Algonquin is probably the most popular provincial park in Ontario, and for a good reason. The park is one of the largest in Canada and offers a variety of camping options and backcountry adventures for outdoor lovers. Algonquin is also very popular for winter camping and offers something for every level of winter camper.
Algonquin offers three types of camping in the winter:
Mew Lake campground offers developed campsites in winter – sites that are plowed and vehicle accessible and close to regular campground amenities like heated comfort stations. You can drive your vehicle right to the campsite and unload/load your stuff. You need to take permits for overnight camping here. If you can’t reach there during office hours, then you can use a self-serve fee station (cash only & exact change required) to purchase your permit. For beginners, check out our post on why Mew Lake is a great choice for first time winter campers.
Mew Lake campground also offers Winter Yurts. Yurts are permanent tent-like structures mounted on a wooden deck floor and heated inside. Each Yurt sleeps up to 6 people and has bunk beds, table and chairs too. Mew Lake is located close to Highway 60 and you will have cell phone reception too. So, if you are more of a semi-adventurous type wanting to explore outdoors but want to get back to comfort when needed, yurts are perfect for you. Check out Mew Lake yurt camping trip log by Josh. Also, explore our list of best winter yurts in Ontario.
For more adventurous people, backcountry winter camping is allowed in the park but are accessible only by snowshoes or ski. Make sure you have a sledge to drag your camping stuff. You can park your car in the parking lot of either Western Uplands backpacking trail or Highland backpacking trail – both the lots are plowed and maintained by the park during the winter. Permits can be obtained only onsite either at the West Gate or East Gate. If you arrive off hours and the gates are closed, you can try calling the Park Staff to see if you can obtain a permit over phone.
Things to remember:
- You need to get a vehicle permit, regardless of whether you are a day visitor or overnight camper. You can get them at either East Gate or West Gate. You also have automatic pay machines at the Mew Lake campground if the offices are closed, but make sure you bring exact change.
- When it comes to winter camping, safety is of paramount importance, especially if you are heading into the backcountry. Make sure, you do your homework and pack all the things that are needed. It wouldn’t hurt to settle down in a spot where you get cell phone signal.
- For those heading into the backcountry, make sure you have a sledge to carry your stuff and snowshoes.
- Visitor center is usually open from 9am – 5pm with holiday exceptions.
- At Mew Lake campground, you can buy firewood and kindling. But much of the services are self-serve and honor system basis. So again, take enough cash and change with you.