Canada is one of the largest countries in the world and is part of North America. For anyone looking to visit one or many, we have come up with 10 Great Motorcycle Rides in Canada’s National Parks for all to enjoy,
How many National Parks in Canada are there?
The country stretches from the U.S. in the south to the Arctic Circle in the north.
It is bordered by three oceans, the Arctic, the Pacific and the Atlantic.
Because of Canada’s location north of the 49th parallel and the lack of population in relation to its size it is no wonder Canada has created no less than 46 National Parks.
So much to see & do in Canada’s National Parks
The National Parks of Canada is protected natural spaces throughout the country that represent distinct geographical regions of the nation.
Within Parks Canada’s administration is a wide range of protected areas, encompassing National Historic Sites, National Marine Conservation Areas and National Park Reserves.
It is within these boundaries we find some of the best motorcycle rides anywhere in the world.
Canada’s 150 discovery Pass
This initiative put forth by the federal government allows motorcyclists to travel free of charge through any of Canada’s national parks through Dec 31, 2017.
If riding your motorcycle through high mountain peaks or scraping the boards on roads next to coastal waters, the national parks of Canada may just be for you.
Canada is celebrating its 150th Birthday as a country in 2017 and the celebration has started in advance of the annual Canada Day Celebration on July 1st.
10 Great Motorcycle Rides in Canada’s National Parks
in no particular order
- BANFF NATIONAL PARK-ALBERTA
- Banff National Park is Canada’s oldest national park The park is located 120km west of Calgary, Alberta in the heart of the rocky mountains. The mountainous terrain, with numerous glaciers, ice fields , dense forest, turquoise glacial lakes and alpine landscapes will leave you a memory that will not be forgotten.
Be sure to end your day of riding at the Banff Mineral hot springs where you bask among the peaks, smells and open air of the Rockies. The Park has a sub arctic climate with the recommended riding season between May and October. There are many animal species to be aware of while riding in Banff National Park. These include; grizzly bear, wolverine, elk. Bighorn sheep and moose.
The Icefields Parkway (highway 93) extends from Lake Louise to Jasper and should not be missed. Two other notable roads within the park are the 1A highway from Banff to Lake Louise and the short run up to the Mount Norquay look out which offers an incredible view of Banff and the surrounding area.
- CAPE BRETON HIGHLANDS NATIONAL PARK – NOVA SCOTIA
- Cape Breton Highlands National Park is located on northern Cape Breton Island in the province of Nova Scotia. It is one of Canada’s most enchanting places, known where the mountains meet the sea.
As a motorcyclist, you will find one of the world’s nicest rides as the well-documented and well-travelled Cabot Trail passes through about one third of the park. You will find yourself hugging the world-famous Cabot Trail coastline as you wind through the Cape Breton Highlands, where lush, forested river canyons carve into the ancient plateau, edged by rust-coloured cliffs.
Looking past your windshield keep your eyes open for moose and bald eagles or even a mink or pilot whale breaking waves in the distance in the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Be sure to stop in one of the small villages that dot your way to the park and get served some amazing seafood and great local hospitality. There has been much debate regarding the best route around the Cabot Trail as you head for the highlands national park. Let us recommend taking an extra day and do it both ways, clockwise and counter-clockwise. You will be rewarded.
- GLACIER NATIONAL PARK -BRITISH COLUMBIA
- Glacier National Park is located in British Columbia between the towns of Golden and Revelstoke. It was Established in 1886 and encompasses 1,349 km2 (521 sq. mi). The park also contains the Rogers Pass National Historic site. The parks centre is almost split by the Trans Canada Highway and the Canadian Pacific Railway.
Although this ride travels on the somewhat busy Trans Canada highway it should not be missed. The park contains high peaks, large, active glaciers, and one of Canada’s largest cave systems. Its dense forests support populations of large mammals, birds, and alpine species. During the winter this region is noted for its heavy snowfall. The park has an extensive network of trails, three campgrounds, and four backcountry huts and cabins. With exceptional alpine scenery and deep valleys filled with ancient forests, Glacier National Park is a motorcyclist’s summer dream.
Take a little break from your riding day and scale its heights following trails pioneered by legendary Swiss mountain guides. You may want to take a gentle stroll amid moss-draped old-growth cedars or hike through alpine meadows. After a day’s exploring, sink into an armchair before a roaring fire and steep yourself in the history of Rogers Pass. Awake in the morning, refreshed and prepare yourself for another great days ride through the rocky mountains.
- GROS MORNE NATIONAL PARK – NEWFOUNDLAND
- Gros Morne National Park is located on the west coast of Newfoundland; Canada’s most easterly province. It is a UNESCO world heritage site and the second largest National Park in Atlantic Canada. It may take a ferry to get you and your motorcycle to Newfoundland but the short trip across the open waters will be well worth the wait and should not be missed.
This incredible park takes its name from Newfoundland’s second-highest mountain peak and in French its meaning is “large mountain standing alone,” The ride on highway 340’s relatively new pavement will have you smiling inside your helmet as the anticipation to the park will have you stepping on the throttle as you ride through the beautiful mountain range that runs up the western coast. The park provides a rare example of the process of continental drift, where deep ocean crust and the rocks of the earth’s mantle lie exposed.”
Soaring fjords and moody mountains tower above a diverse panorama of beaches, bogs, forests and barren cliffs. You will find yourself parking your motorcycle as you wander coastal pathways and beachcomb among sea stacks. Cruise the dramatic, sheer-walled gorge of Western Brook Pond. Spot moose and caribou. Hike to alpine highlands where Arctic hare and ptarmigan thrive on tundra, and explore the colourful culture of nearby seaside communities. The small village of Rocky Harbour will offer you a good base to spend a few days exploring the park. Enjoy it we sure did.
- JASPER NATIONAL PARK -ALBERTA
- Jasper National Park is located on the western edge of Alberta and is the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies. The amazingly scenic motorcycle ride on highway 93 is one of the most stimulating visual rides on can do on a motorcycle.
The park has many glaciers including the Columbia Icefield; which you can actually park your motorcycle at its base and walk up and touch the ice, which is millions of years old. There are also many lakes, waterfalls and hot springs that you may want to visit along the way. There is other numerous outdoor activities including, hiking, fishing, rafting, kayaking and of course camping.
Highway 93 or the Icefields park way runs from Banff National Park and Lake Louise to the south to Jasper, which is approx. 230km. There is gas if needed at about the halfway point. It is pricey, but well worth it. Have your camera ready and take your time on this road as the traffic and wildlife may slow you down.
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- KOOTENAY NATIONAL PARK -BRITISH COLUMBIA
- Kootenay National Park is located in southeastern British Columbia. The park ranges in elevation from 3,012 ft. at the southwestern park entrance to a staggering 11,234 ft. at Delta form mountain. The park actually forms one of the four contiguous mountain parks in the Canadian Rockies; the other three being Banff, Yoho and Jasper.
Highway 93 extends just off of the TransCanada Highway 1 heading south. You will quickly rise in elevation as you enter the park and realize the amount of snow the winter brings. At anytime of the year snow capped peaks are in abundance. The park is only 5 miles wide on either side of the highway, which makes for easy hikes or attractions close to the road.
There are many places to stop along the way including Marble Canyon, Hector Giorge, and Numa falls, Sinclair Caynon as well as the Kootenany and Vermillion rivers. Due to the elevation changes and longer winter frost there does seem to be abundant frost heaves in the road. Take your time on your motorcycle, enjoy the scenery, the wildlife and after your days end, be sure to park your ride and have a soak in the Radium Hot springs mineral pool, This is biking.
- PACIFIC RIM NATIONAL PARK – BRITISH COLUMBIA
- Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is located on the western coast of British Columbia’s Vancouver Island. The park is comprised of three separate regions: Long Beach, the Broken Group Islands, and the West Coast Trail, which while not a ride, is an excellent hike.
Half the fun of getting to this park is riding your motorcycle along the incredibly beautiful highway 4 with the terminus of the TransCanada highway system ending in the town of Tofino. The park It is characterized by rugged coasts and lush rainforests. The reserve is open from mid-March until mid-October, which is best, suited to motorcycle travel.
Enjoy a summer stroll along an endless sandy beach, rent a kayak and prepare to step out of it to be greeted by a First Nation Beach Keeper, or hear ancient legends told around the campfire by Guardians of the West Coast Trail. Pacific Rim National Park Reserve offers a West Coast experience steeped in nature, history and will entice you to ride back and visit her again.
- POINT PELEE NATIONAL PARK – ONTARIO
- Point Pelee National Park is located in southwestern Ontario where it extends into Lake Erie. Point Pelee is the southernmost point in mainland Canada. The park consists of a peninsula of land, mainly of marsh and woodland habitats, which tapers to a sharp point as it extends into the lake and is located on a foundation of glacial sand, silt and gravel.
One would not think this would be a great place to ride and in all reality it is not. The draw here at the park is the beautiful beaches and the thought of looking over the Lake and seeing our neighbours to the south. It is..a destination. This spit of land is slightly more than 4 miles long and 2.5 miles wide at its northern base. Point Pelee was the first national park in Canada to be established for conservation.
At the southernmost point of the Canadian mainland – Point Pelee National Park, experience nature like never before. Each spring, view flocks of migratory birds, joined in autumn by waves of vivid Monarch butterflies. In winter, wander snowy trails past ice-cloaked trees and in summer, bask on sandy beaches. Whether you ride , paddle or hike Canada’s smallest but most ecologically diverse national park, you’ll be immersed in an unforgettable eco-adventure.
- PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND NATIONAL PARK – PRINCE EDWARD ISLAND
- Prince Edward Island National Park is located in the Maritimes and follows the north shore of the smallest province in Canada, Prince Edward Island. Don’t let the small area detour you from riding on the island and the park for that matter.
Riding your motorcycle almost guarantees you consistent views of the beautiful beaches and the Atlantic oceans. The small villages, friendly people and local food will have you thinking of memories of home and the way things used to be. The park’s mandate includes the protection of many broad sand beaches, sand dunes and both freshwater wetlands and saltmarshes.
As you ride along gentle surf strokes sandy beaches alongside red cliffs and wind-sculpted dunes take some time to park your motorcycle. Walk a seashore path, savor a picnic by a lighthouse and spot heron wading in coastal bays. Hike woodlands and overlook ponds watching for red fox, waterfowl and warblers, then head to one of many beaches to build spectacular sandcastles. At sunset, roast marshmallows over a campfire listening to tales and songs. Rest easy for the night and get up in the morning and do it all over again. It really is one of the nicest national parks in Canada and getting there is half the fun.
- WATERTON LAKES NATIONAL PARK – ALBERTA
- Waterton Lakes National Park is located in the southwest corner of Alberta. The park borders the USA and Montana’s Glacier National Park. Although there are not many roads to ride your motorcycle in the park, the ride to get there is what drives motorcyclists to travel here.
Riding south through prairies of Alberta you will meet the incredible peaks of the Rocky Mountains . With mountains rising at a height of over 9000ft, you will find yourself feeling small and in reality you really are in comparison. Clear lakes, thundering waterfalls, rainbow-coloured streams, colourful rocks and mountain vistas await hikers and sightseers and motorcyclists.
With an exceptional diversity of wildlife and wildflowers and a cozy little waterfront town to serve as a home base, Waterton packs a big natural punch into a relatively small and accessible area. One of our favourites and after visiting it may become yours.
Ride Safe, Happy Canada 150 & Have Fun
Cheers from T&A