Along the way, we made a stop in Kouchibouguac National Park, which provided us with a memorable (and unexpected) low tide adventure.
Kouchibouguac National Park
If you look at a map, it made absolutely no sense for us to drive from our last stop in Annapolis Royal to Fundy National Park by way of Kouchibouguac National Park.
But that’s what we had to do to get out of Hurricane Dorian’s path. Even then, we hunkered down for a full day of torrential rains and winds.
When the winds calmed and the sun came out, we were delighted that we had been diverted to Kouchibouguac. In the language of the Mi’kmaq, Kouchibouguac (pronounced KOOSH-e-boo-gwack) means ‘river of long tides.’
It is a beautiful, peaceful place of diverse habitats, including peat bogs, salt marshes, rivers, sand dunes, and forest. There is something soul soothing about looking over the great expanse of a salt marsh. Especially when there aren’t any biting insects. In mid-September, there were not.
We spent only a couple of days in the park, but it was enough to bike the trails and to get out in our kayak. We enjoyed biking the Kouchibouguac River Loop Trail, which we found relaxing—until we happened upon a black bear and her cub when we crested a hill. We came to a screeching halt and waited until the bears were safely across the road. We know better than to come between a mama bear and her cub.
A Memorable Kayak Experience
Getting out in our kayak started out well. We intended to kayak to the barrier islands, where large colonies of gray seals and terns reside. It was about a seven-mile paddling trip, and we knew we needed to watch the tides. But somehow…
We trudged along the mudflats for a very long way before we reached water deep enough to resume paddling. Eric hauled the kayak, and I followed along singing “yo-heave-ho” and taking photos. Which is also very important.
We saw no seals. We saw no terns. And we walked the kayak almost as much as we paddled. But still, it was fun. Truly, any day on the water is a good day.
Fundy National Park
After our experience with the low tides at Kouchibouguac National Park, we set out for Fundy National Park, home of the world’s highest tides.
Fundy has uniquely high tides because of two factors: the shape of the bay, and something called ‘resonance.’ Resonance is the rocking motion of the water. It’s the same thing that happens to the water in a bathtub when you get into it.
Because the Bay of Fundy is long, it takes about 13 hours for the water to rock from the mouth of the bay to the head of the bay and back again. The tide rocks higher and higher as it moves up the basin.
At the upper end of the Bay of Fundy, the tides can rise and fall as much as 50 feet in six hours. That’s why scenes like this are not uncommon:
One of the most famous places for experiencing the dramatic tides of Fundy is Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park. It’s about 30 miles north of Fundy National Park, and is located at the upper reaches of the Bay of Fundy. The big attraction here is low tide, where you can walk along the ocean floor among the Flower Pot Rocks, red sandstone cliffs that have been carved into fanciful shapes by centuries of tidal action.
There’s an excellent visitor center at the park, with engaging interpretive guides. While we waited for low tide, we took part in the interpretive activities.
Twice a day, 160 billion tons of water flows into the Bay of Fundy (and moves back out on the receding tide). That’s more than four times the flow of all freshwater rivers of the world combined.
As you can imagine, the tide returns quickly here, and rangers patrol the beach rounding up stragglers. It’s kind of exciting running back up the 101 stairs to high ground as the water rushes in.
Other Adventures at Fundy National Park
In addition to marveling at the tidal changes in the Bay of Fundy, we hiked a variety of trails in Fundy National Park, to waterfalls, through marshy bogs, and to high bluffs with coastal views.
The colorful little town of Alma at the entrance to the park is famous for lobster. We enjoyed lobster picnics and lobster-to-go at the Alma Lobster Shop, along with very good local beer from Holy Whale Brewing.
We stayed at the Headquarters Campground at Fundy National Park. The sites are spacious, and it was a great location for being able to access many hiking trails and for being able to walk into the little town of Alma.
I love all of the photos. The bears walking across the street to the large lobster object outside the shop. You always take me places that I know I will never be able to get to and for that I am grateful.
I second your comment Christine! Someday hopefully, I’ll travel up that way . . . . . it’s a very special unique place. Thx for sharing Laurel!
Terri, I hope you’ll find your way to the Maritimes in your travels. We enjoyed it so much that we’re hoping to return in the next couple of years!
Thank you so much, Christine, for sticking with us on this journey! I’m so happy that we can share places with you that you find interesting. And I appreciate your kind comments.
You are so great at describing the area, the logisitics and the beauty of the various areas that you visit! Thank you for your writing and your photography! Always enjoy your posts!
Mike & Cindy, thank you for coming along with us and for your kind comment. I like writing about our adventures so that I can relive them and remember them…but it makes it even more satisfying when I know that there are blog friends who are enjoying our posts, too.
Thanks for the memories!
We loved the area around the Bay of Fundy and really enjoyed the walk on the beach at Hopewell Rocks. We even got to stop at a local club (grange?) for their chicken dinner where we were approached by local politicians looking for new votes…
Riley & Karen, it’s always fun for us to hear about your memories that are triggered by our posts! Isn’t it interesting, the random things we remember? By the way, you know I still want you to resume your blog, right? :-)
A fun read! Thanks! Bears, beer, and lobster—makes me smile just thinking of the combo! I noticed that the incoming tide at Hopewell Rocks appears to be red or muddy. Is that right? Interesting. Have a great week! Joe
Hi Joe, I forgot to write about the color of the water! You are absolutely right, the sediment and the constant churning of the tides keeps the water a perpetual muddy color in the bay and rivers in the Bay of Fundy. But it also creates an excellent food source for shorebirds and sea life! You guys are going to enjoy your travels there next year.
Like the others, I’m so happy you finally got to this post. Living on the eastern side of the country for 70+ years I never managed to get up to the Bay of Fundy. Now, it’s unlikely that we will so this post was especially precious. I love the smile on your face as you faced a long walk in the mud behind poor Eric and the kayak. Make lemonaide and all that…..
Thank you, Sue. I’m so glad we can take you to some some places in our blog that you might not get to in your travels. I’m sure that you’re going to be sharing new places with us that we haven’t seen the west, even with our many years of living on the west coast! As far as our kayak trip on the mudflats, I’m just glad the water was warm—and fortunately, it’s not really difficult to pull a kayak even in just a few inches of water. (Says me.)
I thought Eric was usually very good about keeping you guys on schedule but I guess those massive tides got the better of him! I’m impressed that you even shared the story of your epic kayaking “oops.” It’s great for your readers to realize the even seasoned travelers sometimes make mistakes. Also, it’s so typical of travel that a difficult challenge (a hurricane on the way) led to discovering a lovely new park to explore. Silver linings abound as long as we are willing to look for them.
Haha, yeah….we’re not really sure how that whole adventure of getting stranded on the mudflats happened, Shannon! We make so many ‘oops’ in life that we might as well laugh about them, right? I agree with you wholeheartedly that difficult challenges often open the door to unexpected good things. When you guys get to the Maritimes, definitely put Kouchibouguac on your list! It is gorgeous.
Too funny, yo heave ho. I wouldn’t have had the patience to keep walking. The Hopewell Rocks are stunning. If Maine didn’t have such wicked winters, one might consider living there. We’re in the midst of a heat dome, 95-113 here in the PNW. Makes the Arizona tourists feel right at home.
What a beautiful area! Those lobsters look divine! It’s on our list. 94 degrees already at 10-:15 a.m. in Portland headed for 115. This is no fun without air conditioning. You’re probably used to hot weather from living in Florida! I’ll take New Brunswick!
You guys will absolutely love the Maritimes! There’s so much music for you, Tom, and so many beautiful scenes for Georgina to sketch. Your temperatures in Portland are insane! We hope you guys are staying cool. I can’t imagine enduring that kind of heat without air-conditioning. We don’t like heat, either…but we have central air conditioning here, and our outside temperature right now is 79 degrees at 3:00 in the afternoon. It’s just not right that Portland is so much hotter than Florida. :-(
Sheila, I had to sing to entertain myself on the mudflats or it would have seemed like a MUCH longer trudge back to deeper water. It actually wasn’t that bad since the water was warm. I agree with you, if Maine didn’t have such wicked long winters, we would think of living there. I hope you and Bruce are staying cool in this crazy heat wave…you’re right, those temperatures are more suited to Arizona in the summer!
Look, no military in history has ever gone into battle without some sort of musical accompaniment, so I’m sure your singing and support work were vital to the kayak hauling effort. That’s what I’d argue, anyway. :)
While I’m positive running from the hurricane was no fun at all, I’m glad it led you to an interesting park and those post storm clouds sure were striking! Hopewell Rocks is just such a cool spot. We visited at low and high tide, but didn’t actually see the tide come in while we were standing there. That must be pretty intense and I imagine the rangers have their hands full moving people along every couple hours. I’m sure people simply can’t imagine how quickly and significantly the landscape is about to change. Really, who could envision such a thing? It definitely lives up to its billing as a wonder of North America, no doubt about it!
Oh, and speaking of things living up to their billing, I hope that lobster roll tasted as good as it looked, because it looks delicious!
See, you totally get me, Laura! I knew I was providing a morale boost to Eric while he was hauling the kayak across the mudflats. I’m not sure he totally appreciated my efforts, but I am letting him know that you’re on my side. Plus, as you know, someone has to be documenting the adventure!
It was fun visiting Hopewell Rocks at the perfect time to walk on the ocean floor and then to be chased back up the stairs by the incoming tide. The rangers really do have their hands full trying to herd people along. I’m always one of the stragglers, but believe me, I paid attention to the call to head for higher ground.
That lobster roll was even more delicious than it looks! Were it not for the fabulous shrimp and crab and fish here, I would be really missing lobster.
Laurel I so enjoyed this post! Not sure which I liked more between that gorgeous photo of the salt marsh and the photo of the lobster roll!?! I guess it’s the combo that makes for an exceptional experience. Loved the kayaking story and am impressed by your duo’s determination to get to deep waters! Those rocks of the cliff are so dramatic and unusual. I’m amazed by how high the tides get! Wow that’s quite something!
Thank you, Peta. While I’m not entirely certain that the Bay of Fundy belongs in the same category as Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon, it is a beautiful area and the tides are a pretty spectacular sight. We were wishing that we had been able to do a kayak trip around the Flower Pot rocks…maybe next time! We do love kayaking, even when we face winds and tides. But our mudflat adventure was a new one, LOL!
I dunno, I bet Eric doesn’t agree that “any day on the water is a good day,” when you’re dragging a kayak across mud flats with someone singing The Song of the Volga Boatmen behind you. I hope he got extra lobster rolls for that!
The baby bear is adorable, and I don’t understand why you didn’t ride right up and give it a hug. Bears love hugs! We have hugs named for them, after all.
The Flower Pot Rocks are pretty cool formations. How long altogether do people have to explore that beach area during low tide?
That’s a very good question, Joodie. The ocean floor is usually accessible for about three hours before and after low tide…but the times change daily (of course). The beach is a couple of miles long, so there’s plenty to explore. We only had a couple of hours on the beach because on the morning we went, low tide happened before the park opened. So we got chased back in by the incoming tide.
That baby bear was SO adorable! I totally wanted to hug it! And yes, Eric gets all the lobster rolls and everything else he wants because he is such a good kayak hauler, among his many other fine qualities. :-)
Wonderful! Thank you so much.
Thank you, Nancy. I hope you guys are doing okay in the Ashland heat wave and are planning some travel adventures!
The pictures of you guys in the mud flats are hilarious as is the mental picture of Eric trudging and you singing Yo Heave Ho. Bet Eric didn’t think it was too funny though. And no seals or terns for your trouble. You have a great attitude! Love the picture of all those men doing what looks like a sun salutation. LOL! But the best. . . .Oh LOBSTER!! My absolutely favorite food. I definitely wish I had been caravanning with you on this trip.
I thought our mudflat kayaking adventure was pretty funny, too, Sherry! Fortunately the water was warm or it would have been a miserable experience. I’m glad you appreciate the photo of the guys participating in the activity with the ranger…it looks like a group of senior kindergartners, LOL. And yes….the lobster was soooo good! I know how much you love lobster.
Yes, your contribution was very important! Although your defining running up 101 steps as exciting differs greatly with mine :-) What a unique and wonderful experience with the tides. I love places and events that combine science and spirituality to feed our minds and hearts. I suppose the boat owners in Alma get more opportunities to inspect their boats!! Beautiful pics, thanks for taking us to this lovely area.
Jodee, I’m so glad you appreciate my contribution to the kayaking adventure, haha!! We definitely got personal experience with the tides in the Bay of Fundy, both low and high. It’s quite a sight to see the boats listing on the mudflats at low tide and then bobbing alongside the docks just a few hours later. If you make it to the Maritimes, I think you’ll really enjoy the programs at the national and provincial parks. They are extremely creative!
Lobstah rolls, yes please! Also totally with you on boardwalks, and if you can ride ’em, so much the more magical! Loved the pics from the park that starts with B (not gonna attempt spelling). Back in oh…2003? we had the chance to raft the tidal bore at Bay of Fundy with our boys—holy cow, was it hard to keep reminding ourselves this is salt water!!! What an incredible place. Thanks for bringing it back to us! (Not to mention the whole yearning for Canada thing. Now I’m yearning for eastern Canada too!)
Gretchen, we were wishing we had made more of an effort to raft the tidal bore at the Bay of Fundy. It was a matter of being in the right place at the right time, and it didn’t work into our schedule. It looks like so much fun! Also, there are so many cool long boardwalks at the national and provincial parks in Canada…maybe because of all of the wetlands? As you said, they’re fun to bike. We really want to return to Canada, both the Maritimes and western Canada. Soon!
Yes, great photos, as always! The shot of the bears is great. The one on the left looks like he’s wearing shoes. :) Adding this location to my “wish list.” Thanks!!
Thanks, Les! I’m glad you enjoyed the photos. The bears are not in sharp focus, but that’s because we didn’t want to get close (and it was almost dusk, and that makes it even more challenging). We loved seeing them from a safe distance. The big bear does look like it’s wearing shoes, LOL!
Such a gorgeous area! It was never on my radar screen so I appreciate the heads up. I can’t imagine driving to get out of a hurricane’s path… yikes! All that beauty and fun topped off with a lobster roll: life doesn’t get much better than that.
Janis, the Maritimes are so beautiful and rich in nature and cultural experiences. Even though we spent two-and-a-half months there, we would happily return! Thanks for coming along with us. :-)
The Bay of Fundy is still on our bucket list … as is the Canadian Maritimes. Seeing your photos and reading your experience is especially nice in the interim until we get there … which is probably still a few years away based on what we have planned on the calendar.
Erin, I feel certain you and Mui are going to love traveling in the Maritimes. I’m looking forward to seeing your photos when you make the trip. Meanwhile, I’m enjoying following your adventures in Alaska!
Loved reading this so much. The photos of this amazing part of the world are beautiful. We saw just a bit of the Bay of Fundy on a cruise of the northeast in the fall several years ago, but not nearly enough. I laughed out loud at the kayaking on a mud flat thing. Although I was glad the mud wasn’t super sucky mud. The only time we have had a similar experience is kayaking across the “wocus cut” between Recreation Creek and Crystal Creek. The water was 4 inches deep, but we couldn’t get out of the boats because the silty diatomaceous mud in that area won’t hold any weight. I actually got stuck in it once while trying to map wetland soils in the area. My boots sunk down 2 feet and I couldn’t get out. Luckily I wasn’t alone, and after a lot of laughing, my coworkers helped me get out of the boots and out of the mud.
Sue, thanks for sharing your story about getting stuck in the muck! I couldn’t help laughing at the image of you getting hauled out of your boots by your coworkers. It’s a good thing you weren’t alone! It would NOT have been funny if you had been by yourself.
We’ve gotten stuck in that kind of mud in our kayak (I think it might have also been in the shallows around ‘wocus cut’) and it’s definitely a challenge getting unstuck. We broke a paddle that that way. I think we need to stop getting stuck…
Another exciting adventure in the mud bogs and all.
Haha, yes indeed! We do like adventures, Deb. Although we probably would have preferred paddling to hauling the kayak. :-)
Watching the tide was such an amazing treat. It’s so hard to understand how fast and how much water moves in and out each day. The photos of you in the mudflats it too funny. Good you had a sense of humor. Oh, boy, did O love eating lobster and mussels every day. Just another reason I’d love to return some day. Momma bear and cub are so cute!
Hoping that Elsa weakens and misses you guys!!
Pam, the tides really are spectacular in the Bay of Fundy. And we definitely got personal experience with how quickly the tide recedes in our kayaking adventure, LOL. Being able to laugh about our mishaps certainly makes it easier to tolerate our boo-boos. :-) We want to return to the Maritimes, too—let’s meet up there for some adventures, including mussel and lobster feasts!
Sam and I just got back from a month at Spencer Spit. We really miss you guys!
How wonderful to hear from you, Andy! We miss you guys, too…we have such great memories of our summers on Lopez Island and would love to return. Hope you and Sam are doing well. Hugs to you both!