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Flashback Friday: Hopewell Rocks

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. The extreme tidal range of the Bay of Fundy is because the size of the bay matches the moon's gravitational push and pull cycle.

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.

approximately 1 hour prior to low tide The best place to really comprehend the size and power of the tides is at Hopewell Rocks Provincial Park in New Brunswick. The park has more than 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 completely transforming the ocean floor.

The park is open from late May to early October and off-season visits are strictly forbidden for safety reasons. The park closes daily just before sunset. Adult entry for the 2022 season is $14 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.

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.

Typical of most tourist attractions, there is an excellent Interpretive Centre where visitors can learn about the unique geology, tides, and wildlife of the area. 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. For visitors with mobility issues, there is a shuttle service to the viewing area.

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

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 fairly gentle incline.

At high tide, viewing can be done from the observation platforms, or by renting a kayak to paddle between the flowerpots.

I have done several road trips through this area and have made a point to stop and enjoy the tides. It never fails to awe and amaze me. I recommend your first visit to be at low tide where you can walk on the Ocean Floor and return for the high tide viewing.


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