Cap Tourmente National Wildlife Area

The Cap Tourmente National Widlife Area is near Saint-Joachim, Quebec. It is a very important place for many birds like 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 and Climate Change 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 180 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.

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 (On the Fox's Trail nature rally with GPS, geocaches, historical trail, binoculars and identification guides, anti-collision course, seek and collect, Bigbirds challenge)
  • Outdoor organized activities (for the general public, school groups and other groups)
  • Picnic areas


Take a look at the data from the past three years for fall monitoring of the greater snow goose populations within the NWA’s territory. Due to website updates, the yearly monitoring of the greater snow goose population will not be updated on the usual webpage this fall (2017). Instead, please consult the Environment and Natural Resources in Canada Facebook page for updates.

And from January through March you can explore:

  • 6 km of winter hiking trails - Bird feeders network (Map of Hiking Trails - winter)
  • Network of bird feeders
  • Welcome area and information in a heated building (on weekends)

Outreach activities schedule

2019-2020 schedule - Individual clientele Footnote a

Period Frequency Activity

January 4 to March 17


Bird feeder network

January 4 to March 17


Bigbird challenge, 100% fun!

From April 19 to May 20


The wind in their wings

From May 25 to June 24


A pilgrim coming from afar

From September 21 to October 27


Focus on he geese

January 6 to March 20


Bird feeder network

January 11 to March 15


Bigbird challenge, 100% fun!

The activities schedule may be modified without notice.

Public facilities

Toilets, interpretation centre, parking. These facilities are accessible to people with reduced mobility.

Special warning

Note that there are bears present within the territory, that there may be biting insects during the summer season, that camping is prohibited at all times and that certain parts of the NWA are used for hunting waterfowl in the fall.

No food service is available on site.

Dogs are allowed, but it is mandatory that they be kept on a leash.

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.


Adults: $6
Students: $5
Free for a child under 12 years old accompanied by an adult
Winter: $4
Passes and group rates available


Periods and business hours for the 2019-2020 season

Date Time
From January 4 to March 17 Daily from 8:30 to 4:00 pm
From March 12 to April 18

Weekly 8:30 am to 4:00 pm

Closed on weekends

From April 19 to October 27

Daily from 8:30 am to 5:00 pm


From October 29  to December 21

Weekly 8:30 am to 4:00 pm

Closed on weekends and November 11

From December 21 to January 5, 2019 Closed
From January 6 to March 20, 2019 Daily from 8:30 am to 4:00 pm
From March 21 to March 31, 2019

Weekly 8:30 am to 4:00 pm

Closed on weekends


Access to Cap Tourmente National Wildlife Area is forbidden outside of these opening times. The national wildlife area can be closed without notice.


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

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.

Controlled fall hunt program for the greater snow goose

Entry Form  

Hunting for the greater snow goose is permitted in October within the wildlife area with an Environment and Climate Change Canada permit. Registration is mandatory between February and April, and the hunting permits are issued through a random draw in May.

More information on access and permitting for Cap Tourmente NWA can be obtained by contacting the regional office.

Summary table

This table provides summary information for the Cap Tourmente NWA.
Category Information
Protected Area designation NWA
Province/territory Québec
Latitude/longitude 47°05' North / 70°47' West
Size 2308 ha
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.
Additional designations
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 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.
Additional links

Birds: wood duck, northern harrier, pileated woodpecker, ruffed grouse, indigo bunting, red-winged blackbird, american black duck, black-capped chickadee, and blue jay.

Mammals: muskrat, white-tailed deer, red squirrel, american porcupine, red fox, and american black bear.

Main threats and challenges Neighbouring land development, poaching, invasive alien plants, impact of visitors.
Management Agency Environment and Climate Change 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 and Climate Change 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.

Notice from Environment and Climate Change Canada

Download PDF version (PDF; 65 KB)

Environment and Climate Change 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

For complete information about the applicable regulations, please consult the Wildlife Area Regulations.

To file a complaint or report illegal activities, please contact Environment and Climate Change Canada by phone at 1-800-668-6767 or email at

Nothing in this notice infringes on ancestral rights or Aboriginal treaty rights.

Contact information

Cap Tourmente NWA
570 chemin du Cap-Tourmente
Saint-Joachim, Québec G0A 3X0

Administration: 418-827-3776
Interpretation center: 418-827-4591
Fax number: 418-827-6225

Environment and Climate Change Canada - Quebec Region
Canadian Wildlife Service
Protected Areas
801-1550, avenue d'Estimauville
Québec, Québec G1J 0C3

Toll Free: 1-800-668-6767 (in Canada only)

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