National Parks in Western Canada
Wednesday, June 11, 2014
Parks Canada currently administers 37 national parks across the country. The aims are to safeguard the country's indigenous fauna and flora and to allow Canadians and tourists the pleasure of experiencing nature.
- Banff is an hour and a half's drive west of Calgary. It is a 6,641 km2 paradise of forests, mountains, lakes, ice fields and glaciers. Drive the Icefields parkway, stand on a glacier and view the wonder that is Peyto Lake. Photograph Moraine Lake and walk the Consolation Lakes trail. Hike up the Parker Ridge Trail. Stay at the Johnson Canyon campground or the resort and walk along the canyon. Take the gondola up Sulphur Mountain and visit its hot springs.
- At 10,878 square kilometres, Jasper is the largest national park in the Rockies. It offers endless backcountry hiking among the grizzly bears, moose, caribou and wolves. Drive the Columbia Ice Fields. Visit the caves in Maligne Valley and sail on, or fish in, Maligne Lake. Walk the famous Skyline Trail and climb Mount Edith Cavell. Take the Jasper SkyTram to an elevation of 2277 metres. See the wild Athabasca Falls.
- Elk Island is less than an hour's drive from Edmonton. It is known for hiking, wildlife and bird viewing, cross-country skiing, picnicking, camping, golfing and non-motorized boating on Astotin Lake.
- Waterton Lakes is a world heritage site. There are some amazing hikes, such as the Crypt Lake Trail and Carthew - Alderson Trail; some waterfalls, many lakes and beautiful untouched spaces with animals and rare plants.
- Wood Buffalo is Canada's largest national park, a world heritage site that protects especially rare free-roaming bison, Whooping Crane, Peregrine Falcon and the world’s largest beaver dam. Visitors either fly from Edmonton or take the Mackenzie Highway from Northern Alberta, and then HWY 5 near Hay River, Northwest Territories. The Slave, Peace and Athabasca Rivers flow through the park, but most of it is backcountry hikers' territory. A car allows for some exploration.
- Kootenay is located on the south-western Rockies in south-eastern British Columbia. Bathe in the Hot Springs, picnic at Olive Lake, climb to the Neil Colgan Hut, walk to and camp at Floe Lake, visit Marble Canyon, Tokumm Creek and Numa Falls.
- Yoho is located just over 200 kilometres from Calgary on Highway 1. Its main attractions are Takakkaw Falls, Emerald Lake, Natural Bridge, Burgess Shale and Spiral Tunnels.
- Glacier in the Columbia Mountains is popular with mountaineers, and has a total of 131 glaciers. There are three camp grounds and several rivers for water sport.
- Mount Revelstoke, located in the Selkirk Mountains, is all beautiful rain forests and mountains. Tour the Meadows-in-the-Sky Parkway, Giant Cedars Boardwalk and the Skunk Cabbage Boardwalk.
- As large as Jasper, two-thirds of Ivvavik is dominated by The British Mountains. It is in Northern Yukon and borders Alaska. Most visitors arrive by charter aircraft, and it is popular with backcountry hikers who can hike in daylight for almost 24 hours during the summer. The Firth River is mostly known for white water rafting, but it is also the route whereby visitors explore this untouched natural wilderness with its arctic fauna and flora. There are no facilities and accommodation inside the park.
- Vuntut borders Ivvavik, and it is likewise an undisturbed pristine wilderness with a huge animal population. Most visitors fly to Old Crow from where they tackle the remaining distance by boat or by charted plane. There are no facilities inside the park, but some of Old Crow's residents offer tours.