10 Postcard-Worthy Ontario Provincial Parks for a Weekend Getaway

As summer fast approaches and international travel plans are being halted, exploring our own province is an excellent vacation alternative. Ontario is home to numerous breathtaking provincial parks that make for a great weekend getaway. From backcountry camping to hiking to suntanning on the beach, there is something for everyone at one of these 10 phenomenal local destinations.

Make sure to stay up to date with all Ontario Parks regulations before you go:  http://www.ontarioparks.com/covid19

1. Algonquin Provincial Park

No list of Ontario Parks would be adequate without first and foremost stating one of the province’s most popular, Algonquin Provincial Park. Just three hours north of Toronto, this park is massive in size and home to a multitude of lakes. The interior of the park is only accessible by foot or canoe, making it a well-protected and premiere park of the region. Algonquin offers great camping, specifically with many isolated backcountry campsites being accessible by a series of canoe portages. The park’s 1600km of rivers and lakes can’t be beat for canoeing and kayaking in the province. Algonquin’s extensive hiking trails allow visitors to discover unique wildlife, catch amazing views, and pass waterfalls, streams and bogs. At the park you can find black bears, wolves, moose and deer.

2. Sandbanks Provincial Park

Ideally located between Ottawa and Toronto is Sandbanks Provincial Park, an iconic park in the Prince Edward County. Here you can find the largest badmouth barrier dune formation in the world as well as some of the province’s most stunning beaches. Sandbanks offers visitors three beaches to choose from - Outlet Beach, Sandbanks Beach and Dunes Beach - all great locations for a day of suntanning and swimming. The park is ideal for those looking to engage in water sports, whether it be canoeing, kayaking, boating, sailing or windsurfing. The park has plenty of car camping available, and its prime location make you feel like you are deep in the wilderness although you are still nearby local towns in Prince Edward County.

3. Bon Echo Provincial Park 

Bon Echo Provincial Park lies about 2.5 hours south east of Ottawa. It is very popular among families and friends looking for a nice and accessible car camping location. It’s sandy beach and extensive campgrounds are favoured by visitors. At the primary campground of Mazinaw Lake, campers can overlook the parks focal point, the Mazinaw Rock’s 100-meter cliffs. At the base of the rock face, visitors can go kayaking and canoeing and view some of the 250+ native pictographs on the face. Of the many activities, the most popular at Bon Echo are hiking, canoeing, camping and boat tours.

4. Killarney Provincial Park

Along the shores of the Georgian Bay is Killarney Provincial Park, about a 4.5-hour drive from Toronto or a one-hour drive from Sudbury. Killarney surrounds several small lakes and consists of a pink granite coast, giving it a unique landscape in Ontario. The impressive La Cloche Mountain Range draws visitors from around the province. The white quartzite makes the mountains a striking white colour. The impressive landscape has even been painted by members of The Group of Seven. Killarney Park offers plenty of backcountry camping, hiking, boating, kayaking and canoeing. The hiking trails range from day hikes up to the La-Cloche Silhouette, which is a 7 to 10-day 50-mile hike. Additionally, bears, fox, deer, moose and beaver roam the park so it is a notable spot to view wildlife.

5. Bass Lake Provincial Park

Bass Lake Provincial Park is situated near Orillia, less than 2 hours from Toronto, making it an easy weekend getaway to relax in nature. The stunning lake is perfect for swimming and boating, while its accessible short hiking trails are perfect for daytime walks. Furthermore, there are plenty of activities and shops nearby if you do not wish to spend the entire day at the park.

6. Lake Superior Provincial Park 

The breathtaking Lake Superior Provincial Park lines the north shore of Lake Superior with sandy beaches along the lake in addition to smaller inland lakes at the base of the park’s hills and cliffs. This huge park is very popular in the summer for camping along the beach, kayaking, canoeing, hiking, and relaxing in the peaceful wilderness. The majority of the campsites are located around the beaches of Lake Superior. A key feature of the park is the Agawa Rock Pictographs which are visible on the cliff face. Lake Superior Provincial Park is a favourite due to its variety of offerings from scenic landscapes, lengthy beaches, hiking along the water, waterfalls and massive cliffs. Don’t miss out visiting Old Woman Bay, a phenomenal beach with picturesque view.

7. Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park 

After Algonquin, Kawartha Highlands Provincial Park is Ontario’s second largest, just three hours from Ottawa. Known for its beautiful sunsets and clear waters, this park hosts spectacular scenery. Fishing, backcountry camping, and paddling are all popular activities. You’ll be sure to spot lots of wildlife and plenty of bird-sighting in the wetlands.

8. Petroglyph Provincial Park

Located a short 2.5-hour drive from Toronto, Petroglyph Provincial Park is another great weekend trip. It’s reserve for Aboriginal rock carvings is the largest in Canada. The park is also home to McGinnis Lake, one of Canada’s few meromictic lakes, making it a unique destination in the province.

9. Charleston Lake Provincial Park

Another great camping destination, Charleston Lake Provincial Park is less than 2 hours south-east of Ottawa. An extension of the Canadian Shield, the park boasts plenty of swimming, boating, fishing and wildlife. A must-see is the viewpoint from the county’s highest peak along the hiking trail.

10. Arrowhead Provincial Park

10 minutes north of Huntsville, Arrowhead Provincial Park offers phenomenal views from its Big Bend Lookout. Not only can you overlook the Big East River, you can also get a glimpse of an ice-age geological feature, an exposed river delta. This park is great for a day trip hike and picnic along the trails and water chutes.

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