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National Park Fees in Canada: Complete 2024 Guide

From the flat grasslands and plains to the rugged tundra and boreal forests, to the soaring mountains and glaciers and finally, to the roaring Pacific Ocean, Canada’s National Parks showcase outstanding examples of beautiful landscapes.

Iconic Moraine Lake view with ten snow capped peaks backdropping reflective lake
A National Parks pass is required to visit Moraine Lake, Banff National Park

Read on to learn everything you need to know about National Park fees in Canada in 2024. It’s sure to help you plan your next National Park adventure!

Here’s what to expect:

Last updated January 2024

Back view of JR walking on wooden bridge, looking up at huge cascading waterfall
Takakkaw Falls, Yoho National Park

What exactly is a National Park in Canada?

Before we go any further, I’ll explain more about Canada’s national park system.

Canada’s National Parks

Canada’s National Park system legally protects and preserves 336,343 square kilometres of land, specifically areas that are representative of Canada’s natural landscapes.

Parks Canada is the Canadian government agency in charge of managing the National Park system.

While public enjoyment and appreciation of the park system is encouraged, Parks Canada works to ensure that visitation does not risk ecological integrity.

Some National Parks are small (22 sq km, Prince Edward Island) while others are much, much larger (44, 807 sq km, Wood Buffalo).

National Parks typically have viewpoints, camping opportunities, hiking trails, lake access, visitor centers and other facilities. Some of Canada’s National Parks are exceptionally remote and have few visitor services.

The oldest National Park in Canada is Banff in Alberta, founded in 1885.

Canada’s national parks are located on land that many First Nations, Métis and Inuit have cared for and lived on since time immemorial.

Driftwood log on endless sandy beach in Pacific Rim National Reserve with ocean and island in background. The log's shadow stretches towards the camera
Long Beach, Pacific Rim National Reserve

National Park Reserves

National Park Reserves are protected and managed in a similar way to National Parks but are currently undergoing a process of Indigenous land claim negotiation.

Think of National Park Reserves as proposed national parks. The boundaries and conditions will be determined in agreement with local Indigenous people, who may continue to use the land for traditional food gathering (fishing, trapping, hunting) and spiritual activities.

There are proposed National Park Reserves too, with one being very local to JR and I – the potential South Okanagan-Similkameen National Park Reserve.

Parks Canada intends to have a system of national parks that represent each of Canada’s natural regions. The government is committed to creating 10 new national parks within the next five years.

Small plane view of icefield in Kluane National Park and Reserve in Yukon, with huge snow capped mountains surrounding glacier
Kluane National Park and Reserve

National Historic Sites

1004 National Historic Sites are situated across Canada. Parks Canada manages 171 of these.

National Historic Sites are places of profound importance to Canada’s history. These commemorate places and events that have shaped the identity of Canada.

Found in every territory and province, National Historic Sites are located in both urban and rural environments. They include sacred Indigenous sites, heritage houses, battlefields and places of scientific discovery.

Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site

National Marine Conservation Areas

There are a small number of National Marine Conservation Areas that are managed for sustainable use by Parks Canada.

One of the best examples is Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park in Quebec is known as one of the best places for whale watching in the entire world.

Looking down on observation platform in Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park in Quebec, with white beluga whale surfacing just offshore
Watching beluga whales pass in Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park (this photo is near Tadoussac)

Where are Canada’s National Parks and National Historic Sites?

There are currently 37 National Parks and 10 National Park Reserves found across the country, with at least one Park in each province and territory.

National Historic Sites are also located across Canada.

The Parks Canada website lists all of the National Parks and National Park Reserves and National Marine Conservation Areas plus the 171 National Historic Sites that they currently manage.

Some of Canada’s best known National Parks are:

  • Pacific Rim National Reserve, British Columbia – Long sandy beaches backdropped by temperate rainforest on Canada’s western edge
  • Kluane National Park and Reserve, Yukon – Host to Canada’s highest mountains including Mount Logan (5959m)
  • Banff National Park, Alberta – Huge snow-capped peaks and turquoise glacial lakes in the heart of the Canadian Rockies
  • Jasper National Park, Alberta – Home to the largest icefield in the Canadian Rockies and iconic Spirit Island view
  • Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ontario – Towering cliffs above the colourful waters of Georgian Bay
  • Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia – Drive the legendary Cabot Trail and see where mountains meet the ocean
  • Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland – Glacier-carved freshwater fjords accompanied by mountains, waterfalls and beaches
A lone canoeist is approaching a small peninsula adorned with trees (Spirit Island), which is backdropped by a long lake and huge surrounding snow capped mountains
Spirit Island, Maligne Lake, Jasper National Park

National Park fees in Canada

Canada’s National Parks are funded by government contributions and user fee revenues. The latter supports visitor services and facilities.

To visit most of Canada’s National Parks, Reserves, Marine Conservation Areas and National Historic Sites, an admission fee is charged on a daily, basis.

This means that visitors must pay a per-person admission fee for each day they spend within park boundaries.

Upon payment of the admission fee, a park pass is issued. A park pass is also known as a day-use permit.

Park pass fees help pay for park facilities and services including day-use areas, trail maintenance, public safety, education and visitor centres.

National Park admission fees

National Park admission fees vary between parks. Some parks have a seasonal fee structure, with cheaper rates in winter and/or the shoulder seasons. A few parks offer half-day passes.

Admission fees are charged as per the age of the visitor and/or the size of the group.

  • Adult – 18 to 64 years of age
  • Senior – 65 years of age or over
  • Youth – 6 to 17 years of age
  • Family/Group – Up to seven people arriving in a single vehicle

Children under 6 are always free. Since 2018, youth (under 18) have also received free entry.

Please note that daily passes for the Canadian Rockies area parks (Banff, Jasper, Kootenay, Yoho, Mount Revelstoke, Glacier, Waterton Lakes and Elk Island) provide entry into all parks in this region until 4pm the next day.

Park fees are listed on this Parks Canada search page.

2024 admission fee examples:

Banff National Park, Alberta (year-round)

Adult$11.00
Senior$9.50
Youthfree
Family/Group$22.00
Commercial Group, per person$9.35

Pukaskwa National Park, Ontario (May to November pricing)

Adult$6.50
Senior$5.50
Youthfree
Family/Group$13.50
Commercial Group, per person$5.53

Forillon National Park, Quebec (late June to early September)

Adult$9.00
Senior$7.75
Youthfree
Family/Group$17.50
Commercial Group, per person$7.65

Some national parks do not charge admission fees, such as Kluane National Park and Reserve in Yukon Territory.

Rouge National Urban Park is a free admission park, though payment is required for parking at the Zoo Road Day Use Area.

National Historic Site admission fees

National Historic Site admission fees vary between specific sites.

Some Historic Sites have different seasonal pricing as well, with higher pricing during the summer peak season.

2024 admission fee examples:

Cave and Basin National Historic Site, Alberta (year-round)

Adult$9.00
Senior$7.50
Youthfree
Commercial Group, per person$7.65

Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site, Nova Scotia (July to September)

Adult$19.75
Senior$16.75
Youthfree
Commercial Group, per person$16.79

Not all Historic Sites charge an admission fee. Ford Edward National Historic Site in Nova Scotia, for example, is completely free to visit.

Looking down on a curved road traversing around mountain from the Skyline Trail in Cape Breton Highlands National Park. The scene is backdropped by ocean
Cape Breton Highlands National Park

Other fees

The daily admission fee to Canada’s National Parks and National Historic Sites does not include:

  • Any kind of camping, whether in the front country (car camping) or backcountry (accessible via foot or boat)
  • Firewood at campgrounds
  • Campsite reservations (mandatory for backcountry adventures)
  • Access to hot springs pools managed by Parks Canada, such as Radium Hot Springs
  • Some guided tours/hikes and interpretive programs
  • Moraine Lake/Lake Louise shuttle in Banff National Park
  • Additional parking fees in some parks (Bruce Peninsula, Rouge)
Looking up wide dirt trail climbing through forest. The leaves on the trees have turned golden
Rouge National Urban Park is the only one of its kind in Canada. Entry is free but there is a charge to park at the Zoo Road Day Use Area

How to pay National Park fees in Canada

The admission fee payment process varies between national parks.

Park passes are available for purchase at Visitor Information Centers and staffed campgrounds. Some parks also have pass machines in parking areas.

In remote areas, park passes can sometimes be purchased at local businesses. This is the case for Gros Morne National Park in Newfoundland.

The busier national parks have roadside booths at the entrance gate(s), where you can purchase a pass without leaving your vehicle.

Cash, debit and credit cards are accepted and it is possible to pay for multiple days at a time.

If you already have a valid pass for the park (or a Discovery Pass), there is a through lane to use.

From personal experience, the following parks operate a booth system:

  • Banff National Park, Alberta
  • Jasper National Park, Alberta
  • Mount Revelstoke National Park, British Columbia (Meadows in the Sky Parkway)
  • Kootenay National Park, British Columbia (Radium entrance)
  • Bruce Peninsula National Park, Ontario (Cyprus Lake Road)
  • Fundy National Park, New Brunswick
  • Kouchibouguac National Park, New Brunswick
  • Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia
  • Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site, Nova Scotia

The entrance booths usually only operate during regular office hours. After this time, drop by a Visitor Information Center or staffed campground.

For Banff and Jasper, it is also possible to buy daily park passes online via the Banff and Lake Louise Tourism and Tourism Jasper websites. Passes must be printed and displayed to be valid.

Impressive mountains tower above Floe Lake in Kootenay National Park. Snow lines the bottom of the peaks, next to the lakeshore. The lake's surface is completely flat and reflective
There is a roadside booth at the Radium-side entrance to Kootenay National Park

Discovery Passes (Parks Canada’s annual pass)

The Discovery Pass is a pass that provides free entry to all National Parks/Reserves, Marine Conservation Areas and Parks Canada-run National Historic Sites.

A Discovery Pass can pay for itself in as little as seven days of national park visitation (compared to daily admission fees).

Another bonus of Discovery Passes is faster entry into national parks.

At road entrances into Banff National Park, for example, there is no need to stop at the Parks Canada gatehouse if you have a valid Discovery Pass displayed.

Discovery Pass 2024 prices

The price of a Parks Canada Discovery Pass in 2024 is:

Adult $75.25
Senior $64.50
Family/Group $151.25

Discovery Passes are valid for 12 full months from the date of purchase.

Each pass must be signed by the pass holder, who has to be present when the pass is used.

The Family pass includes up to 7 adults in the vehicle. It doesn’t have to be the same group of people accompanying the pass holder each time.

Is it worth getting a Discovery Pass?

Planning to explore Canada’s national parks for a week or more? In most cases, a Discovery Pass will save you money.

If you are a group of multiple adults, a Discovery Pass will save you money even sooner!

With daily admission currently $11.00/adult for the Rocky Mountain parks (Banff, Jasper, Yoho, Kootenay, Mount Revelstoke, Glacier), it’s easy to see how a Discovery Pass can be a huge money saver when travelling this region of Canada.

The Discovery Pass also offers free entry into the Cave and Basin National Historic Site ($9.00/adult) and the Banff Park Museum National Historic Site ($4.50/adult).

Travelling to Canada’s East Coast and love history and heritage? There are so many National Historic Sites in this area, with entry fees ranging from $4.50 to $19.75 per adult (the latter being the amazing Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site).

Gemma hiking up a trail with alpine meadows and mountain panoramas behind
Hiking in Banff National Park (near Sunshine Meadows)

How to buy a Discovery Pass

Discovery Passes can be purchased online or in person, at various Parks Canada locations (entrance gates, Visitor Centers, some staffed campgrounds).

It is also possible to purchase Discovery Passes at participating MEC retail locations across Canada.

If you buy the pass online, allow plenty of time for it to arrive before your intended trip. If you’re visiting Canada from outside North America, I would suggest waiting to buy the pass in person.

Reflections of surrounding mountains on calm, turquoise coloured alpine lake on a sunny day in Mount Revelstoke National Park
We get a Discovery Pass each year – it is especially useful for backcountry trips, when we spend 3-7 days within national park boundaries (photo is Eva Lake in Mount Revelstoke National Park)

Other National Park pass options

Another money-saving option is to buy single location (annual) park pass. These allow unlimited entry to a single national park.

This is a great idea if you live near a national park/historic site or have a trip planned that involves extensive travel in one park only.

Though not available for all of Canada’s national parks and historic sites, there are single-location passes for many of the most popular destinations.

Examples include Pacific Rim on Vancouver Island (BC), Waterton Lakes in Alberta and Fundy National Park in New Brunswick.

Some single-location passes can be purchased online, but most are obtainable in person only.

Elevated view looking down on large lake, which is surrounded by mountains. There is a boat moving away from the camera at the center of the lake
Waterton National Park

Canada’s Provincial Parks

Canada is divided into ten provinces and three territories.

Each province and territory has its own provincial and territorial park system. These are also protected areas, but they are administrated by the individual governments of provinces and territories.

There are many more Provincial and Territorial Parks than there are National Parks. British Columbia, for example, has over 600 Provincial Parks!

In some provinces, entry to Provincial Parks is free. In other provinces, there is a daily fee much like Canada’s National Parks.

Please note that the daily vehicle fee system for the noted provinces and territories is completely different from those issued by Parks Canada for National Parks.

In other words, provincial/territorial park passes are not interchangeable with National Park passes.

When researching your trip to Canada, be careful to check whether a protected area is part of the provincial/territorial system or the National Park system.

This is particularly important in Quebec, where provincial parks are referred to as ‘national parks.’ Quebec’s provincial parks are administered by Sépaq (rather than Parks Canada).

Just to add confusion, keep in mind that there are municipal parks and regional parks as well. The vast majority of these are free to enter.

Provincial/territorial park fee systems

  • British Columbia: Free day use
  • Yukon: Free day use
  • Northwest Territories: Daily vehicle fee
  • Alberta: Free day use*
  • Saskatchewan: Daily vehicle fee
  • Manitoba: Daily vehicle fee
  • Ontario: Daily vehicle fee
  • Quebec: Per person daily fee
  • New Brunswick: Per person daily fee
  • Prince Edward Island: Free day use
  • Nova Scotia: Free day use
  • Newfoundland: Daily vehicle fee
  • Nunavut: Free day use

*Except Kananaskis Country and the Bow Valley Corridor, which require a Conservation Pass (daily fee)

Back view of Gemma looking towards the diamond shaped snow capped peak of Mount Assiniboine, with Lake Magog at the base
Mount Assiniboine is located in a provincial park of the same name in British Columbia

National Park admission FAQ

If I stay overnight at a campground in a national park, do I still have to pay the daily admission fee?

Yes. Campground guests are not exempt from the daily admission fee in national parks (unlike in some of Canada’s provincial parks).

Can I drive Highway 1 through Banff National Park without paying the park admission?

Yes, if you don’t plan to stop. See more details in the above answer.

How can I find out the admission fees for the National Park or National Historic Site I want to visit?

The Parks Canada website has a handy search function just for fees

Can I drive through a national park in Canada without paying the admission fee?

It depends.

In the case of a main highway route traversing a National Park, you are allowed to drive the highway without paying the admission fee as long as you don’t stop and use any park services (parking lots, hiking trails etc.)

Examples would be Highway 4 through Pacific Rim National Reserve (BC), Highway 114 through Fundy National Park (New Brunswick) and Highway 30 through Cape Breton National Park (Nova Scotia).

There are two major exceptions to this rule, both in the Canadian Rockies.

Highway 93 (the Icefields Parkway between Lake Louise and Jasper) and Highway 1A (between Banff and Lake Louise) are considered scenic parkways and a valid park pass is required to drive them.

But what about other park roads, you ask? Roads that are not considered through routes also require a pass.

For example, the core area of Kejimkujik National Park and National Historic Site (Nova Scotia) is accessed via Highway 8. There is no other highway entrance or exit. The only reason to enter the park boundaries is to visit the park itself, so a park pass is required.

Do we have to be a family to receive the group vehicle rate for national park admission (e.g. five adults in one vehicle)?

No, you don’t have to be related to receive the group vehicle rate for entry into Canada’s national parks.

What happens if I don’t pay the admission fee?

By law, all visitors to Canada’s national parks must purchase a
national park entry pass and display it on their vehicle.

Park Wardens enforce park regulations as required by the Canada National Parks Act. Violators risk being issued a fine.

We have personally had our pass checked many times. In one instance, the warden could not see our pass and therefore left us a warning notice (our van does not have a rearview mirror so we have to leave our Discovery pass on the dashboard instead).

The notice stated that we needed to physically show a valid park pass to Parks Canada staff ASAP or be fined. Luckily, the warden was still close by when we returned to our vehicle so we were able to show them the pass right there and then.

Where should I display my park pass?

Park passes should be displayed prominently on the dash of your vehicle.

Discovery Passes should be hung on the rearview mirror where possible. If your vehicle doesn’t have a rearview mirror (our van does not), display the pass prominently on the dashboard as above.

Can I sell my Discovery Pass after I’ve finished with it?

The pass holder must be present when using the pass. A Discovery Pass should be signed by the pass holder. It is void when re-sold or transferred. If you haven’t signed it after receiving it, you’ll be prompted to do so when you first use it at a National Historic Site.

What’s the difference between Canada’s national parks and provincial parks?

National parks and provincial parks are separate systems. Parks Canada administers Canada’s national parks while provincial parks are managed by individual provincial governments. See provincial parks section for more information.

Can I buy a park pass for Banff National Park and visit Jasper National Park with the same pass?

Yes! Park passes for parks in the Rocky Mountains region (Banff, Jasper, Kootenay, Yoho, Mount Revelstoke, Glacier, Waterton Lakes and Elk Island) can be used interchangeably. Daily passes are valid until 4pm the next day.

Lake view with clouds reflecting in completely still surface of the water
The beautiful lakes of Kejimkujik National Park, the perfect place for a multi-day canoe trip

Check out these amazing Parks Canada destinations next:

Maligne Lake, Jasper National Park, Alberta

Lake O’Hara, Yoho National Park, British Columbia

Burgess Shale, Yoho National Park, British Columbia

Eva Lake, Mount Revelstoke National Park, British Columbia

Kejimkujik National Park, Nova Scotia

Mount Logan, Kluane National Park, Yukon

Mount Norquay Via Ferrata, Banff National Park, Alberta

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Jim

Monday 6th of November 2023

We will be touring the area in a rented RV in July 2024. I plan on buying a Discovery Pass prior to arriving. We will prebook campgrounds. I have seen that in addition to the discovery pass and campground fees I will also require a Camping Permit. Is this correct? I cant seem to find any costs for the Camping Permits on Parks Canada website. Does each individual require a camping permit or can we purchase a couple or group permit?

Jim

Monday 6th of November 2023

@Gemma, Thanks Gemma, apologies for repost and not seeing original reply. Your site is so helpful, thanks for all your advice.

Gemma

Monday 6th of November 2023

Hi Jim,

It sounds like you didn't see my reply to your other comment. Here it is -

No, the campground fees are for your camping permit. So to stay at a National Park campground, you’ll pay the daily admission fee (park pass) and nightly camping fees. Camping fees in frontcountry campgrounds (RV, car) are by site. Backcountry campground fees are calculated by person. Hope that helps!

Jim

Thursday 2nd of November 2023

We (my wife and I) will be travelling from Scotland to Banff, Jasper and surrounding area next summer (2024) and have booked an RV. I understand the best value will be the Discovery Pass. We are planning to book campsites when the reservations open for 2024. Am i correct in thinking that in addition to our campground fees we also need a Camping Permit? If so do you have any idea of costs as I cant seem to find it anywhere on Pars Canada website? Are camping permits individual or can you buy them for your party

Gemma

Thursday 2nd of November 2023

Hi Jim,

No, the campground fees are for your camping permit. So to stay at a National Park campground, you'll pay the daily admission fee (park pass) and nightly camping fees. Camping fees in frontcountry campgrounds (RV, car) are by site. Backcountry campground fees are calculated by person. Hope that helps!

Julia

Wednesday 6th of September 2023

I am looking at taking the train to Banff, I will not have a car will carrying an individual pass cover admission, will a family pass cover myself and a traveling companion if we are arriving by train.

Gemma

Thursday 7th of September 2023

Yes and yes :)

Emily

Wednesday 10th of August 2022

Hi there

We have booked a late trip to Canada from England, too late to have the discovery pass shipped out. It says on their website that they are accepting printed copies of confirmation. Do you know if this is still the case?

Thank you

Gemma

Sunday 14th of August 2022

Hi Emily,

I do not know any different so I would assume yes.

Graham Frigot

Friday 5th of August 2022

We (wife and I ) are visiting Ontario in October do we need different passes for national park and provincial parks as staying on the Bruce peninsula and near Algonquin park. Also can these be booked ahead of time as we will have a hire car so will not know it’s number plate. Thankyou.

Gemma

Sunday 7th of August 2022

Hi Graham,

Yes, national parks and provincial parks have their own pass systems. For Bruce Peninsula National Park, you'll need to pay the fees as described in this post. There's no need to know your license plate number.

Algonquin is park of Ontario's provincial park system - day use fees listed here. You can reserve a park pass in advance for Algonquin - details here.