Less busy alternatives to the most popular national parks

Discover the magic of these less busy but just as beautiful alternatives to our most popular and crowded destinations.

If you love Banff National Park

Banff is Canada’s oldest—and most visited— national park. Set in the pristine beauty of the Rocky Mountains with glaciers, ice fields, national treasures such as the Cave and Basin National Historic site and the Banff Upper Hot Springs and dazzling turquoise lakes. More than four million visitors come to appreciate its charms each year. There are so many activities to do year round. Make the most of your visit by planning ahead!

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A family looks at an interpretation panel along a trail surrounded by subalpine wildflowers.
Mount Revelstoke National Park

Just 3 hours from Lake Louise, cruise along the magnificent Trans-Canada Highway along the rugged mountains and glaciers of Mount Revelstoke National Park. Then, take the Meadows in the Sky Parkway to the summit of Mount Revelstoke, the only car-accessible peak at Parks Canada’s destinations! The highlight: the famous sub-alpine wildflower meadows.

Don’t miss the world-famous ski jump, where champions once soared. Just imagine the thrill of the flight!

If you're a hiker, explore the Columbia Mountains which are just as stunning as the rockies. Additionally, go for a stroll through cool, lush rainforest. Breathtaking panoramas await.

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Gros Morne National Park

Like Banff, Gros Morne is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, with plenty of places to stay, and exciting things to do. That includes thrilling backcountry winter sports adventures, summer hiking, biking and camping. A dream for citizen scientists, Gros Morne’s unique geology helped confirm tectonic plate theory, and you can walk on the earth’s mantle when you visit! Take to the water at Western Brook Pond and admire the cascading waterfalls and billion year-old cliffs in this huge glacier-carved land-locked fjord.

If you love Jasper National Park

The largest park in the Canadian Rockies, each year more than two million visitors come to Jasper to experience its laid-back mountain charms, snap selfies at Maligne Lake, and relax in Miette’s natural hot springs.

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Glacier National Park

Glacier may be 390 km from Jasper, but the views are worth every second! Rated as one of the best drives in the world, the Icefields Parkway winds through snow-capped mountains and vast valleys. The Trans-Canada Highway to Glacier is spectacular too; sit back and soak up the incredible glacial views the park is named for.

Take a hike into history along alpine trails blazed by early mountaineers or amongst the towering old-growth trees of the world’s only inland cedar rainforest. You may even spot black bears, grizzlies, or pikas.

Looking for a shorter outing? Have a picnic and enjoy one of the many easier hikes right off the highway. After your adventures, recharge at a frontcountry campground in Rogers Pass National Historic Site, at the heart of Glacier National Park.

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Kluane National Park and Reserve

Fewer than 40,000 people visit this Yukon marvel yearly which is home to 17 of the country’s 20 tallest mountains, including Canada’s highest peak, 5,959-metre Mount Logan and also the world’s largest concentration of ice fields and glaciers. Let your inner adventurer roam free through the vastness of Kluane National Park and Reserve’s backcountry on alpine day hikes, mountain biking and paddling its crystal clear waters. Experience the magic of camping in desolate alpine wilderness or an overnight stay in one of the oTENTik tents.

If you love Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Just over a million people visit Pacific Rim each year to get a taste of that wonderful West Coast lifestyle. From surfing on Long Beach and hiking the West Coast Trail, to enjoying lazy days on pristine sandy beaches and learning more about the ancient legends and living culture of the Nuu-chah-nulth First Nation. The peak season can be busy, so if you like your beach with a side of solitude, reserve a break in the shoulder season. No matter when you come “know before you go” and get CoastSmart about the water.

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Gulf Islands National Park Reserve

A less visited jewel in beautiful B.C.‘s crown, discover the forested islands of Gulf Islands, dotted around the Salish Sea in waters teeming with seals, sea lions, orcas and pods of porpoises, just a few hours from the bustle of Vancouver.

From paddle boarding, kayaking and beachcombing, to geocaching, backcountry and car camping, there’s plenty to explore and experience. Don’t miss the chance to help restore traditional First Nations clam beds or “gardens” or remove invasive plant species from endangered Garry oak ecosystems.

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A couple admires the panoramic views of the Cabot Trail on Parks Canada red chairs
Cape Breton Highlands National Park

With over 100km of rugged wave-pounded cliffs, sheltered coves and some of the most beautiful beaches in Canada, it’s time to discover the East Coast’s charms at Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Explore the storied Cabot Trail on a self-drive adventure with stunning seaside views, and take your pick of 26 stellar hiking trails offering everything from ocean views to hidden waterfalls and enchanting old growth forests.

Try your luck surfing at Ingonish Beach. Immerse yourself in the traditions of the Mi'kmaq, Acadian and Celtic Peoples, and make a lasting connection with this area where scenic beauty and vibrant cultures blend naturally.

If you love Bruce Peninsula National Park and Fathom Five National Marine Park

The dual treasures of Fathom Five and Bruce Peninsula attract almost 750,000 visitors each year. Explore the unique rock formations of the Flowerpots and dive sites of 22 shipwrecks, blue water cave of the Grotto and singing sands on the Georgian Bay shoreline. The Grotto and the Halfway Log Dump are very popular places. If you choose to visit, reserve your parking spot before you arrive.

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Georgian Bay Islands National Park

Just two hours north of Toronto, swim in the clear waters of Georgian Bay, and boat or paddle in the world’s largest freshwater archipelago. Rent a bike at the Cedar Spring visitor centre and pedal Beausoleil Island to find your favourite trail through the sun-dappled forest. Escape to a romantic rustic cabin on Christian Beach, or make family memories to treasure with an overnight stay in a cosy oTENTik at Cedar Spring.

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Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve

Rising up from the ocean, Mingan Archipelago’s curiously shaped limestone sculptures form the largest group of monoliths in Canada. Watch for whales and seals in the ocean and enjoy the diverse marine life on a scuba diving trip. Experience fascinating Innu culture with members of the Ekuanitshit community. Taste the edible species in the park on a Boreal Flavours Guided Hike.

If you love Prince Edward Island National Park

Red sand beaches, the charming legacy of Anne of Green Gables, the fascinating history of the Confederation and pristine hiking and biking trails winding through dunes, marshes and woodland. No wonder some 1.5 million people visit Canada’s smallest province each year to explore Prince Edward Island National Park.

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Fundy National Park

Island hop to nearby New Brunswick to experience the marvel of the world’s highest tides at Fundy National Park. Paddle in a kayak then walk the ocean floor. Head inland and explore trails through the Acadian forest and feel the spray from soaring waterfalls.

Camp in a yurt; tap your toes and get a taste of an authentic Kitchen Party at the childhood home of Molly Kool, North America’s first female sea captain.

Like Prince Edward Island? You’ll love...

Four women hug eachother's shoulders on a sandy beach
Kouchibouguac National Park

Enjoy the waves at one of Canada's warmest saltwater beaches and find the perfect place to build a sand castle as you explore 25 km of golden dunes! Love to canoe or kayak? Paddle like the Mi'gmaq have done for thousands of years and enjoy the tranquility of the lagoons and rivers. More of a bike rider? There are 60 km of relatively flat bike trails passing between forest and waterfront. Suitable for cyclists of all abilities, it’s time to get your bike on! At night, this Dark-Sky Preserve is transformed into a celestial masterpiece. Treat yourself to a bit of magic by staying in an Ôasis and spend the night under a natural canopy admiring the stars

To have the best time possible, here are 10 pro tips to make the most of Parks Canada places.

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