Only a half hour outside of Quebec City lies one of Canada’s hidden natural gems, Canyon Ste-Anne in Beaupré, Quebec. And let me tell you, it is well worth the drive. At Canyon Sainte-Anne, you’ll view a gorgeous waterfall plunging down jagged rocks. You’ll walk across three different suspension bridges on your adventure. As much as we loved exploring the cobblestone streets of Quebec City, this was a fantastic change of pace. It’s always amazing to see the wonders of nature.
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History of Canyon Ste-Anne
Canyon Ste-Anne is an amazing, steep-sided gorge. The steadily flowing Saint-Anne-du-Nord River carves out the rocks gradually as it plunges 242 feet down below. The canyon is part of the Canadian Shield, a fundamental rock formation dating back 1.2 million years that extends across parts of Manitoba, Northern Ontario, and Quebec.
In 1965, the McNicoll Brothers discovered the Saine-Anne Falls for the first time. Back then, only local residents really knew of the gorge, and the only route to the waterfall was through a small path in the forest. In 1967, the McNicoll Brothers purchased the land leading to the river and began to clear a proper path to the waterfall, tree by tree. Thankfully, they respected the region by leaving it as natural as possible so it could be enjoyed by many generations to come.
As we left the main ticket booth, we walked down a dirt path towards the canyon. Along the way, we saw a few animal sculptures that were great fun for the kids (and for us, as posed with the bear statue!). There are fun things for the kids, but it isn’t right in the middle of the natural waterfall and gorge area. We approached the first bridge at the top of the gorge, the Mestachibo Bridge.
The Mestachibo Bridge
When the site opened in 1973, visitors were able to view the waterfall from only one side. As many people wanted to see the waterfall from the other side of the river, the Mestachibo Bridge was constructed. To build the bridge, materials had to be transported by canoe from one side to the other.
The word, “Mestachibo” comes from the Native name of the river, which means “river with many rapids.” From this bridge, you can bask in two different views: the calm river on one side, and the river plunging over the edge on the other.
Observation Points at the Gorge
From the bridge, we hiked down a path in the forest to our first observation deck. There are six observation points throughout the hike at Canyon Ste-Anne, each offering its own spectacular view from both sides of the gorge.
At several points throughout our journey, there were interpretation panels describing the geography, the flora, and the local history of the surroundings. You can read the story of the Canyon in several languages, including Mandarin.
The McNicoll Bridge
This bridge officially opened in 1979 and was named after the McNicoll brothers. This impressive suspension bridge towers 180 feet above the river below. After this bridge was built, the number of visitors to the gorge doubled.
As we’re both a little bit afraid of heights, we were a little nervous walking out onto this bridge as it gently swayed back and forth in the breeze. If you don’t like heights, it’s time to face your fears here. This is where you’ll find the best panoramic views of the waterfall and the river as it meanders into the distance.
We crossed the bridge after pausing for a while to fully absorb the beautiful views. From there, we continued our descent towards the bottom of the gorge to reach our third bridge.
The Laurent Bridge
The latest addition to the collection of bridges at Canyon Ste-Anne is the Laurent Bridge at the lowest point of the gorge. The Laurent Bridge honors the last McNicoll brother to work at the site and symbolizes the bond between Laurent McNicoll and his children. This is another fantastic site for photographers and admirers of nature to capture different angles of the rocky cliffs and rushing water.
We hiked back up to the top, this time on the opposite side of the gorge. There were a couple more lookout points where we stopped for additional astonishing views.
We truly enjoyed our visit to Canyon Ste-Anne and would highly recommend visiting here. It is a really unique place as we’ve never been to a gorge with suspension bridges quite like this before. The observation decks aren’t distracting to the overall view of the canyon as they are tucked away to the side.
By contrast, Montmorency Falls is a little more touristy and busier than Canyon Sainte-Anne. If you’re looking to beat the crowds for a unique experience in nature, you’ll want to visit these waterfalls in Quebec.
Other Activities at the Canyon
While the most popular activity is hiking and walking across the suspension bridges, there are other things to do at Canyon Ste-Anne. Projet Vertical operates via ferrata and zip lines at the canyon. You can climb the rocky cliffs, venture across cable bridges, and zip over the gorge. This adventure is suitable for adults and kids alike as you’ll have a trained guide by your side.
Another new activity at Canyon Sainte-Anne is the Air Canyon. This wasn’t there when we visited the gorge, but it looks like so much fun. You essentially sit in a little chair (seats up to two people) and glide across the gorge, 90 meters in the air. This travels up to 50 km/h, so it’s really like soaring in the sky! This is the very first installation of this technology at a Canadian park. If you visit and try out this attraction, be sure to let us know what you think!
Things to Know Before You Go
Here are a few fun facts and details to know before you visit Canyon Sainte-Anne, including dates of operation and fees.
- Canyon Sainte-Anne is open from May to October. I can only imagine how beautiful it would look with the autumn colors!
- Admission is $14.50 for adults, $11 for teens, and $8 for children. Parking is free. You don’t need to pre-book tickets, just buy them when you arrive.
- There is a restaurant, a souvenir shop, and picnic areas to enjoy lunch or a snack.
- You can bring your dog but keep him on a leash.
- A special tour of the park is provided for handicapped visitors.
- Give yourself about an hour and a half if you do the full hike from top to bottom, which should provide enough time to take photos and enjoy the views.
- Scenes from the movie, Battlefield Earth were filmed here! The filmmakers were looking for a place that could represent a gold mine, so they painted some of the rocky cliffs with bronze pigments for the scene.
Where You’ll Find Canyon Sainte-Anne Quebec
If you’re looking to travel to Canyon Sainte-Anne, it’s located in the town of Beaupré, Quebec. It’s about a 30 minute drive from Quebec City. Here is a map of where you’ll find this beautiful waterfall and gorge in Quebec.
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Fast Facts: Canadian Dollar is the currency. Power voltage is 110-120 V 60 Hz using Power Sockets A and B. You’ll need an adapter if you’re visiting from an international destination outside of North America.
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