Did you know that the Bay of Fundy is one of the seven wonders of North America? The area is home to the highest tides in the world, rare geological discoveries, and diverse marine ecosystem. Fundy National Park encompasses 80 square miles (206 km) of rugged coastline and Acadian forest, where you’ll find more than 60 miles (100 km) of hiking trails, cascading waterfalls, freshwater lakes, and even a heated, saltwater swimming pool.
Where is the Bay of Fundy and Fundy National Park?
The Bay of Fundy is located between the Canadian provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia on the east coast of North America. It is more than 200 miles (320 km) long, and there are lots and lots of natural areas, provincial parks, and geological wonders to explore. Fundy National Park is situated near the small coastal community of Alma, New Brunswick.
A Quick Overview of the Bay of Fundy Tides
Taking in the sunset at Point Wolfe Beach
The ocean waters reliably rise and fall along the shores of the world’s coastal areas. Tides are actually long-period waves that move throughout our oceans in response to the gravitational pull of the sun and the moon on the earth. The difference in height between the low tide and high tide is called the tidal range.
Because of the shape and resonance of the Bay of Fundy, the tidal range can be anywhere between 29 and 52 feet (9 and 16 metres), and in some places the Bay of Fundy tides recede more than 3 miles (5 km) from shore, allowing you to walk along and explore the ocean floor. The period between high tide and low tide is about 6 hours, and the best way to experience the tides is to visit the same place during high and low tide. Bay of Fundy Tourism has some great information about the world’s highest tides, including great places to view the tides, tips for experiencing them, and tidal charts.
Fundy National Park Camping: Which Campground is right for you?
Fundy National Park is a fabulous destination for families, and the best way to explore it is by setting up camp at one of four unique campgrounds. We explored three this summer, and we found each one to have its own special character.
There are benefits and drawbacks to each campground, depending on your camping style and what type of adventures you’re looking for. Hopefully this campground guide will help you find the perfect Fundy National Park campsite — there are more than 550 to choose from.
All of the Fundy National Park Campgrounds have washrooms, hot showers, electric and water hook-ups, kitchen shelters, and picnic tables. Most, but not all have fire pits. They also have large dish-washing sinks with warm water (this was a first for us).
Types of Camping in Fundy National Park
In addition to the tent and RV sites, there are a few unique camping options that I want to mention. We didn’t try any of these options out because they were all booked, but we talked to lots of families taking advantage of these options, and all of them were super happy with their accommodations.
- oTENTiks – These are cabin/tent hybrids that are great for families. Inside you will find bunks for sleeping (you still need sleeping bags), a table and chairs, solar-powered lights, and heat. There’s a picnic table outside, and either a fire pit or a barbecue grill. There are 30 oTENTiks in Fundy National Park.
- The Goutte d’Ô– There’s just one of these cool sleeping structures in Point Wolfe Campground. It looks like a spaceship, but it’s really a cozy spot to turn in for the night. There’s a sleeping hammock and a futon, so it’s perfect for small families.
- Cabins – There are two rustic cabins in Fundy National Park. They are uninsulated, walk-in sites, both sleeping four people. Both included bunks, a table and benches, and a woodstove for heat and cooking.
- Yurts – Yurts are available to rent in Headquarters campground. They sleep 4-5 people and include solar-powered lights, table with chairs, a propane heating stove, and a personal barbecue grill.
Point Wolfe Campground
Number of sites: 154
Sites with electric and water: 24
Unserviced sites: 120
Of all the frontcountry campgrounds in Fundy National Park, Point Wolfe Campground is probably the most rustic and secluded. It has all the amenities you would expect, but it is the farthest out. Campers have to drive through a covered bridge to get to the campground, which makes it unsuitable for large RVs. We loved Point Wolfe Campground because of the proximity to great hiking trails, the newer washrooms, and the nice wooded sites. We actually nicknamed it the Millenial Campground because it was almost exclusively groups of young adults. I don’t mean this as a negative in anyway — all the campers were very respectful. Quiet time starts at 11 pm, but most of the campers turned in early.
What we loved about Point Wolfe Campground: It was very quiet and you could walk from the campground to several trails.
Something to consider: Some sites are quite close together.
Trails near Point Wolfe Campground
- Point Wolfe Beach – An easy, .75-mile trail from the campground leads to Point Wolfe Beach where you can get some great views of the rising and falling tides. We spent lots of time exploring here.
- Shiphaven Trail – A leisurely walk (less than a mile round trip) through the forest and along a boardwalk from the campground to the covered bridge. Great views of the estuary and Point Wolfe River.
- Matthew’s Head – This loop trail is 2.8 miles, but we hiked the Coastal Trail from the campground to Matthew’s Head for a hike that was a bit longer (maybe 6 miles total). It started in a lovely spruce forest, then opened to a meadow on a flat, grassy trail. Once we got to the coast, we were rewarded with lovely views for several miles.
- Herring Cove Beach – Another quick trail (.75 miles) down to the beach. Great spot for a picnic during low tide.
Number of sites: 154
Sites with electric, water, and sewer: 30
Sites with electric and water: 25
Unserviced sites: 47
Headquarters Campground is the closest to the visitor center and the closest to the town of Alma. In fact, you can walk to town from the campground, which might be nice for some families. Alma has a great beach for exploring during low tide and also a couple of grocery stores, a gas station, some gift shops, and a few bars and restaurants. There’s a good combination of wooded and open sites at Headwaters Campground, but if you have an RV and need hook-ups, you’ll be directed to a row of sites that are very close together with no privacy.
Headquarters Campground is also very close to expansive fields, a golf course, the salt water swimming pool, an amphitheater with regular programing, and Molly Kool Kitchen Parties. There are no fire pits in Headquarters Campground, and WiFi is available in some areas. There is one trailhead in Headwaters Campground — the Upper Salmon River Trail. This is an out-and-back trail about 5 miles long. There are salmon pools in the river that aren’t too far from the campground.
What we loved about Headquarters Campground: Teens loved the freedom of walking to town or to the visitor center to get Wi-Fi.
Something to consider: This is a bustling campground with more RVs and fewer tents, but it’s great if you want to participate in lots of events and ranger-led activities.
Number of sites: 261
Sites with electricity, water, and sewer: 10
Sites with electricity and water: 171
Unserviced sites: 70
Fundy National Park’s largest campground is also the most family friendly. There are large playgrounds, access to a few easy hiking trails and a bike trail. RVs that don’t need sewer hook-ups will find large, shady sites with lots of privacy, and there’s WiFi available throughout most of the campground. This is the only campground that is located in the interior of the park, so you won’t have those expansive coastal views, but Chignecto would be my first choice if I was traveling with little kids.
Trails near Chignecto Campground
- Kinnie Brook Trail – Short but steep, this trail is 1.7 miles (2.8 km) round trip and features a stream that disappears and reappears along the path. The whole trail winds through a steep-walled valley in the Acadian forest. It’s really beautiful.
- Black Horse Trail – A 2.7-mile (4.4 km) loop, the Black Horse trail does provide some bay views. There are some cool old house foundations along the trail. Bikes are allowed.
- Maple Grove Trail – This trail is 2.5 miles (4 km) one way. It meanders through a lovely hardwood forest. When combined with Hastings Road, which sees very little traffic, it makes a great loop for family biking.
What we loved about Chignecto Campground: Large, private sites. Great for bikes.
Most of Fundy National Park campgrounds are open from May to October, with the exception of Point Wolfe, which opens in late June. The park makes a great home base for exploring the rest of the Bay of Fundy. All of the campgrounds are all fairly modern and clean, and we would stay in any one of them again if we had the opportunity. We did not stay in the park’s newest campground, Cannontown Campground, which has just 30 sites, but I’m sure that it’s just as lovely as the others.
If you are planning a camping trip to Fundy National Park, I would suggest making reservations as early as possible. Sites definitely fill up quickly.
Check out these books and guides for exploring the Bay of Fundy (click on the photo for more info)
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