Are you an avid camper, an occasional outdoors person or do you prefer to just “camp out” for the day? Whatever type of outdoor getaway you’re planning this summer, there are campgrounds that offer something for everyone, both near and far.
Pick a Park
You’ve decided to plan a camping trip, and the first thing you have to do is choose your destination. Ontario Parks has more than 100 provincial parks and they all offer something different. Make your choice based on how far you want to drive and what your camping style is. Did you know that there are 21 parks within 200 kms of the GTA?
Camping in Ontario offers many different types of accommodation: car camping with a tent or RV, a cabin or a yurt, or backcountry camping with very rustic services.
Car camping lets you drive right up to your designated site. They usually have a fire pit and picnic table but electricity is optional. You’ll have to walk a few steps to get to the communal washrooms
and water taps.
Roofed accommodations are great for people who want a sturdier roof over their heads: consider a cabin or a yurt, which is a soft-sided building on a wooden base. They feature beds, electricity, heat and an outdoor BBQ.
For backcountry camping Mick Dodge-style, you’ll need a canoe, strong arms and some good hiking boots to get to campsites that are only accessible by foot or boat.
Ontario Parks offer many activities for you to do on your trip. Many parks have gorgeous beaches and clean fresh water great for swimming; biking (designated bike lanes and trails at some parks); boating/canoeing; open areas for a game of soccer, baseball or flying a kite; wildlife viewing and bird watching; fishing (you’ll need to buy a fishing license); hiking peaceful wooded trails; Natural Heritage Education Programs, which provide amphitheatre presentations, guided hikes, children’s programs, canoe hikes and campfire talks for park visitors.
At the end of the night there’s one activity everyone can enjoy no matter where you are: stargazing. Need some kindling, matches or maybe a treat for the kids? Many parks also have gift shops for last minute items (or souvenirs) and museums with exhibits that offer both insight and education.
Learn the Lifestyle
We’re lucky to have Bronte Creek Provincial Park in our own backyard – which is suitable for both day and overnight camping trips. It’s where I took my two girls for their first-ever (ok, mine too) camping trip through the Ontario Parks Learn to Camp program. I loved the “idea” of camping but had no equipment and no idea how to go about it.
Go online and fill out the Request to Participate form and you’ll soon receive a response. Once you are registered you’ll receive an email outlining the details of your experience as well as tips for what to bring and other important details. We learned how to set up camp, pitch the tent, proper campfire techniques, safety tips, nature education and how to use the gas stoves to cook a hot meal at our site. What made it so easy and enjoyable for a newbie such as myself was that all equipment was provided; all we had to bring was food, toiletries, essentials and a sense of adventure. At the end of the day after roasting our complimentary box of s’mores, we had a pretty good night’s sleep. It turned out to be a highlight of our summer. The kids still talk about it and want to go camping again.