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Ontario Provincial Parks

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Carr-pod Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 19 Sep 2013 at 5:37am
Hi David
Thanks for the reviews of our provinicial parks. Especially the tips on potential issues ie electrical hook ups . I want to try to stay in these parks as much as possible so having a scout is really helpful.
Pam and I just spent a couple of nights at Arrowhead (site 250). We hadn't stayed there in over twenty years . The park layout is great and the privacy is appreciated. I thought I had enough electrical cable but I too had to move the rpod back a couple of feet to make it happen. Someone told me that you can rent additional extension cords at the park store.
Our friends wanted to try out a Yurt and I was impressed with the construction and layout of these buildings. Great way, though a little pricey, for someone to spend a few nights in a park. They also have cabins and prospector tents. Too bad the weather did not cooperate. First night it rained like crazy and the next night the temperature dipped to -1. Lots of frost and we were happy we had the furnace.
We did get to do some paddling. The Little East river was nice until we had to turn back at Stub Falls. We did take the walking trail to see the falls from below. I think I have the same picture of the bridge as you. Ditto the big bend look out.
We are heading out next week to visit our son in the Chicago with a side trip to Detroit to visit some friends. We will be staying in a private park near the kids but are planning to travel through upstate Michigan and then back into Canada. Not sure where we will stay but will keep you posted
Thanks again
Ed
Trees love to toss and sway; they make such happy noices.    (Emily Carr)
Pam and Ed
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DavidW Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Oct 2013 at 1:59pm

Samuel de Champlain (Near North)

 

This park is located about 30 minutes east of North Bay on Highway 17 and has 211 campsites, of which 104 have electrical service (30 amp).  It is located on the historic Mattawa River fur trade route in the scenic Mattawa Valley. The Mattawa River Visitor Centre, built in 2011, depicts historical, cultural and natural features of the area and features a replica of a huge Voyageur birch bark canoe of the type used during the fur trade.

 

We stayed at site 7 in the Babawasse Campground.  The name “Babwasee” finds its roots in the Ojibway language meaning “a lake is seen through the woods”.  Not surprisingly the campsites, which I would describe as “pleasant”, do not have immediate views of the river.

Apparently the adjacent Jingwakoki Campground, meaning “pine forest or tall pines” in Ojibway, has sites with better views of the river.  However, as we were there mid-October, this Campground was already closed for the season.

[PHOTO: Our campsite]

      

 

 

 

 

David & Liz
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DavidW Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 15 Oct 2013 at 2:25pm
Grundy Lake - (Near North)

This park is located about half-way between Sudbury and Parry Sound on Highway 69 and has 586 campsites, of which 139 have electrical service (30 amp).

There are a range of paddling and hiking options for both the novice and the experienced hiker and numerous day trips to choose from. For the more adventurous who wish to explore the interior of the park there are backcountry sites that are only accessible by canoe.

We stayed in Hemlock Campground, which is a “radio free” or “noise free” campground. We had unusually good weather and the only potential drawback was that the adjacent Comfort Station was closed for the season. However, the vault toilets are actually Dometic marine toilets, of which we are all familiar.

Campers with families would likely prefer the neighbouring Trailer and Poplar Campgrounds which are right by the beach. These campgrounds also have some pull-through sites.

Grundy Lake Prov. Pk. Is best visited in the late summer or fall because of the absence of mosquitoes and black flies.

[PHOTO:  Morning breaks over Gurd Lake]

David & Liz
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DavidW Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11 Dec 2013 at 9:43pm

Making Your Reservation

 

Ontario covers an area of 1,076,395 km² and has 329 Provincial Parks, many of which offer camping (both electrical and non-electrical) for the R-Podder.  With such a huge area to cover, and such a wide variety of Parks, it would be impossible to provide a complete guide on how to book your visit.  The following information is believed to be accurate, and I have included some of my own personal tips.  I invite anyone to add their own thoughts.

 

Cheers,

David

-------------------------------------------

How to make your reservation

Reservations can be made online through https://reservations.ontarioparks.com/ or by telephone at 1-888-668-7275.

The online search form enables you to pick your reservation type (e.g. campsite, yurt), arrival date, and either select a specific park or region (Southwest or Central, Southeast, Algonquin, Near North, or Northern) or search all parks.   

You will be asked for your site requirements: rv length, party size, barrier free, electrical service, pull-through, radio free, walk in, full sun/no shade, or double site.

A map of the campground will be displayed with those sites highlighted which meet your requirements.  You can then select a site to reserve.

[NOTE:  Not all sites need to be reserved in advance.  Some are available on a first-come basis.]   

How to pay for your reservation

The online reservation service allows you to book and pay for a specific campsite by credit card.  A non-refundable reservation fee is charged per reservation in addition to site-use fees.  The fees for 2014 can be found here http://www.parkreports.com/fees/camping/2014

 

Ontario Parks has three levels of fees for camping - premium, middle and low. Each fee level reflects the popularity of a campsite and the availability of facilities such as flush toilets and showers, and personal services such as educational programs.

 

[NOTE:  Cancellation and change fees can be significant.  Please confirm the terms of your reservation.]

 

[TIP:  If for any reason you will be arriving at the Park a day late, you must telephone the specific Park to advise them.  Otherwise your reservation will be cancelled.]

 

Operating dates

 

Most Provincial Parks offer camping generally from May to October.

 

In 2014 a few Parks are open from the April 25-27th weekend:  

Southwest and Central Parks:  Wheatley, Rondeau, Pinery, MacGregor Point, Sauble Falls, Craigleith, Bronte Creek

Southeast Parks:  None

Northern Parks – None

Near North Parks – Killarney

Algonquin – Rock Lake and Coon Lake, Mew Lake, Tea Lake, Kiosk, Brent, Achray

 

A number of Parks are opening at the beginning of May, with the remainder by the Victoria Day long week-end (3rd weekend in May).

 

[NOTE:  Many Parks have a ban on alcohol for the 11 days preceding the Victoria Day long week-end.]

 

Closing dates for camping vary.  Some Parks close as early as Labour Day (September 1, 2014), while others stay open until the beginning of October or following Canadian Thanksgiving/United States Columbus Day (October 10-13, 2014).  Many will then re-open for winter activities. 

 

[NOTE:  For those Parks that open early in the season or close later, they may not have all of their campgrounds or comfort stations open.  In addition, their Interpretive Programs may also be limited.]   

 

[TIP:  On the positive side, for those Parks that open early in the season or close later, you will be able to enjoy Spring and Fall camping in a less-crowded campground and have a better opportunity to spot wildlife.  Those campsites that remain open are typically those with electrical service.]  

 

When to make your reservation

 

You may make reservations 5 months in advance and you should certainly do so for the following 20 most popular Parks:  Algonquin, Arrowhead, Awenda, Balsam Lake, Blue Lake, Bon Echo, Charleston Lake, Grundy Lake, Killarney, Killbear, Long Point, MacGregor Point, Pinery, Point Farms, Port Burwell, Presqu’ile, Rushing River, Sandbanks, Sauble Falls, and Sleeping Giant.

Parks are often fully booked on week-ends and during July and August (school holidays).

 

[NOTE:  For any Park, you should check out what local conditions will prevail: weather, water temperature, insects, wildlife, etc.  Each Park publishes its own newspaper guide.  Check out the Ontario Parks website, the Ontario Parks YouTube Channel, and videos from other campers.  Many Parks have a “Friends of … (insert name of Park) …” group which will have their own website. ]

 

[TIP:  If you are flexible with your plans, you will have the best chance of making a reservation for Monday to Thursday.   However, if you have your heart set on one of the most popular parks and can arrive on Thursday, make a reservation 5 months in advance for that day.  You will then have your booking done one day before those who are trying to book for the Friday.]

 

As the slogan goes … “Ontario, Yours to Discover!”

David & Liz
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DavidW Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 16 May 2014 at 9:49am
Algonquin Park - Mew Lake (Central)
This campground in Algonquin Park is located along the Highway 60 corridor and offers full-service, four-season camping with access to hiking trails. There are 131 campsites, of which 59 have electrical service (30 amp). In winter, the campsites are available on a first-come basis, with sites plowed based on demand. I was informed that there is usually no difficulty in obtaining an electrical site.

Mew Lake is one of the earliest campground to take online reservations. This year reservations were available beginning April 25th. (Rock Lake was also reservable from April 25th but, due to an abundance of snow this year and the fact that it is located 8 km south of Highway 60, the opening date of that campground was pushed back to May 9th. This meant that our initial reservation for Rock Lake was transferred to Mew Lake.) Given that Mew Lake is open year-round, it is guaranteed that you will be able to camp.   

For our first week-end we stayed at site 41 which is one row back from the lake itself. The site was a good size (17m x 14m), with the electrical outlet 30m away. This means that you should carry 100 ft of electrical cord. For the next week and following week-end, we had a reservation at site #57 (28m x 16m), which has a great view of the still ice-covered lake. This results in very cool breezes and you will be thankful for using a ceramic heater or the built-in heating system in the R-Pod.

One of the reasons why I picked this time of the year to visit Algonquin Park was because of the absence of mosquitoes and black flies. It is also an ideal time to spot moose, who like to frequent the highways to take advantage of the salt remaining from the winter plowing.

Naturally, one should dress for the weather and be prepared for ever-changing conditions as we have had both snow flurries and light showers during our stay, as well as bright sunny days with highs of 11 degrees Celsius.
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PARKS OF THE ST. LAWRENCE

When one thinks of Provincial Parks in Ontario, one naturally thinks of those operated by Ontario Parks. However, one must not forget about the Parks of the St. Lawrence, which are operated by The St. Lawrence Parks Commission (an Agency of the Government of Ontario).

Reservations can be made online at https://secure.parks.on.ca/Reservations/Home.aspx using a similar reservation system to that of Ontario Parks.

There are eight campgrounds, most of the recreational variety, each with their own flavor. Some are located on the mainland, while three campgrounds are located on the islands along the Long Sault Parkway. The campground maps include a compass which will help you know which direction the campground faces. Some campgrounds have views of the seaway, others have views of neighbouring islands, while others have partial views of the mainland.   

You should consider what type of services you prefer, as the sites run the range from unserviced to two service (50 amp). In-between you can find one service (15 amp), one service (30 amp), two service (15 amp/water), two service (30 amp/water), and two service (50 amp/water) sites.

The campgrounds are generally busiest from the third weekend in June (St. Jean Baptiste Day) onwards.

Of particular interest, your campground receipt entitles you to 2 free tickets to either Upper Canada Village (Morrisburg, ON) or Fort Henry (Kingston, ON) (approx. $40 dollar value)

Water activities such as boating, canoeing, swimming, scuba diving, and fishing are popular.

LONG SAULT PARKWAY

Halfway between Kingston and Montreal, and just over an hour from Ottawa, a series of eleven islands sweep in an arc through the St. Lawrence River “like a necklace of green jewels”, to quote the 2014 Camping Guide. A series of causeways and bridges connect these former hilltops of the Lost Villages. These villages were flooded to make way for the International Seaway and Power Dam Project of 1958. The Parkway is home to three campgrounds with over 600 campsites: Milles Roches, Woodlands, and McLaren.

MILLES ROCHES CAMPGROUND

This campground boasts that it has the most waterfront sites of any campground, 63 out of 219. And, while many of the waterfront sites are listed as being reservable for R-Pods, the pad slopes are SEVERE (45-60 degrees) and are NOT to be recommended. (Notable exceptions are sites 125 and 126.) The more acceptable RV sites are a good size but are located along the interior rows of sites and consequently have no views of the water.

The campground faces south and west to offer views of the other islands, while sites 72 to 81 have views of the causeway. Milles Roches Beach and Picnic Area is the largest public beach and is directly across the road from the campground. It is the site of Long Sault’s annual Hydroplane Races.

Milles Roches was referred to a “party island” by one of the park staff. Not a campground that I would recommend to fellow R-Podders.

[PHOTO: Milles Roche - typical row of serviced sites (no view)]


WOODLANDS CAMPGROUND

Woodlands is almost two separate campgrounds which face west and north to offer views of the mainland and neighbouring islands. The main campground has a somewhat RV village feel to it but it is actually quite spacious and flat. Thirty new 50 amp RV sites have been added.

I would recommend the second grouping of sites 1-59 which extend out along the western arm of the campground. For sheer beauty and peacefulness I would recommend the unserviced sites 19 to 26. Some care has to be taken in parking your R-Pod due to some overhanging trees and slight pad slope but this is noted on the online reservation system. The serviced sites 8-16 and 50-59 are quite good.

Woodlands Beach and Picnic area is located across the road from the campground and is huge, with views of the St. Lawrence River. It can accommodate groups from 20 to 2000 and has a couple of covered shelters for barbecues.

Overall, this is one of the best campgrounds and is to be recommended.

[PHOTO: Woodlands Site 22 - Spectacular Sunrises]


MCLAREN CAMPGROUND

This is a very popular campground with the RV crowd and it is easy to understand why. The campground was recently upgraded with 113 of its 206 campgrounds now with full RV capability. There are 32 new 50 amp sites.

The campground faces the St. Lawrence River and you can see freighters in the distance from the eastern-most campsites. There are a few public water access points where campers sometimes moor their boats.

There is no real privacy, unless you create your own using your R-dome but the campground does include a number of mature trees through-out. Even sites on the 2nd and 3rd rows have acceptable views of the river.
There are a couple of rows of campsites which are occupied by seasonal campers.

Overall, a good campground.

[PHOTO: McLaren - mature trees add character to the campground]


FARREN PARK

Just west of the Long Sault Parkway and near Ingelside ON, Farren Park and Beach is located on a peninsula that juts out into the St. Lawrence River. There are 198 campsites on gently sloping terrain.
One-third of the campground currently includes seasonal campers.

I did not find the campground particularly appealing and would not recommend it.

[PHOTO: Farren – one-third of the campground is filled with seasonal sites]


UPPER CANADA MIGRATORY BIRD SANCTUARY CAMPGROUND

For those who prefer a small campground (69 campsites) with 8 km of self-guided hiking trails and abundant wildlife, this is the campground for you. In spring you can see young families of geese, while in the fall (Sept 14 to Oct 27, 2014) the Sanctuary feeds corn to the geese in an effort to prevent the geese from foraging on neighbouring farmer’s fields. It is a fascinating activity to watch.

We have tent-camped there and cycled along the Waterfront Trail to visit Upper Canada Village and Crysler Farm Battlefield.

This is on my recommended list of campgrounds.

[PHOTO: Migratory Bird Sanctuary – In the fall there will be hundreds of Canada geese and Snow geese feasting on scattered corn]


RIVERSIDE-CEDAR CAMPGROUND

This is the Parks Commission’s largest campground with 301 campsites but it doesn’t look all that impressive or picturesque from the highway. It is located just west of Upper Canada Village and Crysler Farm Battlefield.

I would recommend the unserviced waterfront sites 207 and 208. Waterfront sites 180, 186-189 are very big, while sites 63-67 are good. The serviced sites tend to be more in the open with any trees and foliage found around the periphery.

Please note that the Canada geese consider this campground to be their private domain and they leave their mark in abundance, at least when I was there at the end of May. This might change once the campground fills up in the summer.

Overall, however, this is a campground which would merit serious consideration.

[PHOTO: Riverside - prime waterfront sites 69-71 and unserviced sites 84-91]


IVY LEA CAMPGROUND

Not visited on this trip, this campground is just west of Brockville on the 1000 Islands Parkway and has 150 campsites. Nearby attractions include Fort Henry and Boldt Castle. (Source: Parks of the St. Lawrence Camping Guide 2014)

GLENGARRY CAMPGROUND

Not visited on this trip, this campground is just east of Cornwall and less than hour west of Montreal. Located on the mainland, it faces south and you can see the majestic spires of Saint-Anicet and in the distance the imposing Adirondack Mountains. The campground has 183 campsites which are situated among a towering stand of old growth pine. The park features a sandy beach that arcs around a sheltered bay, boat launch facilities and a waterfront food concession. (Source: Parks of the St. Lawrence Camping Guide 2014)
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Sandbanks (Southeastern)

This park is located in Prince Edward County just south of Belleville off Highway 62. It has 549 campsites (174 electrical sites) in 5 distinct campgrounds.

Outlet A is an attractive campground with many popular non-electric waterfront sites. Sites 18, 20, 21, 23, 24, 26, 28, 30, 32, 33, 35 and 37 back directly on the sand dunes and are on my short list to explore next time.

Outlet B offers a bit more privacy with some sites along the Outlet River. At the beginning of June, I stayed on site 181 in a loop with electrical pull-through sites. I fully expected to share the loop with larger RVs but, to my pleasant surprise, a group of teachers had booked almost the entire loop for their families. I soon became an honorary member of their camping week-end. (For those who are only tenting, Outlet B has some interesting “walk-up” campsites.)

Cedars is a family oriented campground offering very shady campsites that I stayed in during our tenting days, when we arrived without a valid reservation. These campsites are all non-electric and would not be on my list of preferred sites, although the beach is nearby.
Some distance away from the main beaches is the Woodlands Campground, where most Rvers go for electrical sites. The loops pass in and out of a wooded area, alternately offering groups of shady and sunny sites.

Richardson’s Campground also offers a mix of sunny and shady sites. This campground does not have electrical service.

Please be aware that that Sandbanks is one of the most popular Provincial Parks in Ontario and most people book their sites when the online reservation service opens 5 months in advance at 7 am. In the summer, many families book for a whole week. There are interpretive programs to enjoy, and wine and food trails to follow in the County.

[PHOTO: Our 178 in front of the sand dunes on Outlet Beach.]
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote DavidW Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 27 Nov 2014 at 4:41pm

Bon Echo (Southeastern)
 
This park is located near Kaladar.  It has 532 campsites (169 electrical sites). 

Bon Echo is known for the 1.5 km long sheer rock face that rises 100 metres above Mazinaw Lake and features over 260 Aboriginal pictographs – one of the largest visible collections in Canada.  The pictographs are only viewable from the water.  You can use your own canoe, rent one from the dock, or take the 45 minute interpretive tour of the cliff side in the Wanderer boat.  For the best view of the pictographs sit on the middle left side of the boat.  The Mugwump Ferry will also take you to the start of the Cliff Top Trail which follows along the top of the cliff.

Bon Echo is an extremely popular park so you will want to book 5 months in advance for the best sites.  As we were late to book, we were in the Midway campground site 218.  When we go back, we would pick Sawmill Bay campsites 112, 155-124, or 139-141.  Both the online map and park newspaper are somewhat deceptive – those campsites look like they are right on the beach but, in fact, are on a hill above the beach.  The Fairway campground is also another good option.

[PHOTO:  Nature's canvas - Mazinaw Rock]
 
[PHOTO:  Viewing the pictographs]
 
David & Liz
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2015 Chevy Traverse
And Lily (our 5 yr old Golden)

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