Because of the 5 month booking window at Ontario Parks, to reserve a specific (and popular) campsite for the August Civic long weekend, reserve now. Over 40% of reservations made by the end of March are for the most popular parks. Park staff suggests these provincial parks as alternatives to Ontario’s busiest five.
Murphys Point Provincial Park, 18 km (16 mi) south of Perth, instead of Bon Echo or Charleston Lake Provincial Parks.
Murphys Point is south of Perth in eastern Ontario. It is part of the Frontenac Arch a geological phenomenon and recognized biosphere. Murphys Point offers excellent facilities, services and activities including a visitor centre and children’s programming. Enjoy guided tours of the restored Silver Queen mica mine, two pioneer homesteads and ruins of an early sawmill. There are canoes and BBQ rentals and boat-in sites as well as drive-to and backcountry sites.
Arrowhead, Mikisew or Samuel de Champlain Provincial Parks instead of Algonquin Provincial Park
Arrowhead Provincial Park is north of Huntsville with easy access off of Highway 11.
There are new electrical sites and a trail network that offers cycling as well as hiking. A mix of water-based activities can be enjoyed on Little and Big East Rivers and two park lakes are ideal for paddling and fishing. Three sandy beaches offer good swimming. Enjoy amphitheatre programming 2-3 nights a week and a children’s program twice weekly. The park also offers canoe, kayak and mountain bike rentals.
Mikisew Provincial Park is a lovely little park, north of Arrowhead and not too far from Highway 11. Three sandy beaches, great fishing and hiking and well-spaced campsites make this an ideal family campground.
Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park is near the town of Mattawa, off the TransCanada Highway. This family-oriented provincial park is located on one of Canada’s most important routes of the fur trade era. New exhibits at the Voyageur Museum showcase the area’s fur trading history. Voyageur canoe rides and the Mattawa Voyageur Days help to bring history to life!
Grundy Lake Provincial Park, 80 kilometres (50 miles) north of Parry Sound, instead of Killbear Provincial Park
Grundy Lake Provincial Park has comfortable, family camping at lakefront sites. Kids love the summer Natural Heritage Education Programs. Canoeing opportunities abound and park lakes provide access to famous Voyageur routes along French and Pickerel Rivers. The park is a meeting spot for families traveling south from Sudbury and north from the GTA. If you don’t have access to a car, Parkbus is offering late September transportation to and from Toronto (peak fall colours).
Both Sandbanks and Pinery Provincial Parks are very popular beach parks. Here are few suggestions for alternate beach parks.
Presqu’ile Provincial Park near Brighton, instead of Sandbanks Provincial Park
This park has a 2.5 kilometre sandy beach. Car campers love its variety of campsite settings from shoreline to forest. Stay active with 16 kilometres of trails and summer interpretive programs. This birding hotspot has recorded 334 bird species during spring and fall migrations. The park has two visitor centres including a nature centre, and the second oldest working lighthouse on Lake Ontario. Use your Presqu’ile Provincial Park camping permit to visit nearby North Beach Provincial Park.
Inverhuron Provincial Park, near Tiverton, south of Owen Sound, instead of The Pinery Provincial Park. Prized for its sandy beach, dunes and sunsets, Inverhuron Provincial Park has outstanding swimming and well-treed campsites. For 2015, Inverhuron will offer 78 new electrical campsites in the Holmes Bay campground. Enjoy a full-range of facilities, including a laundromat and Park Store. Use your park camping permit for day visits to other Ontario Parks including MacGregor Point, Point Farms, Sauble Falls and The Pinery.
If you are specifically interested in beach parks did you know there are nine provincial parks on Lake Erie’s north shore? Total driving distance between Wheatley, the furthest southwest and Rock Point, the furthest east, is 299 kilometres. Port Burwell, Turkey Point and Long Point Provincial Parks are within forty-five minutes of each other. The beach at Long Point is one of Ontario’s best. Port Burwell is a great family park with a 1.7 km sandy beach. Turkey Point is home to an early cottage community and its beach which is part of the provincial park, is in the centre of town. It is also the only Ontario Park with a golf course! You can also use your park permit to gain entry to and explore other nearby parks.
Only 40% of total reservations made in a year at Ontario Parks are booked by the end of March. Many campsites are still available in the planning season and during the summer months. To check availability click here. The Park Locator Tool is also useful for searching new parks to visit.