Canadian National Parks You Can Visit for Free on a Weekend Trip
Signing up for credit cards through partner links earns us a commission. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. Here’s our full Advertising Policy.
Million Mile Secrets reader, Chris, commented:
Which Canadian National Parks are easy to fly to for a weekend trip?
I recently wrote about an amazing deal to get free admission to Canada’s national parks in 2017.
I’ll share 3 Canadian National Parks that are located within ~1.5 hours of an airport!
Canadian National Parks Close to Airports
Link: National Parks – Canada
Many of the national parks are excellent for folks who like to hike, fish, or camp. Or if you’re just looking to take in the beautiful views or photograph the scenery.
Keep in mind other fees, like for camping, parking, or tours, are NOT included with the pass.
For tips on making the most of an outdoor experience check out Million Mile Secrets team member Meghan’s post about her recent adventure to 5 US National Parks.
You might not see everything in a couple of days. But I’ll share a few Canadian National Parks you can visit on a weekend trip because they’re close to airports.
1. Banff National ParkBanff National Park is ~1 hour from Calgary. The park is one of the most visited in North America. It’s home to the magnificent Lake Louise.
There also several day hikes. Or you can take the Banff Gondola!
From the US, you can book non-stop flights to Calgary from:
- Las Vegas
- Los Angeles
- New York
- Salt Lake City
- San Diego
- San Francisco
2. Thousand Islands National Park
You don’t even have to fly to Canada to visit a Canadian National Park. Thousand Islands National Park is a ~45-minute drive from Watertown, New York, which has its own airport.
There’s a daily non-stop flight from Philadelphia to Watertown on American Airlines.
Thousand Islands National Park is known for its secluded bays along the Saint Lawrence Seaway. You can kayak along the waterway or look for rare wildlife like turtles and birds.
The park has 21 islands, which are only accessible by boat. Most islands have docks and camping facilities if you plan to spend the night.
3. Georgian Bay Islands National Park
You can fly to Toronto and then drive ~1.5 hours to Georgian Bay Islands National Park.
Folks on TripAdvisor rate this park highly because of the beauty and informative guided hiking tours.
If you’re planning a romantic getaway, you can book a 2-person cabin overlooking Georgian Bay.
There are non-stop flights to Toronto from 30+ US cities!
How to Book Your Flight
1. Miles & Points
You can use miles, points, or credit card travel credits to book your flight to visit a Canadian National Park. The best option will depend on which airport you’re departing from and which city you’re traveling to.
For example, you can use British Airways Avios points to book an American Airlines award flight from Philadelphia to Watertown, New York, which is close to Thousand Islands National Park.
You’ll pay 7,500 British Airways Avios points for a one-way coach award flight.
Remember, you can transfer points to British Airways from:
If you’re flying to Calgary, you might consider using United Airlines miles. You’ll pay 12,500 United Airlines miles for a coach award flight, regardless of your US departure city.
And you can transfer Chase Ultimate Rewards points to the airline instantly at a 1:1 ratio.
2. Cheap Paid Flights
Instead of booking an award flight, you might use a credit card perk to book a cheap flight to Canada and get a statement credit.
For example, you get up to $300 in travel credit each card member year with the Chase Sapphire Reserve. So you can pay for your flight to Canada with the card and automatically get a credit for the purchase.
For example, I searched Google Flights and found a round-trip Air Canada flight from New York to Toronto in June 2017 for ~$195.
Bottom LineYou can use the free 2017 Discovery Pass to visit beautiful Canadian National Parks.
If you’re looking for a weekend trip, you can consider visiting Banff National Park, Georgian Bay Islands National Park, or Thousand Islands National Park. These 3 parks are located less than ~1.5 hours from an airport.
This can be a terrific getaway if you like to hike or just want to witness nature’s beauty.
Besides saving money with free admission to the parks, you can also save by using miles & points to book your flight for your trip.
Thanks for the question, Chris! I’d love to hear if you visit one of the parks!
Chase Sapphire Preferred® CardAPPLY NOW
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card
Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That’s $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide, eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
Get 25% more value when you redeem for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel.
Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash’s subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
Earn 2x total points on up to $1,000 in grocery store purchases per month from November 1, 2020 to April 30, 2021. Includes eligible pick-up and delivery services.
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Editorial Note: We're the Million Mile Secrets team. And we're proud of our content, opinions and analysis, and of our reader's comments. These haven’t been reviewed, approved or endorsed by any of the airlines, hotels, or credit card issuers which we often write about. And that’s just how we like it! :)