Where to Camp In Ontario

Provincial Park Campgrounds

Ontario is home to over 330 provincial parks, covering 9 million hectares. All this space means loads of camping opportunities within provincial park grounds. The Ontario Parks 'Park Locator' lets you search for a specific park or locate parks in a given area, and also has a 'locate parks by services' option that allows you to search specifically for parks with camping facilities (among numerous other criteria). Once you have selected a park, you can check the camping fees and reservation policies online. Yurts and cabin camping are available in some parks at a higher cost. All reservations incur a non-refundable fee.

Provincial Park Backwoods Camping

Ontario has over 6,500 backcountry sites only accessible by foot or paddling, spread through 21 different parks. Most include a pit privy and fire ring. A full list of parks offering backcountry camping is available online. Backcountry camping is also possible at some non-operating parks - you can get more information from the park office via the contact number listed on the individual park page. Use of backcountry sites incurs a backcountry camping fee.

Crown Land Camping

Ontario provides many opportunities for crown land camping outside of provincial parks. In general, Canadian citizens and people who have lived in Canada for at least 7 months of the preceding 12-month period, Camp for free up to 21 days on any one site in a calendar year, unless otherwise posted.

Non-residents, 18 years and up, need a non-resident camping permit to camp on Crown land north of the French and Mattawa rivers, unless otherwise prohibited. You do not need a permit if you:

  • rent a camping unit (e.g. tent, trailer, etc.) from a person who conducts business in Ontario
  • own property in Ontario (or your spouse owns property in Ontario)
  • carry out duties as part of employment in Canada
  • stay on watercraft equipped for overnight accommodation, anchored over provincial Crown land covered by water (stays are limited to 21 days)
  • are a charitable or non-profit group that is authorized by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) to camp

No facilities are provided on crown land, and ecological sustainability is of utmost importance. At these sites campers must practice ‘leave no trace' camping as well as safe backcountry cooking and food storage.

The majority of Ontario's crown land is located in the north of the province. The Ontario Backroads Mapbook is a good resource for locating crown land campsites, and further information can always be found through contacting your closest Ministry of Natural Resources office.

For more information and further details about camping on Ontario Crown land, visit Recreational activities on crown land.

Other Considerations:

Fire Bans

Based on the current fire risk, fire restrictions or bans may be in place during your trip. The Ontario Parks alerts page lists any current fire bans (as well as boil water advisories and beach advisories) within provincial parks. If backwoods camping, be sure a member of your group is aware of safe fire building methods, and consider the use of a portable stove instead of an open flame during times of high fire-risk.

Fishing Regulations

If you are planning to fish for sport or sustenance during your trip you should familiarize yourself with the Ontario fishing regulations. Information on licences, catch limits and bait and gear restrictions are available online, along with maps detailing which rules and restrictions apply in which areas.

'Tent & Trees & Stars' taken by Martin Cathrae in Peterborough, Ontario