Think “winter” and “camping” are two words that should never go together? Think again! Winter camping can be not only challenging and rewarding – but also incredibly fun. Below are some tips to help you warm up to the idea (specially if you are travelling from Toronto).
Winter camping can be a great way to enjoy nature in a way you don’t usually experience during the summer. It’s quieter, it gets darker earlier, and the landscapes provide entirely different views. There are NO mosquitoes or black flies! It can also be quite romantic, sitting by the fire and snuggling up to stay warm.
One option is to stay in a yurt: It won’t hurt! Ease yourself into winter camping by staying in winter’s version of “glamping” – a semi-permanent, canvas structure, about 16 feet in diameter, set up on top of a deck. These usually have heat, lighting, and even a barbecue.
- The yurts at MacGregor Point Provincial Park (near Owen Sound) have bunk beds and can fit up to 6 people. During the day you can go snowshoeing, snowmobiling, or cross-country skiing on the trails nearby. MacGregor also has day-use areas where you can set up a bonfire (if you want to make smores but aren’t up for staying the night).
- Mew Lake in Algonquin Park also has yurts which sleep 6 people and are accessible by vehicle. There are three cross-country skiing trails nearby including the Leaf-lake Ski Trail, which is particularly scenic.
- Killarney Provincial Park has all-season yurts, as well as campsites where you can bring your own tent. Or, if you’re ready for the real thing, book a campsite overlooking Georgian Bay at Cyprus Lake, in Bruce Peninsula National Park. Make sure to bring a four-season tent designed to keep the snow away and which prevent it from collapsing in case of a heavy snowfall. Having a camp stove is also a good idea as it will be faster to cook on it, rather than on a campfire. And of course a good sleeping bag for below-freezing temperatures is a must.
- For those interested in learning more before taking the plunge, Frontenac Provincial Park has courses in January, specifically on winter camping.
Keep in mind, a little preparation can go a long a way – make sure to dress in layers (the innermost of which should keep you dry as well as warm), and load up on higher calorie foods like proteins and carbs to keep your body temperature up. Take off a few layers if you are being active, as sweat will actually make you colder, but it may be good to do a little activity before settling in for bed, as that will keep your body warm as well.
Find this author on twitter @MirabelVega.