7 Need-to-Know Tips to Make the Most of Your Bruce Peninsula Road Trip
You’ve heard the buzz… the Bruce Peninsula is THE place to be! Its spectacular beaches, wild and rugged natural spaces and incredible Georgian Bay views. Whether you come in search of the quiet and serenity of nature or the excitement of hiking, kitesurfing or cycling, the Bruce delivers on everything you’re looking for (and offers some great surprises, when you get off the beaten path!)
But what do you need to know to plan the best Bruce Peninsula road trip possible? Keep this post handy as you plan and prepare, as it contains important travel tips, contact information and links to more resources that will help you have the best experience as you Explore the Bruce.
First things first, if you’d like to hike to The Grotto, reserve and book your parking spot first.
1. Hit the Right Beach at the Right Time
Bruce Peninsula’s west coast offers spectacular sunsets, sandy beaches and a great variety of shoreline flora. Beaches are typically shallower and warmer on this side of the peninsula, making for better swimming if you visit early in the summer season or early fall while the waters are still warm. There are a ton of places to put in your kitesurf boards, surf or SUP boards, canoes and kayaks on the Lake Huron side, and marinas in the lakeside communities for boaters.
On Bruce Peninsula’s east coast, you’ll find the deep, crisp blue waters and rocky shoreline of Georgian Bay. This is where you want to be for deeper water boating and fishing, scuba diving, colder water swimming and sunsets that will make you into a morning person.
Be sure to use our boating and paddling highlights page and our beaches page that lists 15 of our public beaches to make sure you don’t miss a thing on either shore!
2. Plan Your Accommodations & Popular Activities in Advance
Bruce Peninsula offers all kinds of accommodations, from hotels and campgrounds to AirBnBs, private cottage rentals, and bed and breakfasts. You can even find shared accommodations at the region’s first hostel, The Fitz in Lion’s Head. The Bruce is a popular place to be in peak summer season, so you’ll want to book as far in advance as possible.
Activities and adventures can be booked ahead, too. See Things to Do ahead of your trip to see which activity options are on your route so you can book in advance. You’ll definitely want to book your 4-hour parking slot ahead of time online or by phone if you plan to visit the Grotto, and can do so online here.
3. Get to Know Your Transit Options & Safe Driving Practices on the Bruce
Public transit on the Bruce Peninsula is sparse. You can get here by car, or via the Parkbus, which picks up in 3 Toronto locations and drops off at 4 destinations on the Bruce Peninsula. Learn more about Parkbus service here.
There are a few licensed taxis operating on the peninsula. Your best bet for finding the most current listings for operators is to do a Google search for “bruce peninsula taxis.”
Drive carefully and keep within the speed limits while driving – especially on Highway 6 between Wiarton and Tobermory. This area of the Highway is regularly patrolled and has resulted in increased numbers of stunt driving charges year over year. When planning your Bruce Peninsula vacation, please remember to give yourself extra time to travel as Highway 6 is the only direct route from Wiarton to Tobermory. Highway 6 is a hilly, winding highway with no passing lanes and few opportunities for safe passing. Get comfortable, be patient and respect the speed limit over the course of your trip.
Please watch carefully for wildlife! The Bruce Peninsula is one of Southern Ontario’s last wild regions and as such is home to a great number of species including turtles, snakes, rabbits, porcupine, coyotes and even bears. Many species of turtles have been designated as at-risk in Ontario, with habitat loss and roadways being the biggest threat to their survival. Please slow down for all animals, and give them extra time to cross our roadways. Use your caution lights as you are slowing to alert other drivers to your change in highway speed, and pull off the roadway fully onto the shoulder, if necessary.
4. Find Public Facilities En Route
Use public restrooms where they are provided – avoid the public embarrassment and potential fines of using our outdoor spaces as a toilet! Popular destinations including Tobermory, Sauble Beach, Southampton beach and Bruce Peninsula National Park offer public restrooms, and most businesses provide facilities for customers’ use. To find a list of the surrounding public facilities, use this map!
5. Take These Important Phone Numbers
Travel Information Numbers:
- 511: Ontario Traveller Information hotline
- 1-877-RESERVE (737-3783): Bruce Peninsula National Park Reservations (book online at: Bruce Peninsula Reservations)
- 1-888-773-8888: Bruce Peninsula National Park information hotline
- 1 800-265-3163: OSTC for Chi-Cheemaun ferry tickets and schedule information & Springmount Information Centre
- 519-534-3111: Wiarton Information Centre
- 519-793-5474: Ferndale Information Centre
- 519-596-2452: Tobermory Information Centre
- 519-596-2233: Bruce Peninsula National Park Visitor Centre
- 911: Emergency calls for Fire, Police and Ambulance
- 1-888-310-1133: Ontario Provincial Police, to report a non-emergency crime
6. Prepare Ahead to Hit the Trails
The Bruce Trail, Canada’s oldest and longest footpath, runs from Niagara all the way up to Tobermory – almost 1,300 kilometres of main and side trails. 294 kilometres run from Wiarton to Tobermory and has the most stunning views of the entire trail, though we may be a little biased.
Always make sure you have the most recent map with you – you can order the Reference Guide and Trail Maps as well as download the Bruce Trail app from the Bruce Peninsula Bruce Trail Association. Hint: If you have the app, load the maps before heading out onto the trail. Having your phone on Airplane mode helps save battery power when you’re not using it but is still able to GPS your location to show you where you are on the trail.
Explore the Bruce offers a comprehensive list of gear and accessories you should pack to bring with you. It’ll also help prepare you for the plants, wildlife and insects you might encounter in your travels. We always recommend being prepared for your hike in proper footwear and by having extra water and snacks.
Finally, follow hiking best practices to ensure you have a safe, enjoyable time on the trails here on the Bruce Peninsula. Never go hiking alone, always carry a supply of fresh water and high energy foods with you. Give a trusted friend or family member a copy of your route and anticipated return time, so they can alert the authorities if you run into issues as cell service can be spotty at some areas on the trail.
7. Visit Information Centres for Most Timely, Accurate Info to Enrich Your Trip
Plan to stop in at a Visitor Information Centre to kick off your trip with the most up to date information about the places you plan to visit, activities you want to do, and things you want to see on the Bruce Peninsula.
You’ll find these helpful resources here:
- Bruce Peninsula National Park Centre in the town of Tobermory
- Tobermory Visitor Information Centre operated by the local Chamber of Commerce
- Ferndale Visitors Centre & Park at 2926 Highway 6, Ferndale
Ready to Hit the Road?
Let’s get your Bruce Peninsula adventure started! Get off the beaten path and go deeper. Plan to stay longer. See more of the Bruce Peninsula with each trip.