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November 17, 2011
Of parks, parks… and even more parks!
Destination Saint Lawrence boasts a broad diversity of attractions, including an abundance of parks which set the stage for adventure and discovery the moment that visitors step ashore at a Québec port of call. With 22 provincial parks, a marine park, 15 wildlife reserves and three national parks, Québec certainly has what it takes to spoil all manner of tourists!
Société des établissements de plein-air du Québec (SEPAQ) manages the majority of these facilities. At SEPAQ, the focus is on honouring natural beauty and wealth of place. Accordingly, visitors and local community members are encouraged to take full advantage of these protected areas. Park access is a privilege. It is therefore incumbent upon visitors to act responsibly to ensure that the province’s natural and cultural heritage is passed down to future generations and that the latter are able enjoy regional flora and fauna to the fullest. These protected areas cover over 80 000 km2 of unspoiled land.
Cruiseshippers dropping anchor at ports of call in Québec are fortunate to have such a profusion of protected areas so close at hand, not to mention the extensive ground excursion potential that these parks provide. The main destination parks include as follows:
GASPÉSIE PORT OF CALL
- Forillon National Park of Canada: Located at the extreme eastern tip of the Appalachian Mountains, the Forillon Peninsula serves up the best of what the Gaspé has to offer: grandiose countryscapes, abundant flora and fauna, as well as a rich and captivating history peopled by early 20th century fishers and merchants. A number of excursions offered by cruise lines include a stop at Forillon to enable visitors to experience the wonders of the park for themselves.
- Bonaventure Island and Percé Rock Provincial Park: One of Québec’s crown park jewels, a place where nature is grandiose and discoveries are unforgettable. A tour of Bonaventure Island, home to one of the largest colonies of northern gannets in the world, a hike out to Percé Rock and a visit to the Charles Robin historic complex figure among the most prized attractions in Québec.
HAVRE SAINT-PIERRE PORT OF CALL
- Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve of Canada: Unlike any other in the world, this park features the largest concentration of erosion monoliths in Canada. The captivating charm of the sea, bizarre rock forms, exceptional plant life, unusual bird life and area lighthouses beckon visitors to take time out for discovery. A single glance at the spectacular scenery of the Mingan Archipelago and visitors are smitten. This reserve, accessible by boat, can accommodate up to 650 passengers in cooperation with the boatmen recognized by Parks Canada.
- Anticosti Provincial Park: In addition to an ever present deer population, Anticosti is home to a multitude of grandiose countryscapes and one-of-a-kind natural phenomena: canyons, fossils, grottoes and spectacular waterfalls. Take off and discover the Port Meunier area with a team of naturalist guides. Discover the lighthouse at Pointe-Ouest and the wreck of the Calou. Observe the abundance of local flora and fauna as you breathe in the salt air! Riche de son histoire, Anticosti is ripe with the promise of an unforgettable island experience. This excursion includes a transfer by air. A maximum of 50 persons at a time are allowed access to this unique site.
SAGUENAY PORT OF CALL
- Saguenay-St Lawrence Marine Park: Extending over an area of 1245 km2, Saguenay-St Lawrence Marine Park in unique in that it protects and showcases an entirely marine environment home to exceptional oceanographic phenomena which foster biodiversity. In total, one can observe over fifteen species of marine mammals including the St Lawrence beluga, a protected species. It is possible to explore the marine park via a number of sites, interpretive centres and cruise operators in the region.
- Saguenay Provincial Park: Set against a breathtaking natural backdrop, the park features a broad spectrum of activities: sea kayaking, zodiac rides, hiking, sailing, excursion cruises, an interpretive centre and more. Come admire the singular beauty of the Our Lady of Saguenay statue and discover time and space in a place where nature has deployed forces of colossal proportions to carve out a fjord. Cruiseshippers can visit the park on their own or opt for an excursion which stops at the park.
TROIS-RIVIÈRES PORT OF CALL
- La Mauricie National Park: In this natural, protected park, a diverse and abundant nature stretches for kilometre upon kilometre along the backbone of the celebrated Laurentian Mountains. Climb aboard a rabascaw canoe and set out on a journey through time. Keep your eyes peeled for vestiges of the last ice age, visit a First Nations camp, or simply explore local waterways. Guided tours are limited to groups of 50 persons. However, it is possible to access the park and explore on one’s own.
A number of other fabulous sites should also be included on any stopover to the region’s shores: the fossil-rich site at Miguasha, historic Old Québec, Lac Saint-Pierre and the Manicouagan-Uapishka area. All are world heritage sites recognized by UNESCO.
These places and parks act as gateways to nature, the great outdoors and adventures galore. They also provide invaluable insights into Québec’s plentiful flora and fauna. These heritage gems make Québec a must see destination, one ripe with the promise of enriching experiences and thrills that visitors will long remember with an ever present mix of wonder and delight!