bruce peninsula national park

Visitors from Toronto are being turned away from Bruce Peninsula National Park

The picturesque national park of Bruce Peninsula has become so busy that it's turning thousands of day trippers away back to the city.

Located a few hours north of Toronto, the Bruce Peninsula National Park is one of the most popular day trip destinations for Torontonians during the summer. 

But the park has been warning visitors that they may meet potential "disappointment and line-ups" as the green oasis in Tobermory faces an exceptionally busy season post-lockdown. 

The park says that it has turned away thousands of visitor vehicles over the past few weeks to curb crowding. In early August, the park says it turned away 2,000 cars in one weekend alone. 

The park's Grotto, in particular, has been intensely packed since reopening at the end of June at 50 per cent capacity. 

The scenic cave on Georgian Bay, which is no longer climbable due to physical-distancing rules, is now leaning on its reservation system for the parking lot by Cyprus Lake to keep crowds at bay.

With just over 70 spots in total, the Grotto's parking lot is typically reserved and completely full by mid-morning, daily, meaning an hours-long drive from Toronto (plus traffic) will have been for naught without booking in advance. 

"Making a spontaneous trip to the park will likely result in waiting in long traffic line ups and in being redirected," said the national park.

When the lots are at capacity, visitors can no longer access the shoreline, hiking trails or picnic areas in the park. 

"Being one of the most popular attractions on the Bruce Peninsula, the Grotto is no longer considered a hidden gem of Ontario," says Parks Canada.

The mass of rejected visitors tends to spill over through the wider Bruce Peninsula community, concerning some neighbouring residents as the pandemic continues.

The national park and Parks Canada are urging people to book ahead, or even better, visit during fall, to avoid disappointment on all sides. 

Lead photo by

Bruce Peninsula National Park

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