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Flashback Friday: Hopewell Rocks

Updated: Apr 5

In between the provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia in eastern Canada, the Bay of Fundy has the highest tidal range in the world, with tidal flows reaching up to 16m (53 feet). For perspective, the difference between high and low tide is usually about a metre. In a single day, more than 159 billion metric tonnes of water rushes in and out of this long and narrow bay. Visitors should plan to visit at low and high tides to truly appreciate the spectacle.

A group of tall rock stacks showing erosion
Low tide

The Bay of Fundy tides are in constant motion, agitating the sediment carried by the water. The sediment never fully settles, leaving the water a rich brown colour.

a view along a long bay of brown water with a wide mud beach
approximately 1 hour before low tide

Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park

The best place to comprehend the size and power of the tides is at Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park in New Brunswick. The park has over 20 sea stacks known as Flower Pots along two km of shoreline (see my post about Flower Pot Island in Ontario). Every six hours, the tides shift, filling or emptying the bay and ultimately transforming the ocean floor.

A rock stack that looks like a human profile

The park is open from late May to early October. Off-season visits are strictly forbidden for safety reasons. The park closes daily just before sunset. Adult entry for the 2024 season is $16 CAD. Each admission is valid for two consecutive days. Check the tide tables on their website to plan your visit. Consider staying overnight nearby to ensure you see both the rising and falling tides.

View through a row of rock stacks

The ocean floor is wet, muddy, and slippery. Wear sturdy footwear; rubber boots are ideal. The park is intended to be a self-guided experience but Interpretive staff are available to answer questions and to hustle everyone off the beach before the tide comes in.

diamond-shaped sign for HOPEWELL ROCKS on the side of the Interpretive Centre

Typical of most tourist attractions, there is an excellent Interpretive Centre where visitors can learn about the area's unique geology, tides, and wildlife. In addition to a multi-media exhibit, there is a gift shop, a tourist information centre, and a restaurant that overlooks the Bay of Fundy. There is a shuttle service to the viewing area for visitors with mobility issues.

Looking down on the beach during low tide

During low tide, visitors can walk on the ocean floor amongst the majestic rocks. There are three ways to access the Ocean Floor. The Main Deck is a large metal staircase with a large viewing platform. There are 99 stairs to the bottom but 101 back to the top!

peek a boo view under a stack arch with fallen stack at the bottom

The North Beach entrance includes a ramp with several benches along the way. The ramp can accommodate wheelchairs, but the ocean floor is not recommended.

The third option is walking the trail leading south from the rear of the Interpretive Centre. There are neither stairs nor ramps, and the trail has a gentle incline.

a row of yellow kayaks on the beach next to the rock stacks

At high tide, visitors can view the flowerpots from the observation platforms or by renting a kayak to paddle between them.

Flower pot rock stacks half-submerged at high tide
Hopewell Rocks at High tide

I have taken several road trips through this area and have made a point of stopping to enjoy the tides. They never fail to amaze me. I recommend your first visit be at low tide when you can walk on the Ocean Floor and return for high tide viewing.

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