Review Date: May 2016
General Information / Location / Address
Point Pelee National Park is located in a lush Carolinian forest oasis at the southern tip of Canada. Point Pelee National Park resounds with migrating song birds in the spring, hums with cicadas in the summer, flutters with Monarch butterflies in the fall and is a peaceful place of reflection in the winter. (Description taken directly from the website).
1118 Point Pelee Drive
Entry / Layout
A few kms south of Leamington, on Pelee Point Drive, is the beginning of Point Pelee. At the start of the park is the main office, where you pay for your entry (click for fee details). There are no parking lots, but just two lanes. One for people with memberships (left), and the other for people who are coming for the day (right). Directly after the main office, is a long road that heads to the Visitor Center. Currently, the visitor center is as far as you can go. On this main road, you will find small side roads that heads to beaches, trails and lookouts. I would suggest checking out the map of the park ahead of time, and plan your route.
Here is what the entry gate looks like:
Before I get started on some tips that I have, I want to first let you know that Google Street View has 3D mapped every inch of this place. If you’re not sure what that is, Google has walked every driveway, path, trail, beach and shuttle ride and captured photo spheres of EVERYTHING!. Click here to go to Google Maps, and drag the Google Man icon (lower right) onto the map, and check out every inch of this place, before you even get there! I found this handy to see what the trails are like, or to see where the parking lots are, etc, etc.
This can be a VERY busy place. I would suggest getting to the park around 9am-10am. We got to the park at 10am, and there was 3 cars in line, and on our way out at 2pm, there was 40 cars in line. As well, according to a tripadvisor review, someone witnessed a line-up of 500 cars. Check here for park hours, and again, get to the park early to avoid the lines. As well, I would suggest heading directly to the visitor center first, as according to the front office, they reported to me that the shuttle to the “tip” is far less busy in the mornings. When your at the “tip”, I found it very relaxing when there wasn’t a bazillion people there. I will discuss more later about what to visit on the way back from the visitor center.
Once at the visitor’s center, there is a round about on the West side, where the bus shuttle stops. There is covered benches that you can use while you wait. The shuttle seems to come every 20 minutes. There is no schedule, or tickets, it’s first come first served. So whenever you see the shuttle, just hop on, and take a free ride!
Once on the bus shuttle, make sure you keep your mouth closed, as there are fish flies EVERYWHERE!. The shuttle takes you to another depot closer to the point.
From here, you can check out some of the exhibits, then head to the point. There are three ways to get to the point. 1) Take the board walk right from the depot, 2) Head west and take a larger path close to the water 3) Head east through the woods, out to a nice beach, then walk along the beach to the point. 3) is what I suggest. Check it out below:
After you’ve checked out everything at the Tip, just head to the depot, and wait for the bus. Once it comes, hop on and head back to the visitor center, and check out all their exhibits within. It’s a really neat place. I would also suggest watching the 12 minute video in the theater. This gives you a good idea how the park was developed, and the problems and struggles it’s been through. Highly recommended!
After the Tip is done, and the visitor center is done, you can then decide how many trails you want to go on. Check out the map above, which shows you all the trails, or go to the parks website to see a description of all the trails. We decided to head right to the Marsh Boardwalk.
The parking lot here is fairly large, and should be plenty of spots to park. It’s also the area to rent canoe’s, and paddle out into the marsh. I highly recommend getting out into the canoes! The Marsh Boardwalk parking lot also has a small store, with ice cream bars, snacks, and other souvenirs.
We really enjoyed the boardwalk. You can check out the whole walk below:
A couple other notes and tips. On the West side of the park, along the main road, are small parking lots for beach access. There is also spots with a shelter, and bbq’s. Below:
The majority of the paths are chip and dust based, and are plenty wide. You can easily fit a large stroller down them, or even a wheelchair.
There is also a bike path that goes from the front of the park, right to the visitor center. I would suggest taking this trail instead of driving. More exercise!
That’s all I can think of right now. Again, if you’re interested in what anything looks like here, just check out Google Street View.