The Québec maritime Blog

10 National Parks:  10 Hidden Treasures
  • Forillon National Park
    Mathieu Dupuis/Le Québec maritime

10 National Parks: 10 Hidden Treasures

All of our region’s national parks feature their own star attractions, such as the northern gannets of Parc national de l'Île-Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher-Percé, the soaring mountains of Parc national de la Gaspésie, the islands of Parc national du Bic and the monoliths of the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve. But these protected areas also harbour some well-kept secrets that park visitors can enjoy. Here is a glimpse at a few of them.

Parc national de l'Île-Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher-Percé

Bonaventure Island’s built heritage© Sébastien Larose/Le Québec maritime

A day on Bonaventure Island off the coast of Percé would not be complete without a visit to the colony of northern gannets—the most accessible of its kind in the world. Follow the Chemin-du-Roy trail to reach the colony, and discover the island’s built heritage along the way. Recounting the rich history of the area’s settlement over time, several of the houses have been recently restored. You can learn about the cod fishing industry and leisure activities on the island, and you can also take part in the guided activity “In the Footsteps of the Islanders.” 

Parc national de la Gaspésie

Caribou on Mt. Jacques-Cartier © Steve Deschênes/Tourisme Gaspésie

Hikers absolutely adore the mountains of Parc national de la Gaspésie, 25 of which have an elevation of over 1000 metres! The tallest mountain is home to the only caribou herd south of the St. Lawrence. With such drastic differences in elevation, several climates co-exist on the territory, including the boreal forest and alpine tundra, the preferred habitat of the species. Caribou can be seen from June to September, particularly on the Mont Jacques-Cartier trail, which reaches an elevation of 1270 m. If you spot these majestic creatures, do not move or make noise. This is for your safety and so that you can fully enjoy the moment. You can also go on a hike led by a park warden/naturalist.

Forillon National Park

Forillon National Park, located at the tip of the Gaspé Peninsula, fascinates visitors with its steep cliffs and boreal forest, which is home to diverse fauna. The area is protected today but was inhabited for a couple of centuries. You can visit the park’s various heritage sites to learn more. In Grande-Grave, the Dolbel-Roberts House provides a look into the lives of the Jersey Islanders, Irish, Scottish and other settlers in Forillon. You can visit the Hyman & Sons General Store to learn the history of the cod fishing industry. The Blanchette House in Anse-Blanchette bears witness to the way of life of fishermen/farmers at the turn of the 20th century. Visitors to Forillon can also tour Fort Peninsula, which tells the story of a little-known episode from World War II through the only fully preserved shore battery in Quebec that is open to visitors.

Parc national de Miguasha

Recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the impressive fossil collection of Parc national de Miguasha will bring you back in time almost 380 million years. You can discover its fossils by visiting the exhibits and the fossil cliff. Follow the 3.5 km “Evolution of Life” trail, which includes information panels on the history of our planet. You can learn more about geology, archeological digs and fossils from an experienced park warden/naturalist.

Parc national du Lac-Témiscouata

Garden of Memories© Marc Loiselle/Le Québec maritime

Extending along the largest lake in Bas-Saint-Laurent, this national park invites you to discover its spectacular landscape through outdoor activities. You can also participate in archeological digs. Experienced archeologists will guide you through research activities in the park, where you can discover secrets that have been buried for millennia. The activity takes place in the Garden of Memories. Advance registration is required and is limited to groups of four. Reserve now!

 

Parc national du Bic

This national park runs along the St. Lawrence and is home to numerous species, including the white-tailed dear, small mammals like the red fox, harbour seals, grey seals and seabirds like the common eider, which is the park’s emblem. Few people know that Le Bic is also an excellent location for observing birds of prey during spring migration. They can be seen along the coastline, heading north from mid-March to the end of May. The Raoul-Roy lookout point provides excellent viewing opportunities. Don’t forget your binoculars!

Parc national du Fjord-du-Saguenay

Belugas in the Saguenay Fjord© Jean-Pierre Sylvestre/Le Québec maritime

Parc national du Fjord-du-Saguenay features spectacular landscapes, a 100 km fjord that was created by glaciers, a mix of fresh water and salt water, and many outdoor activities. You might spot belugas from the lookout point in the Baie-Sainte-Marguerite sector. These friendly white whales, which are endangered, often visit the area. If you listen closely, you might  hear them calling in the distance!

 

 

Saguenay – St. Lawrence Marine Park

The Saguenay – St. Lawrence Marine Park is the only protected marine environment in Quebec. It is also one of the best places in the world for observing marine mammals, whether by boat or from the shore. You can also visit one of the park’s interpretation centres to complement your observation activities: Cap-de-Bon-Désir Interpretation and Observation Centre and the Marine Environment Discovery Centre. Activities include exhibits, a virtual dive, a visit to a lighthouse and much more! There is something for everyone.

Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve

Yellow lady's-slipper© Alaïs Nevert/Parcs Canada

Although the Mingan Archipelago is famous for its Atlantic puffins and ghostly monoliths, much less is known about its unique flora. Almost 500 species of vascular plants have been identified on the archipelago (of which 82 are considered “rare and of interest”), as well as 190 species of lichen and 300 species of moss, over an area of just 110 km2! This exceptional concentration of plant species is due to the diversity of the archipelago’s natural habitats (shoreline, barrens, boreal forest, salt marshes, peat bogs, etc.) and its limestone soil, which encourages the presence of certain plants. The hiking trails provide an excellent opportunity for viewing these species.

Parc national d'Anticosti

Famous for the thousands of white-tailed deer that inhabit this national park, and for its 76 m high Vauréal Falls, Parc national d'Anticosti also has one of the longest underground cave systems in Quebec. Known as the “Grotte à la patate” (potato cave), it was formed during the last ice age but was only discovered in 1980. You can explore the cave and learn how it was created.

Are you ready to explore the hidden treasures of our 10 national parks? Let us know what you discover!  

Author Anne-Josée Pineau

Born in Bas-Saint-Laurent, Anne-Josée Pineau loves this region and is delighted to introduce others to it. Never far from the sea, she’s fascinated by lighthouses and could live on seafood alone! On this blog, she likes to write about our regions’ unusual attractions, make your mouth water by describing local delicacies, and pique your interest by revealing some of the hidden beauty found in Québec by the Sea. In other words, she wants to provide you with lots of ideas for an unforgettable vacation!

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