10 One-of-a-kind Canadian park experiences to book now for the summer
Beautiful accommodations and unique adventures await
Provincial and national parks offer a great and relatively affordable way to experience Canada's varied and vast landscapes, and attendance numbers for popular parks have been steadily rising. Parks Canada counted almost 17 million annual visitors to national parks in 2017-18, a 9% rise from the previous year.
It might feel early to be thinking about your summer plans, but in fact, provincial parks generally take camping and roofed accommodation reservations many months in advance; Parks Canada opened bookings in January for stays between April 2019 to March 2020, with the most popular sites booking up within days.
To get you started, here are 10 unique ideas for your summer travel bucket list — as long as you reserve as far ahead as possible.
Sleep in a droplet at Terra Nova National Park
These fairly new, fabulous-looking Ôasis pods are shaped like water droplets and include a sofa bed and a hammock loft inside. The pods at Terra Nova National Park in Newfoundland are suspended in the air, while the ones at Fundy National Park are placed on a platform closer to the ground.
Rent a MicrOcube in Riding Mountain National Park
A brand new type of accommodation, the MicrOcube is one of Parks Canada's newest glamping offerings. The compact, modern units can fit two adults and include a panoramic window and a double bed, making it the ideal home base from which to explore the Manitoba Escarpment, for example, in style.
Camp, then spa at Liard River Hot Springs Provincial Park
One of the largest natural hot springs in Canada is located at this remote British Columbia provincial park, which also offers campsite reservations. The Alpha pool, open to the public year-round, features water temps ranging from 42°C to 52°C.
Stay in a beachfront cabin at Neys Provincial Park
At the new Trapp cabin at Ontario's Neys Provincial Park, you'll stay along the shore of Lake Superior and enjoy a beachfront view and a memory foam mattress. There's even a campfire pit on the beach if you're in the mood for s'mores under the stars.
Have a lobster boil at Cape Breton Highlands National Park
What could be better than fresh lobster and music on the beach? Offered at Cape Breton Highlands National Park, this unique experience is a great way to cap off a scenic road trip along Nova Scotia's famous Cabot Trail.
Search for fossils at Dinosaur Provincial Park
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Alberta's Dinosaur Provincial Park is a one-of-a-kind destination. Not only is tent camping available at the park, but you can book guided hikes and even hands-on opportunities to experience a real palaeontological excavation.
Go oTENTik glamping at Grasslands National Park
There are several different types of accommodations at Saskatchewan's Grasslands National Park, but the oTENTik option is probably the most comfortable, offering mattresses, furniture and electricity inside. Plus, there's a special, hand-on fossil dig that you can participate in if you're there August 14–18 this year.
Learn about Mi'kmaw ceremonial dances at Kouchibouguac National Park
At this national park in New Brunswick, you can learn about Mi'kmaw ceremonial dances, crafts and more each week. The 238 kilometre square parkland also encompasses salt marshes, peat bogs, freshwater systems, Acadian woodland and sandy beaches for you to explore.
Do maritime research at Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site
At this national park and historic site in Nova Scotia, you can do everything from crabbing in a secluded lagoon to birding and geocaching. Plus, you can camp or stay in a yurt, oTENTik or rustic cabin in the park.
Enjoy a modernist escape at Mont-Orford National Park
A number of new, ultra-modern cabins and accommodation options are available at Sépaq's national parks in Quebec. The EXP. cabin can be booked year-round for two, and offers everything from hot water to a fridge.
Truc Nguyen is a Toronto-based writer, editor and stylist. Follow her at @trucnguyen.