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Winter Camping In Ontario: 10 Best Places And Useful Tips For Your Trip

It’s time to prepare for winter camping in Ontario, Canada, so gather your belongings and lace up the skis. Here are the 10 best winter camping destinations in Ontario and helpful tips for your trip.

1. Why should you go winter camping in Ontario?

Many people think it takes skill or madness to go camping in the cold. We tell them they’re the ones missing out on the pleasure. Here are some wonderful reasons why you should go winter camping in Ontario.

  • Beautiful parks can be found all around Ontario, and many of them are still open during the winter.
  • Enjoy the coziness of a winterized hut.
  • The bug-free wilderness.
  • The dancing of the northern lights.
  • The sound of your dogsled team howling at the moon as you drift off to sleep in the pillowy snow.

2. The 10 best winter camping places in Ontario

Northwest Ontario’s Quetico Park


Dawson Trail Campground is 45 km east of Atikokan and is open year-round. Only the Chippewa and Ojibwa loops provide drive-in camping in Quetico. Choose from 100+ drive-in campsites or 2,000 backcountry sites. 40 km of groomed ski routes, ice fishing, and nature trails.

Both circuits offer comfort stations with flush toilets, showers, laundry, and water taps. The campground features two heated yurts and a log cabin with portable heaters, a wood stove, firewood, water, a picnic table, and a barbecue. Backcountry campers need a permit from the Ranger Station to camp in the backcountry during the winter.

Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, Northwest Ontario


The Sleeping Giant is located on a mountainous peninsula an hour east of Thunder Bay and is accessible year-round. At the parking area, you can self-serve backcountry permits. Take the simple Kabeyun Trail to Lake Superior’s cliffs. Take the moderate Talus Lake Trail from Kabeyun to Top Of The Giant (challenging). Lake Superior and the surrounding area are stunning.

With 100 km of trails, 50 km of groomed cross-country ski tracks, and 40+ backcountry campsites (each with a fire pit), Sleeping Giant is excellent for families, weekend warriors, and multi-day backcountry travelers. Plan and secure one of six fully prepared cabins for your winter basecamp at Sleeping Giant. Each cabin contains three bedrooms, a bathroom, shower, kitchen, bedding, a fire pit, a picnic table, and heating.

Killarney Provincial Park, North East Ontario


George Lake Campground, off Hwy 637 in Killarney, Ontario, has six heated yurts, 30 walk-in sites, and 200+ backcountry sites. In winter, the park office gates are closed; you must walk 500 meters to your campground (gear sleds available). After long days exploring, sleep in insulated yurts with electricity, mattresses, picnic table, BBQ, fire pits, and food storage. The winter comfort station is closed. However, there are hot water and flush toilets outside the park office.

From your camper, cross-country ski 33 km of groomed slopes and snowshoe Killarney. Winter Warm-Up Hut in the day-use area. Collins Inlet Trail loops 14.3 km through wide meadows, mature pine trees, and stunning scenery.

Windy Lake Provincial Park, North East Ontario


Windy Lake, 50 km northwest of Sudbury on Hwy 114, is open year-round. The park has 93 drive-in sites with flush toilets, hot showers, change tables, laundry facilities, and drinking taps. Seven walk-in sites offer a backcountry experience, and two big group campsites have fire pits, restrooms, picnic shelters, water taps, and BBQs. Four heated, fully equipped yurts are available on existing campsites.

In winter, the park offers some of the greatest snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in the region. Beginners and experts can enjoy 15 kilometers of professionally groomed classic and skate ski trails. This region has great fishing.

Algonquin Provincial Park


Algonquin Provincial Park is located in Whitney, Ontario. Winter is equally as entertaining and exciting as summer. Mew Lake Campground on Hwy 60 offers drive-in camping and yurts year-round. Permits are required at East and West Gates; self-serve booth at the campground.

Snowshoeing is allowed everywhere in the park except on the groomed cross-country ski routes. One of Mew Lake Campground’s parking areas has a skating rink with hockey equipment and nets nearby. Try dog sledding with one of the park’s outfitters, or use one of 11 backcountry cottages.

Arrowhead Provincial Park: The best winter camping places in Ontario


Arrowhead Provincial Park is Huntsville’s winter camping haven. The main road/parking lots to drive-in locations are plowed all winter. Roe Campground has private sites, East River Campground is near Stubbs Falls, and Lumby Campground is forested. Each campground provides picnic tables and showers/toilets. Arrowhead includes two premium yurts and six cottages with propane/electric fireplaces, high-quality mattresses, kitchenettes, tables, chairs, gas BBQs, and picnic tables. The park has 33 kilometers of beginner-to-expert cross-country/skate ski routes.

Visitors love the torch-lit skating rink and walkway. If skiing or skating isn’t your thing, snowshoe from East River Campground to ice Stubbs Falls. Arrowhead’s Beaver Meadow Trail is a moderate 7-km journey that circles a large beaver pond where an otter, moose, beavers, and blue herons are often spotted. The main gate rents cross-country skis, skates, and snowshoes. Arrowhead gives free tubes for tubing. Two warm-up shelters and an open fire pit are available.

MacGregor Point Provincial Park


MacGregor Point Provincial Park is in Port Elgin, Ontario, on Lake Huron. Just south of the Bruce Peninsula, Lake Range Road (Hwy 33) is plowed in the winter, and each campsite has parking for tents or tent trailers. Year-round access to a comfort station with restrooms, showers, and drinking water. Book one of 16 yurts with beds, a table, chairs, power, and heat at Birch Boulevard.

This park’s 400-meter illuminated skating oval through the trees provides a unique and entertaining winter camping experience for all ages. Easy-to-moderate trail systems provide picturesque viewing places and instructional storyboard signs. With 11 km of ski routes, there are many more for snowshoers and cross-country skiers. Take the 3.5-km looping Tower Trail to the observation tower or the 4-km Lake Ridge Trail (moderate) into the park. MacGregor’s Visitors Centre has live displays, exhibitions, and informative, educational activities.

Frontenac Provincial Park: Winter camping heaven in Ontario


Frontenac Provincial Park is available year-round, north of Sydenham, Ontario, and a few hours from Toronto. Salmon Lake Road leads to the park, although there are no drive-in campsites or yurts. You can phone the Park Office to reserve a route/campsite. Ski or snowshoe through Frontenac’s 22 frozen lakes and 100 km of developed trails to reach 48 year-round backcountry campsites. Visitors should be prepared to carry all their equipment and supplies for hikes lasting 20 minutes to three hours.

When conditions are right, the park has 11 km of groomed cross-country ski routes. The Park Office has a lone flush toilet and exhibitions, animal mounts, interpretative panels, maps, and information boards. Explore 5,000 hectares of scenery, animals, and interior camping.

Silent Lake Provincial Park, Haliburton Highlands Region


Silent Lake Provincial Park, 25 km southwest of Bancroft, Ontario, with wonderful winter views. The main roads into Silent Lake’s campground off Hwy 23 are plowed and have parking. This helps folks rapidly set up and enjoy the park. Try one of their six yurts (three have woodstoves) with beds, tables, chairs, propane BBQ, picnic tables, a fire pit, and firewood. Each campground has Comfort Stations with flush toilets, vending machines, showers, and laundry.

Snowshoe down Bonnie’s Pond Hiking Trail or fish for Lake Trout in Silent Lake. Each of the 40 km of groomed ski routes is color-coded, and starts/ends at the day-use parking lot. Park Office rents skis and snowshoes.

Southwest Ontario’s Pinery Park


Pinery Provincial Park is near Grand Bend, Ontario, on Lake Huron. Follow Lakeshore Road (Hwy 21) to 26th Sideroad, 70 km west of London, Ontario. The park is open year-round and features snowshoeing trails, 30-plus kilometers of cross-country skiing, a lit toboggan hill, a weekend Winter Chalet, a skating rink, and a Winter Activity area.

Pinery rents 12 heated yurts, 1 lodge, and 2 soft-sided shelters. Electrical and non-electric basic campsites are offered year-round on a first-come, first-served basis. Enjoy vault toilets and Comfort Stations with laundry, flush toilets, showers, and sinks.

3. What things do you need to bring when winter camping in Ontario?

  • A four-season tent
  • A sleeping bag (rated to at least -15°C)
  • A mattress or pad
  • A cook stove
  • A first-aid kit
  • A waterproof backpack
  • Food
  • Cooking utensils
  • Plastic mug
  • Spoon and bowl
  • Toiletries
  • Headlamp or flashlight and batteries
  • Pocket knife
  • Matches and candle
  • Clothes you can put on in layers
  • Good wool socks
  • A waterproof and windproof outer shell layer
  • Toque and a couple of sets of dry gloves
  • An insulated pad or blanket 

4. Tips for winter camping in Ontario

  • Recognize your level of skill and be prepared.
  • Pack the appropriate tools (as above).
  • Make a travel plan.
  • Before going camping, check the weather.
  • Set up your menu.
  • Register at the Park Office when you arrive.
  • Arrive early enough to locate your location and set up while it is still light.
  • Get dressed while still under the covers and pack your sleeping bag with the clothes you’ll wear the following day.
  • Remember to bring your phone and trail map! Batteries are zapped faster by the cold.
  • Inform the park staff and your buddy or relative that you are leaving to go home.
  • When you go home, inspect your equipment.

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