OTTAWA – Parks Canada spent over $150,000 on a phone survey to determine whether or not Canadians enjoyed their experience at national parks in 2017.

It turns out, they did, a lot.

Of the 3,090 people surveyed, 94 per cent reported they had a good time while visiting a national park, historic site, or waterway during Canada’s 150th year.

"Enjoyment from the visit was almost universal," the survey report said.

The top reasons for having a top-notch time? According to 52 per cent of people, the "natural beauty and scenery," while 16 per cent cited physical activity like hiking and skiing as the reason. Another 15 per cent said beaches, waterways, or waterfalls were the best part of their visit.

Though, the park experience didn't dazzle all. Five per cent of respondents said they had an average time, while one per cent said they did not enjoy their time gallivanting through a national park or taking in a heritage site.

The Liberals made admission free to Parks Canada national parks and historic sites for 2017, as part of the country's Canada 150 celebrations. Millions took advantage of the "Discovery Pass," and the government has since announced it will keep admission free for youth 17 and under permanently.

Among the suggestions for improving visitor satisfaction were maintaining the free access, better parking, and improved camping facilities.

Other highlights from the survey:

  • 1 in 4 visitors were first-time national park goers
  • Banff National Park was the most popular park destination
  • The Rideau Canal was the most popular waterway or historic site visited
  • 1 in 5 visitors went to spend time with friends and family
  • 8 in 10 visitors said they learned something while there

The cost to conduct the survey was $150,821.10. It replaced the annual satisfaction surveys usually done on-site at various locations each year.

The 2017 visitor satisfaction survey commissioned by Parks Canada, and conducted by EKOS Research, has a 1.9 per cent margin of error.

The findings were given to the government in November 2017 and recently posted online under rules that make it so that any public opinion research commissioned by the government be made available to Library and Archives Canada within six months.