Winter camping is having a moment, and so is its more cozy cousin, glamping. If you’re a seasoned adventurer or you’d like to try a new way to experience the Canadian winter – overnight and outdoors – then read on for some handy tips and places to check out:
Ask The Pros
Winter camping is available at a few spots around the region, including Killbear Provincial Park and Algonquin Park. If you’re new to this type of adventuring, be sure to consult outfitters in the region for the best advice (and all the rentals you’ll need!), including Algonquin Basecamp, which offers a Winter Camping readiness program. And read on for some general tips to get you started on your planning:
Stay Warm & Cozy
Cold temperatures can seem daunting, but with the right preparation, you’ll stay warm whether you’re inside your shelter reading a book, or out adventuring during the day.
There are two types of winter camping – cold and hot. Cold camping means there is no heat source in your tent, but with the right equipment, you won’t actually be cold (and a four-season tent has less screening than a summer-weight tent). Hot tenting involves a specially designed tent and wood stove. (Renowned adventurer Camper Christina visited Killbear Provincial Park in January 2023 to celebrate the park’s first season offering winter camping and documented the trip in her homemade hot tent in a two-part video. Check out Part 1 and Part 2 to help plan your adventure.)
Layers, Layers, Layers!
Base layers, mid-layers, and shell jackets will give you greater control over regulating your body temperature. Managing your body heat by adding or subtracting layers helps you prevent sweating as much as possible and it is, by far, the key to staying warm during winter adventures.
Finding gear that offers warmth yet remains light in an overnight pack is important. Nowadays, advanced materials make sleeping bags and quilts lighter and more efficient than ever. A camping mattress insulates you from the cold ground and snow, and two pads are better than one. And you can lose significant heat through your head, so covering it up is a no brainer. (Winter hats or hoods can slip off during the night, but a balaclava will stay put and makes sure you don’t lose that much-needed heat). Airflow in your tent is just as important to avoid condensation build up (and some cold drips on you while you sleep).
Fueling your adventure is very important, too: lots of snacks will help keep your body warm. At night, high-fat and high-protein foods burn slower than high-carb meals and keep you sustained (and warmer) longer. Hydration is also a key!
And finally, a little extra help from technology goes a long way toward confronting the cold with confidence. While you can’t bring a space heater, you can bring compact solutions to keep your fingers and toes warm, so you’re ready to enjoy what your winter camping adventure brings.
Contact these renowned outfitters for more advice on how to enjoy camping in winter:
Algonquin Park Adventure Tours
For winter camping tips from Ontario Parks click here, and check out their campsite offerings below:
Algonquin Provincial Park – Campsites, Cabins and Yurts at Mew Lake Campground
Arrowhead Provincial Park – Select Campsites & Camp Cabins Huntsville
Killbear Provincial Park Nobel
If “roughing it” isn’t your thing but you still want a winter adventure, you’ll find the perfect spot to try something new at one of the region’s glamping hot spots. More and more parks, resorts and businesses are offering this type of accommodation, ranging from fully-outfitted yurts to cozy cabins and gorgeous geodomes.
The serenity of winter glamping can’t be beat, as the crowds of summer are absent, and sitting around a firepit to keep warm is extra special in this season too. The more rustic setting of the accommodations makes for an ambiance of truly disconnecting from the hurried, daily grind as well. The stargazing is amazing (with Northern Lights visible in some areas!), and you will be close to skiing, snowshoe trails, and nearby rural communities for more to see and do, and plenty of spots to dine. Here are some of the spots to learn more about winter glamping opportunities north of Toronto.
Algonquin Adventure Tours Algonquin Park
Algonquin Basecamp Kearney
Algonquin Provincial Park – Cabins and Yurts at Mew Lake Campground Algonquin Park
Arrowhead Provincial Park – Camp Cabins Huntsville
Deer Lake Wilderness Retreat South River (feature photo)
Limberlost Forest & Wildlife Reserve Huntsville
Muskoka Dome Bracebridge
Pit Stop 518 Kearney
Snow Forest Adventures Algonquin Park
Tipi Adventure Bracebridge
Voyageur Quest Algonquin Park
Camping and Glamping not your thing? Consider a more refined experience at one of the many exceptional accommodations across the region. From B&Bs to hotels to resorts, you’ll find plenty of options to make your home base for epic winter fun. Ask about special packages and mid-week rates too!
To plan your stay in the great Canadian wilderness just north of Toronto, click here.
Featured photo shows Deer Lake Wilderness Retreat Geodome in South River, Ontario