Canada attracts visitors from all over the world (well, at least when our borders aren’t closed) and one reason is our beautiful nature, including our dozens of National Parks. So many of them are stunning, which means it can be hard to choose or know where to go.
Since many of you plan on traveling within our country in the short-term (and many of you love maps as much as we do, as we saw with our map of travel restrictions imposed by each Canadian province), we decided to map out the most visited National Park in every Canadian province.
You can also see a brief introduction to each park below the map.
Here is Flytrippers’ map of each Canadian province’s most visited National Park:
You can see the full-size version… and feel free to share with you travel buddies!
This ranking is based on the most recent data provided by Parks Canada, which compiles the official number of visits for 37 National Parks and National Park Reserves. There are actually 48, but some aren’t in the report so we can assume they aren’t the most popular.
There are also 3 National Marine Conservation Areas (or Marine National Parks) in Canada, but we’ve excluded them from this particular map since they’re not quite parks; visiting water is just not the same. They were technically in first place in both of our most-populous provinces though (Ontario & Quebec). Finally, Parks Canada also manages National Historic Sites, which will be our next map.
This map of the most visited national parks is useful in one of two ways:
- either if you want to visit the parks that most people seem to appreciate
- or maybe if you want to avoid the most crowded parks
Even if we definitely always advocate for avoiding the most touristy destinations (and choosing the more off-the-beaten-path ones), in terms of National Parks, it’s not really the same thing:
- there is often plenty of room for everyone
- there are no locals inside the parks that are sick and tired of the many irresponsible tourists (although maybe the animals are?)
- the part about being overpriced might be true though, and Canada is one of the most expensive countries to travel to already
Anyway, if you want quieter spots, don’t miss our map with the least-visited National Park in each province. Fun fact: did you know that Tuktut Nogait National Park had a total of 0 visitors last year? Yes, zero. Now that is serious social distancing!
And we’ll also have a map of all National Parks in Canada. Sign up for our free newsletter to never miss any content.
The most-visited National Parks in each province
Instead of doing this overview alphabetically or geographically, to keep the theme going let’s look at each province’s most visited National Park from the most visited to the least visited.
Alberta – Banff National Park
- Visitors: 4,089,309
- Overall rank in Canada: #1 of 37
- Closest airport: Calgary (YYC)
You’ve probably heard of Banff before. Banff is the oldest and most visited park in Canada, and it’s not even close. It has 1.5 million more visitors than Canada’s #2 park Jasper, which is also in Alberta. Both are part of the Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Banff has over 6,000 square kilometers of untouched wilderness. Flytrippers’ other cofounder Kevin actually lived there 2 summers in a row and he says it was one of the best experiences of his life! There is so much to do: hiking, snowboarding (he went back during to winter while living in Calgary), kayaking, and so much more. From watching wildlife, doing outdoor activities, and enjoying the natural beauty, Banff National Park has it all!
It has a range of wildlife like elk, caribou, grizzlies, and bighorn sheep. While finding wildlife, you can climb mountains, or go trekking. Moraine Lake, where large coniferous trees and mountains tower over, is one of the best spots for kayaking. If you’re a bit more adventurous, go to Johnston Canyon for two breathtaking waterfalls, cliffs, and natural pools of fresh spring water.
We’ll have more content about visiting Banff and Alberta soon, but in the meantime, you can read our guest-blogger’s post about hiking the Canadian Rockies in Banff National Park.
British Columbia – Pacific Rim National Park
- Visitors: 1,148,889
- Overall rank in Canada: #3 of 37
- Closest airports: Nanaimo (YCD), Victoria (YYJ), Vancouver (YVR)
Found on beautiful Vancouver Island’s coast, Pacific Rim National Park offers temperate forests, infinite coastlines, and impressive mountain ranges. It beats out 3 other BC parks that are in Canada’s top 10 by a healthy margin.
In Kevin’s opinion, it is one of the most beautiful parks in Canada for sure! You’ll find a wonderful beach where you can surf and huge trees that are quite impressive in the rainforests! This park also stands out for its abundance of wild fauna throughout the forest and along the coast.
The park has 3 separate areas: you can hike the West Coast Trail or kayak and camp your way through the Broken Group Islands or Long Beach. Or learn about the indigenous culture of the Nuu-chah-nulth; and enjoy an array of water sports like swimming in tidal pools, paddle-boarding, and surfing.
We’ll have more content about visiting BC soon too… and we might even go this fall to show you what it’s like during a pandemic.
Prince Edward Island – Prince Edward Island National Park
- Visitors: 746,521
- Overall rank in Canada: #5 of 37
- Closest airport: Charlottetown (YYG)
The only province with just one National Park (obviously not surprising given the tiny size of PEI), but at least it ranks pretty high in terms of visitors. This coastal National Park is on the Gulf of Saint Lawrence and offers travelers broad sandy beaches and unique dunes.
Prince Edward Island National Park is mostly a flat and low-lying national park and is therefore perfect for camping on the beach or exploring the salt marshes teeming with elegant birdlife, especially the piping plover that breeds here. The famous “Green Gables” farm from “Anne of Green Gables” is located in the park as well.
I have been to this National Park on a summertime trip as a kid and have great memories of the coastline and camping at nearby Cavendish Beach. I haven’t gone camping ever since though, so even though we’ll be posting more articles about our own trips to share our experiences with you and help you travel from home during the pandemic, don’t expect camping trip stories from me—that was definitely an outlier.
Hopefully, some of you are avid campers and interested in sharing your stories from around the world as guest-bloggers to help other travelers!
Ontario – Bruce Peninsula National Park
- Visitors: 362,313
- Overall rank in Canada: #10 of 37
- Closest airports: Toronto-Pearson (YYZ), Toronto-Bishop (YTZ), Hamilton (YHM)
Bruce Peninsula National Park is located in between Lake Huron and the Georgian Bay, a few hours northwest of Toronto.
The park protects a unique shoreline formation and offers some of the most beautiful clear blue waters in Canada. You’ve likely seen one of the many “can you believe this is in Canada” type of posts about this spot and yes, it is in Canada.
It is located adjacent to Fathom Five National Marine Park, which technically had slightly more visitors as mentioned above. Apart from the water, the park is also known for its many hiking trails, including the very long Bruce Trail.
Manitoba – Riding Mountain National Park
Riding Mountain National Park’s forested landscape stands out from the prairie farmland in the surrounding area. It is by far Manitoba’s most visited park.
It was created to protect the 3 different ecosystems converge there, namely the upland boreal forest, aspen parkland, and fescue prairie. Covering nearly 3,000 square kilometers, the park also has one of the largest black bear populations in North America.
Fun fact: a labor camp for German prisoners-of-war was located in the park during World War II. It was the only in North America with no fencing, it was so isolated that it wasn’t necessary. Prisoners were paid to cut down trees and were allowed to use their pay to order from the Eaton’s catalogue. How Canadian.
Nova Scotia – Cape Breton Highlands National Park
As you might have deduced from the name, Cape Breton Highlands National Park is on Cape Breton Island, the large island to the east of the peninsula where most of Nova Scotia is located. It is by far the province’s most visited park and was the first one in all of Atlantic Canada.
Another one of the coastal National Parks, it features amazing ocean views. There are also great mountain views, with many deep-cut canyons. About one-third of the renowned Cabot Trail scenic road is located in the park. There are many hikes offering exceptional vistas, like the Skyline Trail pictured above. There are also a few beaches, both on the ocean and on lakes.
New Brunswick – Fundy National Park
- Visitors: 291,658
- Overall rank in Canada: #14 of 37
- Closest airports: Moncton (YQM), Saint John (YSJ), Fredericton (YFC)
Fundy National Park is especially known for the world’s highest tides in the Bay of Fundy. It closely beats out New Brunswick’s other park as the most visited in Canada’s only officially bilingual province.
When the water recedes, you can explore the seafloor, but 15 meters of water (50 ft) cover it back up at high tide. And the rugged coastline looks great at all times. There are 25 hiking trails and as many waterfalls. The park has a red covered bridge that is very popular, but just to be clear: it is not the world’s longest covered bridge, which is also located in New Brunswick (further west).
Saskatchewan – Prince Albert National Park
- Visitors: 270,233
- Overall rank in Canada: #15 of 37
- Closest airport: Saskatoon (YXE)
Prince Albert National Park was the only one in Saskatchewan for a long time and is still by far the most visited in this province that is mostly associated with endless prairies. The central Saskatchewan park is known not so much for the views as it is for the many recreational opportunities in the wilderness.
You can hike in boreal forests, take advantage of the beautiful lakes, and watch pretty sunsets like the one pictured above.
Newfoundland and Labrador – Gros Morne National Park
- Visitors: 233,198
- Overall rank in Canada: #17 of 37
- Closest airports: Deer Lake (YDF), Stephenville (YJT), Gander (YQX), St. John’s (YYT)
Gros Morne National Park is by far Newfoundland’s most visited park and it is easy to see why. It is particularly known for its impressive fjord. It looks stunning. I was supposed to visit last year but my trip was cut short due to early winter storm-induced flight delays, and I can’t wait to go back.
Located in the northern part of Newfoundland Island, you can hike on shorelines and in sub-Arctic landscapes in this UNESCO World Heritage Site. It was chosen as “the park provides a rare example of the process of continental drift, where deep ocean crust and the rocks of the earth’s mantle lie exposed.”
Quebec – Forillon National Park
- Visitors: 164,945
- Overall rank in Canada: #18 of 37
- Closest airports: Gaspé (YGP), Quebec City (YQB), Montreal (YUL)
Surprisingly, Quebec’s most visited park is the least visited of the most visited parks in each province. However, as mentioned, we removed the National Marine Parks, and the one in Quebec (Saguenay-St. Lawrence) is very popular, and actually ranks #3 in the country when considered a park. Quebec also has its own popular and very developed network of over 20 Provincial Parks (although they are called “National” Parks too, which is a bit confusing).
Anyway, the most visited actual park that is part of the federal National Parks system is Forillon, on the Gaspésie peninsula in the Eastern part of the province (just barely beating out the more accessible and very beautiful Mauricie National Park near our hometown).
It offers landscapes that are quite unique as you can see above, and was the first park in Quebec when created in 1970 (when 200+ families were controversially expropriated for the park). It is the eastern end of the Appalachian Mountains.
Apart from the natural element and its obvious appeal, Forillon has Quebec’s only publicly-accessible World War II coastal battery, as the area played a vital role in the Battle of the St. Lawrence against the Germans. I honestly didn’t expect to randomly discover two connections with WWII while researching these National Parks.
Yukon – Kluane National Park
- Visitors: 32,066
- Overall rank in Canada: #25 of 37
- Closest airport: Whitehorse (YXY)
You’ll find the highest peak in Canada in Kluane National Park, which is Mount Logan. In fact, 17 (!!!) of Canada’s 20 highest mountains are in the Saint Elias Mountains that are at the heart of Kluane.
The park also the largest non-polar icefield in the world. Bordering the US state of Alaska, Kluane is another park that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, jointly with the US National Park just across the border.
Visiting one of Canada’s 3 territories is definitely something I will do at some point before September 2021 before flights are (likely) no longer bookable with Aeroplan at the current exceptional rate. But I just haven’t decided which one yet, as all of them have something truly unique!
Northwest Territories – Wood Buffalo National Park
- Visitors: 3,904
- Overall rank in Canada: #28 of 37
- Closest airport: Yellowknife (YZF)
Wood Buffalo National Park is Canada’s largest and one of the world’s largest. It is actually located in both the Northwest Territories and Northern Alberta. Parks Canada classifies it as part of the NWT, so it is by far the most visited in the huge territory, despite a very low number.
It is the world’s largest “dark-sky preserve”, which means that artificial light pollution is restricted to promote astronomy. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, notably because it protects the largest population of wild bison in North America (informally called “wood buffaloes”, hence the park name).
The park is also the only known natural nesting place of the whooping crane. Finally, it features the world’s largest inland delta (that of the Peace and Athabasca rivers).
- Visitors: 853
- Overall rank in Canada: #31 of 37
- Closest airport: Iqaluit (YFB)
Auyuittuq National Park is located on Baffin Island, which is the largest island in Canada and the fifth-largest in the world. The park had only 853 visitors last year, which is pretty incredible. You are sure to have a lot of space. You’ll also see some of the highest peaks on the Canadian Shield region and some unique Arctic wilderness.
The park is located almost entirely within the Arctic Circle. I won’t even pretend I had ever heard of this park, so I’ll conclude this post with Parks Canada’s description since it is very poetic: “a zig-zag skyline of craggy granite peaks and glittering glaciers overlooks tundra valleys and steep-walled fiords whose winding waterways teem with narwhal and ringed seals, Auyuittuq is a diverse and grand-scale Arctic experience.”
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This map shows the most visited National Park in each Canadian province. Most of them look simply stunning and we’ll have a lot more Canada content in the coming weeks!
Which National Parks have you visited? Tell us in the comments below.
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Featured image: map of most visited National Park in each Canadian province (image credit: Flytrippers)
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