The Bruce Peninsula – National Parks, Bays & Shipwrecks

Categories: Travel reports, North America, Canada

The Bruce Peninsula is a Canadian peninsula in Lake Huron, just a few hours’ drive from Toronto. The 90 km long and maximum 20 km wide peninsula offers its visitors a varied landscape: wild forests for hiking, spectacular bays with bright to emerald green glittering water, limestone cliffs, shipwrecks for diving and camps for camping.

Bruce Peninsula National Park header image

Our trip to the Great Lakes

From our last stop near Algonquin Park to the Bruce Peninsula, there was a long drive ahead of us. We had to cover about 360 kilometers to our destination, the Tobermory Village Campground in the north of the Bruce Peninsula. We had taken a whole day to do this. Halfway through, we took a short lunch break in Collingwood, a small town on the shores of Georgian Bay. Here we had a nice picnic in a park in the most wonderful weather directly on the water and could rest a bit from the ride.

The Blue Mountain Village

Just a few miles from Collingwood is the Blue Mountain Village. Since this was on our route anyway, we also took a break here and took a closer look at this place. Blue Mountain Village is located at the foot of the Blue Mountains, which are among Canada’s top ski and snowboard regions. There is a wide range of restaurants, accommodation, shops and leisure activities. And who thinks that there is only something going on here in the winter season … definitely not: Even in summer there is a lot of activity here.

Our tip: We parked our motorhome on the “Blue Mountain P1 South – Parking Lot” completely free of charge and took about 10 minutes walk from here to the Blue Mountain Village.

Bruce Peninsula National Park

Things to know about the National Park

Founded in 1987, the national park is located in the north of the Bruce Peninsula, which separates Georgian Bay from Lake Huron. The Bruce Peninsula National Park is a true paradise for nature lovers and hiking enthusiasts. And so we also made a hike to a beautiful bay and explored the surroundings a little closer. The entrance fee to the national park costs 7.90 CAD per adult (= 5.50 EUR). Admission is free for children under the age of 17.

Our tip: If you want to visit the highlights of the national park “Indian Head Cove” and “The Grotto” in the period from the end of April to the end of October, you need tickets reserved in advance, which can be booked online on the website of the Park Canada Reservation Centre . The background is the increased number of visitors and the associated traffic, especially in the high season and on weekends, which one would like to curb. With this online reservation you book and pay for a parking space (motorhome or car), the entrance fee and a reservation fee, which cost us a total of 33.50 CAD (about 24 EUR).

A map of Bruce Peninsula National Park

On this map you get a nice overview of the size of the national park and its relatively distributed location in the north of the Bruce Peninsula.

Bruce Peninsula National Park, Map, Map

Bruce Peninsula National Park in Canada

Indian Head Cove

Caribbean? Mediterranean Sea? No! We are in the middle of Canada and can’t really believe it when we arrived at the beautiful Indian Head Cove. The water glittered here near the shore in the wildest colors – from light blue to emerald green. And we would have liked to jump in immediately, but the water temperature here does not reach much more than 20 degrees, so we preferred to leave it at that 😉 But there were still some crazy people (people and dogs) who bathed here. The water is surrounded by flat white limestone cliffs and a small rocky beach. We stayed here for 45 to 60 minutes, looked for beautiful viewpoints and photo spots and simply enjoyed the view. What a breathtakingly beautiful nature!

Rock Formation The Grotto

About a 5 minute walk from Indian Head Cove is The Grotto rock formation. This is considered one of the highlights in the park, but has not knocked us off our feet now. This may also have been due to the fact that the cave was not so beautifully illuminated due to the position of the sun. Basically, there are also different ways to descend to the grotto. However, you should be free of vertigo and climb-tested.

Between Indian Head Cove and “The Grotto” there is a beautiful natural arch (“Natural Arch”), through which you can see the blue waters of Georgian Bay.

The hike from Cyprus Lake P1 Parking Lot to Grotto, Indian Head Cove and the shores of Georgian Bay takes about an hour there and back via the Georgian Bay Trail, without long breaks or photo spots. The beginning of the trail is easily accessible with a wide gravel surface. However, the section that leads to the grotto requires a certain amount of climbing over rocks and tree roots.

Singing Sands Beach

On the coast, sandy beaches alternate with rugged rocky sections. After we had already got to know the rather rocky landscape of the Bruce Peninsula with the Indian Head Cove and the grotto, we wanted to get to know another side of the national park with the Singing Sands Beach . “Singing Sands” is located on the shores of Lake Huron, about 10 km south of the town of Tobermory and has a small, natural beach as well as a picnic area. In addition, there is a short hiking trail that leads through a bog and dune ecosystem, in which predominantly endemic plants, which occur only in the Great Lakes region, can be found.

A parking fee is payable for visiting Singing Sands, which can be paid on site at a parking machine. Our ticket, which we had bought for “The Grotto” and the bay “Indian Head Cove”, had already included it.

The Visitor Centre – Lookout Tower & Little Dunks Bay

Our last stop in the Bruce Peninsula National Park was the visit to the Visitor Centre, which we headed for directly with our motorhome. There is plenty of parking in front of the visitor center. Basically, the visitor center is a great place to learn about the area and get first-hand tips, but it was closed during our visit. Nevertheless, we used the Visitor Centre as a starting point for a nice, short hike: On the one hand, we were able to climb the 20-meter-high Lookout Tower , from which you have a fantastic view of the surroundings. And on the other hand, we walked on the Bruce Trail about 800 meters one-way to the Little Dunks Bay Lookout. Here there was a small observation deck with a beautiful view of Georgian Bay.

The Fathom Five National Marine Park

Fathom Five National Marine Park is a marine reserve established in 1987 that covers an area of 113.5 km² at the northern tip of the Bruce Peninsula and consists of several sections on the peninsula as well as numerous islands.

A ship cruise with Blue Heron Cruises

To get an overview of the Marine Park, we decided to take a boat trip with the excursion provider Blue Heron Cruises. Blue Heron offers two different boat tours from Tobermory: with the “Drop-Off Cruise” you have the opportunity to experience Flower Pot Island as part of a self-guided hike in addition to a scenic cruise. As part of the 1.5-hour “Non Stop Scenic Cruise”, on the other hand, you stay on board all the time and experience the beauty of the Marine Park from there. We opted for the “Non Stop Scenic Cruise” and were totally happy with it. For 2 adults and one child (under 3 years free of charge) we paid 82 CAD (57 EUR).

On the glass bottom boat we looked for a nice sunny spot on the upper deck, from where you also have the best view. Our boat tour started with a visit to Tobermory’s Big Tub Harbour, which is marked by the Big Tub Lighthouse. In the harbor are two shipwrecks from the 19th century, which you could see really well from the upper deck. Our boat did a few laps over the shipwrecks until we drove through the Devil Island Channel as well as through the narrow channel between Cove Island and the Otter Islands. Another highlight of the tour was the drive along the coast of Flowerpot Island. Via Middle Island we finally went back to the port of Tobermory.

Our tip: We have parked our motorhome in the parking lot of the visitor center, as the parking spaces in the town of Tobermory are rare and partly not designed for motorhomes. From the parking lot we walked about 10 minutes to the excursion boats.

The shipwrecks of Tobermory

The Marine Park is home to 27 well-known historic shipwrecks, the two most famous of which are located in Tobermory’s Big Tub Harbour: the “Sweepstakes” and “The City of Grand Rapids” from the 19th century. Both wrecks are visited as part of the sightseeing boat tours and since they are only 0 to 6 meters below water, they are excellent to see from above. In spring and autumn, the wreck is visited by both divers and boats. So that a total chaos does not break out and you do not hinder each other, there are different time windows for divers, snorkelers and the boats to visit the area of shipwrecks.

Flowerpot Island

As part of our boat tour, we also drove along the coast of Flowerpot Island. From the boat we had the opportunity to photograph the two well-known flowerpot-like rock formations on the shore, to which the island owes its name. At the same time, we saw that there were a lot of people on the island and that it sometimes seemed very overrun. We were therefore quite happy that we had opted for the “Non Stop Scenic Cruise”, which did not include a stop on Flower Pot Island.

Our campsite Tobermory Village Campground

The Tobermory Village Campground was definitely the most beautiful campsite of our motorhome trip through Canada. The family-run campsite is located directly on Highway 6 about 3 kilometres from the town of Tobermory, on the northern tip of the Bruce Peninsula. We were totally thrilled that there is a small animal enclosure, several ponds where you can ride a pedal boat for free, a swimming pool with a paddling pool, an outdoor gym, courts for volleyball and basketball, a playground and much more. We were very satisfied with our pitch, because it was very generously designed and framed on both sides by a dense, green hedge.

We can highly recommend a visit to the Bruce Peninsula. For us, the two days on the peninsula and in the national parks were an absolute highlight of our motorhome tour through eastern Canada.

All travel reports from our camper round trip through Canada

Vacation with the camper or motor home in Canada - for many probably quite normal, but for us it was actually the first time. We have never been on the road with a camper, but always wanted to try it. In total, we drove almost 3,300 kilometers with our camper and explored beautiful regions and cities in eastern Canada.
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