Winter Camping Provincial Park Style!
The people, the kids, the fantastic outdoor rink, the friendly staff, amenities and the trails for snowshoeing, skiing this is what winter camping for our family is about!
It might be July but reservations are open for New Years! Yes, the early bird gets the worm! Much of our winter camping right now is in a designated campground in Algonquin Park Provincial Park approximately 2. 5 hours from southern Ontario. While we enjoy the back country winter camping right now the place for our family to winter camp is at Mew Lake. We can be found in the big yellow Arctic Oven or our smaller Snowtrekker hot tents, feel free to say hi if you are ever in the campground!
We have met and made many winter camping friends, winter campers are the best people you will probably ever meet! Always eager to for a chat, share some advice or tips and of course a warming drink (whisky or otherwise). We love meeting first time campers that although they are usually staying in yurts or trailers we like seeing how surprised they are at enjoying the winter aspect of camping. That’s probably the best part, getting people hooked so they want to come back and try it again.
Over the years we have met a few families that have the same ideas and vacation plans as us, so the kids have a good group of camping friends to meet up with to play manhunt, hockey/ shinny or build a snow fort or a snow man.
“winter campers are the best people you will probably ever meet!”
Speaking of the rink, the staff do a fantastic job of building and maintaining an outdoor rink located at the comfort station parking lot. The lot gets closed sometime in December in anticipation of building a base that then gets flooded and flooded again and again. The warden has even created his own little mini Zamboni to distribute the water evenly so there’s a even skating surface. A lot of hard work and dedication goes into the rink and from all of us winter campers thanks to the wardens, staff and hosts that keep this rink going…much appreciated!
This is where my kids all learned to skate, its a huge part of why we winter camp in this location. They can wake up and put their skates on and play for the next 8 hours and still want to head back out for more playing under the stars and the flood lights that are there for night time games.
Not to be too worried about the noise, the rink is away from all but a handful of campsites. An outdoor campfire sits just a few steps from the rink and usually the park puts up a warming tent, a 16 x 20 insulated canvas wall tent with a wood stove and picnic table to warm up and enjoy a hot chocolate. These small details really make the outdoor winter experience, there really is nothing like poking your head into the hot tent to warm up and seeing a group of kids laughing and chatting or passing the rink while the kids are playing and hearing slap of the puck or cheer of a goal!
Mew Lake is awesome for several reasons:
Winter in the campground is a complete change of scenery compared to any other time of the year, sites get plowed. Half the electrical campsites can be reserved, the other half operate on a first come first served basis. Usually after thanksgiving to early May. Park hosts set up in the campground, they are available for help campers and monitor the campground.
- located at kilometer 30.8 is almost in the middle of the park ideal for accessing the trails for snowshoeing, skiing, hiking
- Mew Lake Campground is open all year round.
- 131 campsites (wheel chair accessible)
- Electrical sites
- A fully-winterized comfort station (flush toilets, showers, and laundry facilities) is available at Mew Lake Campground.
- Reservations are available for Mew Lake Campground during all seasons. During the winter months, additional first-come, first-served camping opportunities are available. See the Winter in Algonquin Park page for more details
Activities in the winter? What to do?
Bring your skates for the rink, snowshoes for the trails or even exploring the airfield, set ski trails are maintained at both the East and West gates of Algonquin Provincial Park
The hiking trails are all available for tromping thru, just mind the conditions and be prepared. Everything takes longer to do in the winter and you don’t want to be caught in the dark. Wild life viewing opportunities abound in the winter with the snow providing an awesome canvas for the park critters, whether its foot prints in the snow or a flap of feather marks. One of our favorite trails to do in the winter is the Logging Museum followed by a warm up at the Visitors Center (seasonal dates/times can be looked up on the links below). Additional trail info can be researched here http://www.algonquinpark.on.ca/visit/recreational_activites/interpretive-walking-trails-in-algonquin-park.php.
“We like to call Winter in the Wild the hot tent show room”
There’s also a fantastic event put on by the park staff every family day weekend called Winter in the Wild. We might be impartial but its the best way to see winter camping set ups, winter tents, talk to experienced winter campers that we have in Ontario. We like to call Winter in the Wild the hot tent show room as you can see a variety of tents by manufactures, hear pros/cons and actually see/ touch, feel them to judge what might be the best for you which is something that is hard to do as much of the tent inventory is only available online. Grab a hot chocolate and wander around the campground or grab a hamburger/hot dog at the BBQ. Kids and adults all love warming up around the fire and roasting a marshmallow.
Winter in the Wild Festival
“The Winter in the Wild Festival is a celebration of winter in Algonquin Provincial Park and highlights some of the season’s best activities offered in the Park on Family Day Weekend (mid-February). Events vary from year to year but often include guided bird walks, guest speakers, guided snowshoe excursions, skating, skiing, winter camping demonstrations, a special evening event, and hearty meals. All of the activities during the festival are free with the purchase of a Daily Vehicle Permit or Camping Permit with the exception of food. For full event details see Winter in the Wild Festival. ” excerpt from http://from http://www.algonquinpark.on.ca/visit/general_park_info/winter-in-algonquin-park.php
Convinced yet? Want to give winter camping a try? Here’s some helpful links
Need to rent some skis or snowshoes check out http://algonquinoutfitters.com/
Have any questions, feel free to contact us!