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Banff - Alberta
Crater Lake - Oregon
Glacier - British Columbia
Glacier - Montana
Gwaii Haanas - British Columbia
Jasper - Alberta
Kootenay - British Columbia
Mount Rainier - Washington
Mount Revelstoke - British Columbia
Nez Perce - Idaho, Oregon, Montana and Washington
North Cascades - Washington
Olympic - Washington
Pacific Rim - British Columbia
Waterton Lakes - (Alberta), Montana
Yellowstone - Idaho, Montana, (Wyoming)
Yoho - British Columbia
Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument - Washington

Nez Perce National Historical Park
Big Hole National Battlefield

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British Columbia

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British Columbia

The Pacific Northwest
National Parks

The Go Northwest! definition of the Pacific Northwest includes the province of British Columbia, with a small extension into Alberta via Banff and Jasper national parks situated on the Rocky Mountains border, and via Waterton Lakes National Park on the US/Canada border.

National Parks in Canada are administered by Parks Canada, which is part of the Department of Canadian Heritage.

Areas appropriate for designation as a national park are "representative natural areas of Canadian significance." Representative is a key definition here, for the park system is aware "there should be at least one national park located in each of Canada's 39 natural regions. To achieve this, 17 additional national parks are needed." In addition to their natural features, many national parks contain areas of cultural and historic significance. By law, national parks are protected for public understanding, appreciation and enjoyment, while being maintained in an unimpaired state for future generations. As well, management of the parks must ensure the protection of their "ecological integrity." That is, "a condition where the structure and function of an ecosystem are unimpaired by human activity and are likely to persist."

British Columbia and southwestern Alberta are situated within the so-called "Western Mountains" geographical unit. Within the Western Mountains are 9 of those 39 identified natural regions mentioned above.

Pacific Rim National Park Reserve and South Moresby Island/Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve are in the fjordal Pacific Coast Mountains natural region. Glacier and Mount Revelstoke national parks are in the rugged Columbia Mountains natural region. Banff, Yoho, Waterton Lakes, Jasper and Kootenay national parks are in the forested Rocky Mountains natural region.

Since the 1885, with the establishment of Banff National Park, the system has grown to include 38 national parks and national reserves, and 4 marine areas encompassing about 224 466 km2, or about 2% of Canada's land mass.

Historically some parks were created around national transportation corridors, and incorporated communities and recreational facilities such as golf courses and commercial downhill skiing areas. Although these continue to exist, Parks Canada regards such land usage as inappropriate for future parks. No additional lands will be made available for the expansion of golf courses and skiing areas, or for private cottages and camps or seasonal camping areas.

The parks are managed according to a system of zones. The zones are:

  • Zone 1 - Special Preservation
    Contain unique or endangered natural or cultural features. Motorized access is prohibited and this may sometimes extend to any public access.
  • Zone 2 - Wilderness Areas
    Motorized access prohibited. None or rudimentary visitor services and facilities provided, such as trails and campsites.
  • Zone 3 - Natural Environment
    Motorized access allowed with an emphasis on public transit. Minimal services and facilities of a rustic nature provided.
  • Zone 4 - Outdoor Recreation
    Motorized access allowed
  • Zone 5 - Park Services
    Communities in existing national parks which contain a concentration of visitor services, support and administration facilities.

It is the policy of Parks Canada that sport hunting is not permitted in the national parks, although sport fishing may be permitted in designated areas.

Parks Canada
Home page for the national parks section of the official web site.

Canadian Parks Partnership

United States

flagusa.jpg (2853 bytes)
The Go Northwest! definition of the Pacific Northwest includes the states of Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington, with a small extension into Wyoming via Yellowstone National Park.

National Parks in the United States are administered by the National Parks Service (NPS), which is headquartered in Washington, DC. The NPS is one of four United States federal land management agencies. The other three are the Bureau of Land Management, the US Forest Service, and the Fish and Wildlife Service. The NPS is designated by law to "promote and regulate the use of the...national parks...which purpose is to conserve the scenery and the natural and historic objects and the wild life therein".

Since 1872 the National Park System has grown to include more than 370 areas covering more than 80 million acres. All have been found to have natural, cultural, or recreational resources of national significance.

National Park System "units" come in many forms:

  • National Battlefields (1 in the Northwest)
  • National Cemeteries
  • National Historical Parks (3 in the Northwest)
  • National Historic Sites (3 in the Northwest)
  • National Lakeshores
  • National Memorials (1 in the Northwest)
  • National Monuments (5 in the Northwest)
  • National Parks
    The NPS describes these as "generally large natural places having a wide variety of attributes, at times including significant historic assets. Hunting, mining and consumptive activities are not authorized." (7 in the Northwest)
  • National Parkways
  • National Preserves
  • National Recreation Areas (3 in the Northwest)
  • National Reserves (2 in the Northwest)
  • National Rivers
  • National Seashores
  • National Trails
  • Affiliated Areas (2 in the Northwest)

NPS Web Site

This is the "home page" for NPS. To find pages on a particular National Park at this web site, click "Visit Your National Parks" and then, scroll down to "Find a Park". (Go Northwest! also has direct links to the individual Parks.)

National Park Reservation Service
Official NPS web site for making online campground and tour reservations.

Pacific Northwest NPS Map
Large, easy-to-read map showing the National Park System units in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Montana. Might take over a minute to download.

Park Geology Tour of National Parks
Great tours with descriptions, photos and maps.

More Web Sites

National Park Foundation
The official nonprofit partner of the NPS, and whose activities include fundraising and land acquisition. To find pages on a particular National Park at this web site, click "Guide to National Parks". (Go Northwest! also has direct links to the individual Parks.)

National Park Photos
A database of photos from various US national parks, including, Crater Lake, Mt St Helens, Olympic and Yellowstone.

Click for a Go Northwest! map of National Parks and other attractions in the Pacific Northwest.

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