Camping in the Greater Toronto Area

The Greater Toronto Area is home to over 6 million people. There are five regions in the GTA: Halton, Peel, York, Durham and the City of Toronto. Surprisingly, there is quite a bit of camping in the area.

Halton Region

Halton Conservation Authority operates two campsites, Kelso and Rattlesnake Point. They are both located on the Bruce Trail and offer hiking. Both parks are very popular with rock climbers. Their campsites start at $50 per site and are located on grassy fields with little privacy. In addition, Kelso has a beach, canoe rentals, and mountain biking trails.

Rattlesnake Point

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Camping on the Grand River

When people think of the Grand River, they probably think of the Elora Gorge. A very popular destination for hiking. The Grand River is a Canadian Heritage River, and runs from Highway 89 south through Guelph, Waterloo, and ends in Lake Erie.

A great way to visit the Grand River is to camp at one of the eight conservation areas, at the Rock Point Provincial Park, or at one of the many private campgrounds located along the river. It’s also possible to paddle portions of the Grand, but that’s beyond what you’d want to do when camping with your family.

The Grand River Conservation Authority has eight Conservation Areas that offer overnight camping. Most offer excellent recreation opportunities during the summer.

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Camping near Long Point, Ontario

Whether it’s swimming on the shores of Lake Erie or fishing in on the the lakes that feed into the lake, you don’t have to go far with your family to enjoy the outdoors. Many of these parks offer seasonal and daily camping, and have either a swimming pool or a lake to swim in.

Long Point Conservation Authority

The Long Point conservation authority is located north of Lake Erie near Long Point, and manages conservations areas, including five that have overnight camping. You can reserve campsites online through their reservation system for the summer months.

Long Point Reservation System

Long Point – Backus Heritage Conservation Area
Located near Long Point north of Lake Erie, the park has more than 160 campsites spread over five campground areas. Campgrounds C and D are located close to everything including the swimming pool and the playground. The park has about 15 historic buildings and antique farm equipment in Backus Heritage Village. Brackus Heritage ParkBrackus Heritage Park

Long Point – Deer Creek Conservation Area

This conservation are is located on the Deer Creek Reservoir. It has 40 campsites, and a day use swimming area. It’s a great place for fishing. You can rent a canoe

Deer Creek

Long Point – Haldimand Conservation Area

On the shores of Lake Erie, with 230 campsites and access to the lake for swimming.

Long Point – Norfolk Conservation Area

This park is situated on 46 acres along the Lake Erie shoreline with beach access and unsupervised swimming. It has more than 160 campsites, including 98 with electrical service, a tent-only area and areas for youth group camping.

Long Point – Waterford North Conservation Area

The park’s 3 ponds are great for fishing. It has 100 unserviced campsites, along with a food concession booth, shady picnic areas, canoe rentals, a small sandy beach with an unsupervised swimming area.

Waterford North Conservation Area

Ontario Provincial Parks

Long Point Provincial Park

Long Point

Long Point has over 2 km of soft sand and warm water on the shores of Lake Erie. Since there are no lifeguards present on the beach, and Lake Erie has an undertow, stay close to your children while swimming.

More than 300 bird and waterfowl migrate to the area during the year. There is excellent fishing and boating opportunities in the sheltered march of Long Point Bay. There is no Nature Education program for children but they do offer seasonal learning opportunities. Long Point offers an off-leash dog exercise/beach area located at the west end of the day-use beach.

Long Point is not a busy park during the summer compared to Sandbanks or Pinery, but it also doesn’t offer as many activities for kids. There are plenty of places you can do day trips in the vicinity while you are at Long Point. You can visit other Ontario Parks for free during your stay with your vehicle permit.

Port Burwell Provincial Park

Port Burwell Beach

Port Burwell is not far from Long Point, has a nice 2.5 km sandy beach and great kids programs every day during the summer. The park boasts large trees lots for camping and exceptional play areas for kids. There is great fishing and a warm climate for Ontario makes this a great choice to extend the camping season in the spring and fall. There are many opportunities to watch birds migrating, including an annual Hawk watching program in the fall.

Selkirk Provincial Park

Selkirk is a quiet campground with grassed campsites. They offer monthly camping options as well. There is a small beach, and several canoeing opportunities both within and outside the park.

Turkey Point Provincial Park

Turkey Point

Turkey Point offers a variety of campsites in three campground areas including a number of larger pull through sites. 20 of the sites are radio-free. There is a beach, a golf course, and a large marina nearby where you can rent Sea-Doos.  There are nearby mountain biking trails as well. The park offers children’s programs and special events on July and August weekends.

Other Private Parks

Woodland RV Park

Woodland RV Park is located close to Turkey Point. It is privately owned, and offers overnight & seasonal sites, a games room, a heated pool, a children’s playground and a fire pit. Their website is here and their brochure can be downloaded from here.  Their overnight camping rates are $33.90 per night for an unserviced site.

Hidden Valley RV Resort

A member of the Carefree RV resorts, Hidden Valley is located near Turkey point and offers both seasonal and overnight camping. Overnight camping starts at $46 per night. They have two swimming pools, and plenty of on site activities including go-cart rentals and two playgrounds. One drawback is the overnight campsites are far away from the swimming pool, but they offer more privacy than the seasonal sites.

Parks Canada Campgrounds in Ontario

Parks Canada has five campgrounds in Ontario. Two of them are only accessible by boat or water taxi. Another two offer new oTENTik accommodations on Canadian owned waterways. Then there is the amazing Cyprus Lake campground on the Bruce Peninsula. I’m going to describe these Parks Canada Parks. Parks Canada in OntarioNote that reservations for all Parks Canada sites in Ontario begin on Friday April 10, 2015 at 8:00 a.m. EDT. Rather than the Ontario Parks reservation system that has a rolling reservation date of five months in advance, you can reserve all Parks Canada campsites in Ontario on April 10. Other areas of Canada have different registration dates with Parks Canada.

Bruce Peninsula National Park – Cyprus Lake

Cyprus Lake

Cyprus Lake, Bruce Peninsula

Cyprus Lake, on the Bruce Peninsula, is a popular family camping destination. There are three campgrounds situation next to Cyprus Lake, and there is a path that goes around the lake. Cyprus Lake is a warm shallow lake with swimming canoeing and hiking.There are two beaches on Cyrpus Lake but they are very narrow, and you can rent canoes and paddle on the lake. There are also two nearby lakes you can also paddle on.

Indian Head Cove

Indian Head Cove

The real attraction near Cyprus Lake is the Grotto and Indian Head Cove on the Bruce Trail located next to the aqua-blue waters of Georgian Bay. The Grotto is a system of caves that you can swim in. Indian Head Cove is a popular rocky beach with cliffs all around it, and the water is usually very cold. Despite the cold water, the beach is a very popular for families during the summer. It’s about a five minute walk along the Bruce Trail between the two, but the trail there is very rugged with lots of boulders and rocks to walk around. Continue reading

Family Camping in Western New York

There are campgrounds located in upstate New York which are close enough to the highly populated GTA region that they are worth considering as a family camping destination. Compared to the Ontario Parks, they are less expensive and don’t fill up as quickly and reservations open nine months in advance. They are more built up and geared towards recreation and won’t have that natural outdoorsy feel. The times listed next to each campground are given are from the GTA.

Allegany State Park (3hrs)

allegany
Situated in the most South Western park of New York state, and on the border with Pennsylvania. The park’s 65,000 acres are known for their breathtaking natural scenery. There are two developed areas, the Red House and Quaker,
Allegany State Park – Quaker Area
Known for its two lakes and wonderful camping experiences. Allegany’s Quaker area offers swimming, fishing, canoeing and kayaking, as well as hiking. The Quaker area has a total of 189 campsites and 230 cabins, 30 of them winterized and one group camp for rental.

Allegany State Park – Red House Area

The Red House Area offers 5 miles of paved bike paths, boat and bike rentals, a sandy beach for swimming, fishing and snowmobiling. It has a total of 130 campsites, 144 cabins, 128 of them winterized and three group camps for rent.

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Best Parks in Ontario for Family Camping

Featured

The best Ontario Campgrounds for families are ones that have a great beach, some hiking or interpretive trails, a good number of outdoor activities like bicycling, canoeing or fishing, and a great kids program. It’s a nice place to relax, and explore the wilderness around Ontario. I have listed what I believe are the best campgrounds for families who want to get away from the city and enjoy the outdoors. You could go camping in a tent, an RV or a Yurt. It’s up to your family and your comfort requirements.

The 5 busiest Ontario Parks are Algonquin, Killbear, The Pinery, Sandbanks and Bon Echo. To book a campsite at any of these or the other parks, you should book 5 months in advance, especially on a long weekend.  I’m going to explain why these campsites are so busy, and provide you with quieter alternate campgrounds that are nearby and offer something similar.

Awenda Provincial Park

Awenda Provincial Park

Awenda Provincial Park

The Good

Awenda is an awesome provincial park for families looking to camp with children in Ontario. Awenda offers camping in six campgrounds, has 30 km of hiking trails with of them along boardwalks, and picnicking and day use areas. Sites are shaded beneath Sugar Maples and Red Oaks and are spaced further apart than many other provincial parks. Located on the Georgian Bay, the beaches are picturesque year-round. The more calmer waters of Kettle’s Lake offer canoeing with canoes rentals available at the park.  During the summer months Park Naturalists provide a variety of events to help young and old better understand the park with its rich cultural and natural history.
The Bad
The campsites at Awenda are located far from the beach so a car or bicycle is required to get around.
If you’re looking to party this is not the park for you during the summer months. The place is crawling with kids, lots of kids, and quiet time is early. The sites are shady, and can get cold early and late in the season.
Alternatives
If Awenda is full, you may want to check out the lesser known Craigleith Provincial Park located at the base of Blue Mountain.

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