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Take a Step Back in Time

Welcome to a place like no other. Here, you'll find the world's largest and oldest collection of biologically complex marine life fossils; an impeccably preserved "Pompeii" of over 10,000 fossils from a prehistoric ocean floor, locked away in stone for over 565 million years.

For those who crave exploration and discovery, you’ll find no shortage at Mistaken Point. Leave the beaten path behind and join us on the far-flung edges of the North Atlantic, unraveling the secrets of an ancient ocean with universal significance.

Now Open For The 2022 Season

We’re back! The Mistaken Point Interpretive Centre and guided tours of the Mistaken Point Ediacaran fossil site have resumed for the 2022 season, and we’re excited to welcome another crop of adventurers, tourists, and sightseers to our storied seaside.

Access to view the fossils is by guided tour or permit only. While public hikes and trailways are available year-round, all visitors wishing to see the fossil site and ecological preserve up close must be accompanied by a registered guide. To book your guided tour or inquire about our Covid-19 protocols, get in touch with us at MistakenPointTour@gov.nl.ca or give us a call at (709) 438-1011.

We hope to see you soon!

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The Mistaken Point Guided Tour

565 Million years ago, before Pangaea and the Atlantic Ocean, our planet was a very different world from the one we know today. Microbial life was abundant, with the first plants still 100 million years away. Pannotia, a short-lived supercontinent, had just begun to rift apart. The newly formed Iapetus Ocean was spreading between the barren continental landmasses, and for the first time in Earth’s complex and storied history, multicellular organisms were taking the stage on the seafloor.

This was the Ediacaran – a period of dramatic geologic and biologic change. Here at Mistaken Point, these changes are recorded for us to explore in the rugged cliffs that mark the Newfoundland shoreline. Join us for a guided tour of the largest and finest example of Ediacaran macrofossils in the world, and step back through time to stand directly on the ancient seafloor, feeling these ancient wonders with your own hands. The small, guided tour groups are led by professional park guides along rolling coastal hills through the Eastern-Hyper-Oceanic Barrens to the fossil site.
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UNESCO Designation

Reserved for only those sites with ‘Outstanding Universal Value’, there are few designations as prestigious as earning the status of UNESCO World Heritage Site. When compared to other Ediacaran fossil sites around the globe, Mistaken Point is in a league all to itself. No other site offers researchers and visitors the spectacular, awe-inspiring experience of walking across a 565-million year old seafloor.

The Ediacaran fossils found at Mistaken Point mark a pivotal moment in the evolution of life here on earth. Single-celled organisms first appear in the fossil record roughly 3.5 billion years ago (during the Archean eon), remaining as the dominant lifeform for almost 3 billion years.

The Mistaken Point fossil assemblage documents the first complex multicellular organisms in Earth’s history – a pivotal step towards animal, and subsequently, our own evolution. Remarkably preserved and easily accessible, the site is truly peerless, holding major scientific and cultural value of universal significance. This is truly the oldest, most exquisitely preserved, abundant and diverse assemblage of large fossils on the planet.

Visit the Interpretive Centre & Gift Store

Access to the fossil site is by guided tour only, and all visitors must begin their tour at the Mistaken Point Interpretive Centre in Portugal Cove South. With our friendly staff on hand, immerse yourself and interact with the material, and learn about further local points of interest that speak to the unmatched natural beauty, historical significance, and rich cultural heritage of the area.

Around Mistaken Point

For centuries, the world has converged on these shores, and this incredible area occupies a unique and storied place in history. After your guided tour of the fossil site, there’s still plenty of exploring to be had. On their own, each of these sights are remarkable. Together, they offer visitors an authentic, rich cross-section of Newfoundland culture.

Cape Race National Historic Site

Built over 100 years ago, the Cape Race Lighthouse is a towering and impressive giant. A technological feat of its day, it’s one of the last hyper-radial Fresnel lens lighthouses in the world. Still operational, the lighthouse is tended for 28 day shifts year-round by Light Keepers who make it their home - hear stories of shipwrecks, local history, and experience authentic Newfoundland culture.

Myrick Wireless Interpretation Centre

The Myrick Wireless Interpretation Centre immerses visitors in the earliest days of wireless communication and telegraphy in Newfoundland, when Cape Race was one of the busiest Marconi stations in North America. It is named for the Myrick family who lived and worked at Cape Race from 1874 until 2007, serving as light keepers, fog alarm operators, telegraphers and wireless operators. Knowledgeable guides help bring history to life as they share the remarkable moments that once happened there in electric detail.

The centre is open from July 1st – Sept 19th for the 2022 season.

Hours of Operation:

Sun-Sat: 10:00am-5:00pm

Titanic Exhibit

One of the most memorable moments in marine history, the sinking of the RMS Titanic has a direct link to the history of Newfoundland & Labrador. The Marconi station at Cape Race was the first land station to answer Titanic’s distress call, helping to coordinate the rescue effort for survivors of the fateful voyage. 

Please call 709 438 1100 for details.

Finding Your Way Here

Located in Portugal Cove South, the Mistaken Point Interpretive Centre is an approximately 2-hour drive from St. John’s International Airport, roughly 160km south of St. John’s along Route NL-10 (the Irish Loop).
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Fees and Schedules

Schedule: Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve offers official interpretive tours from May to October.

Guided Tour Fees:

Individual: $23.00 per person
Children: 12 years of age and under are FREE
Family: $57.50 per family

  • A family may consist of up to 4 people (two adults and two children 17 years of age and under).
  • Fees are to be paid on day of hike at the Edge of Avalon Interpretation Center.
  • Payments can be made using CASH, DEBIT, VISA or MASTER CARD.
  • All fees include tax and admission to exhibit room.

Mistaken Point Interpretive Centre Fees:

There is a small fee for entry to the exhibits at the Mistaken Point Interpretive Centre. For those on the guided hike, entrance to the indoor exhibits is included in the guided hike fee.  For more information on opening hours at the Edge of Avalon Interpretation Centre and fees associated with viewing the interpretive exhibits contact Interpretive Centre staff at (709) 438-1011.

Rules & Regulations

Access to the fossils is by guided tour, or permit only. Please:

  • Remain on designated trails
  • Respect the *Fossil Protection Zone (yellow areas on reserve map). This zone extends along most of the coastline from the ocean, to approximately 15 meters inland- watch for signs to help guide you. The Fossil Protection Zone was established to enhance visitor safety, protect fossils within the reserve, and reduce cliff-top erosion. Access inside the fossil protection zone is by guided tour or special permit only.
  • Book guided tour ahead of time for fossil viewing (space on guided tours is limited)
  • Dispose of garbage/litter responsibly

Please do not:

  • Camp within the reserve
  • Disturb, destroy, or remove fossils and/or other natural objects
  • Use motorized vehicles within the reserve (including ATV’s and Snowmobiles)
  • **Bring pets into the reserve (with the exception of service animals)

*The Fossil Protection Zone is an area of coastline within the Reserve where fossils are most vulnerable to the effects of erosion and human activities. In certain cases, such as for scientific research, entry permits can be issued for access to the Fossil Protection Zone. However, public access to the zone is generally restricted to ensure protection of these world-class fossils.

**Part of the coastline of Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve (from The Drook to Cape Race) lies within the official Mistaken Point Canadian Important Bird Area (IBA). This IBA is considered globally significant because of its wintering populations of purple sandpipers and common eiders.

Mistaken Point Ecological Reserve is managed by the Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial Government. For information on Mistaken Point Management protocols/regulations, please visit: https://www.gov.nl.ca/ecc/natural-areas/wer/r-mpe/#rules

Gaining New Perspectives

If you’ve ever pondered our place in the grand scheme of the universe, then your bucket list isn’t complete without a journey to Mistaken Point.

With every new link in the fossil record, two new gaps appear – one before, and one after. Inspired by our never-ending search for answers, the Mistaken Point logo celebrates our singular position in the geologic record, while motivating further exploration and discovery.

Mimicking the view through a geologist’s hand lens or microscope, the outer circle represents the sense of discovery that abounds at Mistaken Point. Inside this ‘lens’, you’ll find an artistic depiction of Beothukis Mistakensis – a specimen first found on our shores – blurring the lines between fossilized impressions and living organism. Known since the early 90’s, Beothukis Mistakensis was only first described in 2009, and is considered an evolutionary stepping-stone that links taxa like Charnia with the rest of the rangeomorphs. The ‘waves’ in the background represent the texture of the ancient ocean floor, as well as the stratified beds found above and below – where the next links in the fossil record lay, waiting to be uncovered.

What other important links will you find during your visit? What connections to your own world of experience will you draw from these ancient lifeforms?

You’ll have to come and see to find out.

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