As you may well know, this year Canada celebrates its 150th birthday. With that in mind, all national parks in Canada are going to have free admission so you can visit them and enjoy the wonders of all Canada has to offer. Did you know that Markham has its own national park well within its boundaries and you can visit it for free this year too?
Rouge National Urban Park is home to some amazing biodiversity, rich wildlife and ecosystems and is full of recreation opportunities like camping, hiking and swimming. Over 10,000 years old, the park houses some of Canada’s oldest known Indigenous sites. While not fully established since its inception in 2011, Parks Canada is in the process of making Rouge Park Canada’s first national urban park. It will be the largest and best protected urban park in the world with a whopping 79.1 square kilometers. It will actually be 22 times larger than New York City’s Central Park.
What can you do at Rouge National Urban Park?
Whether on your own or during a guided hike, there are a number of spots to check out in this park, with trails ranging in size and difficulty. Some are dog friendly and some are family friendly, while others are best left to experienced hikers.
Rouge Days happens from June 7th until the 1tth and there will be a number of free, family friendly events happening at the park including a “Do You Know Your H20?” walk and talk and a learn to fish program for all ages. There is also a learn to camp program, which is new this year and caters to anyone who hasn’t camped and would love to learn. Think about going camping without the long drive up the 400 to cottage country. You can camp a few minute’s drive from your home!
The Xplorers program is offered at many of Canada’s national parks and includes fun nature activities for kids from age six to twelve. This is a fun way to keep your kids busy and off their screens! The kids would love to see the Blanding’s turtles, which were recently released into the park in an effort to ensure the survival of this threatened species.
How do I get there?
There are a number of entrances to this park as it spans the area of not just Markham, but also Toronto and Pickering. In Markham, you can enter in through Bob Hunter Memorial Park or through the Reesor Road Welcome Area. To get in free this year, you’ll need to order your free Discovery Pass, which will also get you in free to any national park in Canada.