Discover Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, British Columbia

Welcome to Gwaii Haanas National Park, a captivating expanse nestled within the rugged terrain of Canada’s remote archipelago. This protected area, located in Haida Gwaii, British Columbia, offers a sanctuary of unparalleled natural beauty and cultural significance. Spanning both land and sea, Gwaii Haanas embodies a unique fusion of terrestrial and marine ecosystems, making it a haven for biodiversity and adventure seekers alike.

Encompassing over 1,500 square miles of pristine wilderness, Gwaii Haanas boasts lush rainforests, towering mountains, and secluded beaches, each contributing to its awe-inspiring landscape. Home to a rich array of flora and fauna, including the iconic Sitka spruce and elusive coastal wolf, the park provides a glimpse into the intricate web of life that thrives in this remote corner of the world.

Beyond its ecological wonders, Gwaii Haanas holds deep cultural significance as the traditional territory of the Haida Nation. For millennia, the Haida people have stewarded these lands and waters, leaving behind a legacy of art, storytelling, and spirituality. Visitors to the park have the opportunity to explore ancient village sites, totem poles, and cultural artifacts, gaining a deeper understanding of the enduring connection between the Haida and their ancestral homeland.


Top 3 Facts About Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve


Marine Biodiversity Hotspot

Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve encompasses approximately 4,000 square kilometers (1,500 square miles) of land and sea, making it one of the most significant marine biodiversity hotspots in Canada. Its waters are home to a diverse array of marine life, including sea otters, humpback whales, and a variety of seabirds.


Haida Gwaii Watchmen

The park is actively managed through a unique partnership between Parks Canada and the Haida Nation. The Haida Gwaii Watchmen program employs local Indigenous guardians who serve as stewards of the land, preserving cultural sites, guiding visitors, and sharing traditional knowledge about the area’s history and ecology.


Ancient Haida Villages

Gwaii Haanas is dotted with over 30 ancient Haida village sites, some of which date back more than 12,000 years. These sites provide invaluable insights into the rich cultural heritage of the Haida people, with intricately carved totem poles, longhouses, and other artifacts offering a window into the past.

Camping and transportation in Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve

info_iconBackcountry camping permits required for wilderness camping opportunities.

How to Get to Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve

Getting to Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve is an adventure in itself due to its remote location. Here are the primary ways to access this pristine wilderness:

  • Boat or Kayak: Many visitors choose to explore Gwaii Haanas by boat or kayak, as this allows for a more intimate experience of the coastal landscape. There are several charter companies that offer guided tours and transportation services to various points within the park. Additionally, experienced kayakers can embark on multi-day paddling trips, camping along the shoreline as they journey through the park’s waterways.
  • Seaplane: Seaplane services are available from nearby towns such as Sandspit and Queen Charlotte City, offering a convenient and scenic way to access Gwaii Haanas. Flights typically land at designated floatplane docks within the park, providing easy access to hiking trails, cultural sites, and remote camping areas.
  • Charter Boat: Some visitors opt to charter a boat from communities like Queen Charlotte City or Skidegate, allowing for a customized itinerary and personalized exploration of the park’s coastal waters. Charter boats can accommodate groups of varying sizes and offer the flexibility to access specific destinations within Gwaii Haanas.
  • Guided Tours: Numerous tour operators offer guided trips to Gwaii Haanas, providing transportation, accommodations, and knowledgeable guides to enhance the visitor experience. These tours may include activities such as wildlife viewing, cultural interpretation, and guided hikes to key attractions within the park.

Places to Stay Near Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve

While there are no accommodations within Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve itself, there are several options for lodging and camping near the park that provide convenient access to its pristine wilderness. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Queen Charlotte City: As the largest community on Haida Gwaii, Queen Charlotte City offers a variety of accommodation options, including hotels, bed and breakfasts, and vacation rentals. From here, visitors can easily access Gwaii Haanas by boat or seaplane, with charter services available for guided tours and transportation.
  • Skidegate: Located near the ferry terminal, Skidegate is another convenient base for exploring Gwaii Haanas. Accommodation options range from cozy guesthouses to waterfront cabins, providing a comfortable and scenic retreat after a day of adventure in the park.
  • Moresby Camp: Situated near the southern entrance to Gwaii Haanas, Moresby Camp offers rustic cabins and campsites in a picturesque forest setting. This family-owned campground provides a peaceful atmosphere and serves as a convenient starting point for exploring the park’s hiking trails and cultural sites.
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Best Time to Go to Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve



Summer is the peak season for visiting Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, offering long days of sunshine and abundant opportunities for outdoor activities. The warm weather and clear skies make it perfect for kayaking along the rugged coastline, camping on secluded beaches, and hiking through ancient rainforests. Wildlife sightings are plentiful during this time, with chances to spot whales, seals, and sea otters in the surrounding waters. Visitors can also immerse themselves in the rich cultural heritage of the Haida people by visiting ancient village sites and participating in cultural events and guided tours. However, it’s essential to book accommodations and transportation well in advance, as summer is the busiest time in the park.



Winter in Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve is a time of solitude and raw natural beauty. While access to the park may be more limited due to rough seas and inclement weather, those who venture here during the winter months are rewarded with a peaceful wilderness experience. Storm-watching along the coastline is a popular activity, offering dramatic views of crashing waves and windswept shores. Winter also provides opportunities for cultural immersion, with storytelling, art workshops, and other indoor activities offered by local Haida communities. While outdoor recreation may be limited, winter in Gwaii Haanas offers a chance to appreciate the park’s rugged beauty in a different light, away from the hustle and bustle of the summer season.



Spring in Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve offers a unique experience as nature awakens from the winter slumber. During this time, the park’s lush rainforests burst into vibrant greenery, and wildflowers dot the landscape, creating a picturesque backdrop for outdoor adventures. Spring is an excellent time for birdwatching, as migratory birds return to the area, and marine life becomes more active along the coastline. Mild temperatures and fewer crowds make it an ideal season for hiking, kayaking, and exploring the park’s cultural sites while enjoying the tranquility of the awakening wilderness.

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Must-See Attractions

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SGang Gwaay (Ninstints) Haida Village

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, SGang Gwaay is one of the region’s most well-preserved ancient Haida village sites. Visitors can explore the remains of longhouses, intricately carved totem poles, and other cultural artifacts, gaining insight into the rich history and traditions of the Haida people.

Hotspring Island (Gandll K’in Gwaayaay)

This unique geological feature offers the chance to soak in natural hot springs surrounded by breathtaking coastal scenery. Accessible by boat or kayak, Hotspring Island provides a tranquil oasis where visitors can relax and rejuvenate amidst the rugged wilderness.

Burnaby Narrows

Between Moresby and Haida Gwaii, Burnaby Narrows is a narrow waterway renowned for its stunning scenery and rich marine life. Kayakers can paddle through the narrows, surrounded by towering cliffs and pristine waters, while watching for seals, sea lions, and orcas.

Helpful Tips: Making the Most of Your Adventure to Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve

Plan Ahead

Plan Ahead

Gwaii Haanas is a remote and protected area, so it’s essential to plan your visit in advance. Research transportation options, accommodations, and permits well before your trip, especially during the peak summer season when demand is high.

Pack Appropriately

Be Prepared for the Elements

Weather conditions in Gwaii Haanas can be unpredictable, with rain and fog common throughout the year. Dress in layers, bring waterproof clothing, and be prepared for changes in temperature and weather conditions, especially if you plan to spend time on the water.

Respect Wildlife

Know Your Limits

Gwaii Haanas offers a range of outdoor activities, from hiking and kayaking to wildlife watching and cultural tours. Be honest about your abilities and choose activities that match your fitness level and experience. Stay safe by staying within your comfort zone and respecting your limitations.

Stay Informed

Obtain Necessary Permits

Depending on your activities and the time of year, you may need permits to visit certain areas of Gwaii Haanas or to participate in specific activities such as camping or fishing. Check with Parks Canada or local authorities to ensure you have the necessary permits before you arrive.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve

To reach the unspoiled beauty of Gwaii Haanas, you’re going to need a boat or a seaplane, as there are no roads leading there. Remember to book your trip with a licensed tour operator or be prepared for a self-guided adventure if you have the necessary experience and equipment.

In Gwaii Haanas, you can spot magnificent creatures, including Humpback whales, orcas, and the unique, local Haida Gwaii black bear. Birdwatchers, you’re in for a treat with the chance to see various seabirds, including puffins and bald eagles.

Steeped in tradition, Haida Gwaii is a treasure trove of Indigenous culture. The Haida people’s history and connection with the land are palpable at sites like SGang Gwaay, an ancient village with hauntingly beautiful totem poles that tell tales of yesteryear.

You won’t want to miss the monumental totem poles at SGang Gwaay, the mystique of the old-growth forests, and the hot springs at Gandll K’in Gwaay.yaay (Hotspring Island). Each spot is a unique testament to the park’s natural and cultural bounty.

Plan ahead for transportation, as Gwaii Haanas is remote. Book your tour operator early to secure your spot. Consider the weather conditions for the time of year you plan to visit, and don’t forget to obtain all necessary permits and orientation required to visit the park.

The Gwaii Haanas Agreement, a milestone cooperative management agreement signed in 1993, represents a powerful alliance between the Government of Canada and the Haida Nation to protect and manage this unique area together. It’s a pioneering blend of Indigenous and government stewardship.

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