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Cape Breton Highlands National Park, where the sea and the mountains meet, is one of the most enchanting places in Canada. Carved along the famous Cabot Trail coastline, Cape Breton Highlands is a wonderful combination of forested river canyons and rust-colored cliff edges. Once you visit the forest creatures, camp on a cliff with incredible views, or hike along the various trails, you’ll have an experience like no other.  

Tours in Cape Breton Highlands National Park

Where Is Cape Breton Highlands National Park?


Cape Breton Highlands National Park is situated on northern Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia

How to Get to Cape Breton Highlands National Park

Cape Breton road view in Canada

Cape Breton road

There are several ways to get to Cape Breton Highlands National Park. Two of the main roads lead to the western entrance of the park near Chéticam, while two other options lead to the eastern entrance in Ingonish. One of the most scenic routes in North America, the Cabot Trail, goes around northern Cape Breton and continues for nearly 300 kilometers. Approximately one-third of the route runs within the park’s boundaries. 

General information about Cape Breton Highlands National Park

  • Size – 948 sq km (366 sq mi) 

  • Location – Nova Scotia, Canada 

  • Established - 1936 

  • Best time to visit – Jul-Aug 

  • Number of visitors – 300,906 (2019/20) 

  • Activities – Hiking, Fishing, Swimming, Cycling 

Infographic of Cape Breton Highlands National Park

What is Cape Breton Highlands National Park known for?

Cape Breton Highlands National Park As You've Never Seen Before


Cape Breton Highlands National Park became the first national park in the Canadian Atlantic provinces. It covers an area of 948 square kilometers (366 sq mi) and is one of Canada’s 42 national parks.  

The park consists of valleys, mountains, rocky coastlines, waterfalls, and the Cape Breton Highlands, a tundra-like plateau. The maritime climate and rugged landscape of the park allow a unique blend of Acadian, Boreal, and Taiga habitats to thrive. This rare mix of northern and southern species cannot be found anywhere else in Canada. Several dozens of rare and endangered plant and animal species can be found within the park.  

What to Do in Cape Breton Highlands National Park

Cape Breton National Park hiking trail

Hiking trail of Cape Breton Highlands National Park

Hiking

One of the best ways to explore the park and its beauty is by embarking on its 26 hiking trails, ranging from easy strolls to challenging climbs. All hiking trails lead to wonderful panoramic views of canyons, seacoasts, and highlands. 

Fishing

Woman fishing in the river of Cape Breton National Park

Woman fishing in Cape Breton river

During the season, Cape Breton Highlands National Park offers recreational fishing opportunities in its many lakes and rivers. The most popular species for fishing are native brook and speckled trout. Confirm the season dates and catch limits before fishing in the national park. A permit is required, and a license fee is applied, along with some regulations. 

Swimming

Cape Breton Highlands is home to some of the most superb beaches. You can choose between salt and freshwater or enjoy both at the same location.  

Cycling

Rated one of the world’s top cycling destinations, the Cabot Trail is a must-do for any experienced cyclist. The park offers cycling on some designated trails, including Salmon Pools, Clyburn Valley, and Le Vieux Chemin du Cap-Rouge. 

The Best Time to Visit Cape Breton Highlands National Park

Island of Cape Breton in Canada

Cape Breton island seaside view

The best time to go to Cape Breton Highlands National Park is during the summer in July and August - the weather tends to be warmer and drier then. Either way, come prepared for a rain shower. If you decide to travel during September and October, you will be rewarded with wonderful autumn colors, but do not forget to wrap up to keep warm. Most tourist attractions are closed during winter since winters on the island are bitter and harsh. 

Where to Stay in Cape Breton Highlands National Park

Harbor boats of Cape Breton National park

Harbor boats in the lake of Cape Breton

The best way to experience Cape Breton Highlands National Park is by camping! Most campsites are open from mid-May to late-October. There are six front country and one backcountry campsites around the park.  

Front Country Campgrounds: 

  • Broad Cove Campground – Ideal for a beach getaway, close to Ingonish village, and located in a forest, framed by a long, sandy beach on one side. 

  • Chéticamp Campground – Situated in the serene Chéticamp River Valley, this campsite is the perfect setting to disconnect from everyday stress and easily access four out of 26 parks’ hiking trails.  

  • Ingonish Beach Campground – A small, open campground located near the village of Ingonish. Just a 10-minute walk away from the beautiful Ingonish beach, it is the perfect place for hiking and swimming. 

  • Corney Brook Campground – Situated 15 km from Chéticamp, Corney Brook is a small, oceanside campground. It is perfect for hiking and ocean swimming.  

  • MacIntosh Brook Campground – Located 5 km from Pleasant Bay in Grande Anse Valley, MacIntosh Brook Campground is a small area, nestled at the foot of the mountains. 

  • Big Intervale Campground – Located 10 km from Cape North at the base of North Mountain, Big Intervale is a small campground on the Aspy River. 

Backcountry Campgrounds: 

  • Fishing Cove Backcountry Campground – It is the only designated backcountry campground in the park. The Fishing Cove backcountry camping area is a 6 km (3.7 mi) hike down to the rugged coastline. A grassy hillside, a cobblestone beach, and a river define this spectacular camping site. 

  • Non-Designated Backcountry Camping – If you want to stay anywhere else besides Fishing Cove in the backcountry, a permit is required. You will also have to follow the regulations for low-impact camping, such as having no open fires, packing your garbage, etc.