This Canadian National Park Is Actually Farther South Than Northern California

When you think of Canada, you think of the Great White North, our neighbors to the north, and just all things north. But the country, which is the world's second largest country after Russia, has a varied and expansive terrain and border lands. Meaning that while the northern part of Canada reaches all the way up to the north pole, the southern most tip of Canada actually extends farther south than you might realize. In fact, the southern most tip of Canada is located at Point Pelee National Park in Ontario, sitting just south of the 42nd Latitude line, making it in line with Northern California.

In addition to Northern California, Point Pelee lies further south than Detroit, Maine, Idaho, Washington, and Vermont, to name a few U.S. regions. Is Detroit the new Great White North? While you ponder that thought, visiting Point Pelee National Park is super easy if you're coming from Detroit Rock City. Windsor, Ontario, which is just an hour's drive (or 40 miles) from Point Pelee National Park, lies just on the other side of the Detroit River, and easily accessible via the Ambassador Bridge or Detroit-Windsor Tunnel.

With excellent hiking trails, bird-watching festivals, and more, here's why you should definitely make the drive south to this nature-lover's Canadian National Park.  

Take a picturesque hike on a marsh boardwalk

While Canada is huge, Point Pelee National Park in Southern Ontario is quite small, clocking in at only 5.7 square miles, making it the second-smallest Canadian National Park. However, the opportunities and activities for nature-lovers abound, with so much to do in such a small space. Parks Canada advises there are actually seven different trails you can choose from, but the most popular is the Marsh Boardwalk trail that actually takes you over the Ramsar Wetland with stunning views, and excellent opportunities to spot turtles, insects, ducks, birds, fish, and other marshland wildlife. While the marsh is actually the size of 2,000 football fields,  Forbes reports walking the trail won't take longer than an hour, and users on the All Trails hiking app positively gush about it, calling it "beautiful" and "picturesque."

If you're visiting Point Pelee from April to October, you can park your car at the entrance of the park and hop on the Shuttle to the Tip, a free shuttle that will transport you from the parking area to the very tip of Point Pelee, which extends 9 miles into Lake Erie. However, if you're visiting between November and March, you can drive right to the southern parking lot and then walk the final 874 yards to the very tip of the park, where you can dip your hands into Lake Erie and take some incredible souvenir photographs.

It's a bird-watcher's haven

If you love birding, Point Pelee is a bird-watcher's haven. Every year as hundreds of thousands of birds migrate south, they use Point Pelee as a stopover, and The Canadian Encyclopedia states that more than 390 bird species visit the park, with warblers being most notable. So make sure you bring your best binoculars, scopes, cameras, and camouflage. The park is such a bird sanctuary that, every May, it holds a Festival of Birds. During the fest, you can join seasoned birding fans on a birding hike, where you will learn how to spot the different kinds of birds, and also learn to distinguish their songs and calls. The hikes are committed to inclusivity and community, offering a special Birding with Pride hike, where the Ontario Field Ornithologists guide you through your birding paces in celebration of the LGBTQ2S+ community.

The park isn't just a marshland or wildlife refuge, it's also a night sky preserve! Parks Canada states that because of the lack of artificial light in the park, and the frequency of the moon not being visible in the sky, the park acts as an "astronomy park" where the majesty of the cosmos reveals itself when the sun goes down. The organization reports that millions of stars become visible to the naked eye during these periods, and they list the best dates of the year to take advantage of the excellent star-gazing opportunities. They even make sure the park is open until midnight!