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North America > Canada > Atlantic Canada > Prince Edward Island > Prince Edward Island National Park

Prince Edward Island National Park

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Prince Edward Island National Park, a 27-km² (10-sq mi) oceanfront park established in 1937, faces onto the Gulf of St. Lawrence from the north shore of Prince Edward Island.

Understand[edit]

Map of Prince Edward Island National Park

Sand dunes and boardwalk

Prince Edward Island National Park follows the coastline and is split into non-contiguous fragments by bays and coastlines.

There are effectively three sections of the park which are accessible by road:

  • 1 Cavendish-North Rustico — From North Rustico westward through Cavendish, the park includes sea shore along Gulf Shore Parkway West and the lands around the Green Gables homestead in Cavendish
  • 2 Brackley-Dalvay — From Robinson's Island (accessable via Robinson's Island Road from Gulf Shore Parkway East, near Brackley Beach), parkland continues eastward along the waterfront past Brackley Beach and Stanhope to Dalvay, including the Dalvay-by-the-Sea historic Victorian-era summer home (which operates as an inn in the park).
  • 3 Greenwich — A peninsula located on the east side of St. Peters Bay, separating the bay from the Gulf of St. Lawrence; home to the largest sand dunes in Prince Edward Island.

Contact the park office +1 902-672-6350 or email pnipe.peinp@pc.gc.ca

The park extends over 65 km (40 mi) of shoreline, including beaches, red sandstone cliffs and rolling sand dunes along the island's north shore, fronting the Gulf of St. Lawrence. The park ranges from several hundred metres to several kilometres in width.

History[edit]

Cavendish became famous in 1908 for its place in literature as the home of the Green Gables farmhouse in Lucy Maud Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables books, which describe a town "Avonlea" based on Cavendish, PEI. The park was established in 1937 to protect the homestead as well as many broad sand beaches, sand dunes, freshwater wetlands, and saltmarshes along the surrounding coastline.. The park's protected beaches provide nesting habitat for the endangered piping plover; the park has been designated a Canadian Important Bird Area.

An extension was added to the park in 1998 when an extensive sand dune system in Greenwich was transferred from the provincial government to Parks Canada. The Prince Edward Island National Park includes Green Gables, which was the childhood inspiration for the Anne of Green Gables novels by author Lucy Maud Montgomery, as well as Dalvay-by-the-Sea, a Victorian-era mansion that is operated as an inn.

Environmental and conservation groups have identified Prince Edward Island National Park as being the most endangered in the national park system, based on human impact. The park also experiences severe coastal erosion as a result of winter storms and its vulnerable shoreline.

The eastern portion of the Park, Grenwich, is home to important archaeological sites which reveal the paleo and pre-trans-Atlantic contact habitation of Prince Edward Island. An interpretive trail has been built to give visitors a glimpse of the important work still underway in understanding the pre-history of the Island.

Landscape[edit]

Lake of Shining Waters
Coast of Prince Edward Island
Prince Edward Island National Park's coast

PEI National Park exists to protect broad sand beaches, sand dunes and both freshwater wetlands and salt marshes; its 65-km (40-mi) length faces onto the Gulf of St. Lawrence.

Most of the parkland is reachable as a discontinuous pair of segments of coastline; one of these long, narrow sandy beaches runs westward from North Rustico through Cavendish, while the other runs eastward from Brackley Beach through Stanhope to Dalvay. These two segments are separated by Rustico Bay. In Cavendish, the western segment of the park includes part of Cavendish village, with the Green Gables homestead and an adjacent 18-hole golf course.

While most of this beach and oceanfront land is open and public, portions are restricted to protect wildlife. There are no roads into the protected segments.

Prince Edward Island National Park is home to numerous sand dunes, all of which are dependent on the dune grass that naturally grows within the park. These grasses possess a shallow root system and as such are very sensitive to human impact, so walking on the dunes is strictly prohibited. Please refrain from walking or climbing on the dunes as they are integral to the landscape of the Park: several of the ecologically sensitive salt-water marshes exist solely because they are protected by the sand dunes.

Flora and fauna[edit]

A portion of the park is a designated Canadian Important Bird Area as a beachfront nesting habitat for the endangered piping plover; these bird nesting areas are not accessible to the public. Numerous birds roam in this park including species of various herons, ducks, owls, cranes, plovers, grouses, jays, falcons, geese, hawks, sandpipers and eagles.

Animals that inhabit this national park are coyotes, red foxes, raccoons, beavers, minks, and weasels.

Climate[edit]

In summer, an average daytime high is 23⁰C (73⁰F) with the water as a moderating influence on temperature; this drops to −7°C (19.4°F) in January, once the Gulf of St. Lawrence freezes over.

Get in[edit]

Provincial Highway 15 runs north from Charlottetown to Highway 6, the main east-west road which runs near the southern edge of the park.

Fees and permits[edit]

Daily fees - summer/shoulder season (2018):

  • Adult $ 7.80/$ 3.90
  • Senior $ 6.80/$ 3.15
  • Children and youth under 18 free
  • Family/group $ 15.70/$ 7.85

Seasonal pass (if purchased April 1 to June 15) (2018):

  • Adult $ 39.20 ($ 19.60)
  • Senior $ 34.30 ($ 17.10)
  • Children and youth under 18 free
  • Family/group $ 78.50 ($ 49.00)

Scenic Drive (Cavendish-Brackley-Dalvay) (2018):

  • Adult $ 3.90
  • Senior $ 3.40
  • Children and youth under 18 free
  • Family/group $ 7.85

The park is technically closed during the winter time, however the park is still accessible during the off-season: There are no fees during the off-season, however there are no park staff on duty and maintenance in the park is restricted to snowplowing of the main roads.

Parks Canada Passes

The Discovery Pass provides unlimited admission for a full year at over 80 Parks Canada places that charge a daily entrance fee. It provides faster entry and is valid for 12 months from date of purchase. Prices for 2020 (taxes included):

  • Family/group (up to 7 people in a vehicle): $136.40
  • Children and youth (0-17): free
  • Adult (18-64): $67.70
  • Senior (65+): $57.90

The Cultural Access Pass: people who have received their Canadian citizenship in the past year can qualify for free entry to some sites.

Get around[edit]

There is a drivable scenic road, the Gulf Shore Parkway West, on the Cavendish waterfront in the western half of the park. Route 15 meets the eastern Gulf Shore Parkway and follows the waterfront eastward through the eastern half of the park.

As much of the park is a narrow strip of waterfront, it is split in two by bays near Rustico. Route 6, as the main east-west road, joins the severed pieces of parkland.

There are an assortment of cycling and hiking trails, some of which provide a fine view of the ocean.

See[edit]

Green Gables farmhouse
  • 1 Green Gables Heritage Centre, 8619 Cavendish Road, Cavendish, +1 902-963-7874, toll-free: +1-888-773-8888, . A 19th-century farm house which was owned by the MacNeill family, cousins of author Lucy Maud Montgomery; the outer walls are white, except for the distinctive green gables. Montgomery visited the farm as a young girl, drawing inspiration from the house and surrounding area, including the "Haunted Woods", "Lovers Lane", and "Balsam Hollow." Adult $7.80, senior $6.80, youth $3.90. Green Gables (Q1109932) on Wikidata Green Gables (Prince Edward Island) on Wikipedia
  • 2 Greenwich Interpretation Centre, Wild Rose Road (8km NW of St. Peters Bay on Greenwich Rd (Rte 313), 200m N on Wild Rose Rd). June-September: Daily, 9AM-5PM. The Greenwich Interpretation Centre features over 20 exhibits showcasing coastal dune system, wetlands and various natural habitats, and includes a 3D in-floor model displays the Greenwich Peninsula, St. Peters Bay, and surrounding areas.
  • 3 L.M. Montgomery's Cavendish Home, 8521 Cavendish Road, Cavendish, +1 902-963-2231, . 9AM-5PM (mid-May to mid-Oct), 9AM-6PM (summer). Homestead fields, lanes, gardens and old trees on the grounds where Montgomery's grandparents home once stood; no buildings remain. Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, Kilmeny of the Orchard and The Story Girl were written here, as well as hundreds of short stories and poems. Adult $3, age 16 and under $1.

Do[edit]

Beaches[edit]

  • 1 Brackley Beach. Open May-Oct. Facilities include change rooms, showers, washrooms (flush toilets), exhibits, drinking water, parking, and canteen; supervised 10AM-6PM during July & August.
  • 2 Cavendish Beach, Graham's Lane. 8 km (5 miles) of natural sand beach extends from New London Bay in the west to Cavendish East. Wooden board walk, changing rooms, washrooms and a canteen.
  • 3 Greenwich Beach. Open mid-June - mid-Sept. Facilities include change rooms, outdoor showers, picnic area, kitchen shelter, washrooms (composting toilets), exhibits, and parking; supervised 10AM-6PM during July & August.
  • 4 North Rustico Beach. Facilities include washrooms (outdoor privies), drinking water, and parking; supervised 11AM-5PM during July & August.
  • 5 Stanhope Beach. Open May-Sept. Facilities include change rooms, showers, washrooms (flush toilets), exhibits, drinking water, parking, picnic shelter, and playground; supervised 11AM-6PM during July & August.

Golf[edit]

Buy[edit]

There's little or nothing in the park. A handful of tourist-oriented businesses operate seasonally outside the park limits along Route 6, the main road through Cavendish and the surrounding communities, but selection is limited.

Eat[edit]

There are six picnic areas in the park; some are equipped with washrooms and kitchen shelters.

Stanhope Beach, Stanhope Cape, Cape Turner and Cavendish East picnic areas are open mid-June to mid-September. Cavendish Grove picnic area is open mid-May to end-September. Dalvay Trail House is open from mid-May to Thanksgiving. Information is available from the park office at +1 902-672-6350.

Drink[edit]

There is a liquor store in North Rustico; Sandbox Pub & Eatery (8812 Cavendish Rd, +1 902-963-3759) is just west of the park on Route 6.

Park management may restrict campers from bringing alcoholic beverages into park camp sites at certain times, such as during the music festival.

Cannabis usage within the park is allowed, however it is restricted to the visitor's personal campsite. Smoking Cannabis on the beaches is not allowed. If you so choose to consume Cannabis on the beach despite the rules, please be considerate of families present on the beach and remove yourself from proximity to children. If you have any questions, please refer to Parks Canada's guide to cannabis consumption within National Parks.

Sleep[edit]

These accommodations are part of PEI National Park. See Cavendish (Prince Edward Island), North Rustico-New Glasgow, and Brackley Beach-Stanhope for additional lodging outside the park.

Lodging[edit]

  • 1 Dalvay-by-the-Sea (Dalvay-by-the-Sea National Historic Site), 16 Cottage Crescent, Dalvay, +1 902-672-2048, toll-free: +1-888-366-2955. Elaborate summer house in the Queen Anne Revival style. A historic Victorian era mansion operated as an inn with restaurant and event space, twenty-five bedrooms with four-piece en suite bath, wi-fi but no TV or radio. Eight one or two-bedroom cottages are nearby.

Camping[edit]

There are two campgrounds in the park:

  • 2 Cavendish Campground, 357 Graham's Lane, Cavendish, toll-free: +1-877-RESERVE (7373783). 200 camp sites, exclusive supervised white sand beach, showers, flush toilets, laundry, kitchen shelters. Campfires permitted on selected sites. On 8-km (five-mile) Homestead Trail for hiking and cycling. $27.40-35.30/night plus park admission ($22-28 in shoulder season).
  • 3 Stanhope Campground, 983 Gulf Shore Parkway, Stanhope, toll-free: +1-877-RESERVE (7373783). Camp with over 100 sites on Gulf Shore Way, a 10km multi-use trail for cycling, inline skating or walking. Hot showers, flush toilets, laundry and kitchen shelters; within walking distance of Stanhope Beach. =$27.40-35.30/night plus park admission ($22-28 in shoulder season).
  • oTENTiks (tents on platforms with beds, water and electricity), are available at Cavendish and Stanhope (sleeps up to 6) $ 120.00/night

Stay safe[edit]

Jumping from Covehead Bridge is prohibited and dangerous. The gulf is prone to rip currents or rip tides which can pull a swimmer away from shore. Swimmers are encouraged to use supervised swimming areas.

Pets are prohibited on national park beaches from April 1 - October 15 but are still allowed on leash in camping areas, picnic areas and along park trails.

Although winter usage of the park is allowed, Parks Canada would like to remind potential off-season visitors that facilities are closed and park maintenance is restricted to snowplowing on the scenic drives. Parks Canada holds no responsibility for any injuries sustained within the park during this time of year and advises visitors to be extremely cautious when accessing the beach. During the winter time, sea ice piles up on the shore and makes walking along the beach very hazardous.

Go next[edit]

Routes through Prince Edward Island National Park
END  N PEI Highway 13.svg S  CavendishEnds at E PEI Highway 1.svg W
END  N PEI Highway 15.svg S  Brackley BeachCharlottetown


This park travel guide to Prince Edward Island National Park is a usable article. It has information about the park, for getting in, about a few attractions, and about accommodations in the park. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.