A total of 31 Ontario provincial parks are open for business during the winter months, with 14 offering options to camping overnight. Here are my favourites:
Silent Lake Provincial Park
This park is a hidden gem. I’ve pitched my hot tent here numerous times, rented a yurt and just recently tried out their new cabins. They’re awesome! Each one comes with cozy beds, a kitchenette with a microwave, mini-fridge, kettle, dining table and chairs, an outside BBQ and a propane fireplace. Half the yurts have propane heat but the other half—the ones you have to haul your gear to—have a woodstove. I prefer those. The park does a great job keeping the roads plowed to the campsites and maintaining over 40 kilometres of cross-country ski trails.
The Mew Lake Campground on Highway 60 is kept open through the winter. Permits are required and available at the East and West Gates; a self-serve station is at the campground. There are seven yurts for rent and a maintained skating rink complete with hockey sticks and goalie nets. Plus, there are over 70 kilometres of groomed beginner to expert cross-country ski trails. Heated washrooms are a huge bonus.
Arrowhead Provincial Park
The maintained torch-lit skating rink is this park’s biggest draw. Skating through the forest should be added to every winter camper’s bucket list. However, the park offers a lot more. There’s an easy two-kilometre snowshoe trek from the East River campground to the scenic Stubbs Falls and a longer seven-kilometre trek to the Porcupine Bluffs. The park also grooms over 33 kilometres of cross-country ski trails (28 kilometres of classic; 16 kilometres of skate ski trails), rated from beginner to expert. There are plenty of campsites to choose from and 10 cabins for rent. The park is located just north of Hunstville, along the western border of Algonquin Park.
I just came back from a winter trip in the interior of Frontenac. It was my first time experiencing the park in the winter—but it won’t be my last. There’s no set campground but there are 48 campsites strewn throughout the backcountry that provide a place to pitch a four-season tent, or better yet, a canvas tent heated by a cozy wood stove. The park is located about an hour drive north of Kingston, between Toronto and Ottawa.
This park is located southwest of Sudbury and is off the main highway, but it is well-worth the drive. The scenery is amazing and the possibilities for winter enthusiasts are endless. The backcountry is available to the more adventurous (an overnight hiking trip up Silver Peak is the ultimate), but the George Lake campground also remains open with six heated yurts and two cabins for rent. Plus, there are 30 campsites open. You just have to haul your gear in half a kilometre to get there—gear sleds are available at the front gate. There are 33 kilometres of groomed cross-country ski trails and scenic snowshoe trails available.
Pinery Provincial Park—located on the southern shore of Lake Huron—is not all sand dunes and summer beaches. The winter season brings over 30 kilometres of cross-country ski trails, maintained snowshoe trails, a skating rink and a toboggan hill that's lit every evening. There are 12 yurts and one cabin for rent. There are also electrical and non-electrical basic campsites available year-round on a first-come, first-serve basis.