Looking at stars in the enormous open sky, roasting marshmallows on a mesmerizing campfire and curling up in my sleeping bag are all my favorite parts of the camping experience. It’s kind of a tradition of mine to go camping every summer, and last year I went to two places: Wasaga Beach and Algonquin Park. Algonquin Park is in Ontario, a few hours’ drive from where I live. It’s a vast piece of land covered in trees, lakes and rivers – perfect for a peaceful (and exciting) camping trip!
Almost 3,000 square miles, Algonquin Park is home to more than 200 animal species. There are countless activities that take place in the park, from camping to dog sledding to wolf howls and more. The park is open year round, with different activities available during the different seasons. If you plan on visiting Algonquin, you should bring your camera and binoculars – there’ll be many opportunities for wildlife and landscape photography, bird watching and stargazing.
To view Algonquin Park on the map, click here. It’s the large green rectangle. See how big it is?
I’ve only been to Algonquin Park one other time a few years ago. There was a bear in the area at the time, which was spotted on the campsite directly beside us. This year, we rented a pop-up trailer so that we’d feel safer, in case there was a bear (not that it would make much of a difference). When we arrived at the front gate, what was sitting right outside the park office? A sign that read, “Bear in Area!”
The park office gave out information booklets on bear safety, including the items that bears are attracted to, as well as what to do if you encounter a bear. Did you know that if a bear has the intent to kill, it will “silently stalk” you and attack when it’s safe?
Fortunately, the bear was never spotted anywhere near our campsite, but we did see bear tracks on the beach one early morning. It must have walked down to the lake at night to have a drink.
On the last night, we forgot to put our garbage in the trunk and left it out. It had raw meat in it – but no bears came! That just goes to show that bears aren’t waiting around ready to attack, they weren’t even near our campsite!
More Interesting Bear Facts:
- There are about 2,000 black bears in Algonquin Park. That’s one for every three square kilometers.
- Bears like beer. Yes, you read that correctly. You are supposed to store all alcohol in a car overnight. The park staff said they found an empty beer can with bite marks in it one morning.
- Bears are also drawn to toothpaste, soap and even bug spray! Apparently, bug spray has perfume in it, which attracts bears.
- Bears are excellent climbers.
One day, we went out on the lake in canoes. In the morning there were loons flying around, the water was still and overall it was extremely calm. Kevin and I were sharing a canoe and spotted a raft of loons on the water, so we paddled over until we were only a few feet away! I love the sound of a loon on the water, it has such a calming effect.
We explored almost the entire shoreline of our lake, which took us about two hours. The water was unbelievably shallow across the whole lake, being only about five feet deep near the center of the lake.
Right before sunset, we took the canoe out again, hoping to get some shots of the beautiful sunset behind the hilly forest landscape. There was much more activity than in the morning – there were about 10-15 other canoes and kayaks on the water. We found an island in the middle of the lake and got out to explore.
This was around dinnertime, when everyone was cooking on their campfires. Look at the smoke on the water coming from the campground on the left side of the photo. Incredible, isn’t it?
Other than canoeing, we spent our time taking photos, building campfires and visiting the souvenir shop. The store was a few kilometers west of our campground, on a different lake. There you can rent canoes, browse the shop and eat at a cozy restaurant overlooking the water. Here, we bought a few trinkets and sat down for ice cream.
There are lots of other activities for Algonquin visitors, including bicycling, hiking on the many trails, portaging, swimming (it was too cold) and even taking part in a wolf howl. What would be your first choice if you were visiting Algonquin Park?
Images of myself and Kevin taken by Katherine Haupt.