Years ago when I moved to the city of Thunder Bay, I was eager to check out my new city and it's surroundings. I asked many local residents what they would recommend seeing, and almost all of them replied "Ouimet Canyon". "What is Ouimet Canyon?" I replied, to which the answer was "It's this really big canyon about a one hour drive northeast of the city of Thunder Bay". I hate to admit it, but I was skeptical about the grandeur of this canyon; However, one summer day I hopped into my car, drove northeast along the Trans-Canada Highway, turned off onto Ouimet Canyon Road, and after a short winding drive I finally arrived at Ouimet Canyon Provinicial Park (established in 1972). After a short hike, I was pleasantly surprised to see this beautiful unexpected natural wonder.
Through the years I have returned many times to see Ouimet Canyon. In my opinion, visiting this place is a must, and therefore I enjoy taking visiting family and friends to behold this breathtaking area anytime I can. The trail from the parking lot to the canyon has greatly improved since I first visited this place years ago. Being only about 1 km in length, the trail consists of smooth dirt or boardwalk, is mostly flat, and can be accessed by wheelchair if necessary (although there may be a few challenging but doable areas to transverse, especially after a heavy rainfall and the dirt trails suffer water runoff damage). If you are in reasonably good health, the hike should be an easy one. For your safety, be sure to remain on the marked trails.
If you follow the suggested route indicated on the above featured trail sign, you will arrive at Lookout 1, a sturdy viewing platform. Looking to your left you will see this view of Ouimet Canyon:
In the foreground on the left you will notice a rock resembling a human head. Do you see it? This is "Indian Head" rock. Here's a closer look:
Looking to your right, you will see this view:
Now you will continue your trail loop hike to the next sturdy viewing platform, Lookout 2. As you walk, you may want to ponder this information about Ouimet Canyon, an impressive gorge 100 metres (330 ft) deep, 150 metres (490 ft) wide, and 2,000 metres (2.0 km; 1.2 mi) long. Geologists believe that Ouimet canyon was created 1,000,000 years ago when glaciers came through northern Canada . This created a large crack that wind, rain and ice have etched out into a beautiful canyon. The canyon itself contains rare alpine flowers that are considered especially beautiful and arctic plants normally found one thousand kilometres further north. The canyon was named after the former railway station of Ouimet, today an unincorporated place and railway point located nearby on the Canadian Pacific Railway line. The station itself was named after the Canadian Minister of Public Works from 1892 to 1896, Joseph-Aldric Ouimet.
As you arrive at Lookout 2 and look left, the view you will behold is that of the title image for this Picture of the Day. As you look right, you will see this:
So, if you find yourself traveling through Northwestern Ontario, be sure to take the time and visit Ouimet Canyon Provinicial Park. Please note that the park is a day-use park only with no camping facilities, and covers an area of 7.77 square kilometres (3.00 sq mi) around the canyon. This year the park is only open from May 19 to October 9. Be aware that there is a small fee to hike to the canyon (I believe it's only two dollars per car), with bathrooms, picnic tables and a small souvenir shop (seasonal hours) located adjacent to the parking lot.