Cape Breton Highlands National Park of Canada

Natural Wonders & Cultural Treasures

Protecting a Significant Canadian Landscape

An aerial view of the park from the Gulf. The Cabot Trail winds around the edge of the plateau.
The highlands plateau, with its steep cliffs and fantastic ocean scenery, is the most striking feature of Cape Breton Highlands National Park.
© Cape Breton Highlands National Park

Cape Breton Highlands National Park is known for its spectacular highlands and ocean scenery. The Cape Breton Highlands are the most striking feature of northern Cape Breton. Steep cliffs and deep river canyons carve into a forested plateau bordering the Atlantic Ocean. One third of the Cabot trail, a world-famous scenic highway, runs through the national park along the coasts and over the highlands.

Established in 1936, the National Park covers 950 square kilometres, protecting about 20% of northern Cape Breton. It is one of the largest protected wilderness areas in Nova Scotia and is one of a system of national parks protecting outstanding Canadian landscapes.

The cool maritime climate and rugged landscape of the park permit a unique blend of Acadian, Boreal and Taiga habitats, plants and animals. This special mix of northern and southern species is not found anywhere else in Canada. Within the park, several dozen species of rare or threatened plants and animals can be found, as well as old growth forests of international importance. Small populations of arctic-alpine plants left over from the last ice age can also be found here.

Geology - The dominant feature of northern Cape Breton is the Cape Breton Plateau.

Plants - Cape Breton Highlands National Park protects part of the Maritime Acadian Highlands Natural Region. This natural region is part of a mixed hardwood-softwood forest that stretches from the Great Lakes to New England and Maritime Canada.

Animals - The rich tapestry of mountains, forests, rivers, lakes and coastlines provides habitats for both northern and southern species of mammals, birds, fish, amphibians, reptiles and invertebrates.

Species at Risk - The plants and animals of northern Cape Breton include a number of species at risk. These species receive special protection to ensure that they do not go extinct.

Natural Environment - Climate, lakes, rivers, surficial deposits and soils play important roles in the northern Cape Breton ecosystem. Marine regions outside the park are also important contributors to the ecosystem.

Parks Canada - Species at Risk