Denali National Park

North to Alaska - Must-Try National Park Experiences

North to Alaska - Must-Try National Park Experiences

With more than six national parks accessible along the highways through western Canada and into Alaska, it’s easy to understand why the road north appeals to outdoor lovers. But there’s way more to do than simply immersing yourself in nature. The national parks found along the Inside PassageRockies, and Gold Rush routes are filled with must-do activities suitable for every traveler, whether you’re looking for an adventure or to learn about Indigenous cultures, wildlife, or history.

From exhilarating hikes through the wilderness to relaxing dips in hot springs, these parks offer an array of pursuits that cater to every nature enthusiast's dreams. Pack your tent, hiking boots, and swimsuits, and dive into the diverse and exciting encounters awaiting travelers in these breathtaking landscapes.


America's largest national park, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve offers countless activities. Due to the park's remote location, it provides the perfect environment for wildlife viewing, offering opportunities to spot black and brown bears, mountain goats, and moose throughout its vast wilderness. For those ready for an adventure, numerous tour operators take guests into the backcountry for rafting, glacier trekking, and overnight camping trips. Plus, you can explore the ghost town of Kennicott, an abandoned mining town, with NPS rangers. 

Home to North America's highest peak, Denali National Park and Preserve offers travelers miles and miles of land to explore. Visitors can hop aboard a bus tour along the scenic Denali Park Road to visit the top sightseeing locations and some of the best wildlife viewing opportunities. The park has numerous hiking trails with various difficulty levels as well as options for camping and backcountry adventures. Don’t miss a chance to meet the park’s working sled dog team (and their puppies!) at the kennel near the visitor center.

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Wrangell-St. Elias National Park
Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. Photo Credit: Travel Alaska, Michael DeYoung

The Yukon

Situated in the Yukon’s Kluane region, Kluane National Park and Reserve offers a mix of culturally significant activities and exhilarating outdoor encounters. Start any visit at the Da ku Cultural Centre to learn about the culture and traditions of the Champagne and Aishihik First Nations Dän (people). Beyond its cultural significance, the park is a prime destination for hikers and bird watchers. But there are also adventures to be found while flightseeing, rafting, fishing, and mountain biking.

For those looking to add camping to the agenda, Kathleen Lake provides the best in-park experience within Kluane National Park and Reserve. Its crystal waters and mountain backdrops make it the ideal location for hiking, boating, or even the occasional swim.

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Kluane National Park
Kluane National Park. Photo Credit: Hans-Gerhard Pfaff 


Banff National Park, Canada's first national park, is known for its natural beauty, inviting mountain towns, and accessible yet exhilarating adventures. Whether you're looking to climb ladders and cross suspension bridges at Mt. Norquay’s Via Ferrata or enjoy the panoramic views found while riding the Banff Gondola, the park offers diverse experiences that highlight the landscape’s natural beauty.

A UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to the world’s second-largest dark sky preserve, Jasper National Park features a host of must-do outdoor encounters. Here are just a few offerings: Spend an afternoon floating down the Athabasca River on a Jasper Raft Tour; take a scenic Maligne Lake Cruise; or visit the Jasper Planetarium, where you’ll have the chance to tour the largest telescope in the Canadian Rockies.

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Banff Gondola
Banff Gondola. Photo Credit: Brewster

British Columbia

Found along the Rockies Route, Kootenay National Park is known for its hot springs, fossil hikes and numerous other outdoor activities. Guests looking to have a bit of “me time” should consider heading over the Radium Hot Springs to relax in natural mineral-rich waters, surrounded by stunning mountain views. Dinosaur enthusiasts will enjoy the park’s guided hikes, which lead guests on a prehistoric journey to check out Burgess Shale fossils found throughout the mountains.

 Also found along the Rockies Route, a bit beyond Banff, is Yoho National Park, home to the stunning and exclusive Lake O’Hara. A must-visit location, travelers visiting the lake can plan to stay overnight in the backcountry campgrounds or book a stay at other accommodations on site.

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Yoho National Park
Yoho National Park. Photo Credit: Destination BC, Dave Heath