Many Ontario provincial parks camping areas may be found in the parks, but the kind of campground you want can depend on whether you’re taking the family or going on a nature retreat. The Ontario Provincial Park camping areas and backcountry campsites are present in Ontario Parks, as well as roofed lodgings like cabins, yurts, and cottages, which are open for overnight stays.
Ontario has a fantastic landscape of serene lakes, rivers, and forests, some of which are easily accessible via the province’s provincial and national parks. There is no better resource for campers and hikers than Ontario Provincial Parks.
Ontario has many beautiful, private camping areas, and as the province’s parks system is part of the Forestry Service, many trails are not part of the park system. These trails are also great places to set up camps for hikers and campers.
Ontario has 340 provincial parks and 295 conservation reserves, which is astounding. Hikes are offered through the park and along the shoreline, inland lakes, and rivers, on the sandy beaches, and on trails in the field.
Parks can be easily accessible from cities such as Toronto and Ottawa as well as those that are more remote, with amenities such as campgrounds and visitor centers, and some that offer a more off-the-grid backcountry experience.
It is advised to make reservations in advance if you expect to secure roofed rooms during any period in Ontario Parks for Ontario provincial parks camping. Some parks are open only for day use, while others offer backcountry camping, drive-in tent and RV campgrounds, and cabins or yurts during the busiest summer months (late June through Labor Day).
Campgrounds in the front country are often reachable by drive. This implies that you can arrive at your campsite by car and pitch a tent there. There is usually access to water, electricity, a dumping station (for trailers and RVs), and occasionally a camp store for emergency supplies at these sites, which are usually found in organized campgrounds.
Backcountry Ontario provincial parks camping areas are those that you typically have to reach by hiking or paddling. Backcountry camping generally implies that you are on your own. You’ll need to pack all of the food and other supplies, as well as pack everything out when you’re done.
It is hard to choose which parks to visit and how to spend your time in them when there are so many to select from. So, if you want to get out and explore some of this Canadian province’s beautiful natural spaces and best camping grounds, here are some of the best Ontario Provincial Parks, as well as those selected by other outdoor enthusiasts.
1. Algonquin Provincial Park
Located just a short drive from Toronto and Ottawa, Algonquin Provincial Park is well known for its recreational opportunities and magnificent landscape of lakes and forests. It was founded in 1893, making it the oldest and largest (covering nearly 8,000 sq. km).
In Algonquin, there are numerous car campgrounds. Each campground differs in size and services, resulting in a unique experience. This gives guests the option of selecting the campground and services that best suit their needs for their trip. Tea Lake, Canisbay Lake, Mew Lake, Two Rivers, Pog Lake, Kearney Lake, Coon Lake, and Rock Lake are among the eight-car campgrounds along the Highway 60 Corridor.
In Algonquin, camping is a popular summer activity, especially among families. You could easily plan your trips with fantastic riding, hiking, paddling, fishing, nature-viewing, and swimming.
Besides moose, the park is also home to black bears, beavers, and deer. As you drive, keep an eye out for them since the salt left over from the winter attracts them to land near highways.
2. Bon Echo Provincial Park
Several pristine Canadian Shield lakes provide a secluded experience in the Bon Echo provincial park. Bon Echo is about an hour and a half north of Kingston and 6 kilometres north of the town of Cloyne. Bon Echo Provincial Park has family-friendly canoe routes as well as rugged backcountry hiking trails.
Hardwood Hill Campground is one of Bon Echo Provincial Park’s two developed campgrounds. The campground is surrounded by dense maple and beech trees, making it an excellent choice for autumn camping.
This campground has 100 private campsites (sites 401-500). Nine of these campsites (414-422) are only accessible by foot.
Mazinaw Lake is the second deepest lake in Ontario, and it is home to the largest collection of native pictographs in the province. In August, visitors may see moose foraging or red cardinal flowers growing along the marshy banks.
There are 25 canoe-in campsites at Pearson and Oeperry Lakes. Three sand beaches—North Beach in Sawmill Bay Campground, South Beach in the day-use area, and Main Beach on Lower Mazinaw Lake—offer swimming opportunities. Campers can also choose from over 500 car camping or walk-in sites (about 200 of which have electrical hookups) spread across several areas with rest stops.
3. Quetico Provincial Park
Quetico Provincial Park is located in northern Ontario, about 160 kilometres west of Thunder Bay. The backcountry is what Quetico Provincial Park is all about. A multitude of lakes is dispersed across a huge area of forested terrain, making it one of the best wilderness canoeing destinations in the world.
The vast, open wilderness of Quetico offers a very different experience than the parks in Southern Ontario. This area covers over 4,500 square kilometres and is mostly accessible only by boat, float plane, or canoe.
It shares the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in Minnesota, which is located on the Canadian-U.S. border. More than 2000 wilderness campsites are scattered throughout Quetico Provincial Park. A drive-in, the full-service campground is available only at Dawson Trail, located just off Highway 11 on French Lake.
Ideally, this type of trip should be planned with the assistance of a local outfitter. It is possible to paddle out on a remote lake with the assistance of some outfitters. Permits for backcountry camping are granted lake by lake, with paddlers responsible for ensuring that camping is low-impact.
4. Pinery Provincial Park
One of the best parks in the provincial park system is Pinery provincial park, located in Ontario, along the shores of Lake Huron, to the south of Grand Bend. Pinery Provincial Park, with 1,000 campsites near Lake Huron’s shore, is one of Ontario’s most popular camping destinations.
Riverside Campground offers electrical, non-electrical, and pull-through sites alongside the provincially significant Old Ausable Channel. This park is easily one of the most remarkable in Ontario, with rolling dunes leading to kilometres of beautiful beach, a river blooming with water lilies, and the extremely biodiverse and rare Oak Savannah.
Along the Old Ausable River Channel, you can swim, bike, canoe, or kayak. The Riverside Campground, which also offers twelve yurts, is next to Old Ausable Channel while the Burley and Dunes campgrounds are near the lake’s shoreline.
Burley Campground, which is open from May to September, is the most remote from the main gate, but it is well worth the extra drive! Burley’s sites are nestled between older pines and are within walking distance of the beach. The park has restrooms, showers, and laundry facilities at its comfort stations.
5. Killarney Provincial Park
This is a top destination in Ontario for campers, hikers, canoeists, and kayakers, with countless kilometres of trails and waterways to explore. There is no better wilderness experience in Ontario than that offered by Killarney Provincial Park.
There are two ways to explore Killarney’s backcountry that are suitable for all skill levels: the canoe route network and the backpacking trail network. Despite fewer visitors in the winter, Killarney does offer winter camping and snowshoeing.
There’s nothing better than paddling across topaz-coloured lakes in the backcountry. Visitors camping in Killarney’s backcountry will find basic amenities such as a designated fire pit and a box privy on most campsites.
Aside from the lakes, forest, and La Cloche Mountains, Killarney is a nearby town that is worth visiting. Before venturing into the backcountry, it is recommended that you obtain a copy of the official park map. A vacation preparation guide is also available from the Friends of Killarney.
6. Craigleith Provincial Park
Ontario Parks established Craigleith Provincial Park in 1967. Despite its compact size, the campground is in a fantastic location, sandwiched between the highway and Georgian Bay shores.
The majority of Craigleith’s campsites can be reached by car. Tent camping is available in Area A, which is non-electric. Area B has both electrical and non-electrical amenities suitable for tents and trailers. Area C contains both electric sites and non-electrical sites, all of which are radio-free. Area D consists mostly of electrical sites, with only two non-electrical sites.
Campers can easily access Blue Mountain Resort, swim at Wasaga Beach, bike the Georgian Trail, hike the Bruce Trail, or launch a sailboat or canoe into Georgian Bay. The park is open from early April to late October, and the best time to visit is entirely dependent on your plans in the area. The campsites are not particularly large. Consider booking multiple sites if you have a large group or family, or if you want some breathing room.
7. Awenda Provincial Parks
Awenda Provincial Park, located on the shores of Georgian Bay, is a beautiful forested area spanning over 2,900 hectares. Awenda has six campgrounds where you can camp.
The park provides the public with a fantastic range of winter and summer activities, including biking, swimming, camping, and skiing, all set against a diverse and rich habitat and environment. Awenda Provincial Park is home to mature second-growth deciduous forests, the Nipissing Bluff, kettle lakes, and a variety of boulder, sand, and cobble beaches along the shoreline.
Awenda Lake offers a variety of campsites for a weekend of camping, including group camping, dog-free camping, and car camping, as well as eco campsites. If outdoor camping isn’t your thing, there’s a fully furnished 1,000-square-foot refurbished cottage that sleeps 6 for a cozier experience.
Awenda Provincial Park’s campgrounds are family-friendly, with some offering electrical hookups and the majority offering children’s playgrounds. The campground is closed in the winter, but 10 miles (17 kilometres) of the park’s hiking trails are groomed for back-country skiing and snowshoeing enthusiasts when temperatures drop below freezing.
8. Killbear Provincial Park
Killbear Provincial Park is one of Ontario’s most well-known destinations. In fact, Killbear Park is famous throughout Canada and even the world. This park, located on the Eastern Shore of Georgian Bay, has a diverse landscape that includes granite rocks, soft sandy beaches, and thick green forests. Killbear is one of Ontario’s best summer camping destinations.
Car camping is available at all seven Killbear campgrounds, with most campsites being less than a five-minute walk from the shoreline. Car camping is permitted at all seven campsites, and all but Granite Saddle have comfort stations with laundry.
Three group campsites can each accommodate up to 25 people in tents. Hiking trails, beautiful lakes, and breathtaking scenery are just a few examples. Campgrounds at Granite Saddle, Harold Point, Lighthouse Point, and Georgian are radio-free. There are many beaches and excellent hiking options in the park. Yes, you can even attempt cliff jumping and jump ten meters into Georgian Bay.
9. Sibbald Point Provincial Park
Sibbald Point Provincial Park, located east of Sutton, is easily accessible by RVs and trailers, as well as other motorized vehicles, as it is just off Highway 48 and straddles Black River Road and Hedge Road.
This popular park on the south shores of Lake Simcoe features a giant crescent of sand and warm, shallow waters. Sibbald Point has ten different campgrounds with both electrical and non-electrical sites. This 2 square kilometres (0.8 square miles) provincial park, located on the shores of Lake Simcoe east of Sutton off Highway 48, is easily accessible by RVs and trailers and provides the opportunity to relax and enjoy a home away from home.
Get out on the water by canoeing or kayaking or fishing for jumbo perch, northern pike, lake trout, and pickerel. Sibbald Point Provincial Park has over 600 campsites spread out across ten camping areas. The park’s facilities and amenities include an Information Center, a phone, toilets and hot showers, flush toilets, and vault toilets.
10. Emily Provincial Park
Emily Provincial Park is the ideal getaway. Emily provides car camping in four different campgrounds. Stock up in Omemee or Peterborough, then drive straight to the campgrounds on Emily Park Road.
The Hilltop, Hill, and Circle Campgrounds have many large, private, and grassy sites that can accommodate a variety of equipment ranging from tents to large trailers. There are numerous opportunities to meet other travelers who are drawn to the area’s glistening waters and fun-filled recreation sports.
Private tent-only sites are available at Cedars Campground. The Cedars Campground has non-electrical campsites. The two sandy beaches’ water is warm during the summer (clearly marked with buoys). Boating and paddling are also popular on the water, and the Pigeon River has two boat launches that connect to the Trent Severn Waterway.
Park staff provide a variety of activities for kids (and kids at heart) to learn about conservation, campfires, hiking, and general Kawartha Lakes information.
11. Arrowhead Provincial Park
Despite being only slightly larger than 3,000 acres (in comparison to the 1.9 million acres of the neighboring Algonquin Provincial Park), Arrowhead packs a lot into its confines. Roe, East River, and Lumby are the three campgrounds that Arrowhead offers for camping.
The most private and well-drained campsites are found at Roe Campground. There is excellent fishing near the beach near this campground, which is less crowded.
Additionally, Arrowhead offers sand beaches and canoe rentals. Between the beach, waterfalls, and trails (and me stealing off to write now and then), the campsite has seen little use apart from mealtimes and campfires.
12. Lake Superior Provincial Park
Lake Superior Provincial Park encompasses over 1,500 square kilometers of pristine wilderness on both sides of the Trans-Canada Highway, stretching from Sault Ste Marie in the south to Wawa in the north.
Visitors can explore the landscapes that make up Lake Superior via eleven hiking trails, which include rocky shores, beaches, lakes and rivers, forests, wetlands, and rolling hills. Hiking in the fall is popular because the leaves change color and the hills come alive with color.
Lake Superior Provincial Park has two campgrounds, with one-quarter of all sites having electricity. The Rabbit Blanket Lake Campground is on an inland lake with a small beach. The forest is mixed, allowing for both shaded and open areas. Agawa Bay Campground is located on a three-kilometre beach on Lake Superior. More than half of the campsites have a view of Lake Superior. The forest is mostly made up of mature pine trees.
The Agawa Bay Campground is close to Highway 17. There are 147 sites, with 38 of them being electrical. There are two comfort stations with flush toilets, showers, and laundry, as well as a trailer dump and fill station. The campground has an outdoor amphitheatre, and the Visitor Centre is a short walk away.
Agawa Rock, located within Lake Superior Provincial Park, is one of Canada’s most well-known pictograph sites. The area is also one of Canada’s most visited indigenous archaeological sites. The Agawa Rock pictographs, located just west of the Agawa River on Lake Superior’s east bank, were created between 150 and 400 years ago.
The best way to experience these parks is by backcountry camping rather than by car camping. All campers, veteran or novice, should enjoy nature and the Ontario Parks camping system responsibly, whether they are paddling, hiking, or simply cuddling up by the campfire.