This is a region of small mellow mountains that rise abruptly from the Atlantic. Americans tend to come here for vacation because it is off at the eastern end of the continent. The climate is fairly harsh but not terribly cold because of the oceanic influence. My grandmother required her students in her Cass Technical High School English classes to among other literary demands such as learning the Declaration of Independence to memorize sections of the poem Evangaline along with the "Midnight Ride of Paul Revere" by the Maine poet, Longfellow, which laments the unjust forcible exudus of the Acadians to the bayouus of Louisiana. Having being forcibly exposed to this literature at an early age
I thought it a worthwhile vacation goal.
The earlier history of Cape Beton is somewhat confounded by lack of records. It is known that John Cabot (from around Naples) got some letters from King Henry vii and sailed from Bristol in 1496,97 and 98. The first voyage was unsuccessful but the latter two were the first English visits to North America.
Cape Breton Landfall Argument: "The Cape Breton landfall (of Cabot's Party)may also be supported by the so-called Sebastian Cabot' or Paris' map of 1544, found in Germany in 1856. The map is printed with Spanish legends, which apparently contain Sebastian Cabot's personal information (Skelton, in Williamson, 1962). They indicate that the landfall was made on 24 June and that an adjacent island was named St. John. They add that the discovery was made by John Cabot and his son Sebastian, and ascribe the authorship of the map to Sebastian. The position of the words Prima Tierra Vista indicates that Cape North, Cape Breton, was the approximate locality of the land first seen. The date of the landfall is corroborated by Toby's Chronicle of Bristol, but the maps reliability in other respects has been questioned" from http://www.heritage.nf.ca/exploration/bretonfall.html
The drive particularly on the western and northern side of Cape Breton Island is a fairly mountainous drive along the seaside. On the Atlantic Seaboard of North America this can be exprerienced to a limited extent at Cadillac Mountain Maine and to a greater extent along the Gaspe to Perce Rock. No one at SP has yet dealt with Newfoundland nor the Torngat Mountains of Labrador and I think these do not have much in the way of developed highways. The Cape Beton Islanders are mostly of aBeton and Scottish backgound and you can see some colorful costumes. Alexander Graham Bell lived here and developed hydrofoils on the Bras d'or Lakes. In 1919 one of these set a water speed record of 114 km/hr or 70mph The road is pleasantly laid out and there are turnouts for vistas. Hiking is possible in this pleasant area. There are said to be cougars in Nova Scotia yet as well as other large eastern animals.
One possible approach to Cape Breton Island is to drive to Houlton Maine and then into New Brunswick. One then drives southeast toward Moncton From Moncton, drive east to the end of the mainland and drive out the causeway to Cape Breton Island- one of the eastermost areas of North America. From Houlton Maine drive to Woodstock New Brunswick thence to Fredrickton, then Moncton and finally Sackville for a distance of 216 miles.From Sackville at the New Bruswick, Nova Scotia border proceed east 170 miles to Mullgrave on the Canso Strait. From the 17 mile long ,2 mile wide Canso strait which separates mainland Nova Scotia from Cape Beton Island (use causeway) it is 92 miles up the west coast on route 19 then route 219 to the start of the Cabot trail (named for John Cabot). The direction mentioned here is a counter-clockwise direction around the island. The mileage starting in Bangor using the "Cat" ferry from Bar Harbor, Maine to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia is 376 milesto Canso Strait if you go north shore thru Digby and Truro Nova Scotia. The route through Houlton, from Bangor
is 93+ 216+170 miles or about 480 miles.
Shortcut from Maine
If originating out of Bangor, ME; may I suggest going Maine Route 9 to the border town of Calais , then travel NB 1, then Trans-Canada 2 to Nova Scotia. It took us only 7 hours & 340 miles from Confederation Bridge (not far from Nova Scotia)to Bangor. We did the Houlton route on the way there and this way coming back - it shaved alot of time & miles off the traveling.
Bar Harbor-Yarmouth Ferry
Cape Breton Highlands National Park Ingonish Beach
Postal Code B0C 1L0
Phone 902-285-2535 Year round: 902-224-2306
Cheticamp Campground: 162 sites (not all with fireplaces), 37 serviced. Some sites in this wooded area have wheelchair facitilies. The campground has showers and washrooms. The campground is located just inside the Cheticamp entrance.
Corney Brook Campground: 20 unserviced sites. Swimming in the ocean showers are available at the Cheticamp campground 10km from Corney Brook.
MacIntosh Brook: 10 unserviced sites. Showers are available at Cheticamp campground 50km (30min.) away.
Big Intervale: 10 unserviced sites. This is a forested campground and showers are available at Cheticamp campground 100km (1hr.) away. Just about halfway between the two park entrances.
Broad Cove: 256 sites (not all with fireplaces), 83 serviced. Some sites in this partially wooded campground have wheelchair facilities and the campgrounds have showers. the campground is north of the Ingonish entrance.
Ingonish: 90 unserviced sites. This open campground has showers and access to the ocean just a short distance away for swimming. Just outside the Ingonish entrance to the park.
Backcountry Camping: Fishing Cove see the backpacking section.
Group Camping: Robert Brook has a group camping area. Qualified groups should inquire with the park about reservations.
Note: Dogs are allowed in the park. Pets must be leashed and kept under control at all times and must not interfere with wildlife or with the enjoyment and safety of other visitors.