Some fans of the Rivière Saguenay fjord, where a dramatic, towering canyon ploughs northwest from the St Lawrence, rank it as the province's most beautiful area. The 100km river, fed by Lac St-Jean, stretches from north of Chicoutimi to the village of Tadoussac. From its dark waters rise majestic cliffs up to 500m high. Formed during the last Ice Age, the fjord is the most southerly one in the northern hemisphere. As deep as 270m in some places, the riverbed rises to a depth of only 20m at the fjord's mouth at Tadoussac. This makes the relatively warm, fresh waters of the Saguenay jet out atop the frigid, salt waters of the St Lawrence, leading to massive volumes of krill, which in turn attract the visitor highlight of the region: whales. They and the entire waterway now enjoy protected status.
There are two main areas of the Saguenay region. The first hugs the Rivière Saguenay and consists of park and tiny, scenic villages along both sides. The second is the partially urban, industrialized section with midsize Chicoutimi as its pivot.