Since moving to Canada I have noticed that Canadians are crazy about camping. It’s perfectly understandable taking into account that Canada has astonishing landscapes, majestic, snow covered mountains, thick forests and beautiful lakes.
Over the last year or so my family and I have tried four of the most popular ways to go camping in Canada, from the most basic to the most comfortable, all of which allow a person to enjoy nature at its fullest.
Living in Ottawa makes it very easy to go camping because we have the Gatineau Park just around the corner. The Gatineau Park is run by the National Capital Commission. One entrance to the park is only four kilometers north of downtown Ottawa. The park is made up of 361 square kilometers of forests, hills and lakes, which are hot spots for recreation and outdoor activities.
People in Ottawa also have many provincial parks close by, providing even more options to go camping. These parks have beaches, campsites, and trails for hiking alongside the ever present beautiful scenery.
So, if you want to go camping before the summer is over, I’ll tell you what options you have, following the most popular Canadian styles.
This way of camping is the most basic one, and is also called backcountry camping, meaning you’ll have to bring all the things and equipment you will need, such as a tent, sleeping bags, food, lamps, pots and pans, etc.
If you’re beginner to camping, you have to bring the right gear or the experience is not going to be a very good one, unless you have the spirit of a real adventurer.
First of all, don’t forget to carry good mats or cots to sleep on, otherwise the hard ground could make it somewhat difficult to sleep. It’s what happened to me. We went camping without much preparation. We just took our sleeping bags with only a thin mat and I was so uncomfortable. The night seemed endless to me!
The best part of camping in a tent is that you can really feel the night in the forest. Hearing all the nocturnal noises made by crickets and cicadas or seeing fireflies is charming, while hearing the singing of loons in the middle of the night or at dawn is awesome!
Ontario Provincial Parks have great campsites and to reserve a spot for camping in front of a lake cost us some $55 per night. https://www.ontarioparks.com/en
2. Rustic Cabin
The next level of camping is in a rustic cabin. These cabins are usually a single room with a wooden interior. They usually have two bunk beds and a little table, or some variation of that. Outside they might have a picnic table and a barbecue pit. There’s no electricity or water.
You can rent these cabins in some of the Ontario provincial parks or in the Gatineau Park, although the supply is limited.
Another option to rent a rustic cabin is to go to a private campground. These campgrounds are often open to recreational vehicles for camping, including folding camping trailers, travel trailers, fifth wheel trailers, slide-in truck campers and motorhomes.
These private campgrounds are sometimes located near a small lake to go swimming, fishing, paddle boarding, while some also have a pool or mini-golf or other amenities for kids. Check out: https://www.campinginontario.ca/
The rustic cabins are usually very small and are mainly for sleeping at night. The one we rented in a private campground for one night cost us some $75.
This way of camping is unique. Do you know what a “yurt” is? I hadn’t heard of this until my husband announced that we were going to try one for a night. A yurt is a mix of a tent and a cabin. They are round with a cone shaped roof, inspired by the nomadic peoples that lived in the steppes of Central Asia.
In the Gatineau Park there are four yurts available for camping. They have a wooden structure covered by a thick impermeable fabric. They have a skylight to let in natural light, and the one we rented had two doors.
We rented one near Lac Phillipe called Wanakiwin, and we enjoyed the experience very much. Our yurt had two bunk beds with two extra mattresses so six people could sleep comfortably. There was also a gas fridge, a wood burning fireplace, a sort of kitchen island, and a big wooden table with benches.
The furniture made it feel very spacious, and more comfortable than a rustic cabin. Outside there was a gas barbecue and a picnic table. Very close to the yurt there was a rustic toilet.
These yurts don’t have water or electricity so at around 9 pm it was dark and we had to use candles.
In the middle of the night we heard the singing of loons and owls, lots of them! So we had the real feeling of sleeping in the forest. It was quite an experience!
To rent this yurt my husband had to book it seven months in advance. It cost $135 dollars the night. Check out Gatineau Park website: https://ncc-ccn.gc.ca/places/camping-and-accommodations-in-gatineau-park
If you’re not convinced that you’ll have a good time and an enjoyable experience going camping, there’s an option: glamping, in other words, glamorous camping. This term means luxury camping but in general it also applies to the act of camping with comfortable conditions.
There are private campgrounds with very well equipped cabins, including cabins with luxuries like air conditioning, separate bedrooms, a bathroom, a stove, microwave oven, fridge, tv and internet connection — and all of this in the middle of the forest.
It can make for a very pleasant stay and at the same time you can experience what it is like to spend the night in nature. It is a very good option for people who are keen on the comforts of life.
Last year we rented a cabin like this in a KOA campground near the Thousand Islands. We had everything. It was like staying in a tiny hotel, but at the same time we were surrounded by other people camping in tents or in camping trailers.
The campground had two pools and a playground for kids. My little one had lots of fun playing with other kids her age who were camping in tents very close to us. They spent their time chasing chipmunks and butterflies, and observing bugs. That was cute! https://koa.com/
I hope that this post helps you to decide to go camping if you haven’t tried it yet and in choosing the option that best suits you. Hurry up! Summer is fading away and autumn is at the door! Take care.