In case you haven’t heard us say it before, Point Pelee National Park is an absolute gem of a destination
Located 1 hour south from Windsor, Ontario and 3 and a half hours from Toronto, Point Pelee is Canada’s southernmost and most ecologically diverse national park and provides for a quick and beautiful getaway.
Here are 10 things that we absolutely love to see and do at Point Pelee National Park that we think you absolutely need to experience for yourself.
The floating boardwalk brings you through the most diverse habitat in the park, where cattails, red-winged blackbirds and painted turtles are abundant. You can even see the beavers hard at work! There’s also an observation tower with telescopes to get some amazing views.
The boardwalk is about 1km long and takes about 45 minutes to complete the loop at a leisurely pace.
With the park along the Lake Erie shoreline, there are several beaches to choose from. The most popular beach, and one better suited for families, is the Northwest Beach. While there, you can lay on your towel, soaking up the sun with a good book in one hand and one of the freshly made mocktails being served on the beach in the other.
Everybody loves the tip. What may be the most photographed location in the park, the tip is the southernmost point of mainland Canada. It’s quite neat to have the waves crashing all around you.
It’s an absolute selfie-must for people to show they were the most southern person in Canada at that precise moment.
For anyone who needs more than one day to settle down and explore, Point Pelee has several oTentiks available for rent. An oTENTik is a cross between an A-frame cabin and a prospector tent, on a raised wooden floor. There are 24 oTENTik nestled in the heart of Point Pelee, making them a great base to explore all the park has to offer. They provide plenty of room for families or groups of up to six.
Point Pelee National Park is considered one of the best places in North America to go birding. Its location on major migratory flyways and on the north shore of Lake Erie makes it a migrant trap – a place that attracts a wide diversity of species in a very small area. A ridiculous 390+ species of birds have been recorded in the Point Pelee birding area.
While Point Pelee National Park is most famous for spring and fall migration, there is a good diversity of birds found in the park and surrounding area throughout the year. The peak of spring migration happens in May, when the park hosts the Festival of Birds.
The birds aren’t the only winged creatures Point Pelee is known for. Monarch butterflies are one of the most recognizable species in Canada. While they have been spotted on almost every continent in the world and colonies have established in some tropical climates, the migratory population of North America is a unique natural phenomena.
For a few absolutely stunning, special days each autumn, Point Pelee is a temporary home to thousands upon thousands of migrating Monarch butterflies. It’s truly a sight to see that should be added to anyone’s bucket list.
From there, as soon as the weather is just right, they begin one of nature’s greatest journeys by crossing Lake Erie on their way 3000km further south, to the mountains of central Mexico!
There are a lot of things within Point Pelee aside from birds and butterflies that most people don’t even know about. Being Canada’s most ecologically diverse national park comes in handy when looking for the unique.
There are over 60 species of fauna and wildlife that are at risk, threatened or endangered in the park. This includes prickly pear cactus growing naturally, the Eastern Foxsnake, and more. Heck, there’s even flying squirrels in the park. Yes, I said it. Flying. Squirrels.
IT’S A DARK SKY PRESERVE
Many people don’t know that Point Pelee was designated as a Dark Sky Preserve by the Windsor Centre of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada in 2006. What does it mean to be a Dark Sky Preserve? Well, it means that the Point Pelee National Park Dark Sky Preserve is one of the best places to explore the night sky in Canada. Think of it as an astronomy park where the night sky glows with millions of stars visible to the naked eye.
The darkest nights happen during the new moon, when the moon isn’t visible in our sky. On those nights, the park stays open until midnight for the best stargazing experiences. Bring your binoculars or a telescope on those dates!
With 12km of bike trails and 9km of roadway, biking is a great way to explore Point Pelee National Park. The trails are well groomed and accessible for most riders.
One of their trails is the topsy-turvy Centennial Hike and Bike trail! This 6km trail whisks you through different habitats – from marsh to dry forest, past savannah, swamp forest and beach and is a great way to experience the park.
If you don’t feel like lugging your bike to the park, head to Northwest Beach on Saturdays and Sundays and you can rent a bike. We recommend booking them in advance.
There’s nothing more serene and relaxing than watching the sun set. Point Pelee gives you a great front row seat as the sun begins setting over the lake, providing some truly stunning colours and views.