Canada Is Offering Free Admission to Its National Parks in 2017—Here’s Where to Stay
The new year marks the 150th celebration of Canadian Confederation, and to commemorate the country’s birthday, Parks Canada is offering free admission in 2017 to all national parks, historic sites, and marine conservation areas in 2017 to both Canadians and travelers alike.
We've rounded up some of Canada’s top lodges near national parks to experience the best of Canada's natural wonders while staying in luxurious accommodations.
Post Hotel & Spa, Banff National Park
Dating back to 1942, Post Hotel & Spa features 60 rooms, 29 suites, and five cabins set on the Bow River Valley in the heart of the Canadian Rockies of Banff National Park.
Nestled amidst a UNESCO World Heritage Site and minutes from Lake Louise, the area is an alpine wilderness haven where bountiful wildlife gather. As a Canadian mecca for skiing and hiking, adventure is never far away, and the Lake Louise Ski Resort is just five minutes from the hotel and under 30 minutes from Moraine Lake. In the cold months, crackling fireplaces create the perfect backdrop to the Relais & Châteaux property’s award winning restaurant and one of Canada’s largest wine cellars, with over 25,000 bottles and more than 2,200 labels.
Île Aux Perroquets Lighthouse, Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve
Set atop an islet in Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve, Île aux Perroquets lighthouse is a not-to-miss experience in maritime Québec. Located in Côte-Nord region along the North shore of the St. Lawrence River, the islet is a nesting ground for Atlantic puffins. The birds swarm the tiny plot of land, their brightly colored beaks shining through sun beams as they circle the air.
During a stay at the lighthouse’s keeper cabins, rest easy in the ambiance of oscillating waves and cultural and natural richness. By day, enlist the expertise of a Parks Canada guide to learn more about the island’s storied history of shipwrecks and remarkable characters, and by night, become enamored with the gulf’s vast coastline while enjoying meals of local and seasonal ingredients.
Tundra Buggy Lodge, Wapusk National Park
Located on the edge of the Arctic, the Tundra Buggy Lodge by Frontier’s North Adventures gains unrivaled access to the wild polar bear population in Cape Churchill and Wapusk National Park.
The lodge is entirely mobile, and offers an immersive experience as the northern lights dance in the sky by night and polar bears pace near the lodge’s windows by day. During October and November, the Tundra Buggy Lodge is located at Polar Bear Point in the Churchill Wildlife Management Area, and in late November, the lodge moves to Cape Churchill in Wapusk National Park, a renowned location for viewing wild polar bears. As the only company granted overnight stays in Wapusk National Park, the Tundra Buggy Lodge receives a maximum of 40 guests per year.
Prince of Wales Hotel, Waterton Lakes National Park
Completed by the American Great Northern Railway in 1927 to entice Americans north of the border during the the Prohibition era, Prince of Wales Hotel is set on the banks of Waterton Lake, where the towering mountains of Waterton Lakes National Park loom in the distance.
Just north of Montana’s Glacier National Park, both areas enjoy picturesque scenery, and during a stay at the property, rest in splendor of Old World charm and wood-beam architecture as the rooms and lobby are both a nod to the park’s nature and history. For an added dose of luxury, book the Prince and Princess Suites, inspired by the actual Prince of Wales, in which the property gets its name.
Hôtel Quintessence, Mont-Tremblant National Park
In the heart of the Laurentian Mountains in southern Québec, Hôtel Quintessence is just 20 minutes from Mont-Tremblant National Park, the largest and oldest park in Québec.
The 30-room, luxury boutique hotel offers a private garden and waterfront retreat on Lake Tremblant. In the winter, the area turns into a haven for adventure sports, as the park’s snow-packed, groomed trails lend to Canada’s best hiking, snowshoeing, dog sledding, and cross-country skiing. In the summer, the park’s six rivers and 400 lakes and streams turn into a canoer’s paradise, encompassing a wilderness so vast that over 40 species thrive here, including the illustrious wolf.
Wya Point Resort, Pacific Rim National Park Reserve
Tucked within the mist-cloaked temperate rainforest of Vancouver Island, Way Point Resort near the hamlet of Ucluelet is just minutes from Pacific Rim National Park, offering a luxurious respite from one of Canada’s most pristine wilderness areas. Often overshadowed by Wickaninnish Inn and Clayoquot Wilderness Resort, this lodge is worth a visit for its wooden craftsmanship alone.
Stay in a cedar lodge or a rustic yurt to gain access to the property’s private beaches and over 600 acres of old-growth forest, an area comprising an old village site of the Ucluelet First Nation. Opt for a private surf lesson, a fishing charter through the salmon-rich waters, or kayak the islands of Barkley Sound, which offer open access to the Pacific Ocean where frequent grey whale sightings occur.
Emerald Lake Lodge, Yoho National Park
Featuring century-old fireplaces and an oak bar salvaged from an 1890’s Yukon saloon, Emerald Lake Lodge is history at its finest. Built on the shore of jade-hued Emerald Lake in the center of British Columbia’s Yoho National Park, the area was first discovered by guide Tom Wilson during construction of the Canadian Pacific Railway.
Accessible year-round, the building is comprised of hand-hewn timber, stone fireplaces, and upper and lower verandas offering unobstructed views of the surrounding mountains. With elegant dining areas, reading rooms, and 24 cabin-style buildings dotting the landscape, this 13-acre peninsula is the perfect base to explore the park’s 28 mountain peaks and natural attractions like Takakkaw Falls, which free falls for nearly 850 feet.
Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge, Jasper National Park
Set within a UNESCO World Heritage Site on the shores of Lac Beauvert in Jasper National Park, Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge is one of Alberta’s finest properties. This 700-acre, year-round mountain getaway features its own golf course and a stunning village of 446 finely-appointed guest rooms, cedar chalets, and luxury cabins marked in pathways effortlessly tucked within the wilds surrounds.
During a stay, visit Miette Hot Springs to take a dip in the hottest thermal pools in Canada, take a picnic to Goat Lookout for panoramic views of the Athabasca Valley, and glacier walk the Athabasca Glacier in the Columbia Icefield. No matter the adventure, spend your evenings around the lodge’s outdoor fire pits sipping warm drinks just as the sun sinks below the mountains.
Hotel Sacacomie, La Mauricie National Park
Located in the Laurentian Mountains between Montreal and Québec City, Hotel Sacacomie is nestled in the heart of the Mastigouche Wildlife Reserve, set under an hour from La Mauricie National Park.
Overlooking the Sacacomie Lake coastline and built in style of a traditional European log cabin, the 109-room property is the perfect base to snowshoe, cross-country ski, and canoe the surrounding area. The property’s restaurant features an outdoor terrace and bar that serves traditional European delicacies and the spa is home to a sauna and hammam spa, the perfect place to recharge after exploring the 40 miles of trail encompassing the property.