view off a cliff overlooking a lake with mountains in the background

National Parks Canada 150 : What You Need to Know

As I am sure you are aware at this point, unless you live under a rock, this year marks Canada’s 150th anniversary. To celebrate there are several events and festivities being planned across the country, but the one that seems to have blown up my social media feeds the most is the 2017 Discovery Pass from Parks Canada. 

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For those that missed it – to celebrate the anniversary Parks Canada is offering a free pass for admission to the Parks Canada locations from coast to coast. Parks Canada locations include National Parks, National Historic Sites, National Marine Conservation Areas and National Urban Parks.

canada 150, discovery pass, national parks, canada

To receive your free pass, you simply have to ‘purchase’ it (for $0) at the Parks Canada Passes and Permits site and it will be sent straight to your door complete with a brochure listing all the locations across the country where it will be valid.

Now there seem to have been some confusion on exactly where this pass can be used. I saw a number of social media rants as people received their passes only to eventually find out through articles that were circulating that it is NOT valid for use in the Provincial Parks, only National Parks.

Let’s clarify something here…. You got the pass for free! You didn’t pay for it, you didn’t have to go drive somewhere to pick it up, you didn’t have to sit through a 3-hour presentation about some ‘gorgeous’ timeshare resort… You just clicked a couple buttons on your computer and it arrived at your door. Even if you don’t get the opportunity to use it, is it really worth a social media rant?

Also – After reading a number of these post of people who are upset, and their summer vacations have been ruined, I couldn’t help but wondering how many even opened the package that it came with? There is a complete map of everywhere it can be used… Its not like the sent it out with no explanation.

Lastly, before I beat this part of today’s blog topic of discussion to death, you have a free pass to some of the most beautiful areas in the country! How is that a bad thing? So maybe you can’t use it for the park you were thinking – this is your chance to branch out and see more of what this AMAZING country we live in has to offer!

My husband and I were VERY quick to make sure we had our pass ordered. We are lucky where we are, down here in Windsor/Essex, to have Point Pelee just a short drive away. As I have referred to in previous blog posts, we travel with our dogs regularly. Some of our favourite vacations include camping and hiking, and the pups love it too! Not only can we travel for a road trip to visit any of the parks on the list, but we can also take them to Point Pelee for a hike any day we want free of charge!

We have started putting together a bit of a ‘2017 bucket list’ of places that we want to go this year to make the most of the pass. Unfortunately, some, that I would LOVE to see, just aren’t going to happen due to timing and distance… it’s not like Canada is a small country that you can just drive across in a day… but we are definitely going to do our best to make the most of this opportunity!

Parks Canada map of the National Parks, historical sites and landmarks

You may be wondering what is included with your 2017 Discover Pass, and what isn’t. The pass will provide you with free admission to locations managed by Parks Canada, as well as lockage for boaters at the Park’s Canada historic canals and waterways.

The pass DOES NOT cover the costs associated with the following:

  • Camping, backcountry and other accommodations
  • Canadian Rockies Hot Springs
  • Mooring
  • Reservation fees
  • Guided tours and hikes and programs not usually included with admission
  • Some special event fees
  • Firewood
  • Backcountry overnight use
  • Provincial parks or municipal and private parks
  • Historic sites not managed by Parks Canada
4 Muskoka chairs lakeside during sunset with the title Canadian National Parks: what you need to know

Here is a complete list of the 46 National Parks in Canada. If you would like to learn more about the other locations included on the pass, I suggest you just go ahead and sign up – you can go through the brochure and learn all your options at that point! Alternatively, you can visit the Parks Canada website for information!


Banff National Park

Elk Island National Park

Jasper National Park

Waterton Lakes National Park

Wood Buffalo National Park

British Columbia

Glacier National Park

Gulf Islands National Park Reserve

Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve

Kootenay National Park

Mount Revelstoke National Park

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Yoho National Park


Riding Mountain National Park

Wapusk National Park

New Brunswick

Fundy National Park

Kouchibouguac National Park

Newfoundland and Labrador

Akami-Uapishk-KakKasuak-Mealy Mountains National Park Reserve

Gros Morne National Park

Terra Nova National Park

Torngat Mountains National Park

Northwest Territories

Aulavik National Park

Nahanni National Park Reserve

Naats’ihch’oh Naitonal Park Reserve

Tuktut Nogait National Park

Wood Buffalo National park

Nova Scotia

Cape Breton Highlands National Park

Kejimkujik National Park

Sable Island National Park Reserve


Auyuittuq National Park

Qausuittuq National Park

Quttinirpaaq National Park

Sirmilik National Park

Ukkusiksalik National Park


Bruce Peninsula National Park

Georgian Bay Islands National Park

Point Pelee National Park

Pukaskwa National Park

Thousand Islands National Park

Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island National Park


Forillon National Park

La Mauricie National Park

Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve


Grasslands National Park

Prince Albert National Park


Ivvavik National Park

Kluane National Park and Reserve

Vuntut National Park

For a little added fun – have you heard of the Red Chair Locations? At many of the Parks Canada locations there are red Muskoka chairs for you to relax in and see the view that they offer. Why not start a bucket list to visit each and every Red Chair location? There’s a great way to see what Canada’s National Parks offer!

4 Muskoka chairs lakeside during sunset

Have you visited any of the Parks Canada sites? Which are your favourites? Do you have your 2017 Discovery Pass?

14 thoughts on “National Parks Canada 150 : What You Need to Know”

    1. Thank you for stopping by! It is definitely a beautiful place – There is still so much I can’t wait to explore!

  1. Although I don’t live in Canada, it would be Awesome to receive a pass to visit these beautiful parks! I can’t believe people were ranting about how unhappy they were! Jeez. Happy 150th bday Canada!

    1. I wish I had the time to visit all of them this year while I have the pass, but its just not feasible unless I quit work and school and only travel hahaha

    1. There are so many incredible ones! I haven’t been to about half of them either, so I’m slowly working my way through them!

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