Have you taken advantage of Parks Canada's Discovery Pass this year?
To celebrate Canada's 150th—the federal agency is offering FREE admission to all national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas throughout 2017. (Plus, free seasonal lockage too, on national historic waterways.)
We're continuing our look at some of the BEST ways to experience our parks and historic sites—with Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba's amazing Parks Canada sites:
Jasper National Park’s Three Best Hikes
Skyline Trail: The classic three-day, 44-kilometre backpack trip from Maligne Lake to Jasper is almost entirely above treeline and climbs over six passes. (PICTURED ABOVE)
Wilcox Pass: The trail quickly climbs to nonstop views of the ice- and snow-covered mountains around the Columbia Icefields.
Sulphur Skyline: It’s a grunt, gaining 700 metres in four kilometres as it climbs onto a ridgeline, but it ends at Miette Hot Springs.
Don’t Miss in Banff National Park
Make like a local and wash off a day-hike’s sweat at Johnson Lake, the only body of water in the park that warms up beyond ice-cream-headache.
For a good and quick lunch, pop into Barpa Bills in downtown Banff and order a chicken souvlaki.
Hike to Dolomite Pass. The scenic bang-for-quad-burning-buck can’t be beat and if you’ve got energy leftover, continue up Cirque Peak to a sea-of-mountains view.
If you’ve got Class II whitewater skills, rent a canoe and shuttle a section of the Bow River right above Banff. The rapids are mostly easy riffles and the scenery is spectacular.
Do yourself a favour and head out on a dawn-patrol at Sentinel Pass. You’ll score a precious parking spot, skip the shuttle bus and avoid the crowds on one of the most spectacular hikes in the park.
Parks Origin in the Dark
Join a guide, pick up a lantern and learn about the genesis of Banff National Park and the national park system on a night tour of the Cave and Basin National Historic Site. Register ahead of time for the 25-minute tour by calling 403.845.3524.
The Rockies’ Best Day Hike
There are many contenders, but it’s hard to beat the 20-kilometre Carthew-Alderson Trail in Waterton Lakes National Park. It climbs high, stays there with epic views and there’s a shuttle bus, making this one-way hike a breeze.
Parks Canada/Kevin Hogarth
Ghosts of Battleford Past
They say Saskatchewan’s Fort Battleford National Historic Site is haunted. Check it out for yourself on regular nighttime tours at the restored fort. (PICTURED ABOVE)
Pilgrimage for Grey Owl
The national parks’ first naturalist, Grey Owl, worked in Prince Albert (Saskatchewan) and Riding Mountain (Manitoba) national parks, helping to create the modern conservation ethics that rule the protected places to this day. The cabins where he lived and worked remain standing.
In Prince Albert National Park, the cabin is more remote. Either canoe or backpack about 20 kilometres to reach the cabin on Ajawaan Lake.
Pilgrimage for Grey Owl (2.0)
In Riding Mountain National Park, it’s a solid day-hike or spunky mountain bike ride, 17 kilometres round-trip, to Grey Owl's cabin on Beaver Lodge Lake.
Best Riding in Riding Mountain
Bring out the big tires and big ring and head to the J.E.T. Trail in Riding Mountain National Park. Either bomb the exposed ridgeline, taking in the prairie views, or loop out onto spur trails. (PICTURED ABOVE)
On the five-day Adventure at the Edge of the Arctic, a guided tour running July 18 to 23, you’ll learn about Wapusk National Park’s fur trade history and wild coast and maybe see a polar bear. The group trip shuttles between Churchill, Prince of Wales and York Factory on scenic flights and overnights in rustic but comfortable accommodations at each location.
Paddle the Owl
Because of the abundance of polar bears, Wapusk National Park restricts activities to guided groups. The exception is a canoe trip down the Owl River. During the narrow window between when the river becomes ice free and the ice melts on the bay, parties can run from the Herchmer Rail Station about 168 kilometres outside the park to within five kilometres of the coast.
These experiences are just the start.
Discover 150 MORE amazing outdoor adventures in our brand-new, totally free e-book: CANADA'S 150 MOST AMAZING OUTDOOR ADVENTURES.