There’s something very powerful and alluring about a rock formation—strong, solid, and seemingly untouchable, they command attention. Canada is home to some truly remarkable ones, stretching across the country’s vast and varied landscape. Some are massive in size and scale, others are oddly shaped, and a few are even a little mysterious, but they’re all inspiring natural works of art. There’s no doubt about it, these formations rock!
Flower Pot Island, Ontario
This popular tourist island in Georgian Bay is part of Fathom Five National Marine Park. Accessible only by boat, the island is home to two limestone rock pillars, which are named for their striking resemblance to flower pots. These natural sea stacks were once part of a threesome but the third pillar crumbled more than 100 years ago. The remaining two stand at seven- and 11-metres tall.
Balancing Rock, Nova Scotia
The most impressive thing about this straight rock column, perched precariously on a cliffside in Digby, Nova Scotia, is that it manages to remain upright at all. It’s nine-metres tall, made of solid basalt rock, and remains unsupported by the surrounding landscape. Yet it’s been standing for thousands of years! The town of Digby has built a number of walkways with railings surrounding it so tourists can safely marvel at this strange phenomenon.
Hopewell Rocks, Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick
Formed by millions of years of sea erosion, the Hopewell Rocks are vertical pillars of sedimentary conglomerate and sandstone rising out of the Bay of Fundy. They range from 12- to 21-metres high, but when the tide flows in they are half hidden by water. The area has some of the largest tides in the world, reaching as high as 16 metres.
Mazinaw Rock, Ontario
This 100-metre-high sheer rock face is the star attraction of the popular provincial park known as Bon Echo. Rising out of Mazinaw Lake, the second deepest lake in Ontario, Mazinaw Rock is a magnificent escarpment of granite that stretches 1.5 km. Mazinaw means “painted rock” in Algonquin and the rock face is covered with 260 Aboriginal pictographs—the largest collection of visible pictographs in Canada.
Percé Rock, Quebec
Located a few hundred metres off the shore of the Gaspé Peninsula, this massive water-bound rock formation is 88-metres tall and spans more than a kilometre. Its most stunning feature is a large natural archway cut into the main structure. Percé actually used to have two impressive archways but one collapsed back in 1845. Still, at 15-metres tall, the remaining arch is one of the largest in the world.
Sleeping Giant, Ontario
Sleeping Giant may seem like an odd name for a rock formation, but if you get an aerial view of this enormous landmass in Thunder Bay, it will all make sense. From above, it takes the shape of a massive slumbering creature and has been linked to an Ojibway legend about a giant who was frozen in stone when he revealed the secret location of a silver mine. The steep cliffside stretches 250 metres into the sky, making it one of the highest rock faces in Ontario.
This town in the Red Deer River Valley is home to a fantastic formation of hoodoo rocks—thin spires that are also sometimes called tent rocks, fairy chimneys, or earth pyramids. Hoodoos are mushroom-shaped structures with bases made of soft rock, capped by harder, larger stones that are slower to erode. Some aboriginal legends reference the hoodoos as scared giants who come alive at night and hurl rocks at intruders. To visit the hoodoos in Drumheller you can drive along the Hoodoo Drive Trail, which winds alongside these natural structures.