Cap Tourmente National Wildlife Area
Photo: © Environment Canada.
Cap Tourmente National Wildlife Area, Greater Snow Geese
The Cap Tourmente NWA, made up of marshland, plains and forests, is located on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River, 50 kilometres (km) east of Québec City. Established in 1978 by Environment Canada, its purpose is to protect the American Bulrush marshes that serve as the primary habitat of the Greater Snow Goose during migration periods. The wildlife area was recognized as a Wetland of International Significance under the Ramsar Convention in 1981, becoming the first site to earn this distinction in North America. Its many historic buildings testify to more than 400 years of human occupation and farming activity, making it one of the founding sites of Canada.
Situated at the junction of the Canadian Shield, the St. Lawrence Lowlands and the Appalachians, the wildlife area also lies at the confluence of the Upper and Fluvial estuaries of the St. Lawrence. The territory offers contrasting landscapes shaped by the meeting of the river, large coastal marshes, plains and mountains, and features a multitude of habitats that are home to a very wide diversity of animal and plant species. The wildlife area is home to more than 325 bird species, 30 mammal species, 22 types of forest stands and 700 plant species. Many of these species are at risk, including the Peregrine Falcon, the Bobolink, and the Butternut.
In spring and fall, migratory birds congregate in the narrow corridor framed by the river and the cape's escarpment and invade the mosaic of habitats in the wildlife area. The area is renowned for the awe-inspiring spectacle of the Greater Snow Geese gathering at the site by the tens of thousands during migration.
In addition to 20 different duck and goose species, some 10 or more species of birds of prey and 30 warbler species have been observed. In the spring Wood Duck, Northern Harrier, Pileated Woodpecker, Ruffed Grouse, Scarlet Tanager, Indigo Bunting, and American Redstart are frequently observed. In addition to the populations of Red-winged Blackbirds, Swamp Sparrows, and American Black Ducks in the coastal marsh, Nelson's Sharp-tailed Sparrow makes the wildlife area one of its rare nesting sites on the north shore of the St. Lawrence, while the presence of the Bobolink is also worthy of mention. Nearly 20 species are observed in the winter, including Black-capped Chickadee, Blue Jay, and Barred Owl.Among the mammals, the most common are the muskrat, the White-tailed Deer and the Red Squirrel. The American Porcupine, the Red Fox, and the American Black Bear are also observed on occasion.
The primary threats and management challenges to the ecological integrity of the Cap Tourmente NWA include neighbouring land development, poaching, invasive alien plants, and the impact of visitors.
More information on Cap Tourmente NWA is provided in the summary table below.
Planning Your Visit
The natural beauty and the many outdoor activities available at Cap Tourmente, make this NWA a wonderful place to spend a day. Whether you're interested in hiking, wildlife observation, photography or one off the various interactive programs that are offered seasonally, you're sure to find something for every member of the family. The recommended visit duration is 2 to 4 hours
More detailed information about the activities offered at Cap Tourmente NWA can be found in the Activities Pamphlet.
Cap Tourmente is one of ten NWAs receiving funding as part of Canada's National Conservation Plan -- established to conserve Canada's precious wildlife and to ensure that you have access to discover the nature around you. Visit, connect with nature, and leave only footprints behind.
From May through October you can enjoy:
- 20 kilometres (km) of hiking trails through a mosaic of habitats - Map of Hiking Trails (spring-summer-fall)
- Interpretation centre: Information, exhibits and audiovisual presentations
- Discovery tools (BioKit, On the Fox's Trail nature rally with GPS, geocaches, historical trail)
- Outdoor organized activities (for the general public, school groups and other groups)
- Picnic areas
And from January through March you can explore:
- 6 km of winter hiking trails - Map of Hiking Trails (winter)
- Network of bird feeders
- Welcome area and information in a heated building (on weekends)
Public Facilities: Washrooms, visitor centre, parking lot
Special Warning: Be aware that there may be biting insects in summer, that camping is prohibited at all times, and that certain areas in the NWA are used for waterfowl hunting in the fall.
|From April 25 to May 17||Weekends||Focus on the geese|
|From May 23 to June 28||Weekend||A pilgrim coming from afar|
|From September 26 to October 25||Daily||Focus on the geese|
|From January 4 to March 13||Daily||Bird feeder network|
Please note: Access to the Cap Tourmente NWA is restricted to designated areas and times of the year, and subject to payment of an entrance fee. Access to Cap Tourmente National Wildlife Area (NWA) is forbidden outside of these opening times. The NWA can be closed without notice. Public notices listing the activities permitted within the wildlife area are posted at area access points.
For more information on what is permitted in NWAs, consult the NWA Management and Activities page.
Notice from Enviroment Canada
Environment Canada would like to inform the public that the Cap Tourmente NWA, located in the Municipality of Saint-Joachim, is a protected area. Established in 1978, the purpose of the NWA is to protect migratory birds, wildlife and their habitats, as well as several species at risk.
To protect this area, the Department would also like to inform people circulating in the NWA of their obligation to comply with the rules of the Canada Wildlife Act and the Wildlife Area Regulations. Failure to comply with the regulations may result in a fine or prosecution.
Activities allowed without a permit but with a right of access in designated developed areas (trails, observation areas, as well as resting and picnic areas) are: hiking, nature observation, photography and picnics. Picnics are permitted only on benches, tables and in observation areas. During winter, snowshoeing is permitted only on open marked trails.
Without a permit issued by the Minister specifying the authorized activities, the following are prohibited in the NWA:
- Walking off developed trails and access roads;
- Using any means of transportation; for example, snowmobiling is prohibited across the NWA;
- Damaging, destroying or removing a plant;
- Having a domestic animal without a leash;
- Dumping or depositing any garbage or substance that would degrade or alter the quality of the environment;
- Engaging in recreational activities;
- Camping, or starting or maintaining a fire.
To file a complaint or report illegal activities, please contact Environment Canada by phone at 1-800-668-6767 or by email.
Nothing in this notice infringes on ancestral rights or Aboriginal treaty rights.
|April 1st, 2nd and from April 7 to 24|
From October 26 to December 18
From March 14 to 31
|From Monday to Friday,|
from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.;
closed on weekends, April 3,6 and November 11
|From April 25 to October 25||Daily from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m|
|Du 19 décembre au 3 janvier||Closed|
|From January 4 to March 13||Daily from 8:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m|
Access to Cap Tourmente NWA is forbidden outside of these opening times.
The NWA can be closed without notice.
Free for a child under 12 years old accompanied by a parent
Passes and group rates available
Controlled Fall Hunt Program for the Greater Snow Goose
Hunting for the Greater Snow Goose is permitted in October within the wildlife area with an Environment Canada permit. Registration is mandatory between January and April, and the hunting permits are issued through a random draw in May.
Take a look at the Greater Snow Goose population monitoring data from last year to get an idea of what to expect this coming season!
More information on access and permitting for Cap Tourmente NWA can be obtained by contacting the Environment Canada regional office.
NWA entrance geographic coordinates : 47°03.860' N 70°47.774' W
From Québec City, follow Route 138 toward Sainte-Anne-de-Beaupré. At Beaupré, follow the posted signs for the NWA.
Map of the Area
Map showing the Cap Tourmente NWA boundaries.
Long description for the Map
Map showing south-eastern Quebec and a section of the St. Lawrence River. The boundaries of the Cap Tourmente NWA are indicated. The wildlife area overlaps a portion of the St. Lawrence River shoreline roughly following the intertidal water line to the east of Beaupre and Saint-Joachim and to the south of the Rivière Sainte-Anne and highway 138. The wildlife area extends inland in several irregularly shaped pieces all located very closely together. The scale on the map is in kilometers. Permanent water, intertidal water, roads and highways are all indicated on the map. A small inset national map situates the NWA in Canada.
This map is for illustrative purposes only and should not be used to define legal boundaries. Cap Tourmente NWA can also be viewed using Google Maps. Please note that the Google map is a complementary source of information and does not represent the official map or site name.
|Protected Area designation||NWA|
|Latitude/longitude||47°05' North / 70°47' West|
|Reason for Creation of protected area||Protecting the bulrush marsh, the main habitat of the Greater Snow Goose during migration|
|Date created (Gazetted)||1978 – Legal description|
|International Union for Conservation (IUCN) Management Category||IV – Habitat/Species Management Area: protected area aim to protect particular species or habitats and management reflects this priority.|
|Keystone or flagship species||Greater Snow Goose, Peregrine Falcon, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Warblers in spring.|
|Listed Species under the Species at Risk Act (SARA)||Many species at risk under the Species At Risk Act, including the Peregrine Falcon, Bobolink and the Butternut. Numerous other species are classified as at risk under provincial legislation.|
|Main habitat type||Intertidal marsh and broad expanses of American Bulrush.|
|Faunistic and floristic importance||Presence of wetlands, agricultural fields and forest providing a popular staging area for migratory birds and important breeding grounds. Wide diversity of plant and animal species and habitats within a relatively limited area. Presence of wildlife and plant species at risk.|
|Invasive species||Purple Loosestrife, Common Reed, Japanese Knotweed, Flowering Rush.|
|Main threats and challenges||Neighbouring land development, poaching, invasive alien plants, impact of visitors.|
|Management Agency||Environment Canada (Canadian Wildlife Service)|
|Public access and usage||Access restricted to designated areas and at certain times of the year. Activities permitted: hiking (20 km of trails), nature observation, photography, interpretation centre with exhibition hall and audiovisual presentations, outreach activities. Hunting for the Greater Snow Goose is permitted in the fall within the wildlife area with an Environment Canada permit.|
Note: If there is a discrepancy between the information presented on this web page and any notice posted at the NWA site, the notice prevails as it is the legal instrument authorizing the activity.
Cap Tourmente NWA
570 chemin du Cap-Tourmente
Interpretation center: 418-827-4591
Fax number: 418-827-6225
Environment Canada – Quebec Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
801-1550, avenue d'Estimauville
Toll Free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)
- Date Modified: