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Celebrate Canada 150 With a National Park Road Trip

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As you may know, Canada is celebrating its 150th birthday this year and we’re all for it. You may have not been able to score yourself one of the highly-sought after VIA Rail passes that went on sale earlier this month, but Parks Canada is still offering free admission to all national parks this year. There are many ways you can celebrate this great nation and what’s better than hitting the road and seeing everything Canada and its diverse landscape has to offer. There is nothing more freeing than packing up a trunk and setting off on an adventure to explore this beautiful country. You can control where you go and what you see.

The Trans-Canada highway is one of the longest roads in the world and stretches from St. John’s, Newfoundland all the way to Victoria, British Columbia. The highway spans through all ten of Canada’s provinces, crosses four islands, and will take you through a variety of landscapes including tundra, national parks, boreal forests, prairies, glaciers, lakes, and mountains. There are many must-sees along the way that make travelling it an adventure.

Here are 5 national parks around Canada that would make excellent road trips.

Banff National Park

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Banff National Park is a name you’ve probably heard before. Famous for its gorgeous views of mountains, turquoise lakes, and dense forests. Banff attracts hikers, bikers, campers and canoeists from around the world and has a little bit of everything, including hot springs, resorts, and golfing.

Jasper National Park, AB

Jasper park is only a 7 hour drive from Banff and is a lot more remote and wild. You’ll be able to see loads of wildlife and hike through gorgeous backcountry trails. This article by National Geographic does a great job of taking you on the best road trip from Banff to Jasper.

Thousand Islands National Park, ON

Popular to water sports fans, Thousand Islands National Park is known as the freshwater-boating capital of the world. There are campsites on 12 of the islands if you wish to spend the night there, and if you’re not a camper they offer glamping options such as oTENTik camping accommodations. Only a 4 hour drive from Toronto, this is perfect for a weekend trip.

Gros Morne National Park, NL

This park is located on the west coast of Newfoundland and takes its name from the second tallest mountain peak in Newfoundland. There are more than 100km of trails that take you through the uninhabited mountains and boating tours that will take you through the freshwater fjords that are absolutely breathtaking.

Point_Wolfe_Dam_-_Fundy_National_ParkFundy National Park, NB

The biggest attraction of the park is the Bay of Fundy, where many come to see the world’s highest tides and to explore the ocean floor at low tide. A wide range of camping experiences is available in the park, from backcountry to RV hookups. One added perk for those who hate sleeping in a tent is the park’s yurt accommodations. It’s one of a few national parks where yurt rentals are available from Parks Canada. 

Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia

Often referred to as the place “where the mountains meet the sea,” hikers visit this park to admire the steep cliffs and deep river canyons that carve into a forested plateau bordering the Atlantic Ocean. Most of the province’s population of endangered Canada lynx lives here, as well as moose, hare, grouse, and marten. Depending on your tastes, most hikers visit from May to November, while some plan their visit in the fall for spectacular views of fall foliage and the popular Hike the Highlands festival in September. If hiking isn’t your thing, another way to explore the park is to cycle and or drive the Cabot Trail. One third of the world-famous scenic highway runs through the park. 

How to plan your route

Use Google Maps & Waze

Google maps is the obvious choice when planning a roadtrip. You can download a portion of the map onto your phone so you can use the map while offline, perfect for when you are roaming or your data is shut off. Unlike other GPS’ that have limitations, Google’s map is generally up to date.

If you have access to cell phone data, Waze is a great app to use as it is updated by other drivers and will let you know how fast traffic is moving in the area and any reported accidents or road closures.

The biggest setback people face when planning a long road trip is car problems. You either can’t fit everyone, have an older car with poor mileage, or might not have a car at all. The best, simplest solution is to rent a vehicle with Avis or Budget Car Rental. Just make sure you bring your Parks Canada pass with you! Both company’s provide options for all kinds of car and budget needs. They offer relocation options if you’re flexible. Rather than bringing the car back to where you picked it up, you can drop it off at a closer depot and save money. Check if your credit card already covers rental car insurance, so you won’t have to pay an additional daily fee.

Now that you have some options and the tools you need to get the road trip started, hit the road and embrace everything this beautiful country has to offer on its 150th birthday.

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Anastasia graduated with a BA Honors Communications Degree and is currently pursuing her passion for writing and helping small businesses succeed.