Visit Canada’s Jaw-Dropping National Parks for Free

In honor of Canada’s sesquicentennial anniversary, explore its spectacular parks gratis

Cap-Bon-Ami at Dawn Forillon National Park Quebec, Canada (Dale Wilson/Masterfile/Corbis)
smithsonian.com

To celebrate Canada's 150th birthday, the country is putting a spotlight on its natural beauty—all 46 national parks, 168 national historic sites, four national marine conservation areas, one national urban park and eight historic canals will be free to the public through the end of the 2017. Kids under 18 and new Canadian citizens will also be receive free admission on an ongoing basis starting in 2018.

This means there's never been a better time to brush up on "O Canada" and head outdoors. Rather than just daydream about the vivid flora, towering mountains and furry animal life you might encounter on your free 2017 adventures, take a moment to learn about some of Canada's most breathtaking parks:

Banff National Park

Banff National Park is Canada's oldest. Nestled in the Canadian Rockies, it was founded after three railway miners happened upon a cave containing a warm mineral spring on the sleeve of present-day Sulphur Mountain in 1883. 

Following ownership disputes, it became a modest 26-square kilometer hot springs reserve in 1885. Now, the park sprawls along 6,641 square kilometers of land, showcasing snow-capped mountain peaks, glaciers and meadows. You can still check out the exact cave that is considered to be the birthplace of the National Park system, now called the Cave and Basin National Historic Site, or just take in its jaw-dropping views.

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