One of Québec’s many claims to fame is the size and quality of its national parks. Through exploring these protected treasures, one can fully appreciate just how rich in biodiversity this province is. Each national park is special for its own reason; whether it be as the last remaining stronghold of an animal or plant, or the site of a distinctive geological feature, such as a rare type of crater or cave.
Quebec National Parks are located just about everywhere in the province. These range from the most remote reaches of the Gaspé Peninsula to Abitibi-Témiscamingue. A large number are also easily accessible from cities such as Québec and Montréal. The majority are run by the Société des Établissements de Plein Air du Québec (also known as SÉPAQ). However, Parks Canada manages Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve, La Mauricie National Park and Forillon National Park. The two organisations co-operatively run Saguenay-St. Lawrence Marine Park.
Parc National du Lac-Témiscouata is the newest of Quebec National Parks; work began in 2009 and it will be inaugurated in 2013. However, in the meantime cabin rental is available to visitors. Located on the St. Lawrence River in Bas-Saint-Laurent, the highlight of this 17,650 hectare park is Lac Témiscouata. This is the area’s biggest and most spectacular lake. However, thanks to the Monts Notre-Dame, the park features quite a few different types of terrain. To date, about 30 archaeological sites have been discovered; the majority beside Lac Touladi and Petit Lac Touladi. These are a work in progress. A number of the sites may date as far back as 7,000-6,000 BC. It is estimated that 40 types of mammals, 15 types of amphibians and reptiles, 20 types of fish and 150 bird types live in and around Parc national du Lac-Témiscouata.
Lovers of the outdoors naturally gravitate to Québec’s national parks. Here, individuals, couples and families alike can really chill out and indulge themselves in their favourite hobbies; whether it be wildlife watching, swimming, plant spotting, walking, picnicking, cycling, sailing or camping. Each national park has its own guides, who will introduce you to the network of paths. In this way, you can get the most out of your time here. It is generally agreed that the way to really get to know a national park is to explore its rivers via either kayak or canoe, and to hike along its trails.
Winter brings with it a whole new selection of outdoor activities, which Quebec National Parks are perfect for. These range from ice skating, to skiing, to tobogganing, dog sledding and even ice fishing. Most national parks will provide the necessary gear for a fee. The quality of the accommodation facilities that one will find in these parks is known to be excellent, so you can be assured that your stay will be an enjoyable one. In addition to the standard camping facilities, a large number of parks also provide lodgings in chalets or cottages if you like your home comforts. To avoid disappointment, it is recommended that you reserve your accommodation before arrival.