North America > Canada > Ontario > Southwestern Ontario > Essex County (Ontario) > Point Pelee National Park
Bird migration was the reason Point Pelee became a national park in 1918 and has since garnered international recognition as an “Important Bird Area” and a UNESCO designated “Wetland of International Significance”. While significant breeding birds call the park home, Point Pelee's greatest importance is to migratory species moving through in spring and fall.
The park is completely located a narrow peninsula, a large portion of which is wetland.
Flora and fauna
Point Pelee National Park is known for its many species of butterflies, some of which are found nowhere else in Canada. It is also well known as a birdwatching location.
Point Pelee lies within a climatic zone classified as humid continental. Rapid and non-periodic weather changes are characteristic of the zone that is strongly influenced by seasonal conflict between polar and tropical air masses. The climate of Southwestern Ontario is one of the most variable in Canada. Surrounding Lake Erie greatly modifies the climate of the Park and exerts a stabilizing effect. In autumn, lake waters cool more slowly than the land and in spring, the land warms faster than the water. The influence of the lake is most evident during winter when low temperatures are raised above the average lows further inland. The mean January temperature of Leamington and Pelee Island is -3°C, (27°F) the warmest in Ontario. The July mean temperature of 23°C (73°F) is the highest in Ontario. Lake Erie increases humidity in the region and humidity in the Park is probably greater than that experienced by the rest of Ontario.
The park is nearby to the town of Leamington. The park is accessible only by car.
Standard Parks Canada prices will apply, though these vary park to park and by season. The annual national parks pass is recognized here.
The park is accessible only by car, though once inside the park, there are bicycle paths as well. There is also a free shuttle from the Visitor Information Center to the tip of the peninsula, which runs every 20 minutes during the day from April to November.
Most casual visitors are interested in the novelty of being at the furthest southern point in Canada. Other visitors are dedicated birdwatchers, who are there more commonly in the migration season, which does not overlap with the summertime tourism season.
The Park contains 8 designated walking trails and one designated canoe circuit. The park also contains a long stretch of beach, most of which where swimming is allowed.
The park is one of the Top 15 Birding spots in North America, awarded by Birder's World Magazine, October 2002. It is also a UNESCO designated Wetland of International Significance.
The Visitors Center contains a gift shop.
As with most national parks, you are unlikely to find any restaurants of any note directly inside the park. Leamington is known for the quality of its tomatoes.
There is nowhere to purchase alcohol inside the park. Leamington is the nearest town.
Point Pelee is popular as a day trip from various Southern Ontario cities, but if staying overnight there are all manner of lodgings to be found nearby in Leamington.
Point Pelee is a rarity among Canadian National Parks, in that there are no campgrounds within the park's boundaries. This is due in part to the small size of the park and the fact that a majority of the park is wetland. There are some facilities outside of the park.
There are no backcountry sites.
The water around the very tip of the parks can experience some strange currents. Bear in mind the safety signs there, they are in place for a reason. Also be aware of the E.Coli count in the park's waters. A minor annoyance is the presence of ticks and poison ivy, though this can be avoided by generally staying on marked paths (which you should do anyway). Besides this park is a safe place, there are not even concerns over dangerous animals as you would expect in many other national parks.
As a common day trip location, Point Pelee is a place to escape to, not escape from. Many large cities are nearby (Detroit, Toronto, Hamilton).