Ruth, whale watching in Iceland. Photo taken October 4, 2012.
Where are Kevin and Ruth right now? Osgoode, Ontario, Canada. Just south of Ottawa.

And where are they going next? We leave November 1st for a six week trip to Romania and Moldova.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

National Parks

We in Canada are very lucky to have a country that has such beautiful National Parks.  Having said that the United States and Mexico also have fantastic parks and that is what is so nice about the world, because each country is so unique.

We have travelled through a number of our National Parks in Canda.  As I was growing up with my family, Kevin with his, and then the two of us with our own children as well as by ourselves.  I think about the only bad thing I can say about our parks is they are WAY too expensive. 

Today when I looked at the prices, I noticed that Parks Canada put a price freeze on their 2008 prices until 2011.  Did you know that they charge you approximately (some parks can have slightly higher entrance fees) $7.80 per adult per day just to enter the park.  For a family it's $19.60.  At one time camping was the only way lower income families could take a holiday because hotels and motels with meals was just impossible for them.  I think middle income families would have a hard time to camp in a national park now, yet in the middle of summer they are full.  To camp on an unserviced site, use of washrooms and showers is on average $25.50, plus for a family $19.60 (entrance fee) and $10.80 reservation fee (as this would be needed in the high season) you have a total of $55.90 plus tax, for one night!  Full serviced sites are about $35.30, plus resevation fee and entrance fee for about a total of $65.70 and taxes on top of that.   I can't see how low income families can possible afford this, I know that we can't.

Since we started motorhoming we got a Parks Canada Discovery Pass (good for a year), $84.40 per adult or $165.80 per family (obviously two adults are better off with the family pass).  This allows you entrance into the 27 participating national parks and 78 participating national historic sites, providing you know that you will be spending enough time in the parks system to make it worth while, it is worth it.  You will still have to pay the camping fee on top of this, or do like we did and stay outside of the park at night.  That being said, we do have to admit that we have beautiful parks.

When I was 18, a group of youths between the ages of 18 and 21 and I, with a group leader, hiked the West Coast Trail in the Pacific Rim Nat'l Reserve.  It was backcountry backpacking and I believe it took us between 5 to 7 days to do.  It was absolutely incredible and would like to do it again with Kevin, unfortunately Whiskey would not be allow to come, the bears would think of her as a snack.  I don't have pictures of this, as I haven't scanned those ones yet, but you will have to take my word for it and even if I did have pictures they wouldn't do it justice.

When the children were younger we drove out to Newfoundland so that we could go to Gros Morne National Park, we had our sights on hiking up Gros Morne Mountain and 16km (10mi) with both of the kids, then aged 6 and almost 8.  We were able to achieve this distance with the kids by going on smaller hikes and working our way up.  We did it, but again I don't have those pictures scanned yet either.  Maybe that can be a post for another day when I have them scanned, that hike was in 1994, I believe.

Kevin and I have both been to Banff and Jasper Parks when we were kids as well as together in 2006.  The weather didn't cooperate very well for us though as it was cold, wet and foggy, but we still got some nice pictures all the same.

View of Banff from the lookout at the top of the Tunnel Mountain Trail, Banff Nat'l Park, Banff, Alberta

View of the mountains on the Icefields Parkway near the Athabasca Glacier, Banff Nat'l Park, Alberta

View from the Maligne Canyon Trail, Jasper Nat'l Park, Jasper, Alberta

Since we started motorhoming we have been in Waterton National Park, that is one of our favorites.

Looking towards the village of Waterton Lake in Waterton Lakes Nat'l Park, Alberta, Cda

Waterton Lakes National Park

We also drove around the Cabot Trail which is in Cape Breton Highlands Nat'l Park, that was beautiful.  We spent about five days here, each time leaving the park at night to boondock outside of the park. 

A young moose on the Clyburn Valley Trail in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Ingonish Beach, Nova Scotia

View taken from the Little Smokey Lookoff on the Cape Breton Trail in the Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia

The road going along the Cabot Trail going towards Cheticamp. Taken from one of the lookouts, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Cheticamp, Nova Scotia

Funday National Park was another that we hike through again the weather wasn't very cooperative.

View of the beach at low tide with the town of Alma in the distance, in Fundy National Park, New Brunswick

One other park was Prince Edward Island National Park, we spent the summer just a walk or bike ride away, workcamping at KOA Cavendish.

View of beach and cliffs off the Cavendish East roadway going through Prince Edward Island Nat'l Park, Cavendish, PEI

Cavendish Beach, Prince Edward Island Nat'l Park, Cavendish, PEI

Sunset at Cavendish Beach, Prince Edward Island Nat'l Park, Cavendish, PEI

Again I think the parks are wonderful and well kept, I just have a very hard time with the cost.  I think  if you camp in the park it should include the daily fee, I don't think we would have a problem with this as there are so many trails to be hiked and views to see, but to have it in addition to the camping seems excessive.  The U.S. Parks Pass (good for a year) is $80US per vehicle at per vehicle sites and at per persons sites it allows you and up to 3 adults (any child under the age of 15 is free).  Please don't give me the line that they have more of a population.  If the fee in Canada went down the amount of visits would go up and therefore increase the revenue.  I can understand if they can fill the park at peak season with the prices they are charging now, then so be it, but when they can't fill the parks in the shoulder season they then the price should be lowered considerably.  BTW Mexico's National Parks are way lower in price, at Palenque I believe it was just less than $2 CAN per person, per day.  To enter the ruins was extra ($4.65 CAN per person), still what a deal!


  1. Your photos are beautiful and sure give us a peek at what your National Parks have to offer. We have only been around Lake Superior on the Canadian side, and went into the provincial parks and found them very nice. But we will put some of these places on our map to visit in the future.

    Our state parks in the U.S. are getting higher and higher in costs, especially if you are an out of state visitor. By the time you pay all the associated fees with reservations, vehicle passes and camping fee, it's around $50 a night too. They even charge us a vehicle pass fee for our scooter up on the back rack, even if we are not using it, and the wheels won't be touching the ground. Go figger.

    So we hang more to the National Forest campgrounds, COE parks and smaller county and township parks in our areas to make RVing affordable.

    Karen and Steveio

  2. Very nice photos and write up, Ruth !! We have been to many Nat'l Parks in the west, but Teresa and I have never been farther east than Manitoba. We want to spend time getting to know the eastern half of our country, for sure.

    We love planning and talking about our future travels. I can only imagine how awesome it will be when we can finally hit the road unchained from these jobs !!

    This weekend I get to go out to our storage yard, and shovel a foot of snow off our the solar panels can do their thing. I like to start the rig every month or so. I usually pick up a coffee, and just sit inside the motorhome, with a big goofy grin on my face...LOL.

  3. KarenInTheWoods and Steveio...Yes they are beautiful parks and we would much rather stay in a nat'l/provincal/state park, they are usally in nice wooded suroundings and well spaced apart with lots of hiking trails, but now with the cost of them, we may just go in for the day. Like you we stick to small county and municipal campgrounds or boondock.

    Its incredible that the US Parks charge for the scooter on the back!

    Trent and Teresa...glad you enjoyed the pictures. The parks in the east are great. We really loved Newfoundland and highly reccommend going there. It is harder to get to, but well worth it, if you love the outdoors, blackflies and mosquitos.

    Kevin is going to fire up Sherman soon and take him for a shor drive to make sure everything is working as it should before heading out March 1. Sure looking forward to that!

    Nothing beats being out on the road!!!

  4. A few years ago, we were entering Zion NP for about $25, the ranger asked if either of us were 65. She then sold my partner a lifetime Golden Pass good for entrance and 1/2 price fees at every National Park in the country, for $12. Also, we've never been charged for our scooter.

    1. We sure wish that Canada had something like that for seniors. We also wish that anyone visiting a National Park in the U.S. could get that same price but we it is only available to U.S. citizens, oh well at least your $80 for a annual pass is a reasonable price.


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