Saint John’s Reversing Falls are a natural phenomenon caused by the tides of Canada’s Bay of Fundy, which can differ in height by an astonishing 50 feet (15 meters) at certain times of the year. The huge incoming tides force back the flow of Saint John River, creating white-water-tinged whirlpools, waves, and rapids, before reversing in the opposite direction.
The Reversing Falls, aka Reversing Rapids, can be seen from the riverside Fallsview Park. Visitors can also view the falls from a zipline suspended below the busy Reversing Falls Bridge. Reversing Falls Rapids Tourist Centre screens a 13-minute film explaining the phenomenon; it also has a rooftop viewing platform and Skywalk, with transparent viewing panels underfoot.
Guided shore excursions and organized tours around New Brunswick commonly stop at Reversing Falls, as well as at other local points of interest, such as the historic fishing village of St. Martins, the fertile Kingston Peninsula, and New Brunswick wineries, and other attractions in Saint John, like Saint John’s Old City Market. Multiday tours of The Maritimes sometimes stop at Reversing Falls, too.
Things to Know Before You Go
- It’s best to see the falls during at least two of the three tidal stages (low, slack, and high) so you can appreciate the changes. The visitor center displays tidal times.
- The Skywalk Saint John is wheelchair accessible.
- An on-site restaurant allows you can eat with views over the falls and while away the hours between the tides.
How to Get There
The best way to get to Reversing Falls, located on Bridge Road in Saint John, is by car or organized tour. If you’re driving from Saint John, head west along Chelsea Drive. The journey takes less than 10 minutes, and you’ll find the visitor center on the far side of Reversing Falls Bridge.
When to Get There
The best time to visit is dependent on the tides. In between tidal extremes, Reversing Falls Rapids are calm and still. Time your visit to coincide with high or low tide during full and harvest moons; this is when tides are at their most extreme. The Skywalk and restaurants are open year-round. Ziplining takes place daily throughout July and August, and on select dates in June, September, and October.
Wildlife-Viewing from the Skywalk
Despite the falls’ urban setting, there is still plenty of wildlife to be seen. During rising tide, harbor seals can often be spotted hunting the fish that have been pushed upriver, while birdlife, including cormorants and gulls, often circle the skies above the rapids.