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Canada’s 150th birthday gift to you: Free pass to national parks all year long

Canada invites all to visit its national parks for free in 2017. Here's one worth seeing: Mt. Rundle from Vermillion Lakes in Banff National Park.
(Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

On July 1, 2017, Canada turns 150 years old. Kicking off the festivities on New Year’s Day, the stewards of the country’s protected natural treasures, Parks Canada, has a gift for all: a free, multiuse pass to the country’s 47 national parks and national park reserves.

Parks and reserves, which indicate areas earmarked as national parks pending native land claim settlements, are located in every one of the country’s 13 provinces and territories from coast to coast to coast (Pacific to Atlantic to Arctic).

The Discovery Pass also offers free access to 171 national historic sites and national marine conservation areas. By the way, it’s the 100th anniversary of the parks agency (America’s National Park Service turned 100 in 2016).

Entry to Canada’s national parks usually costs around $7 per person.

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With the free pass, what things will you still have to pay for? Extra activities, such as tours or parking, normally require a separate fee.

Camping costs also aren’t included, but it’s worth trying out some innovative parks accommodations, like bubble-shaped Cocoon Tree Beds that hang from trees or little Micro-Cube structures with a panoramic window, double bed, two chairs and a table.

The free Discovery Card is good from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2017. You order it online, hang it on your car’s rear-view mirror and show up at the park gate.

Info: Parks Canada’s Discovery Card, (888) 773-8888 or email information@pc.gc.ca

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