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Day use at Ontario Parks

FAQs – Advance Daily Vehicle Permit Pilot 2021

1. What is the Advance Daily Vehicle Permit pilot project?

Beginning June 7, 2021, visitors will be able to obtain a daily vehicle permit, providing guaranteed access and greater certainty when planning a day visit to a provincial park.

The advance daily vehicle permit service will be available at:

  • Algonquin
  • Arrowhead
  • Batchawana Bay
  • Craigleith
  • Darlington
  • Forks of the Credit
  • Kakabeka Falls
  • Kettle Lakes
  • Lake Superior
  • Long Point
  • Mono Cliffs
  • North Beach
  • Pinery
  • Presqu’ile
  • Sandbanks
  • Sibbald Point
  • Turkey Point

2. How do I obtain a daily vehicle permit in advance for the participating provincial parks?

There are two ways to obtain a daily vehicle permit in advance for 17 participating parks.

  1. Online
  2. By phone by calling 1-888-ONT-PARK (1-888-668-7275) – Open daily from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

Advance daily vehicle permits will become available at 7:00 a.m. Eastern Time five days in advance of your arrival date.

3. How far in advance can I obtain a daily vehicle permit?

Advance daily vehicle permits will become available at 7:00 a.m. Eastern Time five days in advance of your arrival date.

4. When daily vehicle permits are free from Monday to Thursday (May 1 to September 2, 2021), do I still need to obtain an advance park permit?

Yes, even though day use entry will be free of charge, visitors will still be required to obtain a valid daily vehicle permit in advance when visiting a provincial park where staff are present, and fees are normally collected.

This is so that staff can distinguish between a day use visitor and registered overnight campers and, for the safety of visitors and staff, so that we can monitor park visitation levels to prevent overcrowding.

5. What’s included when I obtain a daily vehicle permit in advance?

Obtaining a daily vehicle permit in advance guarantees access for one passenger vehicle and all its passengers. This includes passenger vehicles that allow up to a maximum of 14 people.

6. Does my daily vehicle permit allow park access for the full day?

Forks of the Credit and Mono Cliffs Provincial Parks are offering daily vehicle permits on 4-hour time slots in addition to full day permits.

The advance daily vehicle permits sold for all other parks are valid during posted day use operating hours.

7. I have a seasonal or commercial vehicle permit; do I have to obtain a daily vehicle permit in advance to guarantee access?

Yes. Even if you have a seasonal or commercial vehicle permit, accessing a park that offers daily vehicle permits in advance is subject to park capacity limits. You will be required to obtain your day use spot in advance at no extra charge using your seasonal or commercial vehicle permit’s serial number to guarantee access. There are two ways to obtain your daily vehicle permit in advance:

  1. Online
  2. By phone by calling 1-888-ONT-PARK (1-888-668-7275) – Open daily from 7:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

8. I go to my local park daily with my seasonal vehicle permit and don’t have issues entering. Do I really need to obtain a daily vehicle permit in advance of every visit?

Yes, many of our parks fill to capacity. To guarantee access at one of the 17 provincial parks participating in the pilot, we recommend that you always secure your day use spot in advance using your seasonal permit’s serial number prior to your visit.

9. What if permits are sold out in advance, can I show up and obtain a daily vehicle permit anyways?

No. If all available permits for a given date are sold out in advance, park access will only be granted to those in possession of a valid daily vehicle permit for that date and we will not sell additional daily vehicle permits at the park.

Seasonal and commercial vehicle permit holders will not be granted access to a park when it is sold-out unless they have also obtained a daily vehicle permit in advance, free of charge, using their permit’s serial number.

10. How will I know if a park is full when I want to visit?

You can check daily vehicle permit availability for specific parks and dates on our reservations website. Many parks will also provide updates on their social media accounts, so follow us for the most up-to-date information.

11. Can I visit multiple parks with my advance daily vehicle permit?

No. Your advance daily vehicle permit only guarantees access to the park for which it was obtained.

12. Are there any additional fees to obtain a daily vehicle permit online?

There are no additional fees for using the advance service, you will only be paying for the cost of the daily vehicle permit, except on free day use days.

13. Can I cancel or change my advance daily vehicle permit once I obtain it? If I can’t use my permit, can I transfer it to another person?

All advanced daily vehicle permit sales are final and date/location changes are not permitted. If cancelling within two hours of purchase, full refunds apply. If cancelling after two hours, all fees are forfeited.

Advance daily vehicle permits cannot be transferred to another person and permit holder verification or identification will be required when you arrive at the park. If you are driving a different vehicle than the one you originally identified at the time of booking, only the registered permit holder can change the vehicle licence plate information, either upon arrival at the park or by calling the park office on the day of your arrival, at no additional cost.

14. I am eligible for a daily vehicle permit discount, will it still be honoured?

Yes. Anyone who qualifies for a discounted fee will be able to obtain their daily vehicle permit in advance at the reduced rate. If you are using a discounted rate, you will be asked to provide proof to validate the discount at the park.

Please visit the Day Use page under the Visiting Parks tab to see if you qualify for a discounted daily vehicle permit fee rate and the identification required as proof for the discount.

15. I want to obtain a daily vehicle permit in advance, but I don’t have a credit card. Do you have alternate payment methods available?

Payment can be made with a credit card, Visa Debit, Mastercard Debit, or with an Ontario Parks gift card.

16. Why do you collect my licence plate number?

Park wardens will be using vehicle licence plates to confirm that your vehicle is associated with a valid daily vehicle permit. It is important to make sure the licence plate is accurate and up to date. The permit holder may change the licence plate upon arrival at the park or by calling the park office.

17. I have obtained my daily vehicle permit in advance. How do I check-in when I arrive at the park?

Check-in procedures may vary by park. Your confirmation e-mail will contain information on how to check-in when you arrive.

18. What documentation do you need from me when I arrive at the park?

You are required to carry proof of purchase when arriving at the park.

After securing your permit, you’ll receive a confirmation email and the confirmation number verbally for those without access to email. Details on how to check-in at your chosen park will be included in your confirmation email and will also be shared verbally by the call centre agent for those without access to email.

Proof of purchase options include:

  1. Showing your confirmation at the gate (either on your device or a printed copy)
  2. Printing your confirmation email/permit and leaving it on your dashboard
  3. Being able to produce your confirmation number if asked

In addition, please be ready to provide proof if you qualify for a daily vehicle fee discount. Discount information can be found by following the Day Use link under the Visiting Parks tab.

19. I have a seasonal or commercial vehicle permit and secured guarantee access to the park using my permit’s serial number. What do I need to bring with me?

You will need to display your seasonal or commercial vehicle permit in your vehicle AND bring a printed or electronic copy of the confirmation e-mail that indicates you have obtained a daily vehicle permit at the park on the day of your visit.

20. I am a 2021 seasonal vehicle permit holder and I have not been able to obtain a daily vehicle permit in advance on several occasions to visit my park of choice? Can I return my seasonal vehicle permit and receive a refund?

If you wish to return your 2021 seasonal permit and receive a full refund, you may send a request to Ontario Parks until June 30, 2021.

You can return your permit in-person at a park office, once open, or by mail. If you are returning your permit by mail, please follow the instructions for submitting a refund request form at https://www.ontarioparks.com/pdf/permits/refund_application_permits_2021.pdf and mail your seasonal permit and the completed refund request form to:

Ontario Parks Revenue Administration Office
Refund Request
P.O. Box 2178
Orillia, Ontario
L3V 6S1

If mailing in, please allow 4 to 6 weeks to process the refund.

For more information please follow the Day Use link under the Visiting Parks tab.

21. If I borrow an annual daily vehicle permit from a library, do I need to obtain a permit in advance?

Yes, you always need to obtain a permit in advance of your visit to guarantee access. This includes weekdays from May 1 to September 2, 2021.

Upon arrival, you must present the borrowed seasonal permit and a printed or digital copy of your confirmation letter.

FAQs - Ontario Parks Free Day Use 2021

1. When is day use free?

Day use will be free Monday to Thursday, from May 1 to September 2, 2021 at 115 provincial parks where fees are collected.

2. If day use is free, do I still need to obtain a park permit? What should I display on the dash of my vehicle?

Yes, even though day use entry will be free of charge, visitors will still be required to obtain a valid daily vehicle permit when visiting a provincial park where staff are present and fees are normally collected. This is so staff can distinguish between a day use visitor and registered overnight campers and, for the safety of visitors and staff, so we can monitor park visitation levels to prevent overcrowding.

3. I only use my 2021 seasonal daily vehicle permit on weekdays, can I return my permit for a full refund?

To ensure our permit holders receive value for their money, we are extending the 2021 annual vehicle permit expiry date to December 31, 2022 and are also providing 2021 summer daily vehicle permit holders one additional season to use their permit. The summer daily vehicle permit will now be valid April 1 to November 30, 2021 and April 1 to November 30, 2022.

If you wish to return your 2021 seasonal permit and receive a full refund, you may send a request to Ontario Parks until June 30, 2021.

You can return your permit in-person at a park office, once open, or by mail. If you are returning your permit by mail, please follow the instructions for submitting a refund request form and mail your 2021 seasonal permit and the completed refund request form to:

Ontario Parks Revenue Administration Office
Refund Request
P.O. Box 2178
Orillia, Ontario
L3V 6S1

If mailing in, please allow 4 to 6 weeks to process the refund.

4. Are buses permitted free day use permits to parks?

Free day use entry will not apply to buses. Regular fees will apply.

5. Will all parks be open on May 1?

No, parks open for operation on different dates depending on their location. You can find park operating dates by following the Operating Dates link under the Visiting Parks tab.

6. Is day use restricted to certain hours?

Yes, at the majority of provincial parks day use hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., however there are select locations where the normal day use operating hours may vary, please see posted day use hours upon arrival.

7. Does free day use extend to people from outside of Ontario? What if I am from another province or out of country visitor?

Free daily vehicle permits are offered to all visitors to Ontario Parks on weekdays (Monday to Thursday).

We continue to encourage everyone to do your part to minimize the risk to ourselves and to others by ensuring you continue to follow all public health advice and engage in outdoor activities close to home.

8. Will entry to parks be free on statutory holidays?

If the statutory holiday falls on a weekday (Monday to Thursday), then day use vehicle permits will also be free on that day.

To help prevent overcrowding and promote physical distancing, capacity will be limited at many provincial parks during busy times. Arrive early to avoid disappointment, consider exploring other provincial parks in your area.

9. Will normal fees apply for all other activities?

Yes, normal fees will apply for all other activities, including all camping and equipment rentals, if available; restrictions may apply. Please visit the individual park pages at www.ontarioparks.com to see what is available before visiting.

10. What recreational activities are available at Ontario Parks?

To provide Ontarians with a safe way to spend time outdoors, exercise and get some fresh air, Ontario Parks continue to provide facilities and services for local and safe outdoor recreation. COVID-19 measures, modifications and restrictions will apply. Please click on the “Parks” drop down menu to view operating dates, facilities and activities at the park you would like to visit.

Starting in April and May, many of our provincial parks will begin to reopen for the season and will gradually provide more facilities and services to our visitors throughout the spring. It’s important that you come to the park prepared with all the equipment and supplies you will need for your visit including hand sanitizer, extra water, soap, and other supplies.

Ontarians can also access, free of charge, provincial parks that are closed for the season, non-operating provincial parks and conservation reserves for self-guided activities. For public safety, if visiting an operating park, a non-operating park or conservation reserve, please ensure there is a safe place to park (please do not park along municipal roads). Please click on the Park Locator link at the top of this page to find a provincial park or conservation reserve near you and visit individual park pages for operating dates and a list of facilities and services available.

We are encouraging everyone to do their part to minimize the risk to ourselves and to others by ensuring we continue to follow all public health advice and engage in outdoor activities close to where you live.