National Parks offer a much-needed summer escape

Photo courtesy of
Photo courtesy of

Admission is free this year, so grab a break while you still can

By Greg Waldock, Staff Writer


It’s been a long school year for everyone. I can’t name a single person who hasn’t been dragged right down by a combination of politics, finances, schoolwork, social drama, and employment. But now, the school year is finally over. The papers are handed in, the exams are nearly finished, and there’s no more of that daily struggle with Blackboard. All that’s left is a proper retreat, to move yourself away from the craziness of the past few months with a nice return to nature. We’re in luck with that, because Canada is celebrating its 150th year of Confederation with free entrance into any National Park across the entire country.

British Columbia is home to some amazing parks. While they’re all a pretty good distance away, a nice long road trip is never a bad idea The important thing is to go with people. This is partly for safety, as National Parks are huge expanses of real, actual wilderness. It’s also to let you appreciate the natural beauty of the province with someone. The specific park you go to is actually the least important decision you’ll make on the trip. They’re all fantastic, so just go with whatever appeals to you.

One of the most unique parks in the province is Gwaii Haanas National Park, on Haida Gwaii. It features incredible red cedar forests, deep rivers, and a historic Haida village—all watched over by the “Haida Watchmen,” who work with the government to keep all visitors educated and respectful.

Glacier National Park is another great choice. It’s near the Alberta border, and is a common destination, so the road there will be pretty straightforward and easy-going, and the park itself has more than enough space in its campgrounds to set up on your own.

Alberta, of course, is also famous for its National Parks. Banff and Jasper are both internationally renowned and thus will be pretty crowded, especially during the summer. However, both are so large that it’ll be decently easy to find a good camping spot away from the rest of the tourists.

The ability to visit such vast, well-maintained, and (relatively) easy to access parks is something that we shouldn’t take for granted. Being able to turn off the phone and take a week off work to de-stress in the trees and mountains is a privilege that most people—even within British Columbia—don’t have. If you can make it happen over the summer, then you owe it to yourself to seize the opportunity and enjoy what the country around you has to offer.