Nova Scotia national parks protect endangered wildlife, provide access to ocean beaches, and teach visitors about First Nations culture. Hike, camp, swim, kayak, canoe, and take a scenic drive in Kejimkujik or Cape Breton Highlands national parks.
Both national parks are just a few hours from Halifax, the provincial capital, making them close enough for a weekend getaway or summer hiking trip.
Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia
It is Nova Scotia’s best-known national park and Cape Breton Highlands National Park delights with coastal scenery, wildlife, and highlands hiking. Established in 1936, the national park was the province’s first and sits near the tip of Cape Breton Island in northern Nova Scotia.
This wild space is ringed by the scenic Cabot Trail drive. Although stretching more than 300 km (186 miles) at its full length, the Cabot Trail’s 100-km (62-mile) portion through the national park is the most scenic. Pullover areas allow visitors to stop and photograph the highlands, migrating whales, and the twisting ribbon of pavement.
Cape Breton Highlands National Park visitor centers are well-situated in Ingonish and Cheticamp. Visitor centers can provide maps, hiking suggestions, safety updates, and weather forecasts. Park visitors can also purchase park passes at these locations.
Due to its coastal location, this Nova Scotia national park offers many outdoor activities including beach or lake swimming, hiking, ocean kayaking, and camping. Six campgrounds are located at various points in the park, allowing for an exploration over two or more days. Although only camping is permitted in park boundaries, find Cape Breton hotels, motels, cabins, and hostels in the communities of Ingonish, Pleasant Bay, and Cheticamp.
While it’s possible to see the scenery and drive the Cabot Trail in one day, scheduling a two-day (or longer) park visit provides a more relaxed itinerary to visit cultural centers, museums, and craft shops that introduce you to the area residents.
Kejimkujik National Park, Nova Scotia
Established in 1968, Kejimkujik National Park features lakes and forest hidden in the heart of the province. Nicknamed “Keji”, the park is located in the southern end of the province, midway between Liverpool and Annapolis Royal.
Best-known for its canoeing lakes, the national park offers many other outdoor activities. Camping facilities are situated to make easy use of the quiet lake shore – whether it’s for hiking, canoeing, or relaxing at the beach.
A visitor center introduces the local First Nations history, helps identify wildlife, and administers passes for the park. Visitors can rent canoes and kayaks at Jakes Landing.
Kejimkujik National Park also includes a seaside adjunct – a parcel of land boasting white sand beaches and endangered seabirds. The adjunct is located between Port Mouton and Port Joli, on the South Shore of Nova Scotia.