Cheltenham Badlands

The Mars-like Cheltenham Badlands near Toronto reopens for the season this month

The Cheltenham Badlands is reopening this month for the season, and the spectacular geological phenomenon makes for a great spring day trip destination.

Touted as "one of the most recognizable and visited natural heritage landmarks in southern Ontario," the Caledon-based park is scheduled to open on April 29.

Formed at the base of an ancient sea over 450 million years ago, erosion of shale has shaped the area into the Mars-like landscape it is today, made up of rolling red rocks with ridges and gullies.

Since 2020, reservations have been required for access to the park in an attempt to manage daily visitation.

The Badlands were closed for several years (from July 2015 to September 2018) due to an excessive number of visitors who were walking on the formations, which caused damage and accelerated erosion.

Luckily, the park was able to reopen after conservation work was carried out to help preserve the site, all while upgrading surrounding trails.

While you can no longer walk on the red rocks, there is a beautiful viewing platform overlooking the landscape, and a trail which leads you through a slow-growth forest.

Visitors can make a reservation two weeks in advance of their reservation date, which includes a parking space, 90 minutes to explore the site, and access to Terra Cotta and Island Lake Conservation Areas, depending on capacity.

Reservations are not required, but highly recommended, plus there are savings involved. Booking in advance will cost $11.30. For those visiting day of it's $16.95 at the gate, space permitting. 

Lead photo by

@chrisd666


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