When is the best time to go camping in Ontario?

A season for every camper

By Shelagh McNally.

Spring, summer, autumn or winter. When is the best time to go camping? It all depends on what you are looking for. Find out what your deal breaker camping and you’ll find your favourite camping season.

Summer

For the last 18 years, Nancy Artt has shared a tent with her mother as part of an annual August camping trip. “My mom turned 92 this year and we are celebrating with a week-long trip to her favourite camp site. It’s a family tradition,” says Artt.

Like many people, the Artt family prefers summer camping for the sunshine and warm temperatures. Outdoor sleeping is pleasant, and the hot weather has warmed up the water making swimming so much fun. For families with school age children summer is really the only time available for family camping. At the height of the season, parks have more activities and there are more chances to meet people and socialize. With less rain and bug season almost finished, August is, by far, the most popular month.

And that’s also part of the downside to summer camping – lots of demand. Campsites fill up quickly and there can be long line up for facilities. In fact, some of the more popular sites have to be booked months in advance. To join in the summer fun, you’ll need to plan ahead of time and arrive early on weekends to set up.

Beach on Dogtooth Lake_Rushing River Provincial Park
Beach on Dogtooth Lake, Rushing River Provincial Park

 

Murphys Point Provincial Park | Photo: Tomoki Onishi

Fall/Autumn

Jeannie Scott prefers her camping a bit cooler and less crowded. “No bugs. Fewer people. The days are still warm, but the nights are crisp. Autumn is the perfect time for me,” says Scott. For avid hikers and bikers, the cooler temperature means outdoor activities are less strenuous. Daytime is filled with the gorgeous fall scenery when the leaves are turning orange, red and golden yellow. There is the pleasure of warming up by the campfire, snuggling into a warm sleeping bag and enjoying a hot coffee in the morning.. You do have to be prepared for the weather to change quickly so you’ll need warmer gear. With less competition, it’s easier to book your favourite spot and you may even find places offer autumn discounts.

Bon Echo Fall Camping
Bon Echo Provincial Park | Photo: OntarioParks

 

 

Winter

Anne Colvey did her first winter camping trip five years ago and was immediately hooked. “It seemed kind of crazy at first. I mean, sleeping outside in the snow? But the pure white landscape and absolute quiet was magical,” says Colvey. Winter camping is definitely more of a challenge requiring special gear to stay warm. You need to pay attention to food and supplies. “Planning everything with such detail and care becomes part of the experience. I find it empowering,” says Colvey.  Since winter is the less popular season so you’re likely to have the park to yourself but you should check that your park is open for winter camping.

Winter camping Algonquin Mew Lake
Winter camping at Algonquin Mew Lake

Spring

For Sylvain Martin, spring camping is the best. “I am a bird-watcher, so spring is my favourite time. The forest is waking up and the birds are arriving,” says Martin. Hiking trail change daily with trees and woodland flowers bloom as the days slowly warm up. Early April and May means the bugs haven’t hatched yet, but you need to be ready for some wet days. Rain gear and a solid water-proof tent is a must. But as Martin points out, with less competition it’s easier to change or postpone your reservation should it just be too wet to venture out.

What’s your favourite season for camping?

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