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Canada's national parks: Enter to win a 12-month Discovery Pass

Emerald Lake, Yoho National Park

Enter to win free entry for a year to more than 100 parks and sites

June's Team Power Smart contest is serving up 12-month passes to this summer's biggest 4-D blockbuster: Canada's national parks.

Move over movies: nothing this season can match the epic visuals, emotional storyline and sensory overload of our parks. And three lucky winners — and their friends or family — will be able to follow this engaging adventure script with a Parks Canada Discovery Pass, providing unlimited opportunities to enjoy more than 100 national parks, marine conservation areas and historic sites across Canada that charge entry fees.

The Discovery Pass is good for a year and covers up to seven people arriving together in a single vehicle. Camping fees are extra, but entry fees are $19.60 per day for a family. That includes a visit to Fort Langley Historic Site, and five days at a park like Banff would cost a family nearly $100 without a Discovery Pass.

Whether it's tenting, hiking, basking or swimming, the park life has endured generations for one simple reason: it's a great experience and memory maker for anyone, any age.

Cheap cardboard glasses filled with red-and-blue cellophane lenses can't provide the out-of-your-seat awe of rounding a bend in the highway and facing geographical fireworks offered by parks such as...

  • Banff or Jasper, where your windshield or sunroof won't fully contain the enormity of the Rockies that run through these world-famous parks.
  • Pacific Rim, where sitting on driftwood, watching unplugged kids sprint in the surf and play in the world's best sandbox (rather than their home's Xbox).
  • Camping in any park, where you validate you are a homo-sapien by making fire to provide for one of the most essential elements to survival: S'mores.

The Discovery Pass gives you access to our country's epic size and variety. National parks are located on the Atlantic, Pacific and Arctic coasts, across the interior mountains and plains and Great Lakes, reaching as far north and south as Canada goes.

National Parks in Western Canada

Along the shoreline in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Explore our parks and historic sites, online (and in person)

For British Columbians, we sometimes forget that what we call home is the chosen two-week vacation destination for Canadians and travelers abroad. And some of the most beautiful places on Planet Earth happened to be framed by the boundaries of our national parks in Western Canada.

For example, some of the world's best-known outcomes of plate-crashing tectonics is concentrated in a set of parks in the Canadian Rockies.

There are four national parks in the mix — Banff, Jasper, Yoho and Kootenay. They account for most of the preserve's 22,990 square kilometres. Banff, built around the Cave and Basin Hot Springs found by CPR workers building the transcontinental railway in the early 1880s, became Canada's first park preserve in 1885, and the birthplace of Canada 's national park system.

Here are some highlights — courtesy of the Parks Canada site — of family-friendly drive-ins — sites within car distance for short or long family.

B.C.

Kootenay National Park

Watch for towering mountains, turquoise rivers, bighorn sheep, cacti, and iron red cliffs. Relax with a soak in the natural mineral waters of Radium Hot Springs.

Yoho National Park

The park is named for the Cree word for awe and wonder, bask in the beauty of Emerald Lake and Lake O'Hara. Take in the majesty of towering Takkakaw Falls. Wonder at the bizarre life pressed for all time in the Burgess Shale Fossil Beds.

Rogers Pass National Historic Site

Follow the long-abandoned rails of the Canadian Pacific Railway main line, and find out how the railway fulfilled a Prime Minister's promise to B.C. Explore Rogers the historic site on your own or join in as park interpreters bring stories to life around a campfire.

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

Wander the rocky shores, tidal pools and wind-swept dunes at Long Beach. Glide amongst a hundred islands, sheltered coves and bays in the Broken Group Islands. Hike the beaches and forests that stretch along the West Coast Trail.

Fort Langley National Historic Site

Where B.C. began. Hear the hammering of the blacksmith. See the excitement of a Fur Trade Wedding. Touch thick pelts as you step inside the original storehouse; and smell the bake oven and campfire. Catch the excitement of the gold rush.

Fisgard Lighthouse National Historic Site

Fort Rodd Hill and Fisgard Lighthouse

Grab your warmest coat, rain boots and scarf and come storm watching. As you approach the water's edge, you taste the air filled with salty droplets, and feel the powerful waves crash on the nearby bluffs.

Look up, Fisgard Lighthouse stands tall beside you, sending its message of warmth and safety. Stepping inside brings welcome relief from the whipping winds. Rain splattering against the windows, you enjoy a game of checkers, and muse on the lonely life of Fisgard's keepers, working here day and night, in all weather.

Alberta

Jasper National Park

Sit in awe while viewing the icefields, glaciers, waterfalls and wildlife. Follow the footsteps of early travelers in the Icefields Parkway, one of the world's most scenic drives. Visit the town in the heart of the park, host of amenities and occasional wildlife.

Banff National Park

Experience Canada's oldest and most famous national park. Relax in the hot springs or view the awesome glaciers and turquoise lakes. Hike in dense conifer forests, or climb the mountain peaks of the Great Divide.

Bar U Ranch National Historic Site

Walk or take a horse drawn wagon to ranch headquarters and tour historic buildings. Savour the smells of the cookhouse, try your hand at roping, or enjoy a cup of cowboy coffee around the fire at Roundup Camp while listening to stories of people who made Bar U what it was; from poets to politicians, and outlaws to princes.

Parks Canada/Western Canada links