being within the campground at check-out time. However, you’re taking a chance and may be disappointed. By making a reservation you can comfortably book tours, make plans to connect with other travelers and not have your plans derailed.
Help preserve the parks
Be respectful of the environment within the parks and stay within designated areas, don’t feed the wildlife for your safety as well as theirs and don’t take souvenirs from the landscape.
It really doesn’t matter what you are seeking during your RV travels, Canada’s National Parks probably will satisfy most adventurers yearning for the exceptional. From tempting hot springs, calving glaciers, meadows filled with wild flowers, entertaining festivals, interesting marine life, to majestic mountains, and everything in between there is lots to do and see in Canada’s impressive national parks.
Note: Look for the “red chairs” at many of the parks. They serve as a place for visitors to sit, rest and enjoy the scenic view.
National Parks of Canada — www.pc.gc.ca/eng/progs/pn-np/index.aspx
Parks Canada Reservations — reservation.pc.gc.ca/Home.aspx
Banff National Park — www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/ab/banff/index.aspx
Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve — www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/qc/mingan/index.aspx
Grasslands National Park — www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/sk/grasslands/index.aspx
Kluane National Park and Reserve — www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/yt/kluane/visit/1.aspx
Maritime Transport Services — www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/qc/mingan/visit/visit3.aspx