Everybody loves a free workout. I know that when I hear “complimentary yoga class!” I am much less discerning than when I have to cough up twenty bucks. The best cost free Canadian workout can often be found at our stunning provincial and national parks – this also provides an easy opportunity to log those 10,000 steps while soaking up the scientifically proven benefits of being outdoors.
Some of us may be lucky enough to have access to a lake, a canoe and a Tragically Hip playlist (#thecanadiandream), but many of us live in urban centers with shrinking green spaces. We crave trees because we need trees.
The Canadian parks listed below are easy to get to and just plain gorgeous. Cancel your brunch plans and go for an outdoor adventure!
Even the most urban people from Toronto or Ottawa have an Algonquin story. In between the Georgian Bay and the Ottawa River, it’s Canada’s oldest provincial park. It is 7653 square kilometers, or about one and a half times the size of Prince Edward Island! Such vast space is home to abundant wildlife (around 3000 moose and 2000 black bears!). If you run into the latter, walk away slowly, making eye contact. You’re welcome.
Three hours from Edmonton is an oasis of tranquility chalk full of glaciers, lakes and peaks. It is also the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies, with ample biking and hiking trails. There are seven sets of red Adirondack chairs (the ones often associated with cottages) in scenic locations throughout Jasper National Park, set up to enjoy a mountain view. If you find one, take a photo – they’ll upload it to their Facebook page (although no one would fault you for disconnecting).
Easily accessible from both Banff and Calgary, Yoho is named from the Cree words “awe” and “wonder”. Vertical rock walls, glaciers and waterfalls give the name some context, as well as a variety of intriguing wildlife, like the golden-mantled group squirrel, rufous hummingbird and hoary marmot. We just gave you three more things to Google and potentially nickname your enemies.
Just 30 minutes from Charlottetown, this national park is situated along the island’s North Shore. The park has a mandate to protect its many beaches, but human impact has endangered this national park (which includes Green Gables). Sand dunes and salt marshes make this a must-see, especially for those who love being around water. A sunset here will not be forgotten.
Less than two hours from Fredericton, this national park is located on the Bay of Fundy (where else?) The highest tides in the world can be found here, and when you look across the Bay you can see the Nova Scotia coast from your New Brunswick vantage point. At low tide you can see the ocean floor, while at high tide 50 feet of salt water covers every last sea creature. 25 hiking trails are well groomed for your visit.
Take some time this summer to explore the great outdoors and appreciate the beauty that Canada has to offer! While you’re at it, grab a Nature’s Path snack to take with you on the go.