Situated on the shores of Lake Superior in the province of Ontario, Pukaskwa National Park is one of Canada's true wonders. Pukaskwa was established in 1983 to secure an 1878 kilometer area that includes boreal forest. It is the only wilderness national park in the whole province.
There are many stories concerning the origin of the park's name. Some say the word Pukaskwa is a term used to describe the cleaning of fish while others contend that it means "eaters of fish" or "safe harbour." If you are interested in learning more about the history of the park, the local anishinabe Aboriginals have many stories that detail the cultural history of Pukaskwa Park to share with the visitors to the area. You can see for yourself the man-made shallow rock structures on the beaches of Pukaskwa - even today we are not sure who formed these pits and for what purpose.
The park offers a variety of activities to interest visitors. There are guided tours in the summer where visitors can see boreal plants and learn about their traditional uses. Every summer the park offers visitors a chance to take part in a spirit hike - a hike on which spirits from the past materialize to share stories about Pukaskwa's history. You can also choose to hike one of the three self-guided trails in Pukaskwa Park. There are special evening programs offered and some of the topics covered include the geology of the boreal forest and First Nations culture. The park has also begun offering a Junior Naturalist program that allows children to learn more about Pukaskwa and its ecosystem.
The park offers some of the most phenomenal views in all of Pukaskwa. These can be viewed from the Southern Headland Trail or you can experience a spectacular sunset at North Beach. White River suspension bridge also offers some breath-taking viewpoints. If you have the courage to pause midway across this swinging suspension bridge, you will be rewarded with a 360-degree of the area.
There are many fun exciting activities for visitors to Pukaskwa. You can picnic, fish, enjoy an afternoon of cycling and mountain biking (in the surrounding area - bikes are not allowed along the park's trails) and you can also canoe along the coast of the park or sail out on Lake Superior.
The Friends of Pukaskwa National Park is a volunteer, non-profit organization that supports the park's activities and also offers more information about the park and the area surrounding it. Be sure to look them up if you want more information about the park and its philosophy.
Pukaskwa Park is open all year round, but many activities, services and facilities are only open during the summer. Be sure to check with Parks Canada before planning your trip to ensure the services and activities you need are offered at the time of year you plan to visit the parklands of Pukaskwa.
The weather is Pukaskwa is highly unpredictable due to its location. Be prepared for sudden changes in the weather and pack accordingly.
Pukaskwa can only be accessed by road from the north. The closest town to Pukaskwa Park is Marathon, Ontario. Marathon offers grocery, laundry and a variety of other services for the visitors to the Pukaskwa area.