Friday, May 11, 2012

Feels Like Camping Season!

A quiet road in Pancake Bay Provincial Park

After 3 months of silence, the @OntarioParks Twitter account suddenly sprang to life yesterday. My feed was filled with tweets like:
Most Ontario provincial parks are open this weekend. Get out and enjoy them with family and friends.
Adventurous? Go hiking or canoeing in an Ontario provincial park this weekend.
Pack up your tent and get out to a provincial park this weekend.

Chillin' at Awenda PP
Coupled with the clear blue skies the past few days those tweets have sure stirred the desire within me to get out of Dodge and get camping. Sarah and I are booked into Awenda in mid-July with our friends the Ramendas, but I really don't think that's going to be enough - lovely though Awenda may be. When we go there, we like to book a site (actually, the same site each time, if we can) in the "Snake" campground, because radios and pets are not allowed in there. When you're only going for the weekend, this extra bit of peace and quiet is a big help.

Awenda is probably the closest park we would consider spending the weekend at - it's under 2 hours' drive, near Midland, Ontario. The problem with the short-drive parks (from Toronto) is I find they tend to be full of noisy and rude people who treat them like a private cottage or trailer park. We prefer to make the longer drive to at least the edge of the Canadian Shield - north of Parry Sound - and try to book a day on either side of the weekend to help with the traffic issues there and back. Grundy Lake is a favourite of mine, very near the gorgeous French River.

Sarah standing in beautiful Lake Superior
Of course, if we are lucky enough to get away for at least a week we like to really get away. A great park to do that in is Pancake Bay, about 45 minutes past Sault Ste. Marie on the northwest corner of Lake Superior. Beautiful beach, quiet campers, well-spaced-out park so you can get deep into it and have absolute solitude if you wish. The only small drawback is it's a bit close to the highway and at night you have the occasional truckers downshifting just up the hill from your site. The closer to the lake you camp, the less of a problem this is.

And that lake - oh my, that lake. The north shore of Superior is one of my favourite drives in the country, rivaling the Laurentian Autoroute and even Cape Breton. A nice bonus to staying for a few days at Pancake Bay is the opportunity to drive part of that stretch over and over again. The park's proximity to the Soo is also in its favour. We especially like the Canadian Bushplane Museum there.

Tranquil Sandbar Lake
Of all the parks that Sarah and I have camped at, though, our favourite has to be Sandbar Lake. Located about halfway between Kenora and Thunder Bay, it's a park that we won't likely get to very often, which is very sad. The first time we drove home from Kenora we thought it would be good to spread the trip out over an extra day and take our time going home. We looked for a park that was only a few hours' drive from Kenora that we could stay at the first night and settled on Sandbar Lake. Easily one of the best decisions of that whole trip. What a gorgeous, quiet, hard-to-find and unspoiled park it is. I hope we get back someday.

Well, this post certainly hasn't done anything to take away the "itch". Here's hoping for some terrific camping weather this summer so we can get away as often as possible!


  1. I've got to paint my toenails in preparation for camping weather! :D


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