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posted on September 30, 2021

As Canada’s most populous province, Ontario is often associated with busy urban centres instead of awe-inspiring national and provincial parks. In truth, these destinations are some of the best places to go in Ontario, and are simply waiting to be discovered.

Immersing yourself in nature enriches both physical and mental health, and with many parks open year-round, there’s no time like the present to take advantage of the abundance of outdoor activities in Ontario. Camping, hiking, canoeing, and cross-country skiing are just some of the fun things to do in Ontario parks.

Here’s our list of Ontario provincial parks and national parks to give you some ideas for your next outdoor adventure:

Map of ontario parks

From lakes and wooded trails to geological wonders, Ontario parks offer plenty of opportunities to get closer to nature. Whether you’re driving from Toronto, Ottawa or elsewhere, some of the most jaw-dropping sights may be just a road trip away.

Best provincial parks in Ontario

Algonquin Provincial Park

When it comes to the quintessential Ontario provincial parks experience, Algonquin is usually the first place that comes to mind — and for good reason! As the oldest park in Canada, it has a longstanding reputation as an awe-inspiring natural playground and one of the best provincial parks in Ontario. With 7,635 square kilometres of pristine forests, cliffs, lakes, and rivers to explore and a generous range of outdoor activities, adventure abounds in Algonquin. Wildlife thrives in this park, so don’t be surprised to encounter moose, bears, wolves, loons, and more during your visit. At the turn of the season, its magnificent autumn colours are a must-see.

Distance from Toronto: 3.5 hours

Distance from Ottawa: approx. 3 hours

Entrance fee: starting at $12.25 per vehicle

Other details: Parking is available in designated areas with a valid park permit within Algonquin Provincial Park. Several food concessions and park stores can be found along the Highway 60 Corridor that runs through the park. Backcountry and frontcountry camping as well as roofed accommodation is available, with select campgrounds open year-round. There are multiple pet exercise areas and dog beaches in the park, making it an ideal destination if you plan on travelling with your pooch.

Killarney Provincial Park

Wondering where to camp in Ontario? Look no further. Considered one of the best provincial parks in Ontario for camping, Killarney Provincial Park is a peaceful escape into the heart of nature and offers year-round camping experiences, from canoe routes through backcountry sites to heated winter cabins and yurts. Prepare for breathtaking views of the Georgian Bay Coast, a tranquil paddle on Lake George, and hiking trails that suit a range of skill levels — from leisurely strolls to the popular Crack Trail, a more challenging climb with the reward of a scenic lake and mountain view at its peak.

Distance from Toronto: 4 hours 40 minutes

Distance from Ottawa: 6 hours 15 minutes

Entrance fee: starting at $12.25 per vehicle

Other details: Parking is available in designated areas with a valid park permit within Killarney Provincial Park. Shops and restaurants can be found in the nearby town of Killarney. Backcountry camping, frontcountry camping, as well as cabins and yurts are available, with select campgrounds open year-round. The park includes a dog beach and allows dogs in designated areas. 

Sandbanks Provincial Park

One of the most popular provincial parks near Toronto, Sandbanks is one of the best day trips in Ontario if you’re craving an escape to the countryside in the heart of charming Prince Edward County. Formed by glaciers over 12,000 years ago, Sandbanks Provincial Park holds the title of the largest freshwater dune and sandbar formation in the world, and is perfect for a relaxed day at the beach. If you’re seeking a more active experience, outdoor activities including kayaking, canoeing, swimming, camping, hiking, and fishing are available.

Distance from Toronto: approx. 3 hours

Distance from Ottawa: approx. 3 hours

Entrance fee: starting at $12.25 per vehicle

Other details: Parking is available in designated areas with a valid park permit within Sandbanks Provincial Park. Currah’s Dunes Grill and Patio and Currah’s Park Store and Grill offer groceries, food, and snacks within the park. Day use and frontcountry camping are available from May to October, as well as cottages for winter use. Nearby B&Bs and hotels are also available throughout Prince Edward County. The park includes a playground and two dog beaches, making it a great option for families or anyone travelling with pets

Bon Echo Provincial Park

One of the most unique provincial parks near Ottawa and Toronto, Bon Echo is named for the incredible acoustics formed by the rock face, bouncing sound across Mazinaw Lake, one of the deepest lakes in Ontario. Marvel at the pictographs on the Mazinaw Rock to fully experience what makes this park special, best viewed by kayak or canoe and designated as a National Historic Site of Canada. Suited to a variety of visitors, the park is equipped for family-friendly camping and picnic excursions, as well as for those looking for a rugged backcountry camping experience. 

Distance from Toronto: 3.5 hours

Distance from Ottawa: 2 hours 20 minutes

Entrance fee: starting at $12.25 per vehicle

Other details: Parking is available in designated areas with a valid park permit within Bon Echo Provincial Park. Restaurants and groceries can be found in the town of Cloyne, a short drive south of the park entrance. Day use, frontcountry camping, and cabins are available from May to October. The park includes a dog beach as well as a pet exercise area.

Lake Superior Provincial Park

Adventurers flock to Lake Superior Provincial Park for sublime views along the northeastern shore of the largest Great Lake, as well as unparallelled hiking trails that set it apart as one of the most beautiful parks in Ontario. There are plenty of outdoor activities to be enjoyed here including canoeing, camping and fishing. As a designated Dark Sky Preserve, the park is virtually free from light pollution and promises spectacular stargazing on clear nights. Its distance from urban centres and unspoiled natural surroundings make a drive to Lake Superior Provincial Park one of the best road trips in Ontario. 

Distance from Toronto: 9 hours 40 minutes

Distance from Ottawa: 10 hours 45 minutes

Entrance fee: starting at $12.25 per vehicle

Other details: Parking is available in designated areas with a valid park permit within Lake Superior Provincial Park. Shops and restaurants can be found in the nearby town of Wawa, just 25 minutes north of the park. Backcountry, frontcountry, and day use campsites are available from May to October, and a dog beach and pet exercise area are also available.

Best national parks in Ontario

Bruce Peninsula National Park

Defined by enchanting coves, dramatic cliffs, and captivating vistas overlooking the turquoise waters of Georgian Bay, Bruce Peninsula National Park is one of the most worthwhile road trips from Toronto or Ottawa. Campers at Cypress Lake can enjoy a hike to the Grotto, a shimmering sea cave that is one of the park’s most popular attractions. Outdoor activities in the park include bouldering, birdwatching, camping, hiking, and kayaking, scuba diving, and stargazing, making it one of the most cherished Ontario national parks destinations for families and outdoor enthusiasts alike.

Distance from Toronto: approx. 4 hours

Distance from Ottawa: approx. 7.5 hours

Entrance fee: $7.90 

Other details: Parking is available in campsites and designated areas with a valid park permit within Bruce Peninsula National Park. Hotels, B&Bs, restaurants, and groceries can be found in nearby Tobermory and in towns along the Bruce Peninsula. Backcountry, frontcountry, and yurt campsites are available from May to October, with self-serve camping available in the off season. Dogs are allowed in the park as long as they are leashed and supervised.

Point Pelee National Park

Canada’s smallest national park is not to be underestimated. In spite of its size, Point Pelee offers plenty to do year-round and is one of our favourite places to visit in Ontario. Brimming with ecological diversity, it is home to marshes, savannahs, forests, and beaches that are home to abundant wildlife, especially birds passing through on migration routes. Get up close and personal with the landscape by exploring hiking trails like the popular Marsh Boardwalk, canoeing or kayaking through the wetlands, or enjoying a swim and a picnic by the beach.

Distance from Toronto: 4 hours

Distance from Ottawa: 7.5 hours

Entrance fee: $7.90

Other details: Parking is available with a valid park permit within Point Pelee National Park and can be accessed from the main park road. Restaurants, groceries, and local accommodation can be found in Leamington and other nearby towns, and food and beverages are available inside the park at the Cattail Café. Camping in the park is only allowed at Camp Henry, and dogs are allowed in the park as long as they are leashed and supervised.

Georgian Bay Islands National Park

As part of the UNESCO Georgian Bay Biosphere Reserve, this is one of the best national parks near Toronto for nature lovers. The landscape here is ancient and beautiful, characterized by sugar maple forests, the exposed terrain of the Canadian shield, and thousands of years of Indigeneous history. The park includes over 60 protected islands including Beausoleil, a favourite spot for camping, cycling, and hiking, and is a fantastic option if you’re looking for nearby day trips from Toronto. 

Distance from Toronto: approx. 2 hours

Distance from Ottawa: 5.5 hours

Entrance fee: $5.90

Other details: Parking is available with a valid park permit within Georgian Bay Islands National Park, and is accessible by the DayTripper ferry service to Beausoleil Island. Paid parking on the mainland is available in Honey Harbour and the surrounding area. Restaurants, groceries, and local accommodation can be found in Midland, Honey Harbour, and other nearby towns. Food concessions are not available within the park. Boat transportation is pre-arranged and included for visitors staying in cabins and oTENTik accommodation, with water taxi or cruise services available for other campers. Dogs are allowed in the park as long as they are leashed and supervised.

Thousand Islands National Park

Lighthouses, secluded beaches, and even castles can be found throughout this enchanting and scenic chain of islands along the St. Lawrence River. Despite its name, Thousand Islands National Park comprises 20 of the islands offering scenic trails and a tranquil escape into nature. With countless outdoor activities including a scavenger hunt for kids, the park is a top destination for families and is one of the most accessible Ontario day trips, especially if travelling from Ottawa. 

Distance from Toronto: 3 hours 40 minutes

Distance from Ottawa: 1.5 hours

Entrance fee: starting at $6.80 per vehicle

Other details: Parking is available with a valid park permit within Thousand Islands National Park. Restaurants, groceries, and local accommodation can be found in Gananoque. A playground and pet-friendly oTENTik accommodations are available at Mallorytown Landing, and dogs are allowed in the park as long as they are leashed and supervised. Tent camping is available on the islands, and boat rentals, shuttles, and cruise services are available for visitors to the islands without their own boat. 

Pukaskwa National Park

Once a muse for the Group of Seven, the province’s largest park is an inspiring destination that captures the wild spirit of northern Ontario. Known for spectacular vistas, sweeping boreal forests, and unspoiled shoreline, Pukaskwa is one of the best Ontario parks for camping, canoeing, kayaking, and hiking. All of the park’s trails can be completed as day excursions, making it a great option for a family-friendly trip. Try a unique geocaching experience to learn more about the lay of the land and its geological history.

Distance from Toronto: approx. 12 hours

Distance from Ottawa: approx. 13 hours

Entrance fee: $5.90

Other details: Parking is available in campsites and designated areas with a valid park permit within Pukaskwa National Park, and electric car charging is also available. Shops and restaurants can be found in the nearby town of Marathon. Frontcountry, backcountry, and oTENTik camping experiences are offered from May to October. Dogs are allowed in the park as long as they are leashed and supervised.

Ready to hit the road? Then it’s time to book the perfect car for your national or provincial park adventure and read up on our best Canadian drives for autumn foliage before you go. 

Turo offers vehicles equipped to conquer the great outdoors, including perks like bike racks, ski racks, park passes, or camping gear to streamline your journey and save on planning and preparation. Bringing your pet along for the adventure? Many of our hosts have you covered with pet-friendly options.

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