Camping is a great way to experience Ontario’s epic landscapes in a more intimate setting, where sleeping under the stars and waking up on the shores of a tranquil lake offer the perfect escape from city living.
Whether you’re planning a weekend break or a week-long road trip, it’s easier than you think to experience all that the Canadian wilderness has to offer without spending hours traveling outside Ottawa. Given how popular Ontario Parks are, be sure to reserve campsites well in advance.
Fitzroy Provincial Park
Located just 40mi (64km) from Ottawa, Fitzroy Provincial Park is a good choice for a short weekend escape. This peaceful retreat is home to around 200 campsites, many of which are private spaces with electrical service. Waterfront sites are often reserved by families, with canoes and kayaks available to rent and opportunities for swimming and paddling along the Ottawa River. The area has various walking trails, a beach and a village with a corner store. It’s also conveniently close to plenty of tourist attractions, including the Diefenbunker, Canada’s Cold War Museum.
Around 123mi (198km) from the city is Bon Echo Provincial Park, best known for the Mazinaw Rock, adorned with Indigenous pictographs. Hire canoes and take to the water for a closer look, where you may even spot the endangered peregrine falcon. This landscape is also home to beautiful white cedar trees, frequented by resident moose. Boat tours are popular with visitors, as are the park’s backcountry hiking trails. Options for camping include drive-up campsites for tents and RVs, as well as canoe-in campsites and yurts.
Situated on Big Rideau Lake – a fantastic spot for kayaking and part of a Unesco World Heritage site – Murphys Point Provincial Park is about 66mi (106km) from Ottawa and is favored for its large camping sites. It has several areas of historical significance, including the Silver Queen Mica Mine and a log cabin from the early 1800s. Take the Beaver Pond Trail, which takes you to the mine, or keep your eyes peeled for wild animals and rare flora and fauna along hiking routes spanning more than 12mi (20km).
To experience the Canadian outdoors in a more private setting, this family-friendly destination around 100mi (161km) from Ottawa comes highly recommended. Hugging the shores of Charleston Lake, it’s part of the Thousand Islands and is known as one of Ontario’s best areas for camping, fishing, swimming and paddling. Discover hidden coves, reefs and connected bays, where you can fish for the likes of lake trout and pike, or learn more about the area at events run by the Natural Heritage Education Program, including guided hikes and evening campfires.
Canada’s first national park, and one of its most famous camping destinations, is found in the heart of Ontario’s north, around 153mi (246km) from Ottawa. Welcoming visitors for more than 120 years, Algonquin Provincial Park is a spectacular landscape of lakes and forests, boasting a range of outdoor experiences. Take advantage of more than 1,305mi (2,100km) of canoe routes, or follow one of 14 hiking trails along the Highway 60 Corridor, where you can spot everything from bears to moose. Campers can conveniently find a restaurant, store and bike rentals nearby.
As the name suggests, Silent Lake Provincial Park is a serene and relaxing spot. No motorboats are permitted here, and it doesn’t get overly busy, making it an ideal choice for a quiet camping break. The area also features more than 12mi (19km) of hiking and mountain biking trails, including a 9mi (15km) route around the lake. Visitors speak particularly highly of its cozy yurt accommodations offering scenic views. The park is around 153mi (246km) from Ottawa and 20 minutes from the picturesque town of Bancroft.