Point Pelee National Park
Pelee National Park is the most southern national park in Canada, as well as its most ecologically diverse. It was also the first park to be established for conservation. From marshlands to sandy beaches, birds to butterflies, there’s plenty to see and experience in this national gem.
For bird lovers, Point Pelee is a must visit. Another seasonal highlight comes in fall when visitors start seeing orange. Gorgeous monarch butterflies linger in the park during their migration south at the end of summer. From around late August to early October, the butterflies stop in the park to rest before crossing the Great Lakes and continue to their next destination, Mexico, 4,000 km away.
Stick around at the end of the day to witness the colourful sunset at the very tip of the park. But don’t think that the adventure stops when the sun goes down in Point Pelee National Park. Put on some layers and get ready to be dazzled by the night sky. Designated a dark sky preserve, Point Pelee makes for sensational stargazing.
Located in Essex County in southwestern Ontario, Point Pelee National Park is about an hours drive south of Windsor. Parking is available at the park.
For up-to-date information and details on Point Pelee National Park, we recommend you visit their website. For information about other places of interest to explore nearby, keep scrolling to see what Destination Ontario recommends.
More about Point Pelee National Park
Point Pelee National Park is one of the smallest national parks in Canada, but it more than makes up for size in what it offers visitors. The immense diversity of this park simply isn’t found in other Canadian national parks. Walk through forests, marshes, savannahs and beaches and discover a wide assortment of wildlife, especially birds.
The park’s name comes from the French word ‘pele,’ meaning bald. Point Pelee National Park is on a landmass that pointedly juts out 15 km into Lake Erie. This odd-shaped peninsula was formed over time by sediment deposited along the beach. Now the area is full of marshes and forests that is the perfect environment for tons of wildlife, especially birds. The area became a Canadian national park in 1918, and in 1987 the park was named a Ramsar site falling under the jurisdiction of the Ramsar Convention, which promotes conservation of wetlands.
The main attraction that keeps visitors coming to Point Pelee National Park: the birds. The park is one of the premier spots in North America for bird watching. During the spring, the park comes alive with the many sounds and songs of various birds heading north during their annual migration. Over 370 bird species have been spotted in the park. This is due to the park’s proximity to two dedicated migration flyways.
And of course, there is the national park itself to explore. The best way to discover the raw beauty of Point Pelee National Park is to go hiking. There are eight trails in the park that cover over 14 km of land. The trails take you through the various landscapes found in the park, including beaches, savannahs, forests and marshes. There’s even a short trail to the DeLaurier Homestead that showcases what life was like for the small community that called the area home for decades. For a faster pace, bring your bike and take a ride on the park’s Centennial Hike and Bike Trail that extends for 6 km.
With so much of Point Pelee National Park being wetlands and marshes, another great way to explore the park and see more wildlife is to get on the water. Kayaks and canoes are available to rent (seasonal) within the park. Bask in the tranquility of the still waters (and maybe have a close encounter with beavers, turtles, and muskrats).
Before leaving Point Pelee National Park, stop by the Visitor Centre and Nature Hook Gift Shop to purchase a special souvenir that supports Canadian parks.
When heading to Point Pelee National Park, make sure to pack lunch, as there are multiple picnic areas, including grills, throughout the park. And bring your swimsuit as swimming is permitted. In fact, it has the longest stretch of continuous beach in all of Essex County, 20 km long.