Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Point Pelee National Park - Canada

Ah!  Now this is what geocaching is all about... walking on sandy beaches, waves lapping against your ankles, under a beautiful blue sky, cooled off by a Great Lake breeze!  TaGeez and I had the urge to get away so across the border we went!  We have a Canadian National Park just 40 miles from our front door, and Point Pelee National Park was well worth the trip!

Point Pelee is the ninth national park opened in Canada, but it's the first opened for ecological reasons.  With 70% marshland, it is both a bird habitat and a butterfly habit on the southernmost tip of Canada.  That famous tip?  It was once a land bridge that connected Canada to Ohio!

Follow the bouncing ball!
That's us at the tip!
Point Pelee, a 10-kilometre sandspit with its southern point equal in latitude to the northern border of California, contains one of Canada's smallest but most unusual national parks. A thin triangle jutting into Lake Erie at the southernmost point of Canada, the 20 square kilometre landscape boasts a unique blend of vegetation in the marshes, jungle-like Carolinian forest, Savannah grasslands and unpredictable beachfront, supporting a complexity of wildlife. The early attraction the peninsula had for the first people to come in search of game, continues in the overwhelming popularity the park has amongst bird watchers and day visitors.

Here are the highlights of our adventure and the Point Pelee National Park - Canada Earth Cache (GC17DQ5 by ByeTheWay) :
  • The entrance gate accepts USD (we missed currency exchange at the bridge). The cost was $13.90 for 2 adults (this includes the tram ride to the point and access to all these beautiful beaches!). We were geeked that the signage and all the rangers greeted us in English and French. Hello! Bon Jour! 

  • Orientation: We pulled off to get the lay of the land and plan our day. We lingered over the displays and then moseyed over to the first of four beaches. We discovered the water on the West side of the peninsula is relatively tranquil and summer warm but the water on the East side near the point is refreshingly cool with powerful waves.

#GenerationNature trackable

The North Beach (near Orientation center)
  • Boardwalk: Still taking our time, we pulled in to explore the marsh area and bird & butterfly habitats. At first, I wasn't thrilled about the "floating" boardwalk - I have a fear of bridges - but the view was absolutely breathtaking. It wasn't long before TaGeez led me along the entire 1.42 km length. None of our pictures do it justice. I can't wait to bring WikidKriket back here - they do kayak rentals, too!

  • DeLaurier House: This peninsula was once occupied by the British.  Eventually, private residences were built on the peninsula.  This one (former residence of the CO's uncle) was a nice little break midway along the peninsula. We read the signs and took pictures. Peaceful.

  • Visitor Center: As we approached the main doors, we were greeted by a 2-foot long snake crossing our path. And once we entered, we were greeted by a ranger giving a lecture accompanied by an 8-year old yellow snake. Happily, those were the only snake-sightings we had. After searching for the CO's answers in the museum, we stopped to speak to the ranger (Hello! Bon Jour!) about the land bridge. She pointed on the giant map behind her the approximate location of the bridge that spanned from Canada to Ohio. Fascinating! 

  • The Tram: By the time we loaded into the tram, we were ready for a few minutes of shade and peaceful contemplation. Lovely 2.5 km ride down a tree-lined road, catching glimpses of water through the trees on either side of us. After disembarking, we posed for photos at the Tip Exhibit and then at the 42nd parallel sign. Then, hand-in-hand, we strolled to the point.

So much activity overhead!
Barn swallows everywhere!

"You are now just south of the 42nd parallel, as far south as Rome
 and Barcelona.  Some of Canada's rarest plants and animals
are found at Point Pelee because of its mild southerly climate."
  • The Sandspit: You step out of the shady trees onto a beautiful, sandy beach. The waves are powerful here, and, as it's high tide, most of the spit is under water. A nice German family agreed to take our picture (the one at the top of this post), and we stayed to enjoy the point long after our tram-mates returned to the depot. I've lived off the ocean in 3 states, but nothing is as breathtaking as the blue, clear water of a Great Lake.

  • Black Willow Beach: Before leaving for the day, we had to make one more stop at one of the lovely beaches for a little more toe-dipping.  Beautiful!

The only disappointments of the day were the biting flies while waiting for the tram and the missed opportunity to eat at big, red double-decker bus outside the main gates.  Apparently, the bus serves the best fish tacos so we will have to come back!


  1. Oh Elisa! This brought back so many memories. Point Pelee was one of Jack and my favorite spots. We would go to watch the Monarch butterflies rest before gathering up for the flight across the lake. We would go to watch the warblers migrate through in the spring. We would go just because it was beautiful. We loved the boardwalk too! You just never knew what you would see.

    1. Thank you for sharing that, Lauri <3 We definitely want to go back. Apparently, the park received a grant and will have a new visitor center in the next two years!


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