The region’s national and provincial parks come in a wide range of personalities and offer an equally eclectic array of activities and facilities, from wilderness backpacking at New Brunswick’s Mount Carleton Provincial Park to lounging in luxury at Cape Breton Highlands’ Keltic Lodge resort.
Atlantic Canada has 9 of Canada’s 45 national parks. Cape Breton Highlands National Park, in Nova Scotia, is one of the most spectacular, but it is also very accessible: ocean panoramas, abundant wildlife, and an extensive network of hiking trails are the highlights. Best known for its wild horses, Sable Island National Park, off the Nova Scotia coast, is much more remote and requires an air charter to access. In the same province, Kejimkujik National Park is the only one not on the ocean, which means visitors trade kayaks for canoes to explore the extensive system of freshwater lakes.
In New Brunswick, Fundy National Park is renowned for the world’s highest tides, while Kouchibouguac National Park fronts the calm waters of Northumberland Strait. The beaches of Prince Edward Island National Park are a popular destination for vacationing families. Newfoundland and Labrador has three parks—Terra Nova, renowned among kayakers; Gros Morne, where spectacular cliffs rise above inland “ponds”; and Torngat Mountains, protecting the remote northern tip of Labrador.
Permits are required for entry into all Canadian national parks. These are sold at park gates, at all park information centers, and at campground fee stations.
Day passes (less than $10 per person) are the best deal for short visits, but if you’re planning to visit a number of parks throughout Atlantic Canada, consider an annual Parks Canada Discovery Pass, good for entry into all of Canada’s national parks and national historic sites for one year from the date of purchase. The cost is adult $67.70, senior $57.90, child $33.30, up to a maximum of $136.40 per vehicle. For more information on Canada’s National Parks, including detailed trip planners and park passes, visit the Parks Canada website.
Protecting areas of natural, historical, and cultural importance, Atlantic Canada’s many hundreds of provincial parks also provide a wide variety of recreational opportunities. All provide day-use facilities such as picnic areas and washrooms, while many also have playgrounds, canoe rentals, and concessions. A good number also have campgrounds and summer interpretive programs.
You’ll find lots of information about provincial parks at local information centers and in general tourism literature. You can also contact the following:
- Nova Scotia: Department of Natural Resources, 902/662-3030, parks.novascotia.ca
- New Brunswick: Department of Tourism and Parks, 506/462-5924, www.tourismnewbrunswick.ca
- Prince Edward Island: Department of Tourism, 902/368-4444, www.tourismpei.com
- Newfoundland and Labrador: Department of Tourism, Culture, Industry and Innovation (TCII), 709/729-2664, www.tcii.gov.nl.ca/parks/