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27 June 2022

It’s Time To Start Planning Winter Camping in Ontario

Looking out at the lake, MacGregor Point Photo by Anne MacLachlan/Ontario Parks

Although summer camping season is just kicking off in Ontario, now is the time to start planning for and booking your winter camping spots. Ontario Parks takes reservations five months in advance and roofed accommodations — such as cabins and yurts — book up immediately. If you want a spot for the coming winter months, start planning now. Visit the Ontario Parks Reservation page to book.

Winter is a beautiful time to head out to an Ontario Park. Shorter days mean more time in the evenings for campfires and star gazing. And what can be cozier than curling up in a warm sleeping bag on a cold winter’s night?

Birding at MacGregor Point. Photo c/o Ontario Parks

Ontario Parks in the Winter Season

Many of the province’s parks offer day use access for winter sports, such as skiing and snowshoes and a number of them also allow camping in the winter, whether that be roofed accommodations or just campsites designated for tent or RV use during the winter. For a full list of parks that are open in the winter, click here.

If you are new to winter camping or just looking for a new place to go, my suggestion is to look to MacGregor Point Provincial Park. Set on the shores of Lake Huron, MacGregor is a popular destination in the summers but the park has been working hard to increase its winter offerings and you’ll be pleasantly surprised with what you can do there in the cold months.

Cozy cabins? Check. Magical ice skating trail? Check. Beautiful winter scenery? Check. Keep scrolling for more information.

Winter Camping in Ontario: Try MacGregor Point Provincial Park

Photo c/o Ontario Parks

Camping at MacGregor Point

When it comes to camping in the winter at MacGregor, there are several options. Two sections of the Algonquin campground are accessible in the winter months: Birch Boulevard and Ash Woods. In these two sections you will find campsites that are available to book. Just like summer camping, these come with a firepit and some have access to hydro but you have to provide your own equipment, whether that is an RV, trailer or a tent. Hot tents, specially designed canvas tents that include a small stove, are becoming increasingly popular.

The interior of a yurt in winter. Photo by David Bolsby and Graham Hendren @OutforaTrek

Rent a yurt

The park has seven yurts available. I have stayed in these yurts and they are super cozy and comfortable. Each yurt sleeps up to six people and has two sets of bunk beds, with a double bed on the bottom and a single on top. Inside the yurt is a table and chairs and an electric heat to keep everyone toasty warm. Outside the yurt is a kitchen shelter with a propane BBQ (propane included) and a side burner. You’ll also have a firepit outside for that quintessential camping experience.

This is the cabin we stayed in at Arrowhead Provincial Park but similar cabins are newly available for rent at MacGregor Point Provincial Park.

NEW in 2022: Stay in a cabin

MacGregor Point has been busy over the last few months building new roofed accommodations and will be offering four brand new cabins.

These cabins sleep 5 people inside and have one queen-sized bed as well as a bunk bed with a double on the bottom and a single up top. I have not stayed in the new cabins at MacGregor but I have stayed in similar ones at other Ontario Parks and they are fabulous.

The cabins have a small, expandable table with chairs for five and a mini kitchenette with a bar fridge, microwave, coffee maker and storage/counter space. There is a propane/electric fireplace as well, which adds so much ambiance and warmth in the space. We love these cabins with kids as they make fall and winter camping very cozy and easy.

Having a campfire on a Yurt campsite, MacGregor Point. Photo by Anne MacLachlan/Ontario Parks

Things to keep in mind when winter camping

Neither yurts nor cabins have plumbing so there is no running water inside. To wash your hands or dishes, you need to bring water from the comfort station and dispose of it properly. Dirty water should be disposed of in the vault toilets/privies.

If you are wondering about bathrooms, there are heated indoor bathrooms with flush toilets and showers available in the Birch Boulevard section. Unheated vault toilets are also available in both Ash Woods and Birch Boulevard sections. For trailers and RVs, dump facilities are available year round but flushing water towers used at the dump station are closed in the winter season.

Roofed accommodations have a 2-night minimum stay (3 night minimums on long weekends). If you are travelling with your dog, book yurt 90 as it is the only one that is pet-friendly.

For reservations, visit Ontario Parks. Bookings can be made five months from the first day of your planned trip.

Skating at MacGregor Point. Photo c/o Ontario Parks

What can you do in the winter at MacGregor Point Provincial Park?

Whether you stay in the park overnight or just visit on a day trip (Port Elgin is just a few minutes away), there are so many great winter activities available as soon as winter conditions allow.

MacGregor has a 400-metre long skating trail that winds through the woods. It is open all day (when conditions allow) for skating. In the evenings, the park turns on the trail lights for magical night skating until 10 pm every day. There is also a separate ice rink available for those who want to play hockey — this is brilliant because the hockey players can enjoy the large ice pad while skaters can go around the trail. The ice trail and rink need consistently cold temperatures but usually are open by mid-January.

The park also has ski trails and lots of places to explore on snowshoes. Cross-country skiers will enjoy the 11 kilometres of track-set paths on the Deer Run trail, which gently winds through hardwood forests and wetlands, while snowshoers have access to trails located in Nipissing campground as well as on all unplowed roads throughout the park.

While visiting, don’t forget to take a trip down to the Lake Huron shoreline. It is beautiful all year long and especially striking in the winter. Be sure to stay well on shore and admire from a distance as the ice, ice formations and snow drifts around the lake can be dangerous.

The park is a winter wonderland for exploring, with lots of wildlife, birds and natural wonders to spot.

Check the park’s Twitter account for up-t0-date ice and snow conditions.

Reach out to us if you’d like to book a winter RV.


Category: Ontario

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