Nova Scotia National Parks
Parks Canada is the keeper of the vast array of designated Canadian National Parks, three of which are situated in Nova Scotia. The province is also home to dozens of National Historic Sites, but these three unique parks comprise its trademark properties: stunning natural beauty and peaceful places for a relaxing vacation or eco-travel.
Nova Scotia’s three national parks are:
- Kejimkujik (a Mi’kmaw term meaning “last flow”) or as the locals call it “Keji”) in the central southwestern part of mainland Nova Scotia, next to the Tobeatic Wilderness Area, about halfway between Shelburne on the Atlantic coast and Annapolis Royal on the Bay of Fundy coast
- Cape Breton Highlands around the northern tip of Cape Breton Island, embracing the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and including the famous Cabot Trail
- Sable Island, about 500 kilometres off the southern coast of Nova Scotia, it is technically a sandbar, and home to a herd of wild horses; it is ecologically unique and requires special permission to visit
The Natural Charm of Keji
Easily accessed by two of the main highways (101 along the Fundy shore and 103 along the Atlantic coast, then respectively north or south on Highway 8), Keji makes a great day trip for a commune with nature, or an idyllic vacation camping spot for a weekend or a week.
Administered by the Canadian government (as are all National Parks), and dotted with large and small inland fresh-water lakes, 381-square-kilometre Keji charges admission fees, but they are more than reasonable. Entry passes can be had for a day’s visit or a week’s camping, be that in the main campgrounds, or in the special “back country” campsites, many of the latter accessible by water (and sometimes portage). Essential for camping stays is reservations. Camping at Keji is highly popular with locals, so spots get booked out early.
Keji offers several forms of permanent structures (lodges, yurts and oTENTiks) as well as guided activities, camping school for kids, “dark sky” events for star-gazers, and Aboriginal-inspired activities.
There is also a “Seaside Adjunct” to Keji, situated on the south shore, but it offers walking trails and day visits only, no overnight camping. Perch on the cliffs and watch the seals at play.
Please note that Kejimkujik National Park will be closed for the entire 2020 season due to upgrades in all facilities.
Wild and Scenic Cape Breton Highlands
The word “highlands” is key to what makes Cape Breton Highlands National Park unique. Straddling the coastline of the northern tip of this world-known island, the park is a series of deep forest canyons, rivers, rust-toned cliffs and wild animals (bears, moose, bald eagles, coyotes), connected intrinsically to the sea and its whale populations. Nature vacations at their finest.
The curvy roads that comprise the Cabot Trail, encircling the park, are popular with motorcycle enthusiasts, bicycle riders and motorists. Take the time to stop at look-out points and revel at the scenery, golf at one of the nearby world-class golf resorts, or enjoy local lobster on Ingonish Beach at sunset.
Cape Breton Highlands National park offers camping facilities, 26 hiking trails open year round, and an unparalleled view of the Atlantic and Gulf of St. Lawrence. Visit in the early fall to enjoy the peak of the season in Celtic Colours.
One-of-a-kind Sable Island
The applications begin each January for the limited number of registered permits to visit Sable Island National Park Reserve; expect to also pay an aircraft landing fee.
Because of its natural ecosystem, and various singular attributes, Sable Island’s visitor numbers are strictly controlled. The herd of wild horses that resides there is protected, and there are no hotels or camping available on the island; it is base to a Canadian government station (largely involved with weather tracking, especially hurricanes). This is a day trip destination.
Flights to Sable Island are taken from Halifax Stanfield International Airport and through a private charter company, Sable Aviation 4460 Inc. They run between June and October and are often thwarted by fog in the months of July and August. The airline operates small planes with limited seating capacity.
Sable Island is being recognized for the gem it is, the singular ecological travel experience, and the government is slowly increasing the number of visitors allowed per season (it is closed for much of the year) to enable more people to be part of Sable Island’s mystery and beauty. There are no emergency centres (the station has some care elements, but is not a medical facility), washrooms are limited, and there are no restaurants.
What Sable Island does offer is a magical experience, 500 kilometers off shore, in the middle of the Atlantic. Birds, horses, sand dunes and silence, except for the crashing of the waves. What are you waiting for? Nova Scotia National Parks offer bounty, beauty, peace and fun; be ready to be inspired! Make your plans and reservations today.