As the sun warms through the windows, are you dreaming of camping? As we move through March in Ontario, the warmth gives us hints. Summer is coming. When I think of summer, my first thought is camping. Ontario Parks has some of the best natural beauty that the world has to offer. On over five million hectares of land spread through the province, there are over 340 Ontario Provincial Parks, with camping facilities in over 100 of them.
Fun Fact: With over 19,000 vehicle campsites and over 8,000 back country campsites there is a piece of nature for everyone.
The art of camping has grown in popularity in the last few years. As reported by Ontario Parks, there were 4.3 million campers in 2014, rising to 6.6 million in 2021. They estimate the numbers will keep growing. Due to the rise in visitors, reservations have taken on some changes this year.
Reserve your Campsite in Ontario Parks
Finding the perfect campsite in your favourite park used to be just a phone call or click away. You were sure it would be there just as always. Today that may not be the case. With so many more people booking campsites, the chances of your campsite being already booked is quite possible. If you know the date and the spot, book it early!
Registering an account on the Ontario Parks website is the fastest, easiest way to make sure your campsite is booked. It is a user-friendly site that is easy to navigate.
- Choose Reservations through the menu tab
- Choose from the drop-down menu, which park you would like to go to
- Choose arrival and departure date
- Choose party size
- Choose the type of camping you are doing. Eg. Tent or Rv.
- Click search
The nice feature of this website is when you are looking to pick your campsite, you can search by map or by list. There are amenities, locations, and availability listed. Choose the campsite and finish your reservation.
You are on your way to a most excellent adventure no matter which Ontario Park you choose.
Changes to Stay Duration at Ontario Parks
There have been some changes to the rules of reservations and stays at Ontario Provincial Parks.
- You can reserve your campsites up to 5 months ahead of your expected arrival dates.
- At some Ontario Provincial Parks, the rules of the number of nights you can stay have been shortened between the dates July 1st until the Saturday of Labor Day weekend.
- There are 5 parks reduced to a maximum nights stay of 7 nights. 62 parks with a maximum night stay of 14 nights. 16 parks will stay the same at 23 nights. Check the website to see where your favourite park is on the list.
Quick note: the new rules of the number of nights you can stay do not apply to backcountry campers or roofed accommodations.
Camp in Ontario Parks
There are many ways to camp. Winter camping has become a popular recreation activity. Providing campsites with power and Yurts, Ontario Parks have opened up a new exciting time to camp.
Backpacking has become a popular way to camp. Ontario has many parks for backpackers to enjoy. Carrying everything on your back and hiking to that dream spot to truly enjoy the ruggedness and beauty that is deep in the forest.
Vehicle camping has risen in numbers over the last few years. Vehicle camping includes tents, RVs, and travel trailers. As you walk through the parks today, there is a multitude of different ways people choose to vehicle camp. Ontario Parks have a campsite for every size. Pull through campsites for the big Class C RVs and large travel trailers to small campsites reserved for tent camping only.
Camping for most of us means roasting marshmallows over the campfire, watching the fireflies dance in the night air, and enjoying the nature of the area. Ontario Parks provides so much more. Hiking and biking trails, beaches for swimming, and amenities for your everyday comfort. A friendly staff to assist in anything you need compliments these wonderful parks.
The best way for you to get the camping experience you dream of is to experience it. The best way I can help you do that is by giving you my top 5 Ontario Provincial Parks. It was a hard choice, but these 5 parks I would go back to again and again.
Kettle Lakes Provincial Park, Connaught
Kettle Lakes Provincial Park, located off Hwy 101, 30 minutes north east of Timmins, is a woodland delight. The farthest north you can go in Ontario at a Provincial Park that has hydro sites. Camped in the deep forest in large spacious campsites gives you that back to nature feeling and still be able to turn on the lights. The animals that you see this far north from little chipmunks to bears to moose are exhilarating. Even being woken by a woodpecker that likes the sound of his pecking on a metal sign better than the nearest tree is u ique but wonderful waking experience. Check it out -> A woodpecker who obviously had not had his morning coffee! Lol
Macleod Provincial Park
I discovered this northern gem last year while touring Northern Ontario. On Highway 11, heading east, passed the Beardmore Snowman is Macleod Provincial Park. Nestled amongst the trees against a little lake lies this small provincial park that you will want to go back to again and again. Driving through the park and looking at the different campsites, I had many to choose from. Then I saw it. Hydro on a lakeside campsite. Ok, I will admit that it gets my adrenaline pumping. What really got me excited? I had my own entrance to the beach. With easily accessible amenities and a lake-side view with coffee, it is a top 5 choice for me.
Rainbow Falls Provincial Park
Along Highway 17, on the top of Lake Superior, is Rainbow Falls Provincial Park. This park is unique in design and attractions. Highway 11 divides the campgrounds in this park. Rossport Campground sits on the Lake Superior side of the Highway. Here, you can find hydro on the beach. I was planning on only staying one night, but it was so beautiful right on Lake Superior I had to stay just one more night. My second spot had no hydro but was tucked up in a grove of trees with an entrance to a secluded cove on the lake. What a perfect campsite!
On the other side of Highway 17 are Rainbow Falls and Whitesand Lake Campground. A beautiful boardwalk to and along a cascading flow of water turning the rocks a beautiful rainbow of colour. It is a sight to be seen! Enjoy the diversity and the beauty of this northern Provincial Park.
Pinery Provincial Park
Pinery Provincial Park is located just down the road from the beach resort town of Grand Bend. A large woodland park that gives you many walking and biking trails. Spend the day on the beach at Grandbend and a night around the campfire. I have done both summer camping and winter camping at Pinery Provincial Park. A vast park with large sites, you are guaranteed a perfect camping adventure every time.
Restoule Provincial Park
I had the pleasure of staying in Restoule Provincial Park in the fall. The colours of the trees changing, walking in the fallen leaves listening to the crunch under my feet, was magical. The beauty was not to be outdone by the peacefulness of the lake the park sits beside. Walk a trail, sit on the dock, and listen to the sounds of the loons. This park will touch your soul.
Best Backcountry Camping Provincial Parks
Backcountry camping has become more popular within the last few years. There are a number of Ontario Parks that are backcountry camping only. Here are 5 of the top favourites among backcountry campers.
- Algonquin Provincial Park
- Quetico Provincial Park
- Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park
- Missinaibi Provincial Park
- Killarney Provincial Park
There are many beautiful camping parks in Ontario. Each offers a unique nature experience. Ontario Parks also have many conservation areas under their umbrella where you can have a weekend camping trip or a beautiful day at the park. I have not been to them all, but it is on my list!
What is your favourite Ontario Park? Leave it in the comments and let me know why you loved the experience.
Explore, Enjoy, and Camp Ontario. You will be glad you did.
Thanks for coming along on my Chipmunk Adventure.
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