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.
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:
One of many cool things to do at this winter “amusement park”
OK, so we’re Canadians, right? We know skating. We know it’s fun, invigorating and downright patriotic. But how many of us can say we’ve skated through the woods, at night, under the stars on an ice trail lit by tiki torch? The family memories! The selfies!
With nighttime and daytime skating Arrowhead Provincial Park, north of Huntsville, is the only provincial park with its own zamboni that grooms a 1.3 km trail to glassy perfection mid December to February. Cars line up down the highway to take part in this magical mystery tour that has struck a chord with visitors and increased winter attendance from 600 day passes five years ago to 6,000 last year.
Looking for a new place to run? Try Ontario Parks. Softer trail surfaces minimize the impact on runner joints and backs. Runners have over 1,800 kilometres of trails to choose from. Park landscapes are spectacular and many parks offer roofed accommodation. Derrick Spafford is a regular trail runner at Frontenac Provincial Park which has 160 kilometres of trails, one of the largest trail networks east of the Canadian Rockies. In this Park Blog, Spafford shares his trail running tips and three favourite Frontenac trails.
Looking for fun winter outings? You’ve come to the right place.
Across the province, Ontario Parks offer a bounty of winter activities for families. Some host special events like Family Day celebrations. There are parks with cool ice trails through the woods to skate and hundreds of kilometres of park trails to ski. Local ski clubs keep many park trails groomed and track set and winter ski loppets have become annual family gatherings. A couple of snowshoe races are even held every winter on designated snowshoe trails. Tobogganing is also popular. At Arrowhead, park visitors can even borrow a tube to take down a hill groomed especially for snow tubing. Use the Park Locator tool on the Ontario Parks’ website to help you search for winter park amenities or browse past Park Blog post for ideas. Here are some other helpful sources to get you started:
Every March, the sap flows from trees and birds begin their journey north making pit stops at parks along the lower Great Lakes. The weather is milder allowing for more outdoor play. Special March Break events for 2013 are planned in many Ontario Parks including a maple syrup festival, a fun cross-country ski touring event and two big birding festivals. Guided hikes and natural heritage activities are planned for March weekends in select Ontario Parks across the province. Continue reading 2013 March Break events at Ontario Parks