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.