Winter in Ontario’s provincial parks—what better time and place to escape into the woods, to camp under a starlit sky, sleep in a heated yurt or get cozy by a crackling fire in a quaint cabin or cottage.
Fourteen Ontario Provincial Parks offer winter camping options, with three main types of camping offered. Here’s a breakdown of where to go to get a cozy night's sleep.
Heated Roofed Accommodations
Northwestern Ontario’s Quetico Park offers three rustic cabin options: The Log Cabin at Dawson Trail Campground, the Art Studio Winter Retreat and the Ojibwa Cabin at Ojibwa Campground. Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, also in the northwest, has five cabins for rent: Dragon’s Mouth, Rose Pogonia, Fairy Slipper, Pink Moccasin Flower and Coral Root. The park’s ski and snowshoe trails await right outside the door.
Sandbanks offers two cottages for winter rentals: the one-and-a-half story Jacques Cottage is situated along the shores of Lake Ontario and the Maplerest Heritage House is a four-bedroom Victorian home furnished with antiques.
Camp cabins are available for rent at Arrowhead, Silent Lake, Killarney, Pinery and Windy Lake. 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. Arrowhead and Silent Lake are the main choices; both have 10 cabins for rent.
Yurts are available in six parks (Algonquin, Killarney, McGregor Point, Pinery, Silent Lake and Windy Lake). A yurt is an eight-sided tent, mounted on a wooden deck. Each sleeps four adults or a family of six, and comes equipped with beds, lights and kitchen furniture. Make sure to book them well in advance, however. They have become very popular this winter. Some yurts have propane heat but a few still use a wood stove (which I prefer).
Note: Dogs are not allowed in any of the park’s roofed accommodations.
Tent/Trailer Car Camping
Algonquin Park (Mew Lake) and MacGregor Point cater to winter RV camping. The sites are plowed, and the access roads are maintained. There are also heated comfort stations with hot showers.
Campgrounds in Algonquin (Mew Lake), MacGregor Point and Pinery are open for winter tent campers. Silent Lake has a few electric sites that are reservable and they recently just opened their other sites for cold tenting and hot tenting. You just have to haul your gear in from the parking lot with toboggans that are made available. Killarney has the same set up.
Several parks become a free-for-all during the winter. Make a reservation online from any given access point and book an interior site. However, you don’t camp on the site you have reserved; you camp off-site anywhere else in the park. This offers an incredible amount of wintery landscape to explore. Winter interior parks are Algonquin, Killarney, Quetico, Sleeping Giant, Wabakimi, Woodland Caribou and Kawartha Highlands. Frontenac Provincial Park also has interior sites but you actually stay on one of the interior cluster sites. 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.