Enjoy land and water activities beyond the summer season at Rideau River Provincial Park, a cozy spot to experience fall.
Located on the traditional territory of the Omàmìwininìwag (Algonquin), Anishinabewaki, Wendake-Nionwentsïo, Haudenosaunee, Rideau River Provincial Park’s campground stretches right along the water.
The park is less than an hour’s drive from Canada’s capital, Ottawa, making this park a great base camp to explore landmarks along the river.
As someone who camps and paddles all year round, I love visiting parks where I can combine both activities beyond the summer months.
Here are some things I look forward to when camping and paddling in late summer/early fall:
- it’s quiet — fewer campers (particularly young kids) and less boat traffic on the water. You can even get the whole beach to yourself!
- no more mosquitoes! During my stay at Rideau River, I didn’t encounter a single mosquito (or any flying and biting bug, for that matter), and I’m usually their #1 target!
- catch the first signs of fall! When I visited in mid-September, a few trees were already red
Fall is a fleeting season
Blink and the scenery changes before your eyes!
Whether you’re an autumn aficionado or someone looking forward to embracing this short but special season (some places in the world do not get to see the leaves change like we do here), there are a few things you should keep in mind to maximize your fall outdoor experience at the park.
Always check the Ontario Parks Fall Colour Report to see what colour stage the leaves are at for Rideau River and the surrounding parks.
But don’t wait too long for the leaves to change – sometimes wet weather causes them to drop before they turn red.
And Rideau River is closed for camping October 10, so you’ll want to book soon!
Prepare for those not-so-pleasant weather days by packing:
- waterproof and windproof gear (jacket and pants, if possible)
- insulating layers (like a synthetic or down feathered puffy jacket or wool base layers)
- wool socks or insulated booties if you want to feel extra cozy
- extra tarps for your campsite (it’s always nice to have a dry spot if it rains)
Make sure you plan a backup activity plan if it’s too chilly to go out for a paddle or too wet to hike.
Exploring the park
Ready to see what Rideau River has to offer?
Hike the Shoreline Trail and explore the waterfront from one end of the park to the other. The easy trail is approximately 2 km long. There are some spots that have tree roots, and a few foot bridges over little streams.
Keep an eye out for cool mushrooms and turtle protection work along the way!
Paddle the river on those warm, sunny days or when it’s not too windy out.
Bring your own watercraft, or you can rent a canoe, kayak, or SUP from the park and launch from the boat ramp or the docks.
Before embarking on your paddle adventure, always check the weather, water levels, and conditions, and go with a buddy.
Always wear the right gear according to the weather. Always wear a lifejacket/PFD and a SUP leash if you’re on a paddleboard. Review Transport Canada’s Safe Boating Guide (which includes info for SUP-ers).
Need more paddling inspo?
Start by exploring the nearby lily pads and shallow spots along the Rideau River shoreline.
Drop a line from your watercraft and try your luck with fishing! And if you’re new to fishing, Rideau River is a TackleShare location during the summer where you can borrow all the gear to get you started.
Why not paddle over to one of the two sandy beaches in the park for a fall picnic?
Are you a more experienced paddler? Travel across the river and check out Kemptville Creek. Check before you go that the water levels aren’t too low and overgrown with aquatic plants. If you’re exploring up or downriver, start your paddle against the wind so it’s easier to get back.
If you’re staying overnight, camp at one of the many flat, electrical, or non-electrical sites along the water.
Staying in a tent isn’t your thing?
No problem! Try one of these alternatives.
Stay at one of Rideau River’s cabins (they have their own dock to fish off, launch your watercraft from, or enjoy the sunrise or sunset!).
You can also camp at some lock stations or make a stop on your way to Rideau River to learn how locks work.
Try a day trip into the city of Ottawa (maybe even paddle the canal!) and return to nature at Rideau River
With lots to do before, during, or after your visit, make Rideau River Provincial Park your first fall camping or paddling spot for the year!
- 5 reasons to visit Rideau River Provincial Park this fall
- Canadian Heritage Rivers System – Rideau Waterway
- Paddling the Rideau Canal