Banff National Park

Photo: Jack Nevitt/Shutterstock

For many Americans, it's easy to gloss over their Canadian neighbors to the north. As one of the most powerful countries on Earth, the U.S. does a great job at squeezing itself into the spotlight and overshadowing everyone else. In the case of Canada, this even happens with the two countries' national holidays, which happen to fall just a few days apart. While the U.S. Independence Day on July 4 is known for being a spectacularly raucous affair with fireworks, cookouts and lots and lots of drinking, Canada Day on July 1 tends to be a much more subdued observance.

Although Canadians aren't ones to brag, ignoring the natural beauty of this country would be a grave mistake when considering the vast swath of lands covered in rugged mountains, crystal clear lakes, massive glaciers, desolate tundra and lush, temperate rain forests. To celebrate Canada's birthday, MNN brings you this breathtaking glimpse into the variation of landscape and geography found within 17 of the country's most amazing national parks.

To kick things off, let's spotlight Canada's oldest and most visited national park!

Banff National Park (above)

  • Location: Alberta
  • Park size: 2,564 square miles
  • Established: 1885
  • Fun fact: Because the blue-green waters of Banff's Moraine Lake are fed by glacial melt, the water levels don't reach their peak crest until late June.

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Kluane National Park

Photo: Christopher Kolaczan/Shutterstock

Kluane National Park and Reserve

  • Location: Yukon Territory
  • Park size: 8,499 square miles
  • Established: 1976
  • Fun fact: Mount Logan, the highest mountain in Canada, is located in Kluane.

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Prince Edward National Park

Photo: Ryan Tir/Flickr

Prince Edward Island National Park

  • Location: Prince Edward Island
  • Park size: 8.5 square miles
  • Established: 1937
  • Fun fact: Due to human impact, this small stretch of shore is considered the most endangered park in Canada's system.

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Vuntut National Park

Photo: Wikimedia

Vuntut National Park

  • Location: Yukon Territory
  • Park size: 1,678 square miles
  • Established: 1995
  • Fun fact: Just across the border from Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, this park is so undeveloped that it doesn't even have roads or trails.

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Quttinirpaaq National Park

Photo: Ansgar Walk

Quttinirpaaq National Park

  • Location: Nunavut Territory
  • Park size: 14,585 square miles
  • Established: 1988
  • Fun fact: Located within Canada's newest territory, Quttinirpaaq means "top of the world" in the Inuktitut language, which makes sense considering it is the second most northerly park on Earth after Northeast Greenland National Park.

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Yoho National Park

Photo: Nelu Goia/Shutterstock

Yoho National Park

  • Location: British Columbia
  • Park size: 507 square miles
  • Established: 1886
  • Fun fact: Yoho is a part of Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks World Heritage Site — a contiguously protected area that also includes Banff, Jasper and Kootenay National Parks.

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Auyuittuq National Park

Photo: Patrick Poendl/Shutterstock

Auyuittuq National Park

  • Location: Nunavut Territory
  • Park size: 7,370 square miles
  • Established: 1976
  • Fun fact: Situated on the fjords, glaciers and ice fields of Baffin Island's east coast, this park's name means "the land that never melts" in the Inuktitut language.

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Mount Revelstoke National Park

Photo: Richard Cavalleri/Shutterstock

Mount Revelstoke National Park

  • Location: British Columbia
  • Park size: 100 square miles
  • Established: 1914
  • Fun fact: Flush with old-growth Western Redcedar and Western Hemlock, Mount Revelstoke is home to the only temperate inland rain forest in the world.

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Waterton Lakes National Park

Photo: MountainHardcore/Shutterstock

Waterton Lakes National Park

  • Location: Alberta
  • Park size: 195 square miles
  • Established: 1895
  • Fun fact: The park and its lakes are named after Victorian naturalist and conservationist Charles Watson.

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Fundy National Park

Photo: Daniel Zuckerkandel/Shutterstock

Fundy National Park

  • Location: New Brunswick
  • Park size: 80 square miles
  • Established: 1948
  • Fun fact: Although technically not inside the limits of the park, the Hopewell Rocks (seen above) are stunning 70-foot-tall rock formations sculpted by tidal erosion.

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Kootenay National Park

Photo: BGSmith/Shutterstock

Kootenay National Park

  • Location: British Columbia
  • Park size: 543 square miles
  • Established:1920
  • Fun fact: For visitors looking for some rest and relaxation, Kootenay boasts a swimming-friendly hot springs pool that ranges in temperature from 95-117 degrees Fahrenheit.

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Point Pelee National Park

Photo: Nahaiciuc/Shutterstock

Point Pelee National Park

  • Location: Ontario
  • Park size: 5.8 square miles
  • Established: 1918
  • Fun fact: Extending out into Lake Erie, this scenic marshy peninsula is the southernmost point of mainland Canada.

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Sirmilik National Park

Photo: Gierszep

Sirmilik National Park

  • Location: Nunavut Territory
  • Park size: 8,570 square miles
  • Established: 2001
  • Fun fact: Bylot Island (seen above) is one of the largest uninhabitated islands in the world, but it regularly receives local Inuit visitors embarking on seasonal hunting trips.

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La Mauricie National Park

Photo: Pierre Leclerc/Shutterstock

La Mauricie National Park

  • Location: Quebec
  • Park size: 207 square miles
  • Established: 1970
  • Fun fact: Featuring 150 lakes and countless smaller ponds, La Mauricie is a great place for canoeing and kayaking.

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Bruce Peninsula National Park

Photo: Meg Wallace Photography/Shutterstock

Bruce Peninsula National Park

  • Location: Ontario
  • Park size: 60 square miles
  • Established: 1987
  • Fun fact: A major attraction within the park is the famous Grotto (seen above), which is located between the Georgian Bay trails and Marr Lake.

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Gros Morne National Park

Photo: Wildnerdpix/Shutterstock

Gros Morne National Park

  • Location: Newfoundland and Labrador
  • Park size: 697 square miles
  • Established: 1973
  • Fun fact: The park was designated a World Heritage Site for its breathtaking scenery and unique geology, which illustrates the obduction process of plate tectonics.

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Pacific Rim National Park

Photo: Hanze/Shutterstock

Pacific Rim National Park Preserve

  • Location: British Columbia
  • Park size: 197 square miles
  • Established: 1970
  • Fun fact: Filled with lush temperate rainforests and ruggy, undeveloped coasts, this park is best experienced with visits to Long Beach, the Broken Group Islands and the West Coast trail.

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Catie Leary is a photo editor at Mother Nature Network. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.