Rondeau staff gave Santa a helping hand over the holidays

This past December, Rondeau Provincial Park‘s enforcement staff took part in a very special community event. Park Superintendent Brad Connor shares the story.

When a good friend and colleague of mine invited the Rondeau enforcement staff participate in the 2015 Shop With A Cop Event, I confess I had no clue what he was talking about.

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Snow sleuths

Our naturalists don’t hibernate for the winter, and they’ve spotted some pretty neat creature tracks in the snow.

When you’re doing your own snow sleuthing, try these winter tracking tips.

We’ll be sharing snapshots of the hoof-, paw- and claw-prints we spot this winter, and inviting you to test your own wildlife identification skills!

So tell us, snow sleuths: who made these tracks?

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Winter events at Ontario Parks

Ontario Parks host the BEST winter events!

We’re starting the season with a December Victorian Christmas celebration at Oakville’s Bronte Creek Provincial Park, and wrapping up winter with a late March Candlelight Ski and Tea at northwestern Ontario’s Quetico Provincial Park.

And there’s lots going on in between.

We’ve highlighted a sample of what’s planned. For a complete listing, visit our Calendar of Events.

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Family Day & Valentine getaways at Ontario Parks

February is a popular month to visit Ontario Parks. Five provincial parks plan Family Day events and affordable Valentine getaways in roofed accommodation at many parks are also a big draw. Valentine’s Day and Family Day are on the same holiday weekend this year, February 13-16. While holiday weekend accommodation is already booked, mid-week dates are still available. A total of twenty-six parks across Ontario are open this winter. Eight have roofed accommodation for rent. Nineteen have groomed ski trails and snowshoeing and several offer skating, tobogganing and tubing. The Ontario Parks Ski Report has the latest trail conditions. This Park Blog snowshoe post includes parks with designated trails.  For more on Family Day events and Valentine getaways, please see below.

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The cold hard facts about ice fishing rules and regs

Do you dream of skimmers, tip-ups, pop-ups and giant pike or walleye?  Do you measure the days of winter by the increasing thickness of ice on your favourite lakes? Or are you just excited to try out your new ice fishing rod for the first time?

Imagine setting your line in with little to no one else around, in middle of nature!  Ontario Parks are able to offer you amazing and seemingly endless ice fishing opportunities.   No matter where you decided to take your auger, it is important to check you have all your fishing and safety equipment, you have let others know where you are and you dress in layers to keep warm.  Another imperative step is making sure you know your local fishing regulations!  As parks are specially protected areas, so are the fish.

Following these regulations, and understanding why they exist, is an important part of maxing out your time on the ice, while ensuring you are helping maintain a sustainable ice fishing practice.

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Winter camping or ice fishing anyone? North, south parks have it all

Imagine a couple newly in love ditching their trip down south to sleep in a yurt in northern Ontario and snowshoe the week away while communing with nature.

That is exactly what one young couple did a few years ago after deciding to winter camp at Windy Lake, north of Sudbury. With the wood stove to keep them warm at the chalet and a whole lot of wanderlust to help them snowshoe through the park, the couple had a blast. And why not?

Silent Lake Provincial Park

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Keep calm and camp on; Nature can decrease symptoms of Seasonal Affective Disorder

As the short cold days and long starry nights of winter set in, many feel the ‘blues’.  However, there are some individuals who are highly affected by the change in season, who are truly ‘SAD’ with Seasonal Affective Disorder.  However, a visit to your favourite park can be part of the solution to SAD.

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Plan an exotic winter adventure at Ontario Parks

Summer campers love Ontario Parks but many have never experienced their favourite park in winter.  Ontario Parks aims to change that. Nineteen provincial parks are open this winter season with cross-country trails to ski.  Thirteen have groomed or track-set trails. And eight of the nineteen have comfortable roofed accommodation for rent. Designated snowshoe trails are in many parks. Some have skating and tubing too. Three parks will host ski loppets. Another will host an annual snowshoe race and at least five plan to celebrate February’s Family Day weekend with special events. Below are tips to help visitors plan their own exotic park adventure this winter:

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Ski an Ontario Parks loppet

Whether you ski for fun, race, or love a good workout, cross-country skiing is an opportunity to see Ontario Parks at their winter best. Ontario Parks’ have some of the best cross-country skiing in Canada.  Local nordic ski clubs help us to maintain many park trail networks. In Arrowhead, Sleeping Giant, and Quetico Provincial Parks, there are also annual ski loppets you can join. These have become increasingly popular with cross-country skiers. These ‘loppet’ parks also have heated roofed accommodation in the form of cabins, cottages and yurts. While the roofed accommodations often book up quickly during loppets or on weekends, mid-week bookings are still pretty easy to get, even at the last minute. If you can’t find availability, try Resorts of Ontario, which has a range of member resorts located near Ontario Parks across the province. Family Day is also a big deal at select Ontario Parks every winter. For a look at Family Day 2015, check the Park Blog events post.  A complete listing of winter events is on the Ontario Parks web site at  http://www.ontarioparks.com/events.

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