Free entry to all Canadian national parks

By | Category: Travel destinations
overhanging cliff

overganging point in Bruce Peninsula National Park © Parks Canada/ PB Collection

This year, Canada celebrates its 150th anniversary. There will be a variety of souvenirs that visitors can buy; any number of events celebrating the anniversary they can attend and acres of information about what Canada can offer the tourist.

But unlike many destinations celebrating anniversaries, Canada has done something tangible for the visitor. Parks Canada, the authority which looks after the 334 provincial parks and six national ones is offering free entry with a Discovery Pass.

Usually this pass will cost C$140 for a family which is about £85. You can get it for nothing and you can even visit all 340 parks if you had the time and could manage it in just one year! In addition you also get free entry into National Historic Sites and National Marine Conservation Areas.

Taking the province of Ontario as an example, daily entry to parks and sites there varies from$5 up to over $20 depending on the site. E.g. Bruce Peninsula is $11.70, Point Pelee is $7.80.

About 10% of Ontario is covered by national parks and the province is home to the oldest of them all, Algonquin. Just because it is three hours away from Toronto, don’t think that you need a car to get there. There is a regular bus service -subtly called Parkbus – which will take you from both Toronto and the Canadian capital, Ottawa, on certain dates of the year.  And when you get there not only is their lakes and forests to see but you might also spot black bears, moose and deer, and enjoy activities such as canoeing, hiking, biking and camping.

Another Parkbus service will take you to the Bruce Peninsula National Park, one of the biggest parks in southern Ontario and therefore also accessible from Toronto. If you really to show your prowess, you can walk the Bruce Trail here, which stretches for over 560 miles.

But if you are holidaying in Toronto and you haven’t a lot of times on hand you can just stay in the city and visit an urban park. Rouge Park is set to become Canada’s first national urban park, and one of the largest urban parks in the world. How many parks offer both beaches and farms?

If you do have more time, a visit to the Petroglyphs Provincial Park is worth a stop. With more than 900 native rock carvings dating back 500-1000 years, it has more First Nation rock carvings than anywhere else in Canada. These petroglyphs depict birds, snakes, turtles and humans and the key sacred site is known as “The Teaching Rocks”.

With your Discovery Pass you will be able to see a lot that will cost you at any other time. Now if other destinations celebrating anniversaries copied this generous Canadian offer there would be a lot more grateful visitors and lot more word of mouth recommendations.

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