Ontario Parks Winter and Fall Day Use Activities and Roofed Accommodations

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picture of a man fishing standing on a rock while backcountry camping at Kawartha Highlands Provincial park
Thomas fishing in the fall in the backcountry at Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park

Pamela:

Hello and Good day, eh. I’m Pamela.

Tim:

And I’m Tim.

Pamela:

And we’re from supergoodcamping.com We’re here because we wanted to inspire other families to enjoy camping adventures such as we have with our kids.

We want to talk today a little bit about things you can do this time of year and through the winter at Ontario Parks. In the offseason, you can still enjoy the amenities at the provincial parks. There are 31 Ontario Provincial parks that are open during the winter. They’re open for day-use front and backcountry camping and they have roofed accommodations which Tim is going to talk about a little bit later. You can go cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. They have rentals available at the park. You can go skating on either rinks or the skate trails. Both MacGregor Point and Arrowhead have skating. MacGregor has a 400-meter loop and Arrowhead has a 1.3-kilometer trail. The trail is really quite cool. They keep it open at night and it’s lit up by tiki torches. So just sort of magical nighttime fire-lit tiki torches up all around you while you’re skating in the dark. It’s pretty cool. There is tobogganing and tubing at Bronte and Pinery. There’s also winter disc golf at Bronte, you can go Fat Tire biking. You just need to arrange to get the bikes themselves from an outfitter. You can go dog sledding in Algonquin Provincial Park, and again you just need to arrange that through Outfitters. And there’s wildlife tracking and birdwatching. Bird watching in the spring and fall is pretty cool, as you can see a lot of migration happening. Tim is going to talk a little bit more about some of the other accommodations that you can use.

Tim:

Okay, so first I’d like to note two things. One, we’ll talk shortly about staying over at the park, particularly the roofed accommodations. If you’re actually just going up for the day, I highly recommend you get a day pass because they will ticket you if you don’t. They might not let you into the park. They hit capacity very, very quickly, especially now with people not having as many options in the winter. There seems to be a new surge in interest in outdoor exploring. So yay. I’m just saying we’re responsible for that.

Pamela:

Yes, entirely. Just us.

Tim:

I think you can purchase a day pass five days ahead. It’s something like that. I highly recommend you do that. That’s all I’m saying. Jump online. Make sure that you can get a day pass before you go up. You don’t want to drive all the way there and find out that they’re at capacity and then you’re left disappointed. In particular, I know Arrowhead hits capacity in the blink of an eye on a weekend. Especially if it’s a nice sunny weekend and it’s not dumping all kinds of crappy snow and stuff like that. The other thing I’ll mention is that we will talk about winter front and backcountry, tent and trailer camping, and hammock camping as a separate episode. I need to do a tonne more research on that before I send you off into that because that’s an entirely different deal. I’ve had two experiences with it. Both of them were accidental. I wish I knew way more about it before I entered that arena.

Pamela:

Accidental camping, I’d like to know more about that!

Tim:

Well, no. Anyhow, roofed accommodations. So there are 14 of the 31 parks that do winter camping or are open during the winter that have roofed accommodations. I’ll let you go to the Ontario parks website and see those for yourself. They come in four different styles – yurts, rustic cabins, camp cabins, and cottages. Yurts are soft-sided round huts. In this particular instance, we’re talking about something that has two double beds with a single bunk over top of them. They’ve got a deck, a propane fireplace, and a propane barbecue. I believe you bring your own sheets and bedding and your own cooking equipment. Rustic cabins and camp cabins. I wasn’t able to discover what the difference is between the two. Ontario parks is a government-funded Park website, so it’s not particularly awesome. There isn’t always the information that you’re looking for. And it’s not really user-friendly, it’s not intuitive. Yeah, organizations. Well, somebody was organized in an office somewhere nobody actually tried it out, and/or they just don’t camp. I don’t know, but that’s the deal. So I’m gonna lump the two together. I should say the yurts are about $110 a night, and the rustic cabins are $150/night. Camp cabins are about $130/night. They have a slightly different deal. They’re full structures, wooden structures. They have a full kitchen and bathroom, and two to three bedrooms. So it’s got more of that cabin feel to it. There are only two cottages. Both of them are in Sandbanks Provincial Park. One is $172.56 and I don’t know why, but the other one is $209.54 per night. Bean counters I assume, but they’re cool. They’re real cottages like they have two floors. They’ve got couches, and I want to say a wood stove. It’s not real, it’s a propane stove, but a real kitchen with a fridge and all that sort of jazz. So very cool, where you’re looking at yurts because they don’t have bathrooms and stuff that you’re going to find those in parks that have winterized comfort stations so running water, heated areas, all that sort of jazz. Yeah, get out and do that, go to Arrowhead, I’m pretty sure they have yurts or go to Algonquin. They’re the ones that have the skating rinks. I saw videos of shinny hockey games, go rent the friggin yurt at Algonquin and go play shinny man, be that Canadian. That’s it. That’s what I got.

Pamela:

That’s it for us for today. Happy Halloween. By the way. It’s Halloween as we’re recording this and Tim needs to get back to the football game.

Tim:

I do.

Pamela:

Take care and we will talk to you soon.

Tim:

See you

Pamela:

Bye

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