Top 10 FREE Camping Spots in Ontario

Labour day is just around the corner and many Ontarians are gearing up to get out camping and squeeze every last drop out of Summer. But with paid campsites heavily booked in advance, it’s getting harder than ever to find that perfect campsite.

 

Thankfully, there are plenty of out-of-the-way free camping spots all over the province and as an added bonus, many of the more secluded spots offer free camping in Ontario.

 

That’s why, for your convenience, we have put together a list of 10 free campsites you can enjoy this Labour Day weekend, and many more weekends to come!

 
 

1. Wolf Island Provincial Park – Haliburton Highlands – Cottage Country Ontario Backroad Mapbook Map 25/A3

Free camping in this This non-operating park, located around 35 km (20 mi) north of Peterborough, can be accessed by foot or canoe/kayak. Wolf Island is made up of ancient bedrock and limestone outcroppings and is covered with vegetation. The prehistoric landscape will make you feel like you have taken a step back in time. With plenty of opportunities for fishing and wildlife viewing, this is the perfect place to get away from it all this Labour Day weekend.

 
 
 

2. Island Lake and Barrens Conservation Reserve – Rainbow Country – Cottage Country Ontario Backroad Mapbook Map 85/G5 

This non-operating park is a great place for some canoe/kayak access free camping. There are a few tough portages, so this should be considered a somewhat difficult area to explore, but this also means you are highly unlikely to run into any other campers here. Located between Parry Sound and Sundridge, this area feels much more remote than it actually is and is easily accessed from the major cities of southern Ontario.

 
 
 

3. Lake Temagami – Ontario’s Near North – Northeastern Ontario Backroad Mapbook Map 23/A2

Located just east of Highway 11, this world renowned wilderness area is home to hundreds-of-years old cedars and a variety of animal species, making for some exciting free camping. Indigenous peoples have been canoeing, camping, hunting and fishing here for countless generations, and a fierce battle to protect Lake Temagami has been waged by environmentalists since the 1970s. After visiting, it will be easy to see why – Temagami’s beauty is unparalleled.

 
 
 

4. McCrae Lake Conservation Reserve – Muskoka – Cottage Country Ontario Backroad Mapbook Map 34/E2

This crown land area in the Muskoka District offers just about any type of outdoor recreation you can think of – hiking, free camping, canoeing, fishing, hunting, various winter activities and more. Conveniently located next to Highway 400, this reserve offer endless opportunities to get away from the crowds and find your own private outdoor paradise where turtles, beavers and rabbits will be your only neighbours.

 
 
 

5. Aubrey Falls Provincial Park – Algoma County – Northeastern Ontario Backroad Mapbook Map 17/E3

These multi-tiered falls are some of the biggest in the Lake Huron watershed. Their isolated location, about 80 km (50 mi) north of Lake Huron, means that you will probably have this free camping spot all to yourself. The drive to the falls along Highway 129 is very scenic as well, winding through the rugged Canadian Shield Landscape, but be sure to fill up on gas before heading out as there are no amenities along this pleasant but isolated backroad.


 

 

 

6. Torrance Barrens Dark Sky Preserve – Muskoka – 

Cottage Country Ontario Backroad Mapbook Map 35/E2

Designated as a Conservation Reserve in 1997, this reserve was quickly identified as one of the best places to view the night sky in Ontario. The hard granite surface of the barrens make this an ideal place to set up a telescope or a camera and, although it is far enough away from urban light sources to offer stunning views of distant galaxies, it is easily accessed via District Road 13 off of Highway 11. There are no designated campsites in the Preserve but limited free camping is permitted.

 
 
 

7. Chiniguchi Lake – Rainbow Country –

Northeastern Ontario Backroad Mapbook Map 21/E4

Another popular canoeing area, Chiniguchi Lake offers plenty of free camping opportunities just a short drive from Sudbury. You can make your trip as long or short as you want to – hardcore canoeists can set out for extended journeys and rarely encounter another soul while they travel traditional aboriginal water routes. Featuring some of the largest stands of old growth Red Pines in Ontario, well-preserved pictographs, a variety of wildlife and more, Chiniguchi Lake is an outdoor explorer’s dream.

 
 
 

8. Phillip Edward Island – Rainbow Country – 

Northeastern Ontario Backroad Mapbook Map 4/D2-F2

While the entire 50 km (30 mi) paddle around Phillip Edward Island will take four to five days, exploring the area around the island’s southwest shoreline makes for a perfect weekend getaway. Head out in a canoe or kayak and pick from one of many free campsites, then relax, swim, fish and enjoy the famous sunsets, or explore the surrounding smaller islands. But be warned, you may just not want to leave this Georgian Bay paradise.

 
 
 

9. Noganosh Lake Provincial Park – Rainbow Country – 

Cottage Country Ontario Backroad Mapbook Map 85/D5

You can find free camping all over this non-operating park, and the deeper you explore, the more secluded you will be. Canoeing and kayaking are the main attractions here, but fishing is excellent as well. Moose and snapping turtles are a couple of species that wildlife viewers can look out for, and a beautiful swimming hole is never too far away. Ess Narrow Landing is a popular put-in for paddlers exploring the area.

 

 

10. Severn River Conservation Reserve – Cottage Country Ontario Backroad Mapbook Map 35/C3

 
This rugged and raw network of rocky barrens, wetland and long, narrow lakes makes a perfect paddle-in camping destination. We recommend accessing this reserve from the north, at Nine Mile Lake, as long as you are OK with a couple of portages. Free camping shouldn’t be easy, after all. Paddle, portage, paddle again. Welcome to wild Muskoka


As many of these locations are out-of-the-way, be sure to pack emergency supplies and to let a trusted third party know where you are going and when you expect to be back. Of course, you don’t want to leave home without one of our Ontario Backroad Mapbooks on hand as well!

Stay safe and have fun, and don’t forget to comment below if we’ve missed one of your favourite Ontario camping spots!

 

*Note that while most rec sites are free of charge – some rec sites may have park hosts that take care of the area and may require that you pay a small fee to camp there. In case this happens, be sure to bring $10 to $15/night just in case.

 

 

 
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