Bruce Peninsula National Park
As one of the largest protected areas in Southern Ontario, Bruce Peninsula National Park beckons with rugged natural cliffs that rise out of the turquoise water of the Georgian Bay. With plenty of activities and enough scenic landscapes to keep you busy for days on end, there is something for everyone at this national park!
Just 300 km from Toronto, Bruce Peninsula National Park is easily accessible from Highway 6.
For up-to-date information and details on the Bruce Peninsula National Park, we recommend you visit their website. For information about other places of interest to explore nearby, keep scrolling to see what Destination Ontario recommends.
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More about Bruce Peninsula National Park
Situated on 156 square km of protected land in Southern Ontario, Bruce Peninsula National Park is a treasure trove for natural adventure. Since its establishment in 1987, the park has provided incredible outdoor experiences for visitors of all ages.
The park sits atop the Niagara Escarpment, a long cliff created by retreating tectonic plates that is most famous for producing Niagara Falls. The rock of the escarpment is approximately 400 million years old, and its height above Georgian Bay makes for gorgeous views of the water and surrounding area. There are plenty of marked vistas in the park where visitors can view spectacular sunrises and sunsets.
Erosion caused the creation of the dramatic limestone cliff sides, including various overhanging cliffs along the shore. In other areas, deeper erosion formed caves, which visitors can visit by hiking down to the shoreline.
One scenic sea cave has a pool of clear blue water and an underwater tunnel leading to Georgian Bay that often glows on sunny days. This spectacular cave is called “The Grotto,” and it’s one of the most popular features in the park. Parking nearby is limited, so be sure to use the park’s online reservation system to book a timeslot in advance. Campers staying at Cyprus Lake Campground can easily hike to The Grotto from their campsite.
The park is also home to other coves and caves that curious visitors can explore. Indian Head Cove is home to naturally sculpted limestone cliffs and a cobblestone beach, while Driftwood Cove boasts a rare cliff-edge ecosystem with some of the oldest trees in eastern North America.
Bruce Peninsula features an abundance of hiking trails of all difficulties, which run through lush forests and along the rugged shoreline. The trails provide access to incredible scenery, just make sure you’re prepared for your hiking journey. One of the trails even connects to the Bruce Trail, the oldest and longest marked hiking trail in the country. At scenic overlooks and along the trails, be sure to keep an eye out for wildlife. The park is home to black bears, snowshoe hares, red foxes, porcupines, deer, coyotes and plenty of other critters.
Also keep an eye out for orchids, which Bruce Peninsula is known for. With at least 34 types in the park, Bruce Peninsula is an ecological hotspot for rare and unique orchids in North America. Don’t pick the flowers, though! It’s illegal to pick or harvest plants in any national park.
Those who wish to spend the night at Bruce Peninsula National Park have five different options for camping: drive-in sites at the Cyprus Lake Campground, group camping at Cyprus Lake, backcountry camping along the Bruce Trail, yurt camping and winter camping.
Bruce Peninsula is also a designated Dark Sky Preserve, an area that restricts artificial light pollution, making it ideal for stargazing. During Dark Skies Weekends in July, the Bluewater Astronomical Society holds educational events for night sky viewing.
There are plenty of other activities in the park — from bouldering to birdwatching, geocaching to fishing, canoeing to snowshoeing.
Weather-wise, the climate of Bruce Peninsula National Park is typical for maritime locations — relatively cool summers and mild winters. Summer is its peak season, especially the months of July and August and during long holiday weekends. Visit in the spring or fall for fewer crowds. The Visitor Centre, located in the village of Tobermory, has all the information you’ll need before you head into the park. Conveniently, it also serves as the visitor centre for nearby Fathom Five National Marine Park, a great add-on for any trip to Bruce Peninsula.
Before you leave the Visitor Centre, climb the 112 steps to the top of the 20-metre viewing tower, where you’ll be presented with aerial views of the surrounding landscape. Inside the centre, there’s a 100-seat theatre where the park’s film, “Life on the Edge,” is shown regularly. Park staff will be available to answer any questions you may have.
Bruce Peninsula National Park features restrooms, parking areas, picnic shelters, and a gift shop. Admission fees vary, but a detailed list can be found online, along with information about camping fees and services.