10 great places to connect with nature

Canada has so many natural wonders to discover. We manage more than 50 National Wildlife Areas (NWAs) across the country for wildlife conservation, research, and interpretation. Ten of them are open to the public, so that you can experience these amazing spaces, enjoy an array of activities and spend some time connecting with nature.

Alaksen National Wildlife Area

Alaksen National Wildlife Area (35 km from Vancouver, BC) is part of the Fraser River delta, an area of roughly 67,000 hectares (ha). It is an internationally important migration stop-over and wintering area for many migratory birds along the Pacific coast. The delta attracts up to 1.4 million birds from Siberia to South America each year. It is made up of a mosaic of estuarine habitats, remnant wetlands, riparian forests, agricultural areas and urbanized zones.

Activities: You can explore our network of trails, geocache, watch wildlife, and participate in interpretive programming for groups of all ages.

Vaseux-Bighorn National Wildlife Area

Vaseux-Bighorn NWA, California Bighorn Sheep
Photo: Neil Dawe

Vaseux-Bighorn National Wildlife Area (80 km from Kelowna, BC) provides significant habitat to species at risk, migratory birds and other wildlife. The charismatic California bighorn sheep can be found there. This area is a dynamic natural system which has been influenced by erosion, flooding, fire, grazing, and other natural processes.

Activities: You can follow a short boardwalk through the area, geocache, and see magnificent views of the landscape from the wildlife viewing tower.

Last Mountain Lake National Wildlife Area

Last Mountain Lake National Wildlife Area (140 km from Regina and Saskatoon, SK) contains a wealth of birdlife due to its good habitats and strategic location in the heart of the central flyway of North America. It is one of the most productive lakes in southern Saskatchewan. Spectacular populations of migrating ducks, geese, Sandhill Cranes and other birds use the area as they travel between their northern breeding grounds and southern wintering grounds.

Activities: You can take a driving tour with interpretive stops, get a birds-eye view from an observation tower, geocache, fish, hunt, canoe, hike, bird-watch and photograph the wildlife.

Big Creek National Wildlife Area

Big Creek National Wildlife Area (67 km from Woodstock, ON) is home to a wealth of wildlife, including birds, frogs, turtles, amphibians and insects, all of which rely on wetland habitats. The extensive marshes at the mouth of Big Creek are relatively undisturbed compared to other Great Lakes coastal wetlands. Located at the base of the Long Point peninsula, the marshes are a major staging area for waterfowl. More than 200 bird species use the area during their spring and fall migrations.

Activities: You can enjoy views of wildlife and their habitat from either of the two viewing towers and participate in geocaching activities.

Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area

Prince Edward Point NWA, Lake Ontario beach
Photo: Jeff Robinson

Prince Edward Point National Wildlife Area (70 km from Belleville, ON) has a unique geographic location. A diversity of habitats results in a spectacular number of migratory birds to concentrate at the tip of the peninsula. Large numbers of raptors pass through the area during spring and fall migration. On the Canadian side of Lake Ontario, this is the location with the densest population of birds during migration. More than 300 species of birds have been recorded on the point, including songbirds, waterfowl, owls and hawks.

Activities: You can pack a picnic, swim at one of several small unsupervised gravel beaches, geocache or register for interactive programs that are offered seasonally. You can also explore the small network of hiking trails to enjoy the sights and sounds of the local wildlife and their habitat.

Cap Tourmente National Wildlife Area

The Cap Tourmente National Wildlife Area (50 km from Quebec City, QC) is made up of marshland, plains and forests, and is located on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River. Its purpose is to protect the American Bulrush marshes that serve as the primary habitat of the Greater Snow Goose during migration. Its contrasting landscapes have been shaped by the meeting of the river, large coastal marshes, plains and mountains.  With a multitude of habitats, Cap Tourmente is home to a wide diversity of animals and plants. This includes more than 325 bird species, 30 mammal species, 22 types of forest stands and 700 plant species. Many of these species are at risk, including the Peregrine Falcon, the Bobolink, and the Butternut.

Activities: You can hike, geocache, observe wildlife, take pictures and participate in any of the interactive programs that are offered seasonally.

Lac Saint François National Wildlife Area

(available in French only)

Lac Saint François National Wildlife Area (120 km from Montreal, QC) is made up mainly of swamps and marshes consisting of Carex and Typha plant communities. It also contains wooded wetlands which are populated by Red Maple stands, and well-drained dry woods of  hawthorn, hickory and maple. The biodiversity of the area is among the most remarkable in Quebec. It is home to more than 287 animal species and 547 plant species, many of which are at risk.

Activities: You can explore the visitor's centre and participate in guided tours on foot or in a rabaska canoe. You can also geocache, participate in seasonal activities or hunt waterfowl in the fall.

Cape Jourimain National Wildlife Area

Cape Jourimain National Wildlife Area (95 km from Moncton, NB; 70 km from Charlottetown, PEI) has an extraordinary variety of ecosystems, including salt marshes, brackish marshes, fresh water wetlands, barrier beach, sand dune and upland. The area functions as a refuge for about 170 species of native and migratory birds. It provides valuable nesting, rearing and migration habitat for several bird species in addition to waterfowl and shorebirds like the Osprey, which uses the area's nesting platforms.

Activities: You can explore the network of well-marked and accessible trails, geocache, and participate in educational programs and tours offered by the Cape Jourimain Nature Centre. This centre also offers a full-service restaurant, interpretation centre and day camp programming for children.

Shepody National Wildlife Area

Shepody National Wildlife Area wetlands (46 km from Moncton, NB) support large numbers of mud shrimp, the principle food source for millions of fall migrating shorebirds to Central and South America, including the Semipalmated Sandpiper. These wetlands provide important production, staging and migration habitat for waterfowl. The freshwater wetlands provide some of the best nesting habitat in the Atlantic provinces for many marsh birds.

Activities: You can hike, geocache, and observe and photograph wildlife, especially in the spring and fall when huge numbers of shorebirds pass through the area. The interpretation centre offers programming during the spring, summer and fall.

Chignecto National Wildlife Area

Chignecto NWA, aerial view
 Photo: D. MacKinnon

Chignecto National Wildlife Area (200 km from Halifax, NS, 80 km from Moncton) has a wide diversity of habitats due in part to geological features. An impressive variety of birds can be found here, including waterfowl such as the Mallard, Black Duck, Northern Pintail, and Ring-necked Duck. Many mammals can also be seen, including the Masked Shrew, Northern Flying Squirrel, Star-nosed Mole, Red Fox, Snowshoe Hare and Woodchuck.

Activities: You can hike, geocache, and observe and photograph wildlife.

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