Here’s How To Get Into Canada’s National Parks For Free In 2017


Canada turns 150 this year, and, to celebrate, our neighbors to the north have opened up an invitation to come explore the country’s national parks—for free.

Good deal, eh?

The 2017 Discovery Pass grants you free access to all of the parks for the rest of the year. You can sign up here.

Always the skeptic, I gave it a try by using my own U.S. address to verify it worked for those of us outside of Canada. I received my pass within about 3 weeks (the website says it can take 8 weeks). My package, which I didn’t even have to pay postage for, came in the mail with a welcome letter, a glossy brochure that was like a treasure map to Canada’s parks and an invitation to use the hashtag #ShowUsYourPass on social media. (I’m still trying to figure out if this is intended to be a cheeky hashtag).

The Discovery Pass is an all-access one to Parks Canada sites, which includes 46 national parks, 171 historic sites, four national marine conservation areas, one national urban park and eight historic canals. Having a tough time deciding where to go? Let these stunning Instagram photos of Canada’s national parks inspire your wanderlust.

Of course we have some gems of national parks here in the United States. But Canada’s are unique, too. You can watch pods of beluga whales at Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park, visit an authentic Norse site at meet resident vikings at L’Anse aux Meadows National Historic site or explore waterfalls in Yoho National Park.

You only need one pass for your group or family if you’re traveling together.

If you are planning to travel to Canada within eight weeks, instead of waiting for your pass to come in the mail you can pick up your Discovery Pass in-person at one of these locations. You’ll need to display your pass by hanging it from the rearview mirror of the vehicle facing forward, or placing it on the front driver side dashboard facing up.

The pass doesn’t cover camping or backcountry overnight use in the parks, which may come at an additional cost.

Of course, I’d be remiss not to mention that our National Parks here in the United States also offer free days in 2017.

About the Author

Brittany Anas

Hi, I'm Brittany Anas (pronounced like the spice, anise ... see, that wasn't too embarrassing to say, now was it?) My professional writing career started when I was in elementary school and my grandma paid me $1 for each story I wrote for her. I'm a former newspaper reporter, with more than a decade of experience Hula-hooping at planning meetings and covering just about every beat from higher-education to crime to science for the Boulder Daily Camera and The Denver Post. Now, I'm a freelance writer, specializing in travel, health, food and adventure. I've contributed to publications including Men's Journal, Forbes, Women's Health, American Way, TripSavvy, Eat This, Not That!, Apartment Therapy, Denver Life Magazine, 5280, Livability, The Denver Post, Simplemost, USA Today Travel Tips, Make it Better, AAA publications, Reader's Digest, Discover Life and more. More.