Canada and its national parks are beautiful all year round with things to do and see in every month on the calendar. However, just like friends, ice cream flavors, movies, and outfits – some months are just better than others. This got us thinking, when is the best time to visit Canada’s most beautiful (and busy) national parks?
We took into account the crowds, wildlife, and nature, to figure out which times of year came out on top for each park. Here are the best times of the year to visit 8 of Canada’s incredible national parks – as determined by us.
Glacier National Park, British Columbia
British Columbia’s Glacier National Park is rich in both snowy Alpine views and towering trees of green in the summer – that’s why paying a little bit more for your hotel is totally worth going at the tail end of its peak times. In August, crowds are smaller but not too small – so it’s still lively, it’s warm and sunny but not too warm, days are longer and everything is still in service, meaning you can really get the most out of your trip. For those who prefer scenery over atmosphere, October is also an incredible time to check it out. Although many businesses close after Labour Day, the foliage is bright and colourful, hiking is comfortable and picturesque and accommodation prices drop significantly.
Banff National Park, Alberta
Canada’s largest national park is a freaking vision, however, tourists and locals alike will have really get the most out of their Rocky Mountain Experience in August and February. Though June and July are definitely the warmer months, a trip in early-mid August is a prime time to visit. It’s not as rainy as it is in June, it’s still lively, but not as busy as July – meaning you’ll likely see more wildlife and everything is still open, lush, and green. Alternatively, for those who want to experience the absolute best that the colder months have to offer, we’d recommend going in February. Guests can still skate Lake Louise, go skiing and sightseeing, enjoy a fireplace side meal, and can even catch the annual Ice Magic Festival (which will return in 2022).
Yoho National Park, British Columbia
Like Banff, Yoho National Park is worth visiting the busier months. July might see crowded hiking trails but the trees are full and bright, wildflowers are in bloom, camping is comfortable and warm and the water is refreshing and blue. For those who are looking for something more relaxed and rejuvenated, we’d also recommend visiting the park in October, when everything is just turning yellow and orange. Everything is still open, it’s warm enough to walk around and wildlife is just winding down for a long winter’s nap.
Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ontario
Because its main attraction in the summer months is the incredible beach, late July is probably the best time to visit. The days are long, and the sunsets are unreal, and there is a ton to do – from paddleboarding and fishing to swimming and picnicking. If cold, calm and quiet are more your thing, January is probably the ideal winter month. With fresh snow as far as the eye can see, visitors are encouraged to go ATVing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and stargazing (as long as you’re bundled all the way up).
Jasper National Park, Alberta
Jasper National Park is an unreal day trip, weekend getaway or week-long escape. In March wander the ice caves of Maligne Canyon, without the blistering cold nipping at your fingers, visit the world’s largest dark sky preserve and see thousands upon thousands of stars and go skiing and hiking all without excessive crowds and bustle – because it’s post-holiday peak season! In September, go hiking, see wildlife, and enjoy activities like paddleboarding and swimming without the pre-back to school vacationers! It’s absolute bliss.
Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland
Gros Morne is a true Canadian Treasure and best seen in June and August. Going pre-and-post peak season will ensure that you’ll likely still see ice burgs and a whale or two when you watch the water from the towering cliffs, that you’ll still be warm enough to go hiking or wandering and that you’ll remain safe while doing so.
Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta
Though it’s a lot smaller than Banff, Waterton Lakes National Park gets busier year after year. In order to avoid feeling anxious and congested, we’d recommend going right before it’s peak time in June. The weather is still warm, wildlife spotting is more likely (due to the lack of people) and everything is open, green, and photogenic. Again, alternatively, for those who thrive in the colder months, February is a prime time for similar reasons. Guests can avoid the crowds, while enjoying everything that there is to enjoy in December or January.
La Mauricie National Park, Quebec
La Mauricie is an incredibly beautiful place year-round. Though it is the peak time for the park, we would recommend going in July or August to really get the most out of your trip. The vast wilderness and boreal forest are at their absolute bushiest, brightest and best, it’s warm and there are a million things to do and experience. Sometimes the hype is real, folks.
Riding Mountain National Park, Manitoba
Though July is the best summer month to visit Riding Mountain National Park in the Summer for a number of reasons (camping, swimming, boating and fishing), October is really when we’d advise you to visit. Not only is it far less busy, but bison are incredibly active in the fall. You’ll still be able to enjoy kayaking or canoeing and your chances of seeing the Aurora Borealis dance across the night sky are incredibly high.
So there you have it, friends. The absolute best times of the year to visit 8 of Canada’s incredible national parks. Of course, when and where you visit all depends on your interests or reasons for travel in the first place, so visit at your own discretion. They’re all worth seeing and experiencing all year round, so go ahead and start the engine whenever you feel like the highway is calling. We live in an unbelievably beautiful country, and there really is no ‘bad’ time to explore that.