As summer stretches out before you, the inevitable question always descends: what are you going to do this summer? Travel comes up a lot, of course. With glitzy resorts and theme parks springing up around the world, it’s sometimes easy to overlook the simpler, closer-to-home appeal of camping in the woods. If nothing else, there’s no need to get all your shots up to date, and that’s reason enough alone to give it a try. While interest in camping has declined since decades ago, in some provinces — most notably Ontario and Quebec – city dwellers are getting back into nature as provincial parks step up their games in a search to create engaging camping experiences.
Looking farther afield for exotic experiences? In the summertime, Canada is bursting with all kinds of possibilities for camping trips that can take you into distant worlds without ever having to cross the border.
1. Pacific Rim National Park Reserve, BC
You won’t find any sea monsters or robots here, but you will find a unique world where forest meets the sea. Towering stands of pine trees slope along rocky coasts down to the sea; this unique ecosystem attracts many species of rare and unique animals. Encompassing numerous features such as beaches, trails, and waterfalls. Water-lovers will enjoy kayaking along the Broken Group Islands, an archipelago of more than 100 landmasses. These island form vital parts of Canada’s west coast aquatic ecosystem: not only do these rocky lands provide development-free refuges for animals, but they attract a host of aquatic creatures, including friendly whales and seals.
2. Peter Lougheed Provincial Park, Alberta
Alberta doesn’t get enough credit. Sure, most people remember it mostly as Canada’s own version of Texas – right down to the oil fields and groundswell support for our country’s conservative movements – but Alberta sports a host of natural wonders and parks waiting to be explored. Peter Lougheed stays open year round, offering hiking trips in the summer up the slopes of the mountains that frame the Kananaskis Lake. When winter rolls around, return for a winter full of skiing and snowshoeing.
3. Grasslands, Saskatchewan
Do you like grass? I hope you do. Grasslands National park is notable for being the only park in Canada to be located right in the middle of Saskatchewan’s vast, flat prairie. Don’t think that this is just a trip to your backyard lawn, though: the park offers many authentic prairie sights and sounds, including eco-tours and the opportunity to hunt for fossils in an adjacent property.
4. Pinery Provincial Park, Ontario
The Pinery Forest is a land out of time. It’s one of the last remaining stands of “oak savannah” in Canada, a unique ecosystem defined by a mixture of dry upland forest and grassland. Sporting a diverse array of landscapes – rolling hills, hiking trails, a river, and even sand dunes — Pinery offers something for everyone, augmented with community events and close access to the charming tourist town of Grand Bend.
5. St. Martins Sea Caves, New Brunswick
Enjoy spelunking and the seaside? Satisfy the explorer and the vacationer in you with a visit to St. Martins. A beautiful town that emphasizes the East Coast aesthetic – from lighthouses to covered bridges – St. Martins is the only town in the world where you can photograph both architectural features in a single shot. The East Coast seaside park sports an extensive network of cliffside caverns for the explorers, and beautiful beaches for the more laid back.