Day-tripping to the Lake: Exploring Red Rock

Bubbling with history and small-town lakeside charm, this little place makes for a fun escape just a stone's throw from Thunder Bay.

Red Rock is a picturesque little town about an hour’s drive east of Thunder Bay, nestled between low mountain vistas and the rugged shore of Lake Superior on Nipigon Bay. It makes a great day trip from the city for families with young kids, hiking enthusiasts and anyone looking for a pleasant afternoon on the lake.

red rock inn
The legendary Red Rock Inn bears a fascinating history, as well as being a charming place to stay.

The town was established in the 1930s with a booming lumber industry that remained its lifeblood until the mill closed a few years ago. The community, though, remains proud and vibrant: this is evident as you drive down the immaculately tended, tree-lined main street.

red rock street
Scenic and welcoming, Red Rock is the perfect place for a weekend stroll. 

If there was a silver lining to losing the mill, it was the town’s reclamation of the waterfront. Having undergone major improvements, the Red Rock Marina features three piers with room for 82 boats.

boats at marina
A coffee or picnic is a great way to relax at the beautiful Red Rock Marina.

Whether arriving by boat or car, the marina’s Pull-a-Log Park is a great place for kids with a playground, splash pad and “critter dipping dock” for discovering tiny lake creatures. Parents can enjoy a coffee from the Marina Restaurant while taking in the gorgeous view. Grab a quick lunch or pack your own—the park is a great spot for picnics.

Fun Things To Do in Red Rock

After some fun in the sun (or for rainy day respite), a visit to the Red Rock Marina Interpretive Centre is a must. The interactive wildlife exhibits will entertain kids and adults alike.

This attractive, fun interpretive center has educational exhibits that appeal to all ages.

History buffs will enjoy multimedia displays describing life in early Red Rock, including fascinating information about Camp R, the WWII Prisoner of War camp that held 1,145 German prisoners from 1940 to 1941.

escape from camp r
Learn about Red Rock's unusual beginnings as a PoW camp.

But the absolute hit is the “submarine,” which takes you on a virtual tour of Nipigon Bay—shipwrecks and giant fish included!

meetal thing
Learn a little more about Nipigon Bay with a virtual underwater tour.

Outdoor enthusiasts should explore the Nipigon River Trail, an 8.2 km, moderately difficult trail connecting the Red Rock and Nipigon harbours. Hikers are rewarded with stunning views of Lake Superior from several lookout points. If you plan to only hike one way, bring two vehicles. Leave one in Nipigon and start the trail in Red Rock.

nipigon river trail sign
The Nipigon River Recreation Trail is well-maintained and well-marked, and follows the scenic shoreline of the Nipigon River.

Take a Self-Guided Walking Tour Around Red Rock

Stroll around town following the self-guided walking tour. Pamphlets are available at the interpretive centre and signs mark each notable stop. Cap off the day with a meal at Bussin' B's or head up the highway to Nipigon where you’ll find a host of dining options, including the much talked-about Sunnyside Café.

Where to Stay in Red Rock

The Quebec Lodge is a large, beautifully kept 1930s log home overlooking Nipigon Bay. It’s a perfect place to enjoy a good meal and coffee on the deck while savouring the view.

There are also several charter companies ready to set you up for a week of fishing, hiking, kayaking or plain old relaxing on the lake. Check out Nipigon River Adventures, Bowman Island Charters, or visit the Township of Red Rock’s website for more recommendations.

About Kathryn Lyzun

Kathryn Lyzun is a strategic communications professional, world traveler and award-winning writer from Thunder Bay, Ontario. She has contributed to numerous publications and has a passion for arts, culture and new experiences. Kathryn holds an honours degree in journalism from Carleton University.

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