Simply above Maine lies a world-class nature vacation spot. It’s a wild, rugged panorama with granite plateaus gashed by dashing rivers and waterfalls that plummet from sheer rock partitions into shadowy gorges. Right here, bears roam the woodlands and whales ply fjords…and 27 nationwide parks beckon exploration.
When you’ve absolutely heard of Canada’s first, most well-known and most visited nationwide park—Banff, within the coronary heart of Alberta’s Rockies—you might be much less acquainted with the wild gems of Quebec. But a few of the finest nationwide parks in Canada are discovered on this largest of the nation’s provinces, occupying one-sixth of Canada’s land mass.
Half of Quebec is roofed in forest, 4,500 rivers lace its terrain, and greater than one million lakes dot the province, which holds 3% of the world’s renewable contemporary water. And the world’s largest estuary, the Gulf of St. Lawrence, is dwelling to a profusion of marine life together with a dozen whale species.
Nature’s energy and glory are on full show in Quebec, showcased in a group of parks on par with North America’s most celebrated landscapes. Along with three Parks Canada websites, Quebec is dwelling to 24 nationwide parks administered by the provincial authorities, to guard locations of outstanding character and nationwide significance. Many are readily accessible from the U.S., together with these 5 that provide a various cross-section of Quebec’s beautiful pure options.
Jacques-Cartier Nationwide Park
Named for the French navigator and first European to discover the St. Lawrence River within the 16th century, this 230-square-mile wilderness park lies simply half-hour north of Quebec Metropolis. On this huge plateau minimize by deep glacial valleys, the crystal-clear Jacques Cartier River flows between 1,800-foot mountains. Wildlife abounds, together with moose, bear, white-tailed deer, foxes, wolves, porcupine and 130 completely different fowl species. Outside aficionados are drawn to a mess of recreation alternatives together with mountaineering, canoeing, whitewater kayaking, rafting, crusing on Lac Beauport, and fishing for brook trout, Arctic char and Atlantic salmon. Fall is a spectacular season, when deciduous woodlands within the valleys catch fireplace with colour, contrasting in opposition to the coniferous forests atop the excessive plateau.
Hautes-Gorges-de-la-Rivière-Malbaie Nationwide Park
Established as a nationwide park in 2000, this space is likely one of the core zones of UNESCO’s Charlevoix Biosphere Reserve, a various matrix of ecosystems with World Heritage standing. Within the hinterlands above the St. Lawrence River, this park is called for a community of deep gorges minimize into a spread of excessive mountains. Its vertical rock faces are the very best east of the Rockies. The park is famed for its mountaineering trails, and essentially the most notable amongst them takes sturdy hikers to the highest of three,248-foot Montagne des Érables (Maple Mountain), with views from the very best cliffs in Jap Canada. Far beneath, get pleasure from canoeing, kayaking, riverboat cruises on the Malbaie River, the well-known waterway used to move logs downstream till 1985. Fish abound within the river, attracting a number of species of fishing birds together with osprey and nice blue heron. Look, too, for beaver and moose alongside the river lowlands.
Grands-Jardins Nationwide Park
Named for its intriguing carpets of floor lichen, historic boreal forest (taiga), and arctic vegetation uncommon at this latitude, the variegated inexperienced wonderland of “Grand Gardens” entices hikers, anglers and wildlife lovers to its sprawling heights and valleys. On this key part of the UNESCO-listed Charlevoix Biosphere Reserve, we discover a various array of wildlife together with spruce grouse, black bear, grey wolf, lynx, woodland caribou and purple fox. Hear for the evocative name of the loon on the park’s 60 lakes, which together with its rivers and streams are famend for his or her native fish habitat, with brook trout the coveted prize. Hikers will need to discover the 33-mile-wide impression crater fashioned by a large meteorite 360 million years in the past, whereas the path to the summit of Mont du Lac-des-Cygnes provides a 360-degree view of the crater stays and Laurentian massif.
Saguenay Fjord Nationwide Park
The centerpiece of this park situated alongside the jap finish of the Saguenay River is its namesake, the 65-mile fjord that’s the longest on this planet at this low latitude. Its formation reveals a captivating geological story: the results of a glacial collapse 1000’s of years in the past that left an inlet walled by 980-foot-high cliffs. The fjord can also be attention-grabbing in that it empties into an estuary—the Gulf of St. Lawrence—quite than the ocean. The waters of Saguenay Fjord assist a number of marine life, with 4 whale species: blue, fin, minke and beluga. The park is likely one of the finest spots on the planet to see belugas, which congregate in Baie-Sainte-Marguerite in the summertime—don’t miss the Beluga Interpretation Middle right here to study extra. On shore and within the rocky, forested heights above the fjord, different wildlife thrives, though it’s much less ceaselessly seen. Fortunate guests would possibly spy a moose or beaver, or extra not often, a glimpse of black bear, wolf or lynx.
Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park
The one park in Québec to protect and improve an solely marine surroundings, Saguenay-St. Lawrence is world-renowned for whale watching. Its location on the confluence of the St. Lawrence and Saguenay rivers as they drain into the ocean supplies very best habitat for marine mammals and different sealife. On this estuarine surroundings, the dynamic mixing of freshwater and saltwater creates a wealthy meals provide for the eight whale species discovered right here. Accountable excursions with Eco-Whale Alliance operators provide encounters with beluga, sperm, minke, fin, blue, humpback, grey, Northern Atlantic proper, northern bottlenose, and uncommon bowhead whales, all or a few of which can be on view in season, although belugas reside right here year-round. Whereas a number of cetacean species are endangered, some, such because the Northern Atlantic proper whale, are showing in higher numbers in recent times. Greenland sharks, harbor porpoises and a number of other seal species are additionally present in these waters.
Uncover this sampler of Quebec’s nationwide parks while you be a part of Nat Hab to discover the Whales & Nature Trails of Quebec.
Concerning the creator: Wendy Redal View all posts by Wendy Redal
Wendy’s passions are journey, nature, conservation and communication, which intersect in her place as Nat Hab’s Editorial Director. Incorrigibly peripatetic, Wendy has been to greater than 65 international locations and all 50 states. Amongst her most magical wildlife encounters are snorkeling with sea lions within the Galapagos, sitting nose to nose with a silverback gorilla within the mountains of Africa, and watching an enormous brown bear calmly amble by simply toes away within the wilderness of Alaska’s Katmai Nationwide Park.