Take a Walk on the Wild Side in One of Ontario's Provincial Parks
Province Encourages Campers to Explore the Backcountry
Solitude, discovery, challenge and landscapes of unparalleled beauty all await backcountry campers in Ontario's provincial parks.
If you want to ditch car camping and try backcountry — also known as wilderness — camping, here are some tips to get you started:
Pick a destination:First-timers should stick to areas that are easy to get to. For example, Frontenac Provincial Park offers backcountry sites that are accessible by paddle or foot; leave portaging until you're more experienced.
Plan ahead: Be sure to book a campsite in advance and bring a map and a compass. GPS devices are great, but coverage can be spotty.
What to eat: Bring enough food, but don't overdo it. Keep it as light as possible and pack it in reusable containers. Bring water or treat water from nearby lakes or rivers before you drink it.
What to pack: In addition to food and clothes, there are a few other items that you'll need. Pack cooking gear, including a small stove, pots, dishes and cutlery; a lighter and matches in a waterproof container; a groundsheet, sleeping bag and air mattress or foam pad; a flashlight, whistle, pocket knife and garbage bags. Don't forget biodegradable toothpaste.
Living with wildlife: Wildlife is wonderful to see, but not in your tent. Hang food and toiletries at least three metres from the ground and away from tree trunks.
Protect the environment: Only use environmentally friendly products and leave no trace that you were there. Cans and bottles are not allowed in the backcountry of some provincial parks, so make sure you check the rules. Put out campfires before you leave.
Weather: Watch for changing weather conditions. The 30-30 rule suggests seeking shelter when there is less than 30 seconds between the sound of thunder and the sight of lightening. Stay sheltered until 30 minutes past the last thunder.
Safety: Let people know where you'll be and when you should be back. Carry a first aid kit.
Campsites can be reserved online 24 hours a day or by calling the park reservation line at 1-888-ONT-PARK between 7 a.m. and 9 p.m. daily.
- Ontario has more than 6,500 backcountry campsites — accessible only by canoe or on foot —tucked away in 22 provincial parks.
- In addition to camping in a provincial park, Canadian residents can camp free of charge on Crown land for up to 21 days at any one site except where posted otherwise.
- There are more than 330 provincial parks in Ontario, covering over eight-million hectares — larger than Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island combined.
- In 2013, Ontario’s provincial parks received more than 8.5-million visits from people around the world, bringing in $69 million in revenue and supporting jobs and businesses across the province.
“Backcountry camping offers a great chance to get in touch with nature, disconnect from hectic day-to-day life and unwind for a while. Remember to take only pictures, leave only footprints to preserve the pristine beauty of our provincial parks for everyone to enjoy.”