Safety and guidelines
Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve
During outdoor adventures, unexpected situations sometimes occur. It is therefore important to be well-informed and well-prepared to minimize the negative impacts of various circumstances.
For important information on how to stay safe while visiting the Mingan Archipelago, please browse the topics below.
Visitor safety: best practices
There are many wonders to see while visiting the Mingan Archipelago, but there are also risks that you should be aware of:
- Climbing on the monoliths is dangerous and prohibited. The sedimentary rock that forms the monoliths is very crumbly and erodes easily and can cause you to fall if you attempt to climb it. In addition, in order to protect these jewels from accelerated erosion, we ask that you do not climb them.
- The use of rocks from the islands to encircle a campfire is not recommended. The heat of the fire can cause the rocks to shatter, resulting in potentially serious injury.
- It is very important to extinguish fires in authorized areas such as outdoor cooking fireplaces before departure to avoid fires. During the season, open-air fire bans may be issued within the park reserve due to the high risk of fire.
- Cellular coverage is limited in some areas of the Archipelago. Make sure you have an adequate means of communication.
Parks Canada provides emergency shelters on some islands and emergency kits at picnic shelters on certain islands. These kits contain a wool blanket, a first aid kit, candles, and paper and matches to start a fire and keep warm in an emergency situation. These kits should only be used in an emergency, for example when someone is injured or when the weather prevents visitors or staff from leaving the islands. Please inform us of any use of the safety kits by phone at 418-538-3285 so that our team can replace the materials used and assess whether the dangerous situations can be corrected.
You can also visit the Parks Canada Web site for more tips on visitor safety.
Here are some precautions to make the most of your hike:
- Visit the Parks Canada Visitor and Interpretation Centres to obtain the information you need to plan your hike.
- Always check the length and features of the trail and the duration of your hike before you go. Choose a trail compatible with YOUR abilities. Hiking maps are available at visitor centres and on the Web site.
- If possible, tell someone where you are going and what time you expect to be back. Adventure Smart proposes an app to leave a Trip plan.
- Even for a short hike, bring a snack and a sufficient amount of water. There is no drinkable water on the islands.
- Prepare your backpack with comfort and safety in mind: a sweater and windbreaker may be useful. We recommend shoes with good traction and support.
- For your safety, please stay on the trails or boardwalks and follow the instructions on notices and signage (closed trail section, steep cliffs, risk of rockfall, etc.).
Along the shorelines:
- Near cliffs, avoid walking under and stopping near overhanging walls. There may be falling rocks. Hike at low tide so that you are away from the cliffs. Despite these precautions, be aware that some rockslides may be unavoidable and dangerous.
- Hiking the coastline at high tide can be difficult in places where water levels prevent dry passage. Check the hiking maps for known areas.
- Some areas along the coastline can be difficult to walk on and could potentially cause you to fall.
- Seaweed and water left behind by the outgoing tide can make the rocks slippery. Vigilance is key.
- Climbing on the monoliths is dangerous and prohibited.
For a better experience, bring:
- Sufficient food and drinking water for 2 extra days (you should bring 2 litres of water per day per person).
- A good sleeping bag, warm clothes and walking shoes.
- A hatchet, kindling and fire-starters (matches or lighter).
- A first aid kit
- Adequate means of communication.
Keep yourself and wildlife safe by following these simple rules:
Food and waste
- When you are away or sleeping, store anything that might attract animals in a closed and safe place (e.g. food in a cooler and trash in a closed plastic bin).
- Do not leave any food unattended.
- Put all of your trash and recyclables in a closed and safe place. (See Regulation 7 - camping).
- Do not cook in the Ôasis or the oTENTik tent and do not leave anything odorous inside.
- Do not pour dishwater or cooking water onto your campsite. Pour it into the ocean or the toilet. In order to protect the environment, we ask you to use organic dishwashing soap.
- Make sure that there is no smell or waste in your fireplace: the fireplace is not a trash bin.
- The use of island rocks to encircle a campfire is not recommended. The heat from the fire can cause the rock to shatter, resulting in potentially serious injury.
- On beaches, fires are only allowed within the area covered by high tide, using driftwood.
- It is forbidden to leave a fire unattended, and it is very important to extinguish fires when leaving the site unattended or departing from the site, to avoid the risk of fire.
- Always check the fire index for fire bans.
For more information about our accommodations
Pleasure boating, kayaking, paddle-boarding or diving
Here are some important points to remember in order to enjoy your activity safely in the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve:
- Check weather and sea conditions
Weather conditions can change rapidly on the water. Around the islands, for example, wind and fog can come up suddenly.
- Check ocean currents
As the ocean currents in the waters surrounding the Mingan Archipelago are strong and unpredictable, you should consult the Mingan Atlas of Currents on the St. Lawrence Global Observatory website. The Atlas is searchable by sector, for each hour.
- Be aware of potential risks and prepare yourself accordingly
Around the park reserve, there are nets and fishing gear such as long floating ropes attached to cages. There is also maritime traffic including cruise vessels, fishing boats, ore carriers, recreational boats, etc. There are reefs and shallow waters along the coasts. Lastly, even on a sunny day, remember that the water is cold!
- Tell someone about your activity
If possible, do not engage in your activity alone.
Let someone know your departure and destination points and what time you expect to return. You may use Adventure Smart’s Trip plan application.
You can also file a sail plan with the Canadian Coast Guard (channel 16 on a marine VHF channel and *16 for some cellular phone providers).
Make sure you adhere to navigation rules.
Follow the safety rules and regulations related to your activity.
Dress appropriately, bring the required safety equipment and know how to use it in an emergency. And do not go beyond your limits!
When navigating waters in poor visibility conditions (fog and/or nighttime), reduce your speed to a safe level so that you can avoid objects you might see at the last moment.
The use of a GPS allows you to know your own position, but not that of other boats. When navigating in fog and/or at night, radar and navigation lights are essential.
You are responsible for your wave
When approaching docks, booms, etc., lower your speed to a minimum to reduce your wake to an acceptable level out of respect for other boaters and to avoid incidents.
In addition to following the usual safety precautions at sea, remember that in the Mingan Archipelago, the coastline is not accessible everywhere. Find out more before you leave.
It is not advisable to walk along the shoreline or to land on shores located under cliffs.
Even if the sea is calm, waves generated by ships can take you by surprise when kayaking.
Wind and currents can be very strong and cause you to drift out to sea and/or make navigation very difficult. You should plan your trips based on the tides.
It is advisable to go out in the morning or at the end of the day: winds are often calmer at these times. Check the weather forecast regularly.
In foggy or poor visibility conditions, make sure you let other vessels know your position, either by VHF calls or audible signals.
Kayaks are not always picked up by radar. The use of a radar reflector is recommended. If you are travelling in a group, stay together to facilitate pickup by radar.
It is also advisable to file a trip plan with the Canadian Coast Guard or by using the Adventure Smart app.
A GPS and/or compass and nautical charts of the area are essential. Charts are available from the Canadian Hydrographic Service or from an authorized dealer prior your arrival in the Minganie region.
In addition to following the usual safety precautions for this activity, remember that rocks along the sea are often very slippery due to algae. In addition, commercial fishing gear such as ropes and nets can be present in many places in the water, not to mention the boats that travel along the shoreline of the islands in the park reserve.
Also, when diving, be sure to identify your presence with a dive flag.
Know more about the nautical activities to do in the archipelago.
For more information on how to prepare for an activity at sea and what equipment to bring, see the following websites:
In addition to following the usual safety guidelines for swimming, remember that:
- The coastline is not supervised.
- Water depth and currents may vary from one area of the coastline to another.
- While the rocks are accessible at low tide, some are not accessible at high tide, so care should be taken.
- Note that swimming is not recommended near the docks and diving from the docks is forbidden.
- The water around the islands of the archipelago is cold: the temperature is usually between 4 and 6 degrees Celsius.
- The presence of sea urchins, shells, algae, jellyfish and slippery and sharp rocks on the shoreline and/or in the water can make it difficult to return to the shoreline, so caution is advised.
Using the docks
Parks Canada installs docks on certain islands for use by visitors, recognized marine carriers and for the operational needs of the Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve.
Here are some of the usage instructions in effect:
- Certain areas on the docks are reserved for marine carriers recognized by Parks Canada. These reserved areas must be vacant during the stopover times shown.
- For safety and courtesy, the docks are to be used for embarkation and disembarkation purposes only, with a maximum docking time of 20 minutes.
- For practical purposes, it is important to moor in a way that maximizes the space available on the dock.
- For safety reasons:
- diving from the docks is prohibited;
- fishing is not permitted from the docks.
- Gatherings on the docks should be avoided.
- No furnishing should be placed on the docks. They must be kept clean, free and safe at all times.
Thank you for your cooperation!
Remember, cell phones are not always reliable in remote areas.
Parks Canada has two 24/7 Emergency Dispatch Centres that receive reports and assist in the management of safety, wildlife, or wildfire incidents.
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