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Ontario Parks reservations up 100 per cent so far this year

Here are five tips to help navigate the surge and grab a good site

Since reservations for the 2021 camping season opened in Ontario, there have been twice as many bookings compared to this point last year at nearly 60,000 and counting. 

According to Ontario Parks, it is more competitive than ever to get a camping site, especially during the summer months of July and August. 

“With double the number of customers attempting to make reservations during the months of July and August compared to last year, it is more competitive when trying to obtain a site. In many instances there can be hundreds of customers vying for the same site for the same arrival date,” stated Ontario Parks, in a press release.

But, luckily it seems as though many people don’t look beyond the obvious: the best-known parks on the busiest dates.

Here are a few tips from Ontario Parks to help with getting the most out of camping in Ontario this year.

Book early: This tip might be a little late, but if anyone is still thinking of booking a site this summer, now is the time. 

Or book late: Yes, Ontario Parks actually gets thousands of last-minute cancellations every summer. Those who keep a close eye on the reservation system are usually rewarded when primo sites become available. 

Be more flexible: Keep in mind that electric sites and sites for large RVs are very popular. Try booking a non-electric site or a different campground, and watch the magic happen. 

Weekday warriors: Especially during July and August, weekends are really booked up at Ontario Parks. But, if you have the flexibility to book during the middle of the week, you’ll have better luck. Even better, consider booking before July or after August, and there will be more availability. Or, heck, go winter camping, and you’ll never have to worry about overcrowding. 

Try a new park: The vast majority of bookings are concentrate on the province’s busiest parks and they are: Algonquin, Killbear, Pinery Sandbanks, and Bon Echo. But there are so many more. Luckily, Ontario Parks has outlined the best alternatives for each of these busy areas. 

Algonquin: Try Lake St. Peter or Bonnechere provincial parks. Lake St. Peter, for one, is really just outside the gates of Algonquin. Same incredible forests and lakes, without the crowds. Sounds good. Bonnechere in the Ottawa River Valley is also a gem with plenty of swimming, paddling and hiking opportunities. Book a waterfront site and launch your canoe right from the shore outside your tent, or consider one of the cottages or rustic cabins available. 

Sandbanks: If Prince Edward County’s gorgeous park is overrun, try Darlington. Darlington is just east of Oshawa, and has a large and gorgeous stretch of sandy beach. The park is also great of fishing, and there are trails through the forest for family exploration. 

Killbear: Try Six Mile Lake or Sturgeon Bay provincial parks. Six Mile Lake is a conveniently located park with good recreation boating and fishing opportunities and three hiking trails. There are canoe, kayak and stand-up paddle board rentals as well. Sturgeon Bay is nestled amongst the 30,000 Islands of Georgian Bay off Hwy. 69 and has some great campsites, swimming, and boating. The park also offers four cottages for rent. 

Pinery: If the gorgeous dunes of the Pinery are chock full of campers, nearby Point Farms Provincial Park will do the trick. Point Farms is north of Goderich, the prettiest town in Canada. It’s also on sandy Lake Huron, and has sites to accommodate everything from small tents to large RVs. 

Bon Echo: Beautiful Bon Echo is a hotspot all summer long, but there are a couple of good alternatives in Murphys Point Provincial Park and Charleston Lake Provincial Park. Murphys Point is south of Perth, and part of the Frontenac Arch. It has great facilities, a restored mica mine, pioneer homesteads and more. There are event backcountry camping sites to get ever further away from the crowds. Charleston Lake has lovely family camping sites, as well as great swimming, and hiking. 

Happy camping. 

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