Home/ Camping/

Manitoulin Island Camping Guide

Manitoulin Island Camping Guide

Manitoulin Island spans over 2766 square kilometres and is known for its rich indigenous culture and diverse ecological wonders. Locally, Manitoulin Island is called Ojibwe, meaning “Spirit Island”. Settled in the centre of the Great Lakes region of Ontario, Manitoulin is the largest freshwater Island in the world. The Island is also one of the prime locations in Ontario to view stellar events such as the northern lights and Meteor showers as its home to the first commercial preserve designated by the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada. The Kagawong, Mantiou, Mindemoya, and Blue Jay Creek are the four major rivers within Manitoulin which attract tourists and locals alike for their large trout and salmon population. Wikwemikong is the Island’s largest First Nation community and the only officially recognized Unceded Indian Reserve. The community is full of rich Unceded historical tourism experiences that teach people about the people, legends, land, and water of Wiikwemkoong.

How to Get to Manitoulin Island

There are multiple ways to get onto Manitoulin Island, including by car, plane, and ferry. Manitoulin Island is accessible by motor vehicle transportation via the Little Current Swing Bridge and is approximately a two-hour drive from Sudbury. The Gore Bay-Manitoulin airport provides the nearest fly-in access into the region.

The MS Chi-Cheemaun ferry is another popular method of transportation onto the Island. Travelling from Tobermory on the Bruce Peninsula, the MS Chi-Cheemaun ferry transports up to 600 passengers and 150 vehicles to and from Manitoulin Island. During peak season, the ferry takes approximately one hour and 45 minutes to get to the Island and about two hours during off-peak seasons. Pets are permitted to remain inside vehicles and designated deck areas while in transit.

Camping Options

Manitoulin Island boasts many destinations for camping, with various options for beginner and advanced campers. Although Manitoulin doesn’t have an official backcountry, there are numerous campgrounds that provide various accommodations such as tents, RVs, cottages, cabins, and yurts. Manitoulin Island also gives experienced campers the chance to take on winter camping at Manitoulin Eco Park and Dark Sky Preserve. From Summer to Winter, campers can take on the array of accommodations, including off-grid, tenting, and luxury campgrounds.

There are a wide range of yurts, Airbnbs, and many resorts for individuals who want to embrace the outdoors during the day and a more comfortable setting at night. In Tehkummah there is a yurt available for rent starting at $120 a night including firewood. It’s located on 112 acres of land the encompasses a mature sugar maple forest, the Manitou River, and Niagara escarpment.

Crown land camping is available on the Northeastern part of Manitoulin Island on the Goat Island Crown land. Camping on Crown land is free for private and non-commercial camping. People may camp on a single Crown land site for up to 21 days per year. Goat Island is located off Highway six, across the Little Current Swing Bridge. Despite the lack of facilities on the land, it’s conveniently situated just a short five-minute drive away from the town of Little Current. Individuals may choose to stay in a tent, in their car, or in an RV while camping on the Goat Island Crown land. Campers are responsible for their own garbage and there are no bathrooms, firepits, or electricity hookups provided.

Campgrounds on Manitoulin Island

Here are five campgrounds on Manitoulin Island that are popular among campers:

1) Manitoulin Eco Park and Dark Sky Preserve

Manitoulin Eco Park and Dark Sky Preserve has 268 acres of land, 61 campsites, and eight different types of lodging, including off-grid and electric sites. Each campsite is located within a walking distance of eco-friendly showers, flush toilets, dish-washing stations, and playgrounds. The Manitoulin Eco Park also has a Nature Centre with a collection of wildlife displays of species found on the Island like fox, black bears, owls, and fish. Adults and children can learn about the bones and anatomy of different animals, with the centre’s large display of skeletal remains. The centre features an astronomy wall with information on planets, the northern lights, and the tools used to navigate the night sky. Admissions fees are $7 per person or free for overnight guests. Across the Forest campgrounds and Dark Sky preserve, the Eco Park offers tenting and RV sites, tipi rentals, bunkies, cabins, and group sites. Prices are between $30 and $150 a night depending on the site and type of accommodation. The closest RV dumping station is north on Highway six at green acres, which is around 26 minutes from the Eco Park. The prices during winter increase because of the additional expenses for snow plowing, maintenance, and stocking extra firewood.

2) Batman’s Cottages and Campground

Situated on 78 acres of land, Batman’s Cottages and Campground is an excellent choice for people looking for tenting, trailer, and RV sites. The campground has 142 trailer and tenting sites and four available cottages. Batman’s Cottages and Campground is approximately a 15-minute drive from the town of Little Current, a 40-minute drive from the Chi-Cheemaun ferry docks in South Baymouth, and an hour and 45-minute drive from Sudbury. Various hiking trails are within driving distance of the campgrounds, including the Cup and Saucer Trail, which is about a 20-minute drive, and the Twin Peaks Hiking Trail, which is only 5 minutes away. Among the various campsites, there are options for pull-thru and full-service sites that include hydro, water, and sewer hook-up. The initial price for a standard tenting lot without any added features is $47. The cost of sites that provide extra amenities, such as lakefront properties, pull-thru options, or 30-to-50-amp sites, ranges from $57 to $65. Every site has an additional fee of $6 to $10 per night for each individual over the age of 17. Cottages are available to rent during the Summer by the week and for a minimum of three nights in the spring and fall. All cottages are smoke and pet free. The cost of renting a cottage is based on the duration of the stay. By the night cottages range from $155 to $190, and for weekly rental prices are between $940 and $1200.

3) Stanley Park Campgrounds

Stanley Park Campgrounds has 25 transient and over 250 seasonal trailer and tenting sites, situated on the shores of Spring Bay and Lake Mindemoya. The campsites they offer include 30 amps of electricity, access to water, and hydro. Each site has a maximum occupancy of four adults or two adults with children under 18. Tenting sites are priced at $45 per night, and $300 for a week. For trailer sites, the nightly rate is $55, and the weekly rate is $365. Stanley Park Campgrounds has an on-site general store, laundromat, washrooms, and a play area for children. Campers can purchase wood, propane, groceries, fishing bait, and clothing at the general store. There is a marina for guests to store their boats and rent paddle boats or canoes. Hiking trail nearby includes the Bridal Veil Falls Trail and the Gore Bay East Bluff.

4) Mindemoya Court Cottages and Campground

The Mindemoya Court Cottages and Campground is a resort with 18 acres of private land located on Lake Mindemoya. They offer a diverse range of court level and waterfront accommodations, including cottages, cabins, and trailers, that are available for daily or weekly rental. The daily rates vary from $100 to $280, while weekly rates start at $525 and go up to $1025. Occasionally, the owners host activities that are open to all the guests, such as barbeques, volleyball games, and bonfires. Mindemoya Court also features a swimming area with the only deep-water diving board in the area. There are 15 20- and 30-amp RV and trailer campsites that are each equipped with water, electricity, and sewer. Every campsite comes with a picnic table, fire pit, and free Wi-Fi. Apart from their lodging facilities, Mindemoya provides licensed individuals with the option to rent boats. Guests can choose to rent a boat for $40 for four hours, $75 for a full day, or $275 for a week.

5) Idyll Glen RV Park

Idyll Glen RV Park, located on the shore of Lake Mindemoya, is a smaller campsite that provides overnight camping accommodations and a trailer available to rent for $900 a week, plus tax. A full-service campsite with 30amps, hydro, and water is available for rent at a cost of $55 per night. Alternatively, campers can choose a lot without service for $45 per night. Each campsite can accommodate a maximum of four adults or a family of two adults and their children. Idyll Glen Park provides campers with a variety of amenities such as full RV hook-ups, free Wi-Fi, pet-friendly sites, and an onsite laundromat. The rental unit has two bedrooms, air conditioning, satellite, and propane barbeque. Guest staying in the trailer are advised to bring their own bedding, pillows, and towels. The Mindemoya Idyll Glen Beach is a short walk from the park and open to guests throughout their stay.

Check out https://www.ontariocamping.ca/campgrounds/ for more camping options.

Activities on Manitoulin Island

Manitoulin Island has both outdoor and indoor activities for all ages. One of the Island’s most prominent characteristics is the wide range of hiking trails it offers. Named after its unique shape, the Cup and Saucer Trail is the most famous trail in Manitoulin. As part of the Niagara Escarpment, the trail boasts cliffs as high as 70 meters over a two-kilometre distance. The total distance of the hiking trails is about 12 kilometres, including two kilometres of adventure trail. Depending on the individual, the hike can take anywhere from one and a half to four hours. The trail has natural and rock terrain with sheer drops and loops, making it a difficult hike. The Cup and Saucer trail is 18 kilometres west of Little Current off of Highway 540 and free to the public.

A magnificent hiking trail on Manitoulin Island is the Kagawong River trail, which leads hikers to the Bridal Veil Falls. The trail is six kilometres long and has a moderate difficulty classification. The Bridal Veil Falls flows to the North Channel of Lake Huron from Lake Kagawong and is about 36 feet high. At the top of the Falls, there’s a small picnic area and a steel staircase that leads to the base of the Falls, which is open to the public for swimming. The Kagawong River trail is located at the entrance to Kagawong, off of Highway 540.

Individuals looking for an easy hike may be interested in the Lewis Twin Peaks Hiking Trail in Sheguiandah. The trail is accessible from the west side of Highway 6 across from the Paradise Motel. There are no fees to enter the Lewis Twin Peaks trail. Approximately two kilometres in distance, the trail offers amazing lookouts and views of the Bass Lake and the North Channel of Lake Huron. In addition to hiking, the trail is also open for mountain or winter biking.

Providence Bay beach is the largest beach on Manitoulin Island. The sand and water reach a span of two kilometres, which makes it a very popular but uncrowded tourist destination. The beach is open to the public and has free parking. A few of the beach’s amenities include a restaurant, discovery centre, and playground. Visitors can bring dogs within the designated area of the beach and on the boardwalk.

Another attraction of Manitoulin Island is its many museums on Manitoulin Island, such as the Gore Bay Museum, Assiginack Museum Heritage Complex, and the Old Mill Heritage Centre

Individuals planning a trip to Manitoulin in August may be interested in the Annual Wiikwemkoong Cultural Festival. The event takes place over the August long weekend and welcomes all ages. Beginning in 1961, the Wiikwemkoong Annual Cultural Festival is the longest running Pow Wow in North Eastern North America. Visitors can indulge in authentic Anishenaabe food, art, and performances throughout the weekend. Admission fees range from $2 to $20 depending on age.

Manitoulin Dark Sky Preserve

The Dark Sky Preserve, formerly known as Gordons Park, is part of the Manitoulin Eco Park and has a variety of campgrounds and cabins for overnight guests. In the field area of the Dark Sky Preserve, visitors can experience a full 360-degree view of the sky. All events hosted at the Dark Sky Preserve are open to the public whether they’re just there for the night or staying at campground. Astronomy Nights at the Dark Sky Preserve are full of engaging and education presentations and occasionally guest speakers. All ages are welcome to learn about constellations, star culture, and galaxies for $5 per child and $30 for adults. Semi-private Astronomy nights are reserved for a maximum of 16 people with up to 4 tickets at $200 per session. Groups can hear from guides and guest speakers while getting the chance to use wide-angled binoculars and the eight-inch Dobsonian Telescope. Another intriguing event is the stargazing hikes, which take attendees through an immersive nighttime hike in the hardwood forest to view wildlife and stargaze.

RV Rentals

There are many benefits to renting an RV, including extra storage space, saving costs on meals, and access to bathroom amenities. There are many places in Ontario that offer RV rentals for varying prices and timeframes. Here is a list of places to rent an RV:

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there cellphone service on Manitoulin Island?

Yes. EastLink provides Manitoulin Island with both landline phone services and the internet.

Are there bears on Manitoulin Island?

Yes, Manitoulin Island has a black bear population. To get additional information about black bear sightings, reach out to the personnel at your campground.

Is there crown land camping?

The limited amount of backcountry on Manitoulin Island makes finding opportunities for crown land camping very difficult.

Is the water safe?

While the water on Manitoulin is safe to swim in, it’s always advisable to consult with your campground office before drinking water that you are unsure about. Most campgrounds on Manitoulin Island have their own water supply for campers to use and drink.

Does Manitoulin Island have poison ivy?

Yes. There is poison ivy in the forests, on hiking trails, in farm fields, and along the roadways.

RV Dumping stations

There are 11 dump stations located throughout the campgrounds on Manitoulin Island. Typically, every dump station also has a water fill station. Here is a list of locations that have RV dumping stations:

  • Lake Wolsey Obejewung Park
    Free for Registered Guests or unknown/fee for dump station use only
  • Providence Bay Tent and Trailer Park
    Free for Registered Guests or unknown/fee for dump station use only
  • Norms Tent and Trailer Park
    Free for Registered Guests or unknown/fee for dump station use only
  • Stanley Park
    Free for Registered Guests or unknown/fee for dump station use only
  • Idyll Glen RV Park
    Free for Registered Guests or unknown/fee for dump station use only
  • South Bay Resort
    Free for Registered Guests or unknown/fee for dump station use only
  • L and J Tent and Trailer Park
    Free for Registered Guests or unknown/fee for dump station use only
  • Manitoulin Resort Ltd.
    Free for Registered Guests or unknown/fee for dump station use only
  • Holiday Haven Resort
    Free for Registered Guests or unknown/fee for dump station use only
  • Batman’s Cottages and Campground
    Free for Registered Guests or unknown/fee for dump station use only
  • Green Acres Tent and Trailer Park for a $20.00 fee

Finding potable water is also possible through various phone apps. Here are a few apps that can provide you with directions to potable water in your area:

Fishing and Wildlife

Manitoulin Island is abundant with diverse species of fish and wildlife. musky, salmon, perch, northern pike, rainbow trout, pickerel, and bass are some of the fish species that campers may have the chance to catch. Bait is available for purchase at many campgrounds, which also offer designated fishing areas for guests. Lake Manitou, the Georgian Bay, and Lake Kagawong are other notable spots on the Island where visitors can expect a good catch.

Manitoulin Island has a documented population of black bears, bobcats, coyotes, and grey wolves. Recently there have also been more cougar sightings throughout the Island. The Island has multiple different snake species as well that are mostly harmless to humans, including common water snakes, red-bellied snakes, and the common garter snake. The Eastern Massasauga Rattle snake is the only poisonous snake on Manitoulin Island. They are grey or tan, with rows of large and rounded brown or black blotches down their backs. Massasauga Rattlesnakes do not interact with humans unless provoked or intentionally handled. In the rare occurrence that you are bitten by a Massasauga Rattlesnake, stay calm and reduce your movements. Call 911 and remove all jewellery from the affected area. Do not apply ice or a tourniquet and get to the hospital as soon as possible.

Safety Tips

Interactions with dangerous wildlife on Manitoulin Island are rare, but campers should always be cautious and aware of possible predators in their area. Here are a few safety tips for camping on Manitoulin Island:

  • Cook at least 100 meters downwind from your campsite
  • Do not bury garbage
  • Keep bear spray in your tent
  • Always travel and hike with a buddy
  • Alert camp personnel to any wildlife sightings
  • Wash dishes immediately after eating
  • Avoid hiking through patches of grass or rock with low visibility
  • Do not approach wildlife
  • Keep dogs on a leash and away from wildlife when possible
  • Wear closed-toe shoes and pants when hiking
  • Wear a hat when hiking and always apply sunscreen
  • Do not play with fire
  • Put out all campfires before going to sleep or leaving your campsite

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *