Some very cool accommodations are being tested in select national parks this summer - and Parks Canada wants YOU to help. 


How did this all come about?

Parks Canada is looking to expand services and offerings with the intention of blowing rec users' minds. (Our words, not theirs.)

Jokes aside, they told us, "[We are] always looking to develop services that meet or exceed our visitors’ expectations and we continue to remain at the forefront of high-quality and innovative experiences."

Based on these fairy tale lodgings, I can't wait to see what else they have in store for us. 

The new accommodations no doubt follow the very successful introduction of oTENTiks in 2012, pictured below. This year, they've changed gears to explore ready-to-camp sites to meet the needs of families, urban Canadians and those travelling as couples or parties of two. 

oTENTik Tent, Gros Morne National Park, Western
Credit: Newfoundland & Labrador Tourism

oTENTik Tent, Gros Morne National Park

The initiative hopes to achieve a few things.

First, if the accommodations are well received, we could see Cocoon Tree Beds roll out across the nation. Very cool.

Second, it aims to get more people into the national parks to learn about, and enjoy, Canada's natural wonders and heritage sites. Offering glamping and ready-to-camp sites especially appeals to people who don't have their own camping equipment, want more comfort, prefer to travel light, or are less familiar with the great outdoors. As far as I'm concerned, more people enjoying nature means more advocates for protecting our wild places and environment.

So without further adieu, here are four whacky-wonderful places to sleep in Canada's national parks: 

 

Cocoon Tree Beds

Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia

Parks Canada, Cape Breton Field Unit© Parks Canada

What the heck is a Cocoon Tree bed?

The unique Cocoon Tree Bed is a camping bubble suspended high in the trees above Ingonish Beach in Cape Breton Highlands National Park. It is the first ever of its kind in Canada. 

The bubble-shaped cocoon is made of treated canvas on a steel frame and sways gently in the breeze about 6 metres above the ground, attached to several trees with tight wires. A steep wooden staircase leads to the “front door”. Inside, two hatches serve as open-air windows.

What's it like sleeping in the Cocoon Tree Bed?

Kelly Deveaux, Visitor Experience Manager at Cape Breton Highlands National Park tells us, "For those who have spent the night in the Cocoon Tree Bed, which includes a few Parks Canada employees, the feedback to date is that they really enjoyed it! They said it's similar to the feeling you get when you are laying in a hammock. It’s a gentle motion and they said the entire experience is hard to explain." 

Nearby amenities: The nearest bathrooms are approximately 500 metres down a small hill at the main campground, and there is no electricity or nearby water access. Campfires are permitted at the communal fire pit in nearby Ingonish Beach Campground. Cold-water showers are at close proximity.

Parks Canada, Cape Breton Field Unit© Parks Canada

How many does it sleep? The mattress, which covers the entire floor area, is comfortable and sleeps four people, although we recommend that the Cocoon is best suited to two. Visitors will need to bring their own sleeping bag (or bedding), pillows, as well as cooking equipment. Cooking inside the Coccoon is not allowed.

Cost: $70 per night (2016 promotional pricing for the pilot year)

Availability: Sadly (for the rest of us) the Cocoon Tree Bed is fully booked for the season.  

 

Tiny Homes on Wheels

Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta

Tiny Homes on Wheels Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta© Parks Canada

Location: Townsite Campground sites B34 and B43 (two homes, one is still in development)

What the heck is a Tiny Homes on Wheels? Tiny homes are self-contained homes typically measuring under 400 square feet. While the homes are towable, these two will be stationary to their campsites meaning no need to fuss with hitches and hook-ups.

What's it like sleeping in a Tiny Homes on Wheels? Much like sleeping in a bunkhouse, camper or loft. John Stoesser, Communications Officer of the Waterton Lakes Field Unit says, "We haven't started taking reservations for the Tiny Homes yet, but we have had a lot of interest. Our test camper found it to be a very enjoyable and convenient camping experience."

Tiny Homes on Wheels Waterton Lakes National Park© Parks Canada

Nearby amenities:

The joy of a Tiny Home on Wheels is that amenities are contained within the unit. Inside is a complete kitchen (small refrigerator, two burner stove and dishes) and bathroom (a toilet and shower). Unlike the other accommodations on this list, the Tiny Home is heated. Guests should bring their own bedding, pillows, and toiletries.  

The campground also has hot showers, flush toilets, food storage and kitchen shelters. There are no individual fire pits.

How many does it sleep? Four. There are two lofts accessed by stairs, one with a queen size bed and one with a single. There is additional sleeping space for two people on the floor. (Max total occupancy is four people.)

Cost: $160 per night + $11.60 reservation fee (2016 promotional pricing for the pilot year)

Tiny Homes on Wheels Waterton Lakes National Park© Parks Canada

Availability:

The first Tiny Home on Wheels is nearly ready and the park aims to start taking reservations for it by mid-August. Those interested can call the Visitor Reception Centre for booking information: 403-859-5133. 

The second home is still under development and reservations will be taken once it is ready. 

Alternate glamping in Waterton Lakes National Park: 3 traditional tipis and 2 equipped campsites located at Crandell Mountain Campground 

 

Goutte d’Ô

Fundy National Park, New Brunswick

Goutte d’Ô© Parks Canada - Anne Bardou

Location: Site #21 at Point Wolfe Campground

What the heck is a Goutte d’Ô? It's a whimsical 6m2 cabin in the shape of a water droplet. There is a 'loft area' in the upper portion of the structure for sleeping. 

What's it like sleeping in the Goutte d’Ô? Pascal Haché, Communications Officer in the New Brunswick South Field Unit remarks, "So far, those who have stayed in it the accommodation love it! Visitors really enjoy the practicality of the Goutte d’Ô as it's a unique alternative to conventional tents which make their camping experience very accessible and extra special." Fingers crossed that we'll see more Goutte d’Ôs across Canada.  

Nearby amenities: Washrooms and showers are nearby; picnic table and two chairs are on site. 

How many does it sleep? Couples or a family. Bring bedding, pillows, cooking equipment, and toiletries. Cooking inside the Goutte d’Ô is prohibited and it is not heated.

Goutte d’Ô Fundy National Park© Parks Canada - Anne Bardou

How has Goutte d’Ô been received? Haché says, "The Goutte d’Ô has been extremely well received. We have received tremendous social media buzz about this alternate accommodation and the response so far has been very positive."

Cost: $70 per night (2016 promotional pricing for the pilot year)

Availability: 90% occupancy rate for August. The park expects the final free nights to be reserved before month-end. Spots available for September and October. (Fall in Fundy National Park is a beautiful time to visit!)

Goutte d’Ô Fundy National Park© Parks Canada - Anne Bardou

Alternate glamping in Fundy National Park: 5 yurts (in Headquarters Campground) and 30 oTENTiks in the park; 10 in each of these three campgrounds: Point Wolf, Headquarters and Chignecto.

 

Micro-Cube (coming soon!)

Multiple Locations

Micro-Cube© Parks Canada

Locations: Riding Mountain National Park (Manitoba) and Forillon National Park (Quebec)

What the heck is a Micro-Cube? The Micro-Cube roughly measures 10m2 and offers a unique experience by virtue of a panoramic window that makes up one side of the cube.

Nearby amenities: Washrooms and showers are located nearby. 

How many does it sleep? 2. The Micro-Cube is a contemporary design with a double bed, two chairs and a table. Visitors will need to bring their own cooking equipment and bedding. Cooking is prohibited inside the accommodation and the Micro-Cube is not heated.

Cost: $90 per night (2016 promotional pricing for the pilot year)

Availability: Stay tuned! The Micro-Cubes are expected to be delivered and set up in early August. Keep updated here: Click here 

 

Before you go:

What you should know

 


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