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7 National Parks in Canada You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

Goodbye, crowds—hello, turquoise mountain majesty.

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Hi, I'm Jacqueline!

Jacqueline Kehoe is a freelance writer and photographer with work seen in National Geographic, Thrillist, Travel + Leisure, and more. Find her out on the trails or at jacquelinekehoe.com.

The second-biggest country on the face of the planet—and 80 percent uninhabited—Canada’s relationship with Mother Nature comes intimate and prized. Over 12 percent of the country’s land is protected, from hard-to-believe boreal forests to the blue arms of glaciers to immense grasslands, winding fjords, and rocky coastlines.

Which is to say, Banff doesn’t have a monopoly on Canada’s best views. So, skip the parking-lot battles at the country’s most well-known parks and opt for somewhere lesser-known—but still majestic—instead. With millions fewer visitors to compete with, the below spots offer serious one-on-one time in the greens and blues of the Great White North.

1. Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta

A view of Red Rock Creek in Waterton Lakes National Park.
Red Rock Creek in Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta.Bildquelle: Pierrette Guertin / Shutterstock

A hop, skip, and a jump (kind of) from popular Glacier National Park.

Most of Glacier National Park’s 3-million-plus visitors don’t realize that a different national park lies just across the border: Waterton Lakes National Park. Glacier’s nearly identical twin, the two Rocky Mountain majesties together form an international peace park—but fewer than 500,000 annual visitors make the trek to the Canadian side.

While you could technically backpack into Waterton from Glacier, you’ll have a much easier time coming from Calgary, driving along the ultra-scenic Akamina Parkway all the way to Cameron Lake. Six wonderful waterside hikes can be accessed from the parkway, including the fir-lined, 3.2-mile (5-kilometer) trail to Summit Lake. Consider a stop at the iconic Prince of Wales Hotel, play in and around Red Rock Canyon, and get misted at Blakiston Falls, too.

2. Mount Revelstoke National Park, British Columbia

A view of Mount Revelstoke National Park in British Columbia.
All the beauty of Banff but none of the crowds.Bildquelle: Richard Cavalleri / Shutterstock

For Canadian Rockies appeal ... beyond Banff.

Due west of Banff—but still in all the glory of the Canadian Rockies—Mount Revelstoke also has glittering alpine lakes, jagged peaks, and boreal forests in spades. Here, the names alone let you know to expect magic—drive the Meadows in the Sky Parkway; walk down the Giant Cedars Boardwalk; meditate on the Inspiration Woods trail; and climb or drive to the namesake summit for even more superlative views, especially at sunset.

For something wild, the 9-mile (14.5-kilometer) hike to Eva Lake is all wildflowers and turquoise lake views rewarding you at the end of the long trek. Or consider the kind of journey where Mother Nature whisks you right along herself—white-water rafting the Illecillewaet River.

Related: Everything You Need to Know Before Your First White-Water Rafting Trip

3. Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ontario

A view of Indian Head Cove in Bruce Peninsula National Park.
Indian Head Cove in Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ontario.Bildquelle: Facto Photo / Shutterstock

Easy-to-reach from Toronto, this is a hidden gem.

Oft-overlooked Ontario is hiding a jewel in its Canadian crown—Bruce Peninsula National Park. Just 3.5 hours from Toronto, dramatic cliffs and tracts of ancient cedars rise above wildly turquoise waters, separating Georgian Bay from Lake Huron. This place is so naturally stunning, it’s also home to Canada’s oldest and longest footpath: the 485-mile (780-kilometer) Bruce Trail.

In the park, be sure to check out the Grotto, a natural sea cave falling into Georgian Bay; go bouldering on the shoreline near Halfway Log Dump; paddle the serene Cyprus Lake; and scope out the rare Alvar habitat just off Singing Sands Beach.

Insider tip: To get the peninsula all to yourself, consider a private trip in winter.

4. Fundy National Park, New Brunswick

The Hopewell Rocks at Fundy National Park in New Brunswick.
Hopewell Rocks are a striking must-visit in Fundy National Park.Bildquelle: Nicolas VINCENT / Shutterstock

Home to incredible accommodation and even better scenery.

The planet’s highest tides—upwards of 36 feet (11 meters)—rise and fall at this incredible national park (and designated Dark Sky Preserve). Twice a day, billions of cubic feet of water funnels in and out of the Bay of Fundy, leaving the seafloor entirely exposed. At low tide, wander the mudflats beneath the massive Hopewell Rocks; at high tide, kayak among them.

It’s best to spend at least two days here to experience the Bay of Fundy at both its extremes. Book an oTENTik, yurt, Ôasis (a teardrop-shaped loft), or a rustic cabin—the park’s stylish accommodations are a definite highlight, perfect for watching all those stars.

Related: The Best National Parks in the US for Stargazing

5. Yoho National Park, British Columbia

A view of Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park.
Emerald Lake in Yoho National Park, British Columbia.Bildquelle: Jiri Slama / Shutterstock

Banff's long-lost twin, with fewer than half the crowds.

A spitting image of Banff and just 45 minutes away, Yoho National Park sees fewer than 700,000 visitors a year—compared to Banff’s 4 million. While you could easily combine the two on your trip, you wouldn’t need to.

Here, you can walk among endangered whitebark pine at Paget Lookout; hunt for 500-million-year-old fossils from the Cambrian Explosion; stand on the banks of the incredible Emerald Lake; drive Yoho Valley Road to the base of Takakkaw Falls, one of the highest waterfalls in Canada; and book a room at Lake O’Hara Lodge and gaze out at the hanging valley.

Fun fact: “Yoho” means amazement or awe in the Indigenous Cree language.

6. Forillon National Park, Quebec

A waterfall in Forillon National Park.
Waterfall in the oft-overlooked Forillon National Park, Quebec.Bildquelle: Hawkeye68 / Shutterstock

An incredible destination in Canada for wildlife fans.

They call Quebec’s Gaspé Peninsula the “Edge of the Earth,” and in Forillon National Park, you get to tiptoe to the brink. A maze of forests and cliffs that abruptly fall to the sea, the landscapes only play second fiddle to the wildlife—think: moose, bears, seals, and seven species of whales. Snorkel on your own (yes, you can snorkel this far north); grab a guide to go sea kayaking; or scout views of Percé Rock, one of the largest sea arches in the world.

As for all that wildlife, embark on a whale-watching tour or look out for marsh birds on La Taïga trail—an actual taiga landscape—with delicate lichen and endangered ferns. Definitely BYOB (bring your own binoculars).

Related: The Best Places To Go Wildlife Watching Around the World

7. Kootenay National Park, British Columbia

A view of Numa Falls in Kootenay National Park.
Numa Falls in Kootenay National Park, British Columbia.Bildquelle: r.classen / Shutterstock

For more landcapes than you can shake a stick at.

Yet another glorious park hiding in the shadow of Banff, Kootenay National Park sees some 500,000 visitors a year, while being just 90 minutes from its more-crowded sibling. And in terms of landscape diversity, Kootenay might have Banff beat—you’ll venture from arid grasslands to icy mountain rivers to steaming hot springs to glacier-laden cliffs to tumbling waterfalls and back again.

The Banff-Windermere Highway—aka Highway 93 South—winds for 58 miles (93 kilometers) through the park, making it easy to take in Kootenay by car and panoramic viewpoint. But you’ll probably also want to soak in Radium Hot Springs; hike to Stanley Glacier (a 6.8-mile, or 11-kilometer, roundtrip); scope out the rushing Marble Canyon; and picnic around Olive Lake. Wherever you decide to go, one thing is certain—elk, bighorn sheep, bald eagles, wolves, and owls will keep you in good company.

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