In celebration of Canada’s sesquicentennial, all National Parks are offering free admission and there is no better way to celebrate than by taking advantage of that generous offer. Because Canada is not just about stunning vistas, consider a stop at local Canada Day festivities to rub shoulders with some of the people that make Canada a great nation. Below are some ideas involving Canada’s world class national parks as well as regions that offer fantastic hiking opportunities.

Lake at Sunshine Meadows Hike in Banff National Park

Take your family up for a day at Sunshine Village enjoying the stunning Sunshine Meadows. Your hike can be as short or as long as you want, and this summer they’ve added lots of new activities.

Canada Day festivities in Banff begin with the traditional pancake breakfast at 9 a.m., followed by the parade down Banff Avenue starting at 11:30. Afterwards, head to the Central Park for a full day of activities, including music by the Calgary Fiddlers. The truly adventurous have been known to celebrate Canada’s birthday with a dip in the frigid waters of Lake Louise. Be warned, however, the water really is very cold. Fireworks illuminate the mountains about 11 p.m.

Opal Hills Jasper Hikes

For a hike that offers stunning scenery but will still leave you plenty of time to celebrate Canada Day in other ways, try the Opal Hills Hike. Although the grade is steep in places, this one is worth the effort. This moderately difficult hike will take most hikers three to five hours to finish.

The Canada Day festivities in Jasper begin at 8:30 a.m. with a pancake breakfast in Centennial Park. The parade begins at the Activity Centre at 1 p.m. Afterwards, head back to Centennial Park for a full day of activities including a party for children, a beer garden for adults and live music, all culminating with fireworks at 11:15 p.m.

Joffre Lakes Hike in Whistler

Wake up early and get out to Joffre Lakes. This is a wonderful, but very busy 12 km hike with some fairly steep stretches but the views of the lakes and the Matier Glacier are stunning.

Whistler celebrates Canada Day with several days of music, entertainment and special events. July 1 begins with the traditional pancake breakfast at 9 a.m. The parade begins at noon followed by free locally-made gelato in the town plaza, street entertainment throughout the village and a wine and beer garden from 6 to 10 p.m. At 8:30 p.m. the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra will offer a performance under the stars

Mountain at Burstall Pass Hike in Canmore

Burstall Pass  offers some of the best views in the Rockies. This is an intermediate level hike that is 15 km long and will take the average hiker between four and six hours.

Canada Day festivities at Canmore start off with the Calgary Stampede Pancake Breakfast at Centennial Park at 8 a.m. For those looking to work off a few pancakes, a fun run begins at Centennial Park at 9 a.m. The Parade begins on Main Street at noon. Back at Centennial Park, a full day of activities are planned from 1 to 9:30 p.m., including indigenous drummers and dancers, a variety of performances, and bouncy castles, face painting, balloons and a petting zoo among other events for the kids.