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The Professional Tourist: Hopewell Rocks

by Jim Park

Should you find yourself holed up for a weekend somewhere around Moncton, N.B. at the Salisbury Irving, or perhaps in the Sussex, N.B. area, why not check out one of the greatest natural marvels this country has to offer: The Hopewell Rocks, otherwise known as the Flowerpot rocks.

These world-famous rock formations are just a short drive from either Moncton or Sussex, and there's a huge parking lot. Certainly enough to park a tractor trailer. But in order to facilitate further exploration of the area, it might be a good idea to abandon the wagon, with permission, at the truckstop.

The Hopewell Rocks were formed over millions and millions of years as a direct result of erosion caused by the winds and tides in the Bay of Fundy. The massive pillars of rock stand along the beach, seeming to spring straight out of the rock bottom of the ocean floor. In fact, the standing formations were, at one time, long, long ago, part of the cliff face itself. But the action of the tides wore away the underlying rock, leaving the towers, or flower pots as they are sometimes called, standing as much as 500 ft. from the cliff face.

Structures similar to the Hopewell Rocks exist in various places around the world, such as the U.S. South West, where wind and rain have worked their magic to sculpt the odd and misshapen monuments. But the Bay of Fundy is the only place in the world where tidal action has resulted in these types of formations.

The Bay of Fundy, as you may know, experiences the highest tides found any place on Earth. This is due to the unique funnel shape of the bay itself and it's relatively shallow depth. Various location within the Bay of Fundy experience higher tides than others and there are a number of reasons for this phenomenon. It has a lot to do with the shape of the shoreline and the depth of the water. The Bay of Fundy is somewhat funnel shaped and relatively quite. This causes the moon-created tide to grow higher as it moves along the length of the ever-narrowing bay because it simply has nowhere else to go. The tides travel at 6 to 8 vertical feet per hour, depending upon the moon phases. This may appear to be faster in some areas where the bay has a flat bottom.

Another interesting and truly unique feature of the Bay of Fundy is a phenomenon called the Tidal Bore. Basically, it's a relatively small wave that rolls upstream, leading the advancing incoming tide. Admittedly, it's not the most exciting natural occurrence you'll ever witness, but it is worth the trip to downtown Moncton. The Tidal Bore is best viewed from Boreview Park, which is located on Coverdale Road in Riverview, N.B., across the bay from Moncton, or Bore Park, which is located on Main Street in downtown Moncton. These sites offer an observation deck at which you can see the arrival of the tidal bore on a daily basis. Arrival times can be obtained by calling 1-800-561-0123.

But back to the rocks. The site itself offers several attractions to help explain the formation of the rocks, as well as in interpretive centre that explains the entire geological formation known as the Bay of Fundy. There is a six-hour window where visitors can descend a stairway to the base of the cliff to actually walk among the rocks, right on the ocean floor. The rocks look dramatic enough in a photograph, but walking among them leaves one with a sense of the magnitude and power of the tidal forces.

Why not make a day of it? There's plenty to do in the immediate area including kayaking or canoeing, caving, bird watching, hiking, biking and horseback riding. There are several museums in the area including one that offers guided tours of an abandoned gypsum mine. There are even several of New Brunswick's unique covered bridges in the vicinity of the Hopewell Rocks, and an old lighthouse as well.

And if that's not enough to lure you out of the truckstop, there are dozens of Mom and Pop restaurants along highway 114 that offer some of the best and freshest sea food your likely to find anywhere, at Mom and Pop prices to boot.

The Hopewell Rocks are located at Cape Hopewell, approximately 30 kilometers south of Moncton on highway # 114. Plan on about 45 minutes to an hour to get there from downtown Moncton. If you're coming in from Sussex, you'll travel about 100 kilometres in all, along highway 2 and highway 114. That trip will take about 90 minutes.

Contact Information:

Route 114 Hopewell Cape
Albert County N.B. E0A 1Y0
Call Toll Free: (877) 734-3429

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