They are located on the shores of the upper reaches of the Bay of Fundy at Hopewell Cape near the end of a series of Fundy coastal tourism hubs including Fundy National Park and the Fundy Trail. Due to the extreme tidal range of the Bay of Fundy, the base of the formations are covered in water twice a day. However, it is possible to view the formations from ground level at low tide.
The formations consist of dark sedimentary conglomerate and sandstone rock. The large volume of water flowing in to and out of the Bay of Fundy modifies the landscape surrounding it. After the retreat of the glaciers in the region following the last ice age, surface water filtering through cracks in the cliff has eroded and separated the formations from the rest of the cliff face. Meanwhile, advancing and retreating tides and the associated waves have eroded the base of the rocks at a faster rate than the tops, resulting in their unusual shapes.
The vast sediment planes in the basin in Fundy supports a variety of biological productivity. Various shorebirds are often seen flocking to nest and feed in the area. Visitors are advised to stay for a full tidal cycle to get a full appreciation of the tides and formations. Although the tides vary from day to day, the high tide can be as high as 16 metres (52 ft) giving the Hopewell Rocks one of the highest average tides in the world.