How can I go camping?

Camping is an enjoyable way to explore Ontario and spend time in nature. Typically, camping is more affordable than other types of holidays, however costs vary. 

A good camping trip involves some planning in advance. Here are some things to consider if you decide to go camping.

Where to Camp

Most campsites are located within provincial parks, away from towns and cities. You can decide where to camp by looking at the Ontario Parks - Park Locator webpage. The location you choose will also depend on the form of transportation you are using. Some campsites are accessible by car, while others can only be reached by canoe or by hiking.

If you don't have any camping experience, drive-in campsites are a good way to get an introduction to camping. If you plan to spend some time in or on the water, swimming or boating, make sure you become familiar with the laws and safety issues related to these activities.

Some campsites are very popular and fill up quickly. This often happens in the summer months and on holiday weekends. You generally need to make a reservation in advance, and in some cases far in advance, to get what you want.

Transportation

Many people drive cars to a campsite or a provincial park near where they are camping. If you do not have a car, and you live in Ottawa or Toronto, you can use the Park Bus to reach some campsites. You may also want to consider joining an outdoors club as some groups organize transportation for members. 

What to bring 

Packing the right supplies can make your camping trip more comfortable. You can find a list of suggestions on what to take camping on the Parks Canada website

It can be expensive to buy everything for your first camping trip. You can try to borrow equipment from family or friends. Some outdoors stores, such as Mountain Equipment Co-op (MEC) and Europe Bound, rent camping equipment such as tents, sleeping bags and canoes. In many cases you can also rent or purchase equipment from outfitters near your camping destination.

You may experience a wide range of weather conditions during your trip. It is a good idea to pack for all possible conditions. 

Winter Camping

Most Canadians go camping in the spring, summer or early fall but you can go all year. In the winter, it is especially important to have the right clothing and equipment to stay safe in the cold. Many campsites are not open in the winter, so check in advance to make sure your campsite is open. 

Alternatives to Traditional Camping

Some people prefer to sleep indoors rather than in a tent. Some parks offer the option of sleeping in a cabin, lodge or yurt instead of pitching a tent. These typically cost more than tenting and it is a good idea to book well in advance. 

Programs for First-Time Campers

Parks Canada and Ontario Parks have Learn to Camp Programs. These programs teach camping skills and include some of the necessary equipment. 

Children can also learn camping skills through programs such as Scouts and Girl Guides, or other programs in your community.

For More Information 

  • Learn to Camp (Parks Canada) - This website has information on how to prepare for a camping trip and information on how to have a safe and enjoyable experience. Some information is available in multiple languages and you can download an app for Android or iPhone. From Parks Canada.
  • Learn to Camp (Ontario Parks) - Information on educational camping programs. From Ontario Parks.
  • Learn to Fish - A program that teaches newcomers how to fish and provides the necessary equipment.
  • Ontario Parks - Information about parks in Ontario including fees, reservations and activities.
  • Swimming, Boating and Water Safety Tips - Information on water safety in warm and cold weather. From the Canadian Red Cross.
Last updated: March 7, 2016 4005018