The waters of the Georgian Bay on one side, Lake Huron on the other. The Bruce Peninsula is located in a great setting, and it has a lot to offer. It is a place rich in history, not just regarding its discovery and politics, but its natural image as well. The Bruce Peninsula forms a part of the Niagara Escarpment and has a lot of natural value which we’ll look at in just a little while.
The Bruce Peninsula is found in the province of Ontario and is part of the Bruce County. Although it might not seem like a very accessible, tourist-friendly place like the rest of Canada does, it is actually a lot better than you might expect. There are tons to explore, along with a lot of wildlife to observe.
Without further ado, let’s take an in-depth look at all the amazing things that make the Bruce Peninsula one of the best places to explore in the province of Ontario!
Bruce Peninsula: A Perfect Camping Guide 2020
1. A Brief History of Bruce Peninsula
The number one sign of a true traveller is their will to know more about the past of the place they are visiting. Just like people have stories of how they came to a certain point in their life, tourist spots are no different.
The Bruce Peninsula is named after James Bruce, the 8th Earl of Elgin and the Governor-General of Canada. Until the middle of the 1800s, the area now known as the Bruce Peninsula did not exist. It was controlled by the people of the First Nations.
There is ample historical evidence that suggests that the Odawa people were living in the area when the Europeans came to Canada. Before that, the Saugeen Ojibway controlled everything in the area. Long story short, the Ojibway people made a pact with the Canadian government. The pact basically included them in the Canadian map in exchange for education to lead a better lifestyle.
The Ojibway later came to a decision that they felt cheated. They have been trying to claim their land back since 1994. According to them, the crown had not held up its promise of protecting the Aboriginal Lands.
2. National Parks in the Bruce Peninsula
There are 2 National Parks located in the Bruce Peninsula. There are 8 Ontario Parks and 4 Federation of Ontario Naturalists Parks along with the two national parks. These places make the Bruce Peninsula a really great tourist spot. Let’s take a look at the two prominent national parks where you can camp!
1. Bruce Peninsula National Park
It is one of the largest protected areas in southern Ontario, at an area of 156 square kilometres. The National Park at the northern end of the peninsula is located at the heart of UNESCO‘s Niagara Escarpment World Biosphere Reserve.
The Dolomite cliffs rise along the shoreline of the national park that faces the waters of the Georgian Bay. Grottos have been formed along these cliffs, as the erosion of the rocks continued. These grottoes are now the main attraction of the national park, along with the park that leads to the Bruce Trail.
You might want to check out the West Coast Trail Campsites in British Columbia if you want to truly test your hiking prowess.
It’s quite long and is one of the many hiking trails that can be found along the region. This region is great for camping and for exploring wildlife, apart from hiking.
Some of the notable species that can be found in the region are hares, chipmunks, white-tailed deers, porcupines, racoons, red foxes, squirrels, coyotes, snowshoe hares, massasauga rattlesnake and frogs. Occasionally, you’ll also find black bears roaming around in the area, so do keep bear spray handy.
2. Fathom Five National Marine Park
The first national marine conservation area in Canada, the purpose of the Bruce Peninsula National Park and Fathom is to conserve and protect the freshwater ecosystems that exist in the Bruce Peninsula area. Apart from that, the Fathom Five National Park intends to display the shipwrecks and the lighthouses in the area as well.
Flowerpot Island is one of the most famous islands which are part of the Fathom Five. It was established in 1987 and has now been declared a National Marine Conservation Area (NMCA). The flowerpots in the area are basically the cliff edges that branch out from the main island, on which vegetation is still growing.
Have a look at all the major shipwrecks present along the turquoise waters of the Georgian Bay and the surrounding area here. If you’re someone who is passionate about the vessels of the sea, then this is a great place for you, along with the West Coast Trail mentioned above.
3. The Guide Book
Bruce Peninsula’s own website, Beautiful Bruce Peninsula has been quite active in informing visitors in-depth about the places to explore. Download their guidebook to the Bruce Peninsula for a detailed account of navigation through the area.
It might seem weird that there’s a section in this piece totally dedicated to the parking lots of the Bruce Peninsula. But given the huge popularity of the grotto in the Bruce Peninsula Provincial Park, parking does become a headache If you don’t think about it earlier.
Tourists must make reservations before arriving at the grotto parking of the Bruce Peninsula National Park to avoid problems. Contact the visitor centre, or the site (at this link) to make reservations beforehand.
It might be a pocket pinching experience, but it’s worth it if you’re not willing to walk all the way to Tobermory. The entrance to the Head of the Trails parking lot is found at the end of the Cyprus Lake Road, about 5 kilometres long.
If you’d like to have a look at Cyprus Lake, the entrance is located about 10 kilometres south of Tobermory, just off Highway 6.
5. Campgrounds of the Bruce Peninsula
If you’re looking for designated campgrounds for a stay in the area, then check out the list below for the names of some of the most reliable campgrounds:
- Cape Croker Park
- Happy Hearts Tent And Trailer Park
- Lions Head Beach Campground
- Lakeside Camp
- Roth Park
- Summer House Park
- Tobermory Village Campground
- Woodland Park
Most of the campgrounds in the area are pet friendly so you can bring your furry buddies along on your hiking trip. For a detailed look at all of the campgrounds mentioned above, check out this link.
6. Ontario Parks/Lighthouses
As mentioned above, there are six Ontario Parks in the Bruce Peninsula. They are:
- Little Cove
- Cabot Head
- Black Creek
- Ira Lake
- Smoky Head
- Hope Bay Forest
- Johnstons Harbour
- Lion’s Head
Of all of the Ontario Parks mentioned, Lion’s Head is the most prominent one. Let’s have a look at all the lighthouses present in the area as well:
- Knife & Lyal Island Lighthouse
- Cape Croker Lighthouse
- Flowerpot Island
- Big Tub Lighthouse
- Cabot Head Lighthouse
- Lion’s Head Lighthouse
It’s a great idea to give all of them a shot while you find yourself around the Bruce Peninsula area.
7. The Bruce Trail
Arguably the crown jewel of the Bruce Peninsula, the Bruce Trail is also named after James Bruce. It is the oldest and the longest marked hiking trail in all of Canada. The Bruce Trail spans a vast 890 kilometres (550 miles). It starts from the Niagara River and ends in the village of Tobermory in the Bruce Peninsula.
The trail traces the route of the Niagara Escarpment as it leads to the south. The Bruce Trail crosses a lot of great tourist spots, and you can try taking a hike on the longest hiking trail in the great white north to cover all of them.
Waterfalls can be found in plenty, on the Bruce Trail. None of which are more popular than the Niagara Falls.
A detailed course of the Bruce Trail can be found at this link.
There are a lot of other prominent smaller trails in the Bruce Peninsula, check them out on the map here.
8. Sauble Beach
Found on the northern edge of the Saugeen nation, and the eastern shore of Lake Huron, it was originally named by the French but has now developed its own identity as a small community of people. Public transport doesn’t exist in the Sauble Beach area, as all of the permanent residents in the area are dependent on their private vehicles.
Sauble Beach’s motto is one that I wholeheartedly agree with, and hope that you will too: Live life slow.
9. Things to Keep in Mind
- Alcohol consumption is not allowed at the grottoes.
- Barbecuing is not allowed along the shoreline due to the risk of fires.
- Jumping off cliffs is not considered safe, due to the heavy undercurrent and the cold nature of the waters.
- Do check out the Indian Head Cove and the Natural Arch while heading towards the grotto.
- Be prepared for a full-blown hike from the car park to the grotto, because the surface can be challenging at times.
- Essential supplies like food and water are not found in the surrounding area. Do consider packing a picnic to avoid problems later on.
If you come prepared, the Bruce Peninsula can be one of the best camping experiences of your life. There’s plenty of things to explore, and two sides of beautiful water bodies to swim in.