Bird's eye view of a Windy Lake yurt

My winter adventure at Windy Lake Provincial Park

Today’s post comes from Sanjay Chauhan of @jayeffex!

As someone who travels extensively in warmer months, I always like to find ways to make winters more exciting!

I appreciate every moment I get to spend outdoors away from the hustle and bustle of Toronto. So when the chance came up to spend two nights in a heated yurt at Windy Lake Provincial Park, my friend Solmaz and I jumped at the opportunity!

First time winter camping

We flew to Sudbury and then it was just a 55-minute drive from the airport to the park.

We lugged our stuff in a sled from the parking lot to our yurt (which wasn’t far) — and it felt like a part of the experience.

Aerial of the trail and yurts at Windy Lake
Photo: Sanjay Chauhan

I love photographing winter landscapes, but this was my first time experiencing winter camping.

I also hadn’t explored northern Ontario in winter, so this was the perfect opportunity to do so.

The yurts

The park has two cabins and four heated yurts. I’ve stayed in a yurt before, but never during winter months.

Bird's eye view of a Windy Lake yurt
Photo: Sanjay Chauhan

The yurts can sleep up to six people, and each comes with a table and chairs, lighting, electric heat, and an electrical outlet.

Each site also has a large deck, fire pit, picnic table, and propane barbecue.

Interior of a Windy Lake yurt
The yurt’s interior. Photo: Sanjay Chauhan

I had an entire yurt to myself, and so did Solmaz!

They are spaced out so there’s a lot of privacy. This glamping experience was the perfect mixture of spending some time in nature and basic comfort.

Winter fun

Every morning, I went out for a walk when everything was covered in snow, and enjoyed the peace and quiet and some sunshine.

Ariel view of Windy Lake's cabins
An aerial view of Windy Lake’s cabins. Photo: Sanjay Chauhan

I often saw foxes running around! Unfortunately, they were too quick to photograph.

My day usually consisted of snowshoeing on various trails, and trying out cross- country skiing in silence and tranquillity.

The Onaping Falls Nordic Ski Club operates a 15 km trail network with professionally groomed trails for both classic and skate styles of skiing.

aerial view of Windy Lake Ski Trail
Left: Cross-country skiing. Right: Snowshoeing trail. Photo: Sanjay Chauhan

This was my first-time cross-country skiing, and I loved how serene it was; a perfect opportunity to reflect on everything around me.

Ice fishing packages

One of the winter highlights for Windy Lake is their ice fishing packages.

With a complete ice-fishing package, the park office will set up a portable ice fishing shelter with two seats, rods/reels, tip-ups, baits, stool, and an ice auger.

It was perfect for a beginner like me because I didn’t have to lug around any of the fishing gear, and it was all ready when we showed up.

Note: for the 2021/22 season, ice fishing package rentals are available, but visitors are responsible for set up.

Windy Lake ice fishing montage
Left: I dug my own hole! Middle: Fishing tent set up by Windy Lake staff (service not available for 2020/21 season). Right: The first trout we caught! Photo: Sanjay Chauhan

Call it beginner’s luck, but Solmaz and I caught two Lake Trout in five minutes. I also tried digging my own hole in the ice. It was a nice workout…and fun too!

Being out on the frozen lake felt like being on the Arctic tundra, and it was a total white-out for as far as you can see. I also saw quite a few private fishing huts on the lake.

Winds created some very interesting textures on snow. I loved this experience, which allowed me to make the most out of this cold weather.

Public fishing huts on frozen Windy Lake
Private fishing huts on the lake. Photo: Sanjay Chauhan

The option to try out ice fishing, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing, and then being able to relax in our heated yurts was a great experience!

Every night, we would light up the barbecue and make a warm dinner. We would also start up a campfire in the fire pit to warm up.

Landscape shot of frozen Windy Lake forest
Photo: Sanjay Chauhan

Living in a city like Toronto is great, but you clearly miss out on peaceful moments as we encountered.

So if you are looking for a way to make your winters exciting, step out your comfort zone, and want to try out some winter activities, I’d recommend Windy Lake Provincial Park!

A huge thanks to Ontario Parks and Ontario Travel for hosting us.

Interested reserving your own stay at Windy Lake?

Book your adventure online today!

Pst! Don’t forget to take Sanjay’s advice and book a midweek trip. You’ll find more booking availability and lots of on-trail tranquility.