by National Geographic

For anyone exploring the national parks of Canada this book is a must because it gives you just enough feel for any park in Canada to help you decide if you want to go there, if you can actually get there, because some like the Torngat Mountains in Newfoundland and Labrador are near impossible to visit for the average traveller, and what you can do when you arrive. The book actually serves both as vacation planner and guide book.

Since I know the Cape Breton Highlands National Park quite well lets look at what the guidebook says about it. All details regarding getting to CBHNP are accurate, on the accompanying map it’s all points proper, suggestions on when to go and what to do if you have just a few hours or maybe a few days all make sense. Hiking, biking, kayaking, golfing and beaching are all mentioned. It’s a fair and accurate representation of the park and efforts are made to emphasize the ‘fascinating terrain’, ‘stunning views’, ‘challenging’ and ‘laid-back’ hikes, flora and fauna, and the ‘hugely rewarding’ activity of cycling the Cabot Trail, the ‘world-famous scenic highway’ that circles the park.

The book also makes notice of the more obscure but truly ‘stunning’ and world-class beach located at South Harbour, just twenty minutes off the Cabot Trail. Other national park sites in Cape Breton including the Alexander Graham Bell Museum and Fortress Louisburg are suggested as further places to explore.

All forty-two parks are covered in the guide, from east to west and as far north as you can get. Maps designed as trip ‘aids’ are well done and lots of park information and activities are included for each locale. There are numerous absolutely gorgeous color photographs from each park described and these alone are worth the price of the book and could easily make the decision to visit a national park in Canada for you.

Though not inclusive for all park features, trails and activities this densely packed, easy to carry around book is worthwhile for people interested in Canada’s vast national park system. The guide’s best advice is to not rush through a park. This is well worth heeding.

– review by Paul MacDougall –

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