15 Ways to Winter Camp in Ontario

Unless you’re Les Stroud, winter and camping are two words many of us don’t often associate together. Surprisingly though, winter camping doesn’t have to be as extreme or hardcore as one may think. Between the unique seasonal facilities and accommodations at Ontario Parks, and local experts, outfitters and tour guides, a winter camping adventure is totally doable (and fun), even for camping newbies.

This winter, step out of your comfort zone, embrace the temperature and brave the great outdoors. You’ll be rewarded with stunning landscapes, potential wildlife sightings, spectacular night skies and legit bragging rights.

Winter camping tent with snowshoes set up outside

Guided Winter Camping Adventures

The Land Canadian Adventures, Kawartha Highlands
Specializing in catered one to three-day adventures, including winter camping, in backcountry locations of the Kawarthas and the Near North.

Backcountry Snowshoe Trips with Snow Forest Adventures, Algonquin Provincial Park
The relaxed pace on these snowshoe adventures allow ample time to take in the deep quiet and beauty of winter wilderness, and to enjoy the heated and raised prospector style canvas tents, campfire meals and hot chocolate.

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Guided Expeditions with Lure of the North, Espanola
Lure of the North relies on traditional methods and materials on the various winter wilderness expeditions and workshops they offer. Wood stoves head up your tent and you’ll fall asleep on a bed of boughs.

Learn to Winter Camp with Voyageur Quest, Algonquin Provincial Park
Experience authentic adventure on an all-inclusive, guided winter expedition and learn backcountry travel skills from seasoned guides.

Traditional Winter Camping with Yours Outdoors, Haliburton
Gear up your toboggans and snowshoe to the lakeside site, where you’ll call a cozy, wood-heated canvas tent home for two nights.

Romantic Winter Camping with Atelier Arboreal, Wiarton, Bruce Peninsula
Sleep on a bed of evergreen boughs in a wood heated tipi or yurt, feel the stress melt away in the log sauna, enjoy gourmet meals, explore frozen caves and set out on a guided snowshoe outing on this truly unique winter adventure.

Cozy cabin in Arrowhead Provincial ParkPhoto credit: Arrowhead Provincial Park

Winter Camping and Roofed Accommodations in Ontario Parks

Winter promises a whole new world of multi-day outdoor adventure in Ontario’s provincial parks with a variety of ways to stay, from drive-in ‘car camping’ to interior backcountry tent sites to rustic cabins and yurts (spacious, octagonal tents built on a platform). For reservations, permits and more, check out OntarioParks.com. Many of the parks operate on a first-come, first-serve policy for the camp sites.

Pinery Provincial Park, near Grand Bend on Lake Huron
Groomed cross-country and snowshoe trails, a night-lit toboggan hill, skating rink and more make Pinery a popular spot for fun in the snow. Overnight guests can bunk in one of the 12 wheelchair accessible heated yurts, book the fully equipped cabin or set up camp at one of Area 1 Riverside Campground year-round electrically serviced sites.

Killarney Provincial Park, Georgian Bay
Six heated yurts are available at the George Lake Campground in Killarney park, just a short ski or snowshoe from the main site, with toboggans on hand to transport your gear. There are also two camp cabins close to the park office that feature kitchenettes and propane heaters. Washrooms remain open during the winter. Over 200 backcountry sites are available year-round so you can explore more of the park’s extensive cross-country and snowshoe trails.

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Algonquin Provincial Park, Muskoka, Haliburton & Almaguin Highlands
Seven yurts that sleep up to six people each, designated camp sites and interior camping for the more experienced are all available throughout the winter in Ontario’s iconic park. Facilities at the year-round Mew Lake Campground include flush washrooms, showers and electric hook-up sites. For a more remote destination, snowshoe to one of the 11 backcountry ranger cabins. Pick up your permits at the East or West Gate, and look to Algonquin Outfitters for equipment and gear rentals.

Silent Lake Provincial Park, south of Bancroft in Haliburton Highlands
Car accessible, electric winter tenting sites are available at Granite Ridge Campground, or spring for one of the ten cute camp cabins or eight comfortable yurts (firewood included).

Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, east of Thunder Bay on Lake Superior
Book one of five barrier-free rustic cabins located on the shores of Marie Louise Lake, each with three bedrooms, kitchen and washroom. Or set up camp at one of the interior sites to explore this winter paradise. Cross-country skiers can look forward to the annual Sleeping Giant Loppet, a mass participation skiing festival on March 7.

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Windy Lake Provincial Park, northwest of Sudbury
Choose from four all-season yurts, two rustic camp cabins or traditional camping sites. Drive-in car camping, including double family and group camping sites, are located close to year-round comfort stations with hot water, laundry and flush facilities, plus seven walk-in sites. Try your hand at ice fishing with the park’s Ice Fishing Rental Package that outfits you with all the gear you’ll need, including a portable ice fishing shelter.

MacGregor Point Provincial Park, south of Port Elgin on Lake Huron
MacGregor is home to a whopping 16 heated yurts in the Birch Boulevard camping section, as well as easily accessible tent and trailer sites close to a comfort station for winter camping. Don’t forget your ice skates, the park features a 400-metre oval ice trail that is lit up at night, creating enchanting ambiance.

WinterCamping_Arrowhead2Photo credit: Arrowhead Provincial Park

Arrowhead Provincial Park, north of Huntsville, Almaguin Highlands
Arrowhead offers three different sites for winter camping: Roe, East River and Lumby Campgrounds, as well as ten adorable camp cabins. If you’re coming for their bucket list 15-kilometre Fire & Ice Skate Trail, weeknights are strongly recommended. Ski, skate, snowshoe and tubing equipment rentals are available.

Quetico Provincial Park, east of Atikokan in Northwest Ontario
For the quintessential cozy winter cabin experience, check out the three rustic cottages at Quetico (rental comes with two pairs of snowshoes); the Log Cabin at Dawson Trail Campground, the Art Studio Winter Retreat and the Ojibway Cabin at Ojibway Campground, accessible by ski or snowshoe. Of course, this gem of a park also offers amazing drive-in and backcountry winter camping sites for those seeking winter solitude.

For dress code, think layered and waterproof. Get pro tips on how to stay warm and comfortable on a winter camping adventure. If you’re embarking on a self guided trip, fire starter, shovel and sled is just the start of your planning. Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) provides a comprehensive winter camping gear checklist. Discover even more snow adventures in Ontario at ontariotravel.net.
Happy winter camping!