Cape Breton Highlands National Park
Cape Breton Highlands National Park
Planning a trip for the upcoming long weekend? There’s no better time to explore one of Canada’s astounding national parks than on July 1st, and not just because it’s our nation’s birthday. On Canada day, visitors enjoy free admission into any of the country’s national parks. Not only this, but along with the natural attractions you'll find at these destinations, many of the parks are also hosting special events in celebration of Canada’s big day. Here’s a list of just a few you may want to check out:

Terra Nova National Park, Newfoundland: Just as rugged as Newfoundland's other national park, Gros Morne, this long, cliff-lined area along the North Atlantic will be celebrating Canada Day carnival-style. Beginning at 10 a.m. there will be races, games, and even a few surprises. Cap off your day—whether its filled with carnival games or sea kayaking—with a cake-cutting ceremony and prize-draw. More info: Terra Nova National Park

Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia: While many visitors never leave the pavement of the famous Cabot Trail, you'll certainly need to in order to enjoy some of the special activities being hosted in the park for Canada Day. For the national park's coinciding 35th anniversary, there will be the opening of the Festival de l'Escaouette, a two-month celebration of Cheticamp's rich culture through music, theatre and dance. Cake, music and games will also be found on the Igonish Beach Day Use Area from 8 a.m. to dusk. More info: Cape Breton Highlands National Park

Prince Edward Island National Park, Prince Edward Island: In Prince Edward Island, not only will they be celebrating Canada's birthday, but also the new launch of a new program for kids, known as The Xplorers program, a series of guided trips that will lead children (and their families) to exciting new discoveries. And there are lots of discoveries to be made in this national park, with tons of wildlife, sand dunes—and for beach lovers—some of the best sand in the East, complete with the warmest ocean waters in Canada. More info: Prince Edward Island National Park

Pukaskwa National Park, Ontario: While the rugged wilderness and shoreline of this park may make you feel as if you're somewhere more exotic than central Canada, the activities held on July 1st will certainly reflect our country. Along with Lake Superior's beautiful freshwater coastline, this weekend at Pukaskwa, you'll also find children's activities, guided hikes, a barbecue and cake, a flag ceremony, and First Nations cultural programs, including the official kick-off of the Anishinaabe Camp tour, which allows you to experience Ojibway culture first hand. More info: Pukaskwa National Park

Jasper National Park, Alberta: With more than 1,300 kilometres of hiking trails and double the wilderness of the much-loved Banff National Park, it doesn't take much convincing to head to Jasper. What about when park admission is free, and there's a bunch of additional festivities like a pancake breakfast, giant birthday cake, parade, barbecue, beer gardens, and fireworks against a backdrop of mountains? Say no more. More info: Jasper National Park

Kootenay National Park, British Columbia: While Kootenay National Park's great wilderness hikes, monster hot-springs pool and whitewater can sometimes be overshadowed by the country's other mountain parks, the events being held for Canada Day are sure to bring the location more of that much-deserved attention. On July 1st, Kootenay will be hosting evening theatre shows, free giveaways and a scavenger hunt for the kids, all free of charge. More info: Kootenay National Park

Kluane National Park, Yukon: This park's eastern side offers some of Canada's best hiking routes and its icy interior holds the country's highest mountains. But even if you're not a serious climber—as many attracted to the park are—this Canada day, Kluane offers even more beyond the scenic glaciers and top-of-the line trails. With free access, the park is also celebrating Canada Day with a special parade that includes a Parks Canada float. More info: Kluane National Park

Not near any of these great destinations? To find out more about events taking place at Canada's national parks and other national historic sites across the country, visit Parks Canada's website.