If you’re thinking of booking a yurt this fall you can try one of Ontario Parks’ new learning vacations. Maybe you’ll get really adventurous and combine a yurt stay with a winter workshop. Yurts are surprisingly comfortable which is good news for boomers who used to camp, but in the last couple of years have chosen the creature comforts that nearby housekeeping resorts offer. The resorts are a nice alternative since you can still enjoy park activities on a day use permit, however a yurt stay is an extremely affordable alternative. Yurts at Ontario Parks are hard to book on weekends, even in the winter months, because they’re so popular, but mid-week availability is easier to find. New yurts have been added to several Ontario Parks this year. Each yurt has two sets of bunk beds, a table and chairs, plywood floors, electric heat and lighting. You can source a complete listing of which parks have them as well as other forms of roofed accommodation at http://www.ontarioparks.com/roofedaccommodation.
If you browse the OntarioParks.com event listings you will be amazed by the breadth and the quality of learning vacations that are available. Below is just a small sampling but it will give you an idea of what Ontario Parks have coming up.
ARROWHEAD has a Soapstone Carving and Paddle Making session with artist, Lloyd Stonehouse at the park’s picnic shelter from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. daily from August 19-22, 2010. A fee is required.
SLEEPING GIANT is offering a Digital Photography “Fall Colours” Weekend Workshop- – September 17-19, 2010. The workshop open Friday, with a 4:00 p.m. registration and barbeque and runs until Sunday at 4:00 p.m. The workshop is suitable for beginner to intermediate photographers with DSLR’s and point and shoot cameras. It’s led by professional photographer, Barry Wojciechowski. Learn how to capture the fall colours at Sleeping Giant. Tripod use, creating dynamic range landscapes, following your histogram and the best light opportunities are covered over the three days. Besides instruction, this learning vacation includes two nights shared cabin accommodation, park admission and welcome barbeque reception. For full workshop details, online registration and cancellation policy visit www.superiorvisits.com. The workshop fee is $399.00 + HST and advance registration is required. Class size is limited to ensure feedback for participants so register early. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or call Lois at 807-344-9208.
FRONTENAC hosts learning vacations throughout the year. On September 25, it will host a Navigating/GPS course led by Christine Showler of Frontenac Outfitters Canoe and Kayak Centre from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The course objective is to provide participants with a competent working knowledge of maps, compass and GPS technology. Emphasis will be on UTM (Universal Transverse Mercator) map reading, GPS waypoint plotting and route information. A good knowledge of maps & compasses is recommended. NOTE: GPS units are provided on loan. Cost: $65.00 person plus tax and park fee.
BONNECHERE has a Wolf Howl planned for August 21 from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Author, educator and naturalist Mike Runtz leads this moonlight excursion to nearby Basin Depot in Algonquin Park in search of the elusive sounds of howling wolf packs. Meet at the Davenport Centre for a slide show presentation on wolf biology and social behaviour. The group will then head into Basin Depot and hopefully get a wolf pack to howl. The drive into Algonquin Park is 20 kilometres so you will need transportation. Please leave dogs at home since their barking can discourage wolves from howling.
DARLINGTON is hosting a Monarchs & Raptors Migration weekend, September 4 and 5, 2010. Butterfly tagging and a Hawkwatch will be held at Darlington’s Lake Ontario Lookout. The weekend begins at 3:00 p.m. on Saturday. You can send a monarch on its way to Mexico and see hawks hugging the shoreline from the top of a drumlin, the highest point in the park. Children’s programs and evening programsare offered through the weekend.
MACGREGOR POINT will host a Four Seasons RV workshop on October 23, 2010. The workshop will give tips on how to enjoy camping year-round. Additional fee applies.
KILLARNEY launched its brand new observatory and powerful telescope in July so check Killarney event listings for fall stargazing. There is also a dynamite Christmas event for budding birdwatchers. The annual Killarney Christmas Bird Count is one of the longest running Citizen Science surveys in the world. People new to birding will be teamed with experienced birders to inventory the winter birds of Killarney. The workshop will be held December 15, 2010, and by the way Killarney has yurt accommodation.