Canadian National Parks You Can Visit for Free on a Weekend Trip

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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.

This means you can use miles & points for an award flight to Canada.  Then enjoy a weekend experience in beautiful places like Banff National Park.

Canadian National Parks Close To Airports
You Can Get Free Admission to See Majestic Views in Banff National Park, Which Is Canada’s Oldest National Park

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

Link:   Visit Canadian National Parks for Free in 2017

With the free 2017 Discovery Pass, you and folks traveling with you can get free admission to 47 Canadian National Parks.

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 Park

Banff 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.
Canadian National Parks Close To Airports
Enjoy Panoramic Views of the Canadian Rocky Mountains in Banff National Park, ~1 Hour From Calgary

Other attractions in the park include a 27-hole golf course at Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel, horseback riding, and ski resorts, including the Lake Louise Ski Resort.

There also several day hikes.  Or you can take the Banff Gondola!

From the US, you can book non-stop flights to Calgary from:

  • Chicago
  • Dallas
  • Denver
  • Houston
  • Las Vegas
  • Los Angeles
  • Minneapolis
  • New York
  • Phoenix
  • Portland
  • Salt Lake City
  • San Diego
  • San Francisco
  • Seattle

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.

Canadian National Parks Close To Airports
Drive ~45 Minutes From Upstate to New York Across the Canadian Border to Visit Thousand Islands National Park

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.

Canadian National Parks Close To Airports
Photograph an Incredible Sunset in Person at Georgian Bay Islands National Park

There are non-stop flights to Toronto from 30+ US cities!

How to Book Your Flight

1.   Miles & Points

Link:   Ultimate Guide to Big Travel With AMEX Membership Rewards Points: Best Ways to Fly to Canada

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.

Canadian National Parks Close To Airports
Fly From Philadelphia to Watertown to Visit Thousand Islands National Park With Only 7,500 British Airways Avios Points

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.

Canadian National Parks Close To Airports
Pay for a Flight to Canada With the Chase Sapphire Reserve to Use Your $300 Travel Credit!

You can also use the $250 annual travel credit with Citi Prestige to book a cheap flight, too!  This is a good way to book to avoid blackout dates or if you find a cheap flight.

Bottom Line

You 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 ParkGeorgian 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!

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