Visit Canada’s National Parks for FREE in 2017
O Canada, you are a beauty! Our northern neighbor really has some of the most incredible and pristine scenery. There are many reasons Lonely Planet recently named it the best travel destination for 2017. While most of our family’s Canadian visits have been limited to several Whistler winter trips and discovering cities like Vancouver, Toronto and Ottawa, exploring its many parks has been on our travel wish list for a while now. We hope 2017 is the year we’ll go! Canada is celebrating its 150th birthday on July 1, 2017. Its park service is also celebrating their 100th birthday. So, they decided to give the world a gift by offering everyone a FREE Parks Canada 2017 Discovery Pass.
This pass includes free admission all year to 47 national parks and national park reserves and 171 historic sites and marine conservation areas operated by Parks Canada. It’s a great incentive to add Canada to a road trip or travel wish list in 2017. The strength of the U.S. dollar in Canada is an added bonus to get more for your buck.
The pass is good for everyone arriving in the same car. This pass usually costs about $136 for a family so there are some major savings. However, visitors still need to pay for guided tours and programs, parking, mooring, overnight back country uses or camping costs at some parks and sites.
How to Get your FREE Parks Canada Pass
Place your online order at the Parks Canada website. There is unlimited availability. More than one pass can be ordered per transaction and no credit card information is necessary. All passes are mailed free all over the world. I signed up to get our pass as motivation to make it to at least one park. The process was quick and easy. Discovery Passes are also available at Parks Canada tourist office locations near some sites.
Note: After you order your pass online, the website notes that you should receive your order within 6 weeks so best to just do it now so you’re ready to go for spring break or summer travel!
Tips for Visiting Canada National Parks
- Plan ahead. Parks Canada has trip planning tools to help with itineraries as well as more travel tips and ideas. This is a great resource to start.
- Reserve your stay in advance if staying in accommodations within parks.
- The Discovery Pass must still be displayed in cars after park entry. They need to be hung on rear view mirrors facing forward or facing up at the driver’s dashboard.
- As expected, some of the popular parks will be more crowded and busy than usual in 2017. Parks Canada is asking tourists to consider visiting outside of the peak times of summer and holiday periods. Many of the parks and sites are open all year and offer plenty of unique and interesting activities for everyone. Snowshoeing, skiing and dipping in hot springs, even in the middle of a Canadian winter, are quite popular activities.
- Consider combining park visits with city breaks. We would love to visit Calgary when we finally make it to Banff and Jasper. La Mauricie National Park is within a couple of hours drive from Montreal and Georgian Bay Islands National Park, which is the world’s largest freshwater archipelago, is also easily accessible from Toronto.
3 Ideas for Canada National Parks to Visit
Don’t know which park to explore first? These are the top three parks on our bucket list. Maybe, one will inspire you to visit.
Banff National Park in Alberta
Canada’s first National Park is also world famous for its stunning scenery of snow-capped mountains, verdant forests, and turquoise lakes. Banff National Park offers that postcard-perfect scene of the Canadian Rockies many of us are familiar with. Lake Louise has been calling me to visit for years.
Fundy National Park in New Brunswick
I have wanted to witness the phenomenon of the world’s highest tides at the Bay of Fundy after seeing them on travel show specials. High and low tide difference can go up to 39 feet (12 m) in this unique bay. This dramatic difference can be seen twice daily. Low tide reveals a wide area of exposed ocean floor wonder. The park also has various scenic trails along the coast and inland.
>>Nearby hotel: Hampton Inn & Suites by Hilton Moncton
Prince Edward Island National Park in Prince Edward Island province
If you’re a fan of the classic Anne of Green Gables children’s books, Prince Edward Island National Park is a must-visit since it was used as a backdrop throughout the stories. Tours are available of Green Gables Heritage Place. This park is also family-friendly with beaches, hiking trails and sand dunes.
You may also enjoy:
- 5 Great Reasons to Visit Canada Year-Round
- Best Things to do in Quebec City in 3 Days
- 7 Ways to Enjoy Winter in Montreal with Your Family
- 5 Things to Do in Niagara Falls, Canada on a Multigenerational Trip
- Research all of our Hilton Hotels in Canada
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Mary lives in San Diego, California with her husband, 13 year-old daughter and 10 year-old son. She was born in the Philippines, grew up in the U.S. territory…