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Rock Glen Conservation Area

Rock Glen Falls
Rock Glen Conservation Area (RGCA) 
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Rock Glen CA
When is Rock Glen Conservation Area open to the public? 

Sunrise to sunset, seven days a week. 

What is the entry fee? 

$4 per person. Children 5 and under are free. We accept debit, credit card, or cash. In July and August, the gatehouse is staffed 9 a.m. – 7 p.m. Outside these hours, visitors deposit their money into an envelope using a self-registration system. 

Is the museum open?

The Arkona Lions Museum and Information Centre is renovating its display. In order to make these improvements, and to respond to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the museum will not reopen in 2020 but it will reopen, bigger and better than ever, in 2021. We look forward to welcoming you to the new, improved museum in 2021. Watch for notices of grand re-opening celebration activities in 2021..

What are COVID-19 restrictions at Rock Glen CA?

People are asked to follow provincial and health unit COVID-19 protocols. Maintain a two-metre (six-feet) distance between visitors or we recommend wearing a mask if the two-metre separation distance cannot be maintained. 

When is Rock Glen CA most busy?

Weekends are the busiest times at Rock Glen. Parking is limited. During peak hours, there are wait times to enter the park, sometimes more than 30 minutes. Please consider visiting during the week or visiting another conservation area. 

How far are the parking lots to the waterfalls?

The closest parking lots are about 120 metres to Rock Glen Falls. The upper parking lots are more than 300 metres from the falls. 

Can you go down to the bottom of the falls?

Yes, between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. 

Can I swim at the falls?

There is no swimming area or beach at Rock Glen Conservation Area. 

Can I hunt for fossils?

Yes, but you can collect only one fossil. Digging is prohibited.

Are the washrooms open?

Yes, between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. Washrooms are closed twice during the day for a thorough cleaning. The privies are not open in 2020. 

How long can you spend at Rock Glen Conservation Area?

You can spend the entire day if you wish but most people spend about two hours. Because the park is so busy, we encourage people to keep their visit short so more people can enjoy the park experience. Highlights include the waterfalls, nature trails and a hike to the Ausable River. 

How many steps are there?

About 50 steps down to the waterfalls and more than 100 steps down to the Ausable Gorge.

Are there barbecues? 

There are a few barbecues and you need to bring your own charcoal. 

Are there picnic tables?

Yes. 

Can we bring our pet if on a leash and we bring bags for picking up poop?

Yes.

Link to Notices of Service Disruptions

Trails and conservation areas owned and/or managed by Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority (ABCA) have been reopened to limited use. Remaining closed, until further notice, are conservation area buildings and museums, and privies. For current property status and updates please visit this web page:

The Arkona Lions Museum and Information Centre remails closed until further notice, but the park is open to limited use.

The privies at conservation areas are not open in 2020. The washrooms at Rock Glen Conservation Area in Arkona are open between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. Washrooms are closed twice during the day for a thorough cleaning. 

The Bruce Redman Antique Car Show will not be held in 2020 and is postponed until 2021. The tentative date for the show is September 18, 2021.

For permitted and prohibited uses visit our Permitted Uses page:

About Rock Glen Conservation Area
Where is it?

Address: 8680 Rock Glen Road, Arkona, Ontario, Canada  (Located on the outskirts of Arkona.)

43° 5’ 3” N • 81° 49’ 67” W
43° 5’ 3.249”, -81° 49’ 17.205”

Fees: $4 per person

Hours of operation: 

Open Early May to end of October, seven days a week, from sunrise to sunset, unless otherwise posted

During daylight hours, the park is open for walking trails and visiting waterfalls year-round, weather permitting.

Recreational Trails 

Wind your way through Rock Glen Conservation Area, travelling over wide gravel trails, through Carolinian Forest, over bridges and down long staircases to explore the falls and experience the wonders of this hidden gem!

The sides of the gorge are steep. Please stick to the maintained trails for your safety. 

There are three staircases that lead to the bottom of the gorge. Each staircase has more than 100 steps. 

Museum

The Arkona Lions Museum and Information Centre is currently closed.

The museum houses an impressive collection of Devonian Era fossils, minerals and artifacts found in the local area. 

If you have any questions about fossils or donations of fossils to the Arkona Lions Museum and Information Centre you can contact Bob O'Donnell, Museum Curator, at 226-927-4325 or email bob-carla(at)rogers.com.

Fossil Collecting

This area features some of the best Devonian Era fossils in North America! Fossil deposits date back to more than 350 million years ago – before the dinosaurs roamed the earth. 

The erosive power of Rock Glen Falls and the Ausable River regularly release new fossils from their geological formations. The most commonly found fossils are brachiopods, horn corals and crinoid stems. 

Fossil Finding Etiquette

Each visitor is permitted to collect one fossil only to take home with them. 
Digging for fossils or the use of tools of any kind to extract fossils is strictly prohibited. 

Picnicking 

Two picnic pavilions can be reserved for groups or family reunions or weddings. To book one of the pavilions please call 519-828-3071 from May to October and 519-235-2610 in the off-season. 

Fishing

Fishing is permitted in the Ausable River only. Fishing is prohibited in the Hobbs-McKenzie Drain due to high volume of visitors. Fishing is permitted in compliance with applicable legislation. Outdoor Cards and Fishing Licences can be purchased from Service Ontario and other licence issuers. Please release any fish caught out of season. 

A number of native species are found in the Ausable River.

Geocaching

Geocaching is a worldwide game of hide and seek that uses GPS (Global Positioning System) technology to help people find hidden treasures called ‘caches.’

There are multiple Earthcaches at Rock Glen Conservation Area. Caches are of different sized waterproof containers and are hidden in a safe spot close to trails. They often contain a logbook and simple treasures like coins or toys inside. If you find a camouflaged cache by accident, have a look and put it back in the place you found it for others to enjoy.

Visit geocaching.com to find and download coordinates and clues to find these ‘treasures’ at the Morrison Dam Conservation Area. 

Interested in setting up a new geocache at an ABCA property?

Check out this fact sheet for guidelines on how to do it:

Commemorative Woods

Located to the north east of the museum, the Commemorative Woods is a place for family and friends to plant trees as a living memorial and legacy. Trees can also commemorate special occasions where a long-lasting natural tribute is appropriate. 

Visit the Commemorative Woods page for more information on how to plant a commemorative tree. 

Rules and Regulations

CAUTION: These are nature trails. Trail surfaces and boardwalks may be slippery or uneven. Be especially careful during windy, wet and icy conditions. 

  • Wear appropriate clothing, footwear and equipment for your preferred trail activity. 
  • Stay away from fast-flowing water. 
Rules
  • Alcoholic beverages are prohibited
  • Motorized vehicles, including E-bikes are not permitted on the trails
  • Drones are not permitted
  • Digging for fossils is strictly prohibited
  • Dogs must be on a leash, under control, and you must clean up after your dog. 
  • Ensure your pet does not damage or interfere with vegetation or wildlife and does not interfere with others’ enjoyment.
  • Do not remove or damage plants, trees, wildlife, signs or structures. 
  • Stay on the trails and respect neighbouring landowners. 
  • Fishing is permitted in compliance with applicable legislation.  
  • Don’t litter.
Tips to Enjoy your Visit

Be aware of the following to help you enjoy your visit. 

Poison Ivy

Poison Ivy is a common, native plant in the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority watershed. 
‘Leaves of three, let it be. Berries white, take flight.’ Leaves may either have smooth edges or a few coarse teeth and may appear shiny. If you come into contact with Poison Ivy wash the affected area with hot soap and water as soon as possible, launder clothes in hot water. 
Habitat: Open woods, fields and roadsides, disturbed areas. 

Picture of Poison Ivy – pending

Giant Hogweed

Giant Hogweed is an invasive, non-native plant introduced from Asia. It has large, flat-topped to slightly dome-shaped flower (similar to Queen Anne’s Lace/Wild Carrot) and seed head and a bumpy or bristly stem. It can grow up to five metres in height. Skin contact with Giant Hogweed sap may cause severe skin rashes when exposed to sunlight.

Habitat: Roadsides, streambanks, waste areas, yards 

Picture of Giant Hogweed – pending

Stinging Nettle

Stinging Nettle is from between half a metre in height to three metres tall. Stems and leaves are covered with short, stinging hairs which can cause irritation and inflammation if touched with bare skin. Flowers are in clusters with separate flowers attached by short stalks along a central stem about 1-7 centimetres long. 

Picture of Stinging Nettle – Pending

Ticks

Ticks are present in the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority watershed. 

  • Wear light-coloured clothing, so it’s easier to see ticks
  • Wear closed-toed shoes
  • Wear long-sleeved shirts
  • Wear long pants, tucked into your socks
  • Use insect repellent containing DEET
  • After outdoor activity put your clothes in the dryer

Check yourself and your children:

  • Behind your knees
  • On your head
  • In your belly button
  • In your groin area
  • In your underarm area
  • On the back of your body – use a mirror, or ask someone to check for you
  • It’s a good idea to have a shower as soon as you can to wash off any ticks.

If you discover a tick on your body remove it, place the tick in a secure container and contact your local public health unit 

Directions for removal can be found here: 

How do I get to Rock Glen Conservation Area?
Driving Directions: 

From Sarnia or London take Exit #44 off Highway 402 to Arkona on County Road #79.

The park is located on Rock Glen Road, 2 km outside of Arkona.

This Google Map link can help:

Why should I visit?

Rock Glen Conservation Area is a unique island of nature within the Ausable Bayfield watershed jurisdiction.

Whether taking a hike along the Ausable Gorge or within Rock Glen's important Carolinian forest, you'll find many trees, plants and wildlife that are provincially distinct to this area.

How do I find out more?

Take a look at this guide book, including map:

Phone the gatehouse at 519-828-3071 or phone Ausable Bayfield Conservation office toll-free at 1-888-286-2610 for information.

The admission fee (subject to change) is only $4 per person, $3 per student for school groups, and that includes admission to the Arkona Lions Museum and Information Centre.

Hours of operation: 

During daylight hours, the park is open for walking trails and visiting waterfalls year-round, weather permitting.

Museum

The Arkona Lions Museum and Information Centre is renovating its display. In order to make these improvements, and to respond to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, the museum will not reopen in 2020 but it will reopen, bigger and better than ever, in 2021. We look forward to welcoming you to the new, improved museum in 2021. Watch for notices of grand re-opening celebration activities in 2021.

The park at Rock Glen Conservation Area is home to the Arkona Lions Museum and Information Centre which houses an impressive collection of Devonian Era fossils, minerals, and artifacts found in the local area. The museum is scheduled to reopen in 2021.

There are stairs, boardwalks and bridge allowing visitors to safely explore the steep sides of the glen and the 10.7-metre high waterfall just upstream of the Ausable River.

Visitors and amateur archaelogists from all parts of North America have found many fossils in the exposed beds dating back 350 million years. Scientific names for these ancient treasures include crinoids, brachiopods, and trilobites.

The story of civilization around Rock Glen dates back to the time when the Paleo or Early indigenous peoples utilized the nearby hills to hunt the barren ground caribou some 10,000 years ago. Succeeding the Paleo age were the Archaic people who had adapted to a much milder climate some 6,000 years ago. The museum displays "fluted points" associated with the Paleo age and many "cache" blades from the Archaic indigenous peoples.

Accessible trails allow all visitors to see the park highlights including the scenic lookouts, museum and picnic areas.

This is a growing destination for weddings. #RockGlenWedding

Notes

  • An extensive collection of fossils, minerals, and artifacts is in the Arkona Lions Museum and Information Centre. The museum is currently closed and is scheduled to reopen in 2021.
  • Numerous trails and board walks for exploring nature in this Carolinian forest. The Lookout, washrooms, museum and some trails are wheel-chair accessible.
  • Flush Toilets and outside water taps are not available to the public after 5 p.m. 
  • The scenic Rock Glen Falls can be viewed from the Lookout or go exploring for fossils at the bottom of the falls in the Rock Glen Gorge.
  • Two picnic pavilions can be reserved for groups or family reunions or weddings. 
  • Guided Hikes and education programs

For information about booking an education program by an Ausable Bayfield Conservation staff member at Rock Glen, please visit the Education page.

For questions about Rock Glen Conservation Area please contact the gatehouse or phone the Ausable Bayfield Conservation Authority office at 519-235-2610 or toll-free 1-888-286-2610.

If you have any questions about fossils or donations of fossils to the Arkona Lions Museum and Information Centre you can contact Bob O'Donnell, Museum Curator, at 226-927-4325 or email bob-carla(at)rogers.com.

 
Permitted Uses

For permitted (and prohibited) uses, please visit the 'Permitted Uses' web page at this link: