By: Eul Basa
If you’re looking for a beautiful place to retreat to, you really don’t need to look beyond Ontario. There is so much beauty in our province’s forested parks alone. You’ll find everything from lush green forests to breathtaking cliff views and clear blue beaches.
As the weather begins to warm up, it may be in your best interest to plan a camping trip to one of Ontario’s amazing natural parks. The ones listed here are either national or provincial parks and they’re all only a couple hours drive from Toronto. Here are 14 Ontario parks you must visit at least once in your life (in no particular order):
1. Awenda Provincial Park
170 km away (2h 2 min)
Aweda Provincial Park features 2,900 hectares of forests along the Georgian Bay shore. You’ll enjoy 31 km of trails, the lake for canoeing, private campsites and a variety of summer programs.
Photo cred – Michael McCartney
2. Georgian Bay Islands National Park
181 km away (1 h 54 min)
Georgian Bay Islands National Park is the world’s largest freshwater archipelago. It represents a wonderful transition between Canadian Shield rock formations and dense deciduous forests. Enjoy wooded cycling trails, waterfront campsites and several hiking paths.
Photo cred – l.a.kphotography
3. Petroglyph Provincial Park
195 km away (2h 27 min)
Petroglyph Provincial Park is the largest reserve for Aboriginal rock carvings (petroglyphs) in Canada. While visiting, make sure to check out McGinnis Lake, which is one of Canada’s only meromictic lakes (lakes that don’t intermix).
Photo cred – packofpaws
4. Sandbanks Provincial Park
218 km away (2h 26 min)
Sandbanks Provincial Park is the world’s largest baymouth barrier dune formation. There are a few large beaches available for the public, including Outlet Beach, which has shallow waters. The park is also great for birdwatching as it is a place of migration for various species during the Spring.
Photo cred – bahador.rostami95
5. Silent Lake Provincial Park
220 km away (2 h 26 min)
Silent Lake Provincial Park has over 19 km of hiking and mountain biking trails. There are several lookout points within the park, as well as two sandy beaches and walk-in campsites.
Photo cred – shootingnikon
6. Pinery Provincial Park
230 km away (2 h 41 min)
Pinery Provincial Park features 10 km of sand beach by Lake Huron. There is an amazing range of biodiversity here, and the sunset views have been ranked by National Geographic among the top 10 best in the world!
Photo cred – Lars Jensen
7. Bruce Peninsula National Park
274 km away (3 h 25 min)
Bruce Peninsula National Park is known for its epic cliffs and clear blue Georgian Bay waters. Its forests are filled with all sorts of flora, including ancient cedar trees, orchids and ferns. Be aware of black bears that roam in the deep of its forests.
Photo cred – David Crombie
8. Bon Echo Provincial Park
278 km away (3 h)
Bon Echo Provincial Park boasts a 100-m tall Mazinow Rock that is etched with over 260 Aboriginal drawings. Hiking trails, boat tours, camping sites and canoeing are available to visitors.
Photo cred – rayhanabid
9. Algonquin Provincial Park
296 km away (3 h 30 min)
Algonquin Provincial Park features several maple tree-populated hills, cliffs and lakes. A separate part of the park is reserved for camping and includes 14 hiking trails, a Visitor’s Centre and a Logging Museum and Art Centre. Trout fishing is excellent in this location.
Photo cred – Erin Mackeen
10. Charleston Lake Provincial Park
315 km away (3 h 10 min)
Charleston Lake is a great camping destination for those looking to swim, boat, fish or look at wildlife. The park itself is a forested extension of the Canadian Shield. Hiking trails include a vantage point from the highest peak in the county!
Photo cred – marco.wassy
11. Thousand Islands National Park
317 km away (3 h 5 min)
Thousand Islands National Park has several secluded bays and rare species of wildlife that offer an exciting adventure for kayakers. Overnight accommodations are available by the waterfront.
Photo cred – travelwithlauren
12. Grundy Lake Provincial Park
326 km away (3 h 16 min)
Grundy Lake Provincial Park has several inland lakes that permit canoeing and kayaking. It also has many hiking trails and nearby beaches to explore.
Photo cred – hrtlesgirl
13. Point Pelee National Park
354 km away (3h 34 min)
Point Pelee National Park is located at the southern most tip of Canada. Several species of birds and butterflies fill the park and add to its overall peaceful atmosphere.
Photo cred – Lana Law
14. Killarney Provincial Park
412 km away (4 h 9 min)
Killarney Provincial Park is 645 square kilometres of wilderness and features the pink granite coast of the Georgian Bay. The park is also partially lined by the La Cloche Mountains and several lakes can be found within its forests. This park is well known for being the site of inspiration for The Group of Seven.