Whether you seek adventure, are looking for a relaxing or a ruggedly romantic getaway, or just want to enjoy the natural sights and sounds of an iconic landscape, Algonquin Park has an area for you.
Open year-round, Algonquin Provincial Park (Hwy 60, Nipissing ON) spans over 7,653 km² of mostly rocky forests and lakes. It’s located between Georgian Bay and the Ottawa River in Central Ontario.
If you are a back-country camper or an avid canoeist, you are likely already familiar with the amazing experience the area has to offer. But for the rest of us city-folk, those from outside the area or who have never heard the cry of a loon in the wild, the park can offer a true Ontario weekend getaway.
That said, here are the top five reasons to visit the park as soon as possible:
5. Lodges provide the beauty of the park without all the work. Most folks that experience Algonquin Provincial Park do so through camping, canoeing, or stopping by in a day-trip. A not-so-well-known fact however, is that there are three resorts (or lodges) inside the park, great for those of us who have never set up a tent, offering everything from luxury accommodations to quaint cottages to “glamping” (a tent already set up for you, with access to a washroom and a king-size bed). Granted, some of the rates on-site may seem a bit pricey, but they often include meals. There are also a number of options nearby in the towns of Dwight and Oxtongue Lake, or even take a day trip from resorts in Huntsville or anywhere the Muskoka area.
4. Experience a unique Ontario landscape: The location of the park means there are lakes and rocky cliffs as far as the eye can see. No matter how you choose to explore, you’ll find pristine creeks and ponds lined with water-lilies, clear lakes and even a few sandy beaches (though most swimming areas tend to be rocky).
3. See wildlife in their natural environment: The maple and evergreen-covered hills are home to countless birds, squirrels and other mammals. You might even encounter a moose or a deer. On the water there are often beavers working away on their dams, and lots of different kinds of fish. Watch out for snapping turtles on logs in the water!
2. The park is open and has activities year-round: Entering from various access points (the main one being on Hwy 60), there are picnic areas, canoe rentals, mountain bike rentals; fishing, swimming, and hiking areas, and of course both back-country and “developed” or “drive-to” camping. There’s also the Algonquin Logging Museum and the Algonquin Art Centre showcasing the work of local artists. Seeing the colours reflected on a glass-like lake is a great reason to visit in the fall. In the winter, there’s snow-shoeing, cross-country skiing, winter camping, dog-sledding trails, and snowmobile trails.
1. Getting away from it all: Cell phone reception usually fades after the first few kilometres into the park and some of the lodge accommodations don’t have televisions though they do provide limited wi-fi. If you do get an opportunity to go back-country camping, I highly recommend it! I went for the first time recently and nothing quite compares to the satisfaction of reaching your campsite after a day of paddling, and the sensation of being on your very own lake with no one else around, while watching the mist rolling over the water, sitting by the fire – or catching a glimpse of a few shooting stars.