The Québec maritime Blog
In the maritime regions of Québec, fall is a prime time of year for outdoor activities, which means it’s a great season to visit our national parks! Milder temperatures, colourful landscapes and abundant wildlife make for a fun and memorable stay. Here’s an overview of what awaits you in our parks.
Parc national du Bic
Located along the St. Lawrence Estuary, Parc national du Bic will charm you with its stunning landscapes of mountains, bays, coves and islands. Take advantage of beautiful fall days to paddle around the islands in a sea kayak! Guided excursions are available until mid-October and will give you the opportunity to admire the scenery from a completely different point of view. You may also spot grey or harbour seals during your excursion. Both species can be seen from the shore in the company of a naturalist park warden. If you enjoy hiking, you can discover 25 km (15 mi.) of trails as well as pause to admire the fall colours from the many lookouts along the way. Cycling enthusiasts will enjoy exploring 15 km (9 mi.) of bike trails, most of which are accessible to the whole family.
Where to stay: traditional “ready-to-camp” (glamping) tent, Étoile glamping unit, yurt, EXP cabin or Echo cabin (availability varies by date and location)
Parc national du Lac-Témiscouata
Surrounded by forest, Parc national du Lac-Témiscouata offers breathtaking landscapes in the fall. To admire all the colours in this park, explore the vast network of hiking trails, totalling over 35 km (22 mi.). Crossing through an old maple grove, the Montagne-de-Chert trail gives you access to particularly spectacular views at this time of year. Several bike trails also allow you to discover the forest and majestic lakes in the park. Don’t miss this opportunity to enjoy a unique kayaking or canoeing experience on Lake Témiscouata or the Touladi lakes. Keep your eyes peeled and you’ll most certainly spot some of the 150 species of birds living in this area, including the iconic bald eagle.
Where to stay: campsite or traditional “ready-to-camp” (glamping) tent (availability varies by date and location)
Parc national de la Gaspésie
Home to some of the highest mountains in Québec, including 25 peaks over 1000 metres (3300 feet) high, Parc national de la Gaspésie is a true paradise for hikers. Several trails, from easy to expert, are open until the end of November or all year round. Will you opt for the Mont-Olivine, Mont-Ernest-Laforce or Lac-aux-Américains trail? Fall is also a prime time of year for wildlife observation. Until late September, you can set off to encounter caribou with a naturalist park warden and learn all about this endangered species. The park is also home to a high density of moose. While it’s not uncommon to observe these majestic animals along a trail, the “Valley of the Kings” activity* will give you a better understanding of this species (offered until mid-October).
Where to stay: campsite, traditional “ready-to-camp” glamping unit or cabin (availability varies by date and location) or at the Gîte du Mont-Albert hotel (until mid-October)
*This activity is offered in French only, though some of it may be translated into English upon request.
Forillon National Park
Visit Forillon National Park at the tip of the Gaspé Peninsula and discover rich natural beauty on land and at sea! Go on a hike to admire colourful forest scenery. You have several trails (of varying levels of difficulty) to chose from, including one that leads to the Mont-Saint-Alban tower, which you can climb to admire a breathtaking 360-degree view! The waters off the cliffs of Forillon are home to several species of marine mammals. Until October, you can see the great whales of the Gulf of St. Lawrence during a sea excursion or paddle in a sea kayak with the seals! To learn more about terrestrial wildlife, take part in the interpretive activities focused on beavers and moose.** Some heritage sites are also open in the fall, including the Hyman & Sons general store (until early October), the Fort Peninsula coastal defence battery and the Cap-Gaspé Lighthouse.
Where to stay: campsite or fully equipped oTENTik “ready-to-camp” (glamping) tent (availability varies by date and location)
**The beaver activity is available in English (check schedule); the moose activity is only available in French.
Parc national de l’Île-Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher-Percé
While in Percé, you must visit Parc national de l’Île-Bonaventure-et-du-Rocher-Percé, a stunning natural gem! After touring the Le Chafaud Discovery Centre, set out on a sea excursion to Bonaventure Island (available until mid-October) and see Percé Rock up close! Once on the island, learn more about the history of cod fishing in this area by visiting the former fishing manager’s house. Next, explore the island’s hiking trails, which will take you to the world’s most accessible northern gannet colony—a sight not to be missed! A naturalist park warden will be happy to answer all your questions.
Parc national de Miguasha
In the heart of the Chaleur Bay area, Parc national de Miguasha, which is on the prestigious UNESCO World Heritage List, will take you back some 380 million years. Until late October, visit the exhibitions featuring the impressive collection of fossils that have made this site famous, including the only complete specimen of Elpistostege watsoni in the world! Next, enjoy a hike along the fossil-rich cliff and learn about the history of life on Earth. Read the interpretive panels carefully and soak up an unparalleled view of the Restigouche River Estuary.
Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park
Did you know that you can observe the whales of the St. Lawrence in the fall? Some sea excursions are even offered until early November! It’s no wonder the Saguenay–St. Lawrence Marine Park is considered one of the best places in the world to observe marine mammals! If you’d rather stay on land, that’s fine too. Sit on a rock by the water at Cap-de-Bon-Désir or the Marine Environment Discovery Centre and you’re likely to see a few whales swim by. These two interpretation sites also house various exhibitions to help you learn more about the marine world.
Parc national du Fjord-du-Saguenay
Bordering the mysterious Saguenay Fjord, Parc national du Fjord-du-Saguenay offers amazing views of magnificent landscapes. Discover them from the top of cliffs and headlands while hiking or from the water during a guided sea kayaking excursion. Wildlife lovers will want to visit the Baie-Sainte-Marguerite and Baie-de-Tadoussac sectors in this park. While Baie-Sainte-Marguerite is a great place to see belugas (particularly from the Halte du Beluga lookout), Baie-de-Tadoussac will give you the opportunity to observe several species of whales near the shore. When the whales leave the area to migrate south to their wintering grounds, it’s time to go bird watching! Accompanied by the Tadoussac Bird Observatory (OOT) team,*** you will be captivated by the many migratory birds in this area (300,000 a year!), including boreal owls, which are charming little nocturnal birds of prey.
Where to stay: campsite or Écho cabin (until mid-October)
***This activity is offered in French only, though some of it may be translated into English upon request.
Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve
Start your visit of the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve by touring the exhibition at the reception and interpretation centre in Havre-Saint-Pierre (open until late September). Next, head to Quarry Island to participate in the interpretive activity “A Diversity of Habitats.”**** Accompanied by a guide who will answer all your questions, you’ll discover a variety of interesting habitats: forest, barrens, peat bogs and seashore. The highlight of your day will be your encounters with the mysterious limestone monoliths that this park reserve is famous for! (While some areas of the park reserve are open to the public until late September, be sure to confirm the park’s schedule, as it is subject to change at this time of year.)
Where to stay: oTENTik “ready-to-camp” (glamping) tent
****This activity is generally available in French; however, you may request it in English upon availability of staff.
So, what do you think? Will you be visiting one of our national parks this fall? A quick tip: when planning your trip, make sure to confirm how late in the year the parks you want to visit are open and what activities and lodging options are still available!