Canadians are proud of their natural surroundings and for good reason. We are lucky to live in a country with mountains and fields, ocean and wild open land, and lots of wildlife and fresh water.
Fortunately, the impending arrival of summer gives us one more reason to celebrate. But you don’t have to confine the party to a backyard camping “trip” with a friend. These great campsites, from around the country, offer a huge variation in activities, locations, remoteness, and other important factors.
And remember, some of these parks are within the boundaries of a national park, which means entry to the parks containing them is free for the summer. You can go fancy in an oTENTik; get really get rustic; hike through the wilderness; or just sit back with a book and some fire crackling in the background.
Remember, fees vary by site and time of year, so check with your interested location before you pack up the car.
Location: Hamilton, Ont.
Why it’s great: The park will have more than 250 registered kids at peak times, meaning your own won’t want for playmates. They’ll have a great time fishing, swimming in the pool, and running around the playground. There’s also a recreation hall with darts, a library, and wifi in case the weather doesn’t cooperate.
Location: Sainte-Anne-des-Plaines, Que.
Why it’s great: Rated five stars by Camping Quebec, this countryside resort offers both rustic and serviced sites and isn’t far from town, if you want to go back to civilization for a day. Kids can swim both in the lake and in the pool, run around the playground, or enjoy a round of mini-golf. And you don’t have to leave Rover at home because leashed pets are welcome on the site.
Location: Yellowknife, N.W.T.
Why it’s great: This site is just three kilometres out of Yellowknife, but you’ll feel like you’re remote. Visitors can swim at the sandy beaches of Long Lake, canoe, and stare at the stars. There’s also a 4km hiking trail for older kids or more adventurous younger ones.
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Location: Mallorytown, N.L.
Why it’s great: Canada’s most easterly national park has camping options running from backcountry to tenting, RVing, and oTENTiks, a cabin-style tent that’s great for families. You can camp right by the Atlantic Ocean, swim in Sandy Pond, or try your hand at sea kayaking.
Location: Cloyne, Ont.
Why it’s great: This park accepts both tents and RVs but don’t worry if you don’t have one — they also offer RV rentals. Visitors can enjoy the sandy beach, a small lake, a playground, and a park. The nearby area is also great for fishing, boating, kayaking, mountain biking, and ATV trail riding.
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Location: Rock Creek, B.C.
Why it’s great: This park is great for wilderness lovers who can do without amenities like wifi. You can cycle on the trails, hike along the former Kettle Valley Railway, swim or tube in the river, run around the playground, or simply relax by the campfire and enjoy the sounds of nature.
Location: Waterton, Alta.
Why it’s great: With a mix of both unserviced and serviced sites, you’ll be able to have whichever camping experiment you like at this Alberta park. Conveniently located near Waterton, your family can enjoy the easier parts of the park’s many trails, watch for animals and birds (even bison!), kayak or paddle, fish, or enjoy the park’s special interpretive theatre and family programs.
Location: Toronto, Ont.
Why it’s great: You don’t have to get out of the city to go camping. Glen Rouge is the only campground within the city of Toronto but it offers the amenities that you’d expect to find at any other campsite: room for tents or RVs, views of the Rouge River, cycling trails, access to a pool and playground, and lots of room for your pets to roam.
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Location: Rainer, Alta.
Why it’s great: Located in a provincial park, this lakeside campground has both service and unserviced sites suitable for tents and RVs. You can take a dip in the lake on hot days or go bird watching on an interpretive marsh trail along nearby wetlands. Kids will love playing on the beach or on the playground.
Location: Parkhill, Ont.
Why it’s great: This is a site that you can visit for the day or stay at overnight, with spots for tents and trailers. There’s both a natural beach and a heated pool, and you can paddle or canoe on a man-made lake. There’s also great fishing at the park — and a fishing derby every July — along with cycling, pedal go-carts, and frequent special events.
Location: New Glasgow, P.E.I.
Why it’s great: Camping is a great way to enjoy P.E.I.’s wonderful beaches, and this campground in a national park has one of the best of them. The exclusive white-sand beach is draw enough, but this park also has oTENTik camping, a trail for hiking and biking, and an annual music festival.
Location: Dawson City, Yukon
Why it’s great: It’s the original site of the Klondike Gold Rush, for starters. There’s a lot of history here, which you can take in during a visit to nearby Dawson City. The campsite itself has wifi and is pet-friendly, and serves as a convenient resting spot for exploring the history and natural surroundings nearby.
Location: Truro, N.S.
Why it’s great: This campground’s slogan — the place where kids want to take their parents — has stuck for a reason. The campground, about an hour outside Halifax, has a new fun theme every weekend along with regular live entertainment. You’ll also find waggon rides, a soap slide, a petting zoo, mini golf, a pool, and a playground.
Location: Saint-Quentin, N.B.
Why it’s great: Mount Carleton is the perfect spot for nature-loving families. This park is a Designated Dark Sky Preserve via the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, which makes it a wonderful spot for star gazing in the evenings. Mount Carleton has more wild animal species than anywhere else in the province, with 100 bird species and 30 mammal species living within its borders. There are also several different trails, including one that is wheelchair accessible.
Location: Norris Point, N.L.
Why it’s great: Gros Morne has everything, including fjords, ocean, bogs, cliffs, and forests. The landscape here is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of the few spots in the world where you can see the Earth’s exposed mantle. You can take a fjord boat trip, visit a lighthouse, or head into one of the nearby small towns for the day.