Camping in the UNESCO Biosphere

Canadian Biosphere Reserves Association defines a biosphere reserve as “international recognition that reasonable actions, with measurable outcomes, are being taken to balance conservation initiatives with sustainable development. The designation provides a powerful mechanism that ensures the adoption of the long-term stewardship practices and lasting environmental protection in the area.” In short it promotes conservation and sustainability in the area. However, it does not mean that the designation has any legal authority over what people can or cannot do in that area.

There are 15 designated UNESCO biosphere reserves in Canada and three in Ontario. One is in Long Point, second is the Niagara Escarpment and third is Georgian Bay area known as thirty Thousand Islands. Bruce Peninsula is part of the Niagara Escarpment Biosphere Reserve. The Bruce Peninsula National Park is the best known park in the area. Camping there is only permitted at the Cypress Lake campground, which is quite basic. It lies on the shores of the little inland lake. The number of sites is very limited so the reservations should be made well in advance.

The hikes from Cypress Lake lead to the spectacular views of the Niagara Escarpment and the Bruce Trail. The most frequently visited places are the Grotto and Indian Head Cove, where crystal clear water of aquamarine resembles the Caribbean. But don’t get fooled –the water is freezing cold even in the summer, because of the great depths of the Georgian Bay at this point. It is suitable for diving and you can often see the diving boats nearby. There are many private campgrounds on the Bruce where you can camp while visiting all the points of interest, including Red Bay Tent & Trailer Park, Trillium campground near Sauble Beach and Sauble Falls campground, which are all located in the southern part of the Peninsula.

Cape Croker campground lies on the First Nations Reserve lands on the eastern shores and it hosts annual pow-wow. If you are visiting The National Park just for one day make sure to come early in the morning (ideally by 9am), otherwise your car may not be admitted into the park because of the full parking lots.

Weather staying one day or one week make sure to visit the town of Tobermory on the tip of the Peninsula. Its picturesque harbour and many fish and chips restaurants are well worth it.