The Bay of Fundy has some of the world's highest tides, with a variance
of up to 52 feet from high to low tide in about six hours' time --
gazillions of gallons of water flowing in and out, in and out, twice a day.
If you think about it, that's pretty phenomenal. Imagine what that
would look like along the coastlines of the United States!
The Fundy tides tend to have the most variance in the upper, closed ends of
the bay near Amherst and Truro but the entire New Brunswick and Nova
Scotia shorelines along the bay are affected.
Even some of the rivers that empty
into the bay are noticeably higher/lower for several miles inland as the
tremendous tides ebb and flow. The city of St. John, NB is famous for
its "reversing rapids," when the tremendous inflow of water from the bay
twice a day causes the rapids in a narrow, rocky gorge in the St. John's
River to flow backwards!
There is also a small bore tide of 8-18" going up the width of the Petitcodiac AKA Chocolate
River in Moncton twice a day but we haven't observed it. After the bore
the nearly empty river basin rapidly fills up again with water, raising
the level of the river by 25 feet. On Sunday the "supermoon" is supposed
to bring a super tidal bore that surfers will enjoy. Too bad we won't be
here for that; we're leaving Moncton on Sunday morning.
Another graphic place to observe these extremely high and low tides is
the popular Hopewell Rocks Ocean Tidal Exploration Site near Hopewell
Cape, located on NB 114 about 40 miles from downtown Moncton. The site
near is the mouth of the Petitcodiac AKA Chocolate River. I
marked the location on the map above with an orange dot.
We visited Hopewell Rocks twice today -- at high tide this morning,
and at low tide this afternoon.
Hiking (or riding a tram) down to the observation deck above the
beach at the very highest and lowest tide during a six-hour span of time
is the best way for visitors to observe the 40+ foot variance of
water at this location.
One of the rangers told us today's tidal variance was 41 feet from high to
low. In a few days, when the moon is full, it will be 46 feet. That's
about the height of a four-story building.
Although I've tried to illustrate this phenomenon with the
accompanying photos, Hopewell Rocks is one place where you really have
to see it with your own eyes to truly appreciate it.
Actually, there are a lot of places like that!
THE ROCK "ISLANDS" AT HIGH TIDE
If you visit the site, check the tide schedule for Hopewell Rocks first.
Today the tide peaked about 11:20 AM.
We got to the entrance gate a few minutes before that but by the time we
walked down to the observation deck and steps to the beach it was 11:45.
We just missed the highest point of the tide but we got the general
effect of it.
Admission was $15.50 CA for the two of us. That's the senior rate and it
was less in U.S. money. The fee includes
access to the visitor center, trails, and beach.
There is a wide
half-mile trail down to the observation deck, which has stairs to the
beach. Most of the trail is shaded. Jim and I walked down and back both
times we were there. Because of the distance, steps, and slope, some
people pay $2 to ride a shuttle to the overlook.
To get to the beach
when the water recedes, however, you've got to go down a bunch of open
metal grated steps at the deck or take a longer sloping path down to the far NE end
of the beach.
Dogs are allowed on the trails but we didn't take Cody or Casey with us either
time because of the number of people and the metal grated steps going down to
the beach; those are rough on a dog's paws. It was cool enough to
leave them in the truck today.
At high tide this morning I took a few pictures of the "flower pot"
rocks from the observation deck and as far down the steps as we were
allowed to go.
The tide was so high
that we couldn't get anywhere near beach level but we did get close to
light rain limited views of the bay from the observation deck this
View down to
the rock pillars from the deck
on the way down the steps toward the water
everywhere: limited view through the rocks in the other direction
We were able to descend the steps
down very close to the level of the water, which was eerie with the
chocolate-colored water swirling around us in the cove:
Two men (above arrows in next photo below) paddled in on kayaks while we
were watching, aiming for the barely-visible
arch under one of the "flower pot" rocks closest to us:
As the water slowly receded they were able to barely paddle through the
arch. This is a popular activity at high tide, kind of like "threading
I've seen pictures of kayaks in that location at high tide in promotional literature,
and people walking under the arch at low tide.
That was the first place I wanted to examine hours later when the water
was out and we could see the ground and the whole archway. Even though
we hadn't seen that view yet, we knew it would be awesome to see the
difference this afternoon -- but we had to
wait about six hours to see that phenomenon.
To kill time, we hiked back up toward the Hopewell Rocks entrance and
visitor center. Along the way I walked down a short spur trail with lots
more steps to another
viewpoint to see a cove with a cave in rocks that are about 100 feet
Ah . . .
some blue sky to the southwest!
At high tide, the cave isn't visible but I could see what it looks like
at low tide in pictures on an interpretive panel at the observation deck.
There is no entrance to the beach at that location; I don't know if you can
walk to it from another location when the tide goes out. There are
trails to other observation points to the west of the visitor center but
we didn't go to them either time we were there today.
We checked out the food options at the restaurant next to the visitor
center and decided to wait until we got to Alma to eat a late lunch.
Inside the handsome
visitor center we
scanned the exhibits, which explain how the Bay of Fundy and the
Hopewell Rocks were formed over the millennia (plus other information),
then headed west to Alma and Fundy National Park. I talked about those
places in the previous entry.
THE ROCK "FLOWER
POTS" AT LOW TIDE
The best was yet to come, and other visitors apparently already knew
that because the parking lot at Hopewell Rocks was about three times as
full at low tide late this afternoon as it was at high tide this morning.
Now we know why -- it's much more fun then because you can get
down on the beach and walk amongst the "flower pots!"
View of "flower pots" from
observation deck at low tide
Low tide was about 5:50 PM. We got to the entrance about 5:30 and walked
down to the observation deck again, reaching the beach just before the
lowest point in the water level.
WOW!! The difference in the scene below us was simply amazing.
the steps to the beach
through the rock pillars was full of water this morning.
Where kayakers were barely able to paddle under the top of the arch in
one of the rocks this morning, now the arch was open all the way to the
We could see the base of all of the carved "flower pot" rocks in both
directions on the beach.
Visitors can walk past all of the pillars but are prohibited from going
into most of the caves in the high rock walls because of the danger of
falling rocks. We were able to walk into the cave in the next photo,
It was fun to walk along the upper beach and photograph the rock
All the people in the photos give them perspective. Many of the "flower
pots" are 40-50 feet
tall and have trees and other vegetation on top of them.
The colorful red sandstone contrasts with the
various green shades of plant materials.
The rocky beach, which extends quite a distance at low tide, was
interesting in itself. We've never seen beaches quite like this one.
Large rounded rocks were covered with greenish-brown, stringy seaweed
called Knotty Wrack that has soft one-inch bulbous pouches along the
The beach drops down to mud flats at low tide.
Because of all the rocks
they don't look much like the mud flats along Turnagain Arm in Alaska.
Some of the coastal rainforest terrain, trees, and other plants did
remind us of Southcentral Alaska, though.
Most visitors get
muddy or sandy on the beach. When they go back up to the observation
deck they can wash off with handy hose nozzles:
Steps to the observation deck
Convenient place to clean up
SEEKING MORE SEAFOOD
It was with some reluctance that we left this place after exploring
the beach for more than half an hour. We were getting hungry and wanted
to find a nice seafood restaurant for dinner in one of the little towns
on the way home.
We didn't see any restaurants that interested us until we got to Skipper
Jack's in Moncton a couple miles from our campground.
We wanted more seafood and this place was a good choice. We were seated
promptly and got dinner in about 15 minutes. Jim had a seafood platter
with deep-fried shrimp, mussels, clams, and white fish and a baked
potato (choice of three kinds of potatoes or salad/slaw). I had one of
the specials with clams, mussels, and lobster in their shells, prepared
in a broth of rhubarb wine, garlic, and lime and served over peppers,
broccoli, and mushrooms.
Mudflats at low tide in the Bay of Fundy
Both dinners were good and the price wasn't too bad ($12.99 Canadian
each, less in American $$$). I also had a small glass of tasty rhubarb wine
from a local winery, Magnetic Hill.
It was a nice ending to a most interesting day.
Hopewell Rocks will probably be one of the high points of our trip to
the Maritime Provinces, something so unique I'll still remember it when
I'm 100 years old and drooling in my rocking chair at the Olde Pharts'
Home. (Jim says to put him out of his misery if he gets to that point!)
All drama and joking aside, we highly recommend visiting
Hopewell Rocks at both very low and very high tide if you're ever in New
Brunswick, Canada. It's fascinating. I kinda wish we had stayed another
couple hours to see the tide come back in part way so we could see the
water at an intermediate stage.
Next entry: scenic bike ride along the Chocolate
River and hiking in Mapleton Park
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup
© 2014 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil