On the Easter weekend I decided that the time had come to visit Cheltenham Badlands. The park had re-opened only the day before and I was eager to see what the hype was about. I was excited to explore the alien-looking landscape with my children in the beautiful Caledon, but being children with imaginations, they decided the name was too scary and we had to change it.
The result was that we took our kids to the Cheltenham Goodlands. I said they had an imagination. I didn’t say they were any good at coming up with new names. Regardless of what we called it, it definitely is a place worth visiting, and we were not disappointed.
The Badlands (or Goodlands, depending where on the Richter scale the tantrums are), is a geologic formation along the Niagara Escarpment. In the interests of transparency, I’m going to admit that I couldn’t recall my grade 9 Geography class, so I had to look up the word "escarpment." According to the much trusted, never faulted, always reliable website called Wikipedia, an escarpment is, "a steep slope or long cliff that forms as an effect of faulting or erosion and separates two relatively level areas having differing elevations." So, a cliff.
In 2015, the Badlands were closed to the public in an effort to preserve the soft rock after years of having been trampled by the zealous feet of excited tourists. Since then, the Ontario Heritage Trust has been working on a way to make this otherworldly attraction accessible to earthlings once again. They have succeeded and created a wooden viewing platform that gives visitors perfect views of the now protected shale.
Once we had had our fill and tired of searching for Marvin the Martian, we set off in search of ice cream. As one does in any weather when children are involved. The area around the Cheltenham Badlands is spectacularly beautiful and deserves a few hours of exploring. We stopped in the pretty little town of Erin to load the kids up with sugar (yes, I’m afraid so). We managed to do so with ice creams from Bailey’s Ice Cream shop and cup cakes from Holtom’s Bakery. (Insider tip from a local: Holtom’s makes the best chocolate doughnuts in all of the world and, before you kick the bucket, you need to head on over and try one. They sell out before 11am, so get there early.)
A short and scenic 10-15 minute drive away is the lovely town of Belfountain. They too sell ice cream, but, being the health-conscious parents we are, we decided to ignore the wailing pleas from the backseat of the car, and continued driving.
If you’re looking for a short road-trip, hop in your car and spend some time exploring the Cheltenham Goodlands Badlands and the surrounding area. Be sure to take along your camera, or if you haven’t only recently emerged from a defrosted glacier, you’ll probably have your phone with you anyway. There are scores of weather-beaten, stately old barns just a stone’s throw away that make beautiful Instagram posts.
For more info visit: https://cvc.ca/enjoy-the-outdoors/conservation-areas/cheltenham-badlands/.