Top 10 Camping Places in Canada
If you’ve never gone camping in Canada, can you really call yourself Canadian? Whether you prefer roughing it in the great outdoors or enjoying the comforts of modernity, camping can be an invigorating, spirit-lifting adventure and is a great way to take in our country’s unique geographical magnificence.
Searching for the thrill of visiting a part of your country that you’ve never explored before? Or are you a seasoned camper seeking to return to the rush of the bush experience? Either way, pack your canoe, fishing gear, bug repellent and hiking boots and pitch a tent in the Great White North. From sea to sea, here are 10 national parks listed by province to suit everyone’s personal camping style.
1. Pacific Rim National Park (Long Beach Division), British Columbia
One of three sections of Vancouver Island’s west coast, the Long Beach division of the Pacific Rim National Park has a 16 km-long beach. Renowned for crashing Pacific waves, superior surfing opportunities, and rock pools filled with marine life, Long Beach is a hit with innumerable species of birds. The park’s geography lends itself to beach walks along the rocky, impressive old-growth cedar copses and Sitka spruce, and sport fishing for cod, snapper, salmon, and rainbow trout. Guided storm watching, land-based whale watching and rainforest tours are available for hire, as are kayaking tours of nearby Clayoquot Sound.
2. Banff National Park, Alberta
Canada’s oldest and best-known park was founded in 1885, juxtaposes two historic towns – Lake Louise and Banff – against the wilderness, and is one of the country’s top tourist destinations. Mountains contend with glaciers, rushing rivers, and high morainal lakes to collectively create a scenic, unparalleled landscape.The three campsites within easy commuting distance of Banff are the Tunnel Mountain campgrounds, two of which are for RVs and the third for tenters. Nearby, visit Cave and Basin, a naturally occurring, curative hot mineral spring inside a limestone cave with an emerald-coloured basin outside the cave, recently declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
3. Prince Albert National Park, Saskatchewan
Straddling the crossroads of the great Canadian prairie grasslands and the evergreen northern forests, Prince Albert National Park is located 91 km north of the town of Prince Albert. Lined to the north with boreal forests of spruce and fir trees, and with gently rolling terrain to the south, this 1,000,000-acre area sports activities like swimming, canoeing, picnicking and backpacking. Wildlife like white pelicans, wolves, elk, bison, black bear, moose, badger and caribou make for spectacular vistas.
4. Riding Mountain National Park, Manitoba
Located about 250 km northwest of Winnipeg, Manitoba’s Riding Mountain is sanctuary for 260 species of birds as well as lynx, coyote, and a bison herd at Lake Audy. A highland plateau topped with lakes and forests is the jewel at Riding Mountain’s centre, and at least 40 trails ranging in difficulty will sate all hikers’ appetites. Looking to try a truly Canadian camping experience? The village of Anishinabe offers visitors the opportunity to camp in traditional tipis.
5. Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario
If you visit for even one day you’ll see why Canada’s Group of Seven artists found this region, containing over 1,000 lakes, affecting. Just east of Muskoka lies 3,000 panoramic square miles of wilderness. Algonquin is a haven for the naturalist, but popular with canoeists and fishermen alike. Wildlife like beavers, deer, moose, small mouth black bass, rainbow trout and bears roam their natural habitats, and there are numerous hiking trails for the avid backpacker to enjoy. The sound of the loon’s call is a prevalent one, but ornithologists will appreciate the other 250 bird species that also make their home there.
6. Parc National Forillon, Quebec
At the tail end of the Appalachian Mountains, with the Bay of Gaspй to the south and surrounded by a shore of steep rock cliffs to the north, campers and hikers from all across North America come to sample Quebec’s rugged coastline, lush forests and copious wildlife. Whatever your pleasure, the Parc National Forillon is bound to offer it: there are beaches, campgrounds, cycling and hiking trails, sea kayaking and plenty of nature walks. Colonies of seabirds and seals can be sighted off the coast, from the Cap des Rosiers harbour, and whale watching is another possibility.
7. Kouchibouguac National Park, New Brunswick
Between Moncton and Miramichi, this park, whose name comes from the native Mi’kmaq word for “River of Long Tides, ” is a favourite with cyclists for its supple terrain. Beach-goers also love Kouchibouguac’s 92 square miles, which consist of 25 kilometres of fine sand beaches. Scientists love it for its various ecosystems like ancient peat bogs, wind-sculpted dunes, lagoons, and salt marshes. If you go, don’t miss the Voyager Marine Adventure, a 3-hour canoe paddle offshore to sandbanks where you can witness hundreds of grey seals basking in the summer sun.
8. Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia
If you prefer to explore the bounty of a national park from the comforts of your car, then the Cape Breton Highlands ? which stretch along a hilly peninsula from the Atlantic to the Gulf of St. Lawrence ? are for you. Every year, tourists and locals come from near and far to drive through the primary route of the park, the Cabot Trail highway, which highlights much of the park’s circuitous boundary. Green mountains and unsurpassed coastal beauty are rivalled by a bog-bound ecosystem along a boardwalk trail that is home to rare orchids. The park’s heart is a huge plateau, moose-filled wetland marshes give way to the 100-ft. high Beulach Ban Falls, and another road at Cape North turns into a favourite whale-watching spot, and the resort town of Ingonish.
9. Prince Edward Island National Park, Prince Edward Island
Synonymous with its beaches, P. E. I. National Park is located along the island’s sandy north-central coast. Interrupted by several large inlets, which are connected to harbours, the 40-km area is characterized by red coastal cliffs, pink and white sand beaches, and marram-grass topped sand dunes. For Anne Shirley fans, the western entrance of Green Gables constitutes part of the park, at Cavendish. For hikers, the 8-km Homestead trail covers meadows and rustic green woodlands. Another trail, the Reeds and Rushes Trail, leads to the nesting and feeding ground of local species of geese and duck in a freshwater marsh pond.
10. Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland
If you view Gros Morne’s glacial valleys on a foggy day, you’ll understand how it came to get its name, “Big Gloomy, ” from the French. Despite the melancholic magnitude of the mountains, blue fjords, which cut into the coastal range, and endless spruce trees, the two sections of this United Nations World Heritage Site are replete with the inspiring sight and sounds of caribou, moose, and eagles. One of Canada’s two crown-jewel national parks in Atlantic Canada (see number 3 for the second), Gros Morne’s pre-Cambrian mountains are several million years older than the Rockies, and some of the oldest in the world.