Location: New Brunswick
Date Established: 1948
Size: 50,900 acres
Time and tides wait for no man, the saying goes. And it’s most true at Fundy National Park on New Brunswick’s east coast, where, twice daily, the most dramatic tides in the world cover the ocean bed with up to 38 feet of water—the equivalent of a four-story building. Over the next six hours, the water sluices back to reveal the sea bottom: mucky, covered with seaweed, and bursting with intertidal wildlife.
• Wonder Contender One of Canada’s smallest national parks and New Brunswick’s first, the park encompasses about eight miles of famous Fundy shoreline along Chignecto Bay, as well as a large slice of the maritime Acadian Highlands natural region of Canada. This rich natural system of forests, once threatened by human development, is now recovering nicely; the only human activity here these days is the quiet footfall of hikers traveling its varied network of coastal, forest, and waterfall-destination trails. The park’s Bay of Fundy is now a finalist for one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World.
• Tree Time The Acadian forest here blends two types of tree populations: the more northern evergreen boreal forests of spruce and fir common in northern New Brunswick, and the maple, yellow birch, larch, aspen, beech, and balsam hardwood forests typical of the more southeasterly Great Lakes–St. Lawrence region. This forest, much of it festooned with dangling “old man’s beard” lichen, is growing in place of earlier, logged-out softwoods. A century ago, logging came close to destroying vast swatches of woodland. Today the park is home to the world’s oldest red spruce tree at 400 years old.
How to Get There
Nearby airports include Moncton, St. John, and Fredericton, New Brunswick, with Moncton the closest to the park and Fredericton the farthest away. All three airports have car rentals available.
Bus terminals operate in Moncton and in the village of Sussex, just off Trans-Canada 2. Sussex is closer to the park than Moncton and also has car rental services. Note that there is no public transportation to and from the park itself.
If you are driving to the park from Fredericton, head east on Trans-Canada 2 toward Moncton, turning south at exit 365 (Coles Island) and onto Provincial Hwy. 10 to Sussex. Then head northeast on Hwy. 1, turning east on Hwy. 114 (at exit 211) to the park. From St. John, drive northeast on Hwy. 1, then turn onto Hwy. 114 at exit 211. From Moncton, drive southwest, all the way on Hwy. 114.
When to Go
Peak season runs from late spring through autumn, with the summer months of June, July, and August offering the best weather and a somewhat lower likelihood of stubborn fog, though morning fogs are common throughout the summer and can be great for viewing. The visitor center closes at 4:15 p.m. in spring and fall, and stays open until 9:45 p.m. throughout July and August.
Most campgrounds and campsites are seasonal, except for Headquarters Campground, which is open year-round. Ski and snowshoe trails are kept groomed, as is a tobogganing hill. The road to Point Wolfe closes with the first snow and reopens when it’s clear in the spring.
How to Visit
If you are interested in seeing the tides, be prepared to spend a full day. Tidal timetables change, so check in advance and plan the timing of your visit around them. The federal Fisheries and Oceans timetable can be found online (www.tides.gc.ca).
In addition to the tides, the park offers a nine-hole golf course designed by Stanley Thompson, a heated saltwater swimming pool just off Point Wolfe Road, summer hiking, camping, and shore exploration, as well as winter cross-country skiing, hiking, and snowshoeing. It’s also liberally peppered with iconic Canadian imagery for photographers lucky enough to catch sunlight instead of frequent morning fogs (which usually burn off by mid-afternoon) in summer.
—Text adapted from the 2011 National Geographic book Guide to the National Parks of Canada