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)

To celebrate Canada Day, 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 today, Parks Canada announced in a release. 

But if you're not up north for July 1, never fear. As the country ticks off the days until its 150th anniversary year, it's throwing out some curve balls that might help expand people's knowledge about the northerly country beyond hockey, maple syrup and Poutine—and will be celebrating Canada's national parks all year by making them free to the public in 2017.

In characteristically low-key Canadian fashion, the detail was tucked inside a public ministerial mandate letter. The 11th bullet point in Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s note to his new minister of environment and climate change, Catherine McKenna, anticlimactically broke the exciting news back in January, the CBC News reports. In the letter, Trudeau calls on McKenna to make admission to Canada's national parks free of charge in 2017 and ensure that kids under 18 and new citizens receive free admission starting in 2018.

Translation: There's never been a better time to brush up on "O Canada." Everything under Parks Canada's domain will be waiving its entrance fees next year to showcase some of the best of Canada’s geography and history. 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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