The most popular parks in Canada, Banff and Jasper, respectively received 4,181,854 and 2,425,878 visitors during the 2017/2018 fiscal year. This was followed by Saguenay-St. Lawrence at 1,185,322 visitors. While these parks are worth braving the crowds for, they are certainly not your only options. In fact, Canada is home to 46 national parks and park reserves. Here are some of the top lesser-known and less-crowded parks you should visit next.
Gulf Islands National Park Reserve
Located in the beautiful Gulf Islands of British Columbia, Gulf Islands National Park Reserve is a great alternative to Pacific Rim National Park Reserve (which received 1,131,418 visitors last year). This park reserve includes 15 Salish Sea islands, as well as numerous reefs and islets, over an area of 36 square kilometres. The waters are teeming with all manner of sea life, including orcas, porpoises, otters, and seals. Overhead, you’re likely to see seabirds, falcons, eagles, and even turkey vultures. Popular activities include hiking, beachcombing, kayaking, and paddleboarding.
Kluane National Park and Reserve
With just 29,743 visitors in the last year, Kluane National Park and Reserve in the Yukon is one of the best places to go if you’re really looking to get away from it all. The majority of the 22,013-square-kilometre park is covered by mountains and glaciers, making for a rough and rugged landscape that is ripe for exploration. Some of the tallest mountains in Canada can be found in Kluane National Park and Reserve, and it also has the highest concentrations of glaciers and icefields on earth.
Georgian Bay Islands National Park
Another hidden gem, Georgian Bay Islands National Park received only 44,010 visitors last year. The park consists of more than 60 islands in Ontario’s Georgian Bay and has a total area of 13.5 square kilometres. Georgian Bay is actually the world’s largest freshwater archipelago, and you’ll find many fantastic boating and paddling opportunities here. You can also rent a bike or stay for a few days at a waterfront cabin. Georgian Bay Islands National Park is only two hours from Toronto.
Gros Morne National Park
Situated on Newfoundland’s west coast, Gros Morne is both a national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. With just over 200,000 visitors a year, there is plenty of room in this 1,805-square-kilometre park to find space for yourself. Create your own adventure by choosing from among a plethora of activities, including camping, hiking, and biking. Whatever you are doing, you’ll be surrounded by breathtaking scenery. Gros Morne National Park is known for its dramatic fjords, soaring mountains, cascading waterfalls, and beautiful forests.
Riding Mountain National Park
Head three-and-a-half hours west of Winnipeg along Highway 10 and you’ll come across this nearly 3,000-square-kilometre national park. Riding Mountain National Park protects an area known for its unique convergence of deciduous forest, grassland, and upland boreal ecosystems. One of the very best things about Riding Mountain National Park is that it has over 400 km of hiking and biking trails. It’s also a great place for camping and for catching sight of wildlife, including black bears, elk, and beavers.
If you’re planning your next adventure and you want to be able to explore wide open spaces without a whole lot of other people around, then these fantastic Canadian parks and reserves should be at the top of your list.