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Ontario Camping for Beginners: The Ultimate Guide

If you've always dreamt of an incredible camping experience but don’t know where to begin, what to bring or even what to do, worry not - we've got you covered.

Consider this your Ontario Camping 101 Guide for beginner campers.

Camping tent for beginners in Ontario

Whether you're a nature enthusiast without camping gear, an eager parent wanting to introduce your kids to the wonders of the great outdoors, or simply unsure about the ideal camping destination, safety precautions, and essential items to bring, this article is tailor-made for you.

Scroll down to discover practical tips and expert advice to help you embark on an unforgettable Ontario camping adventure for beginners.

Ontario Camping for Beginners: Where to Start

As a beginner camper in Ontario, the most rewarding and comfortable way to start an adventurous camping experience is by seeking out opportunities for glamping.

If you’ve never been camping or glamping before, you might be wondering, what’s the difference between camping vs glamping?

Imagine arriving at your campsite to find a beautifully furnished tent awaiting you, complete with a plush king-size bed, a cozy seating area, and tasteful decor. No set-up, no big equipment required. That’s glamping!

Most glamping sites are known as ready-to-camp: it’s as good as it sounds, your site is ready for you to camp in without the need to set up a tent and bring heavy camping equipment.

Ready-to-camp sites, like Four Corners Algonquin, are perfect for beginners who don’t have the equipment or experience in setting up a tent.

A ready-to camp safari tent in Algonquin Park at Ontario

But there’s more than just ready to camp sites available for beginner camping.

Other great beginner camping styles include:

  • Car Camping

  • RV Camping

Let’s take a look at each of these options below.

Types of camping in Ontario

Car camping in Ontario

The most popular type of camping is car camping and as you might have already guessed, the true meaning of car camping is when campers travel to a campsite using their vehicles, mostly cars.

Unlike backpacking, car camping gives you the comfort of not carrying your camp gear on your back (which is what you need to do when you go backcountry camping). Interestingly, the province of Ontario has more than 100 provincial parks, including Algonquin Park, that provides facilities for car camping.

Ontario's provincial parks provide a diverse range of camping experiences, from basic tent sites to more developed facilities. These parks often feature stunning natural landscapes, hiking trails, and recreational activities.

However, not all car camping sites are created equal. Some might come with amenities such as picnic tables and fire pits, while others only offer a “bare bones” site without a comfort station or restroom nearby.

If you’re looking for a site with amenities including a BBQ, wifi and an incredibly clean comfort station, you might want to begin with glamping at a place like Four Corners Algonquin.

RV Camping in Ontario

RV Camping (Recreational Vehicle) camping allows an explorer to bring their own accommodation on wheels and it contains living quarters.

RVs include camper vans, truck campers and motor homes. Ontario has free campsites allowing RVing and it is possible in the developed campgrounds in Algonquin Park.

For some beginner campers, RVs offer a door between themselves and nature, which can bring some comfort, along with sleeping on beds elevated off the ground. However, RV camping can be overwhelming for those not familiar with operating a larger vehicle, and it isn’t quite the same as sleeping in a tent.

Glamping in Ontario

Now, let’s talk about the most glamorous camping option, glamping.

Glamping is a step above traditional camping and it is all about making the camping experience comfy and accessible. You have the luxury of not even carrying camping gear on your back or in your car. All you have to do is pre-book the glamping site and stay in the great outdoors without worrying about camping gear or amenities.

Glamping can be a great option for those looking into accessible travel or accessible tourism accommodations.

If you are someone who loves the idea of camping, but you are not quite ready to rough it in the outdoors, then take a look into glamping options provided by sites like Four Corners where you get a comfy king-size bed, two-floor mattresses, a picnic table, propane barbecue, firepit and Muskoka chairs along with amenities like toilets, clean drinking water, shower and charging stations.

Yes, yes! We have discussed enough about the several types of camping in Ontario but where is the best place to camp for beginners in Ontario?

A young boy looking at a beginner camping tent in Algonquin Park, Ontario

Best Ontario camping places for beginners

  1. Algonquin Provincial Park: Provincial parks are always one of the best campgrounds for beginner campers. Algonquin Park is known for its breathtaking landscapes and abundant wildlife. Algonquin Park has campgrounds that provide tent camping, car camping, RV camping and glamping. For example, Four Corners provides one of its own kind glamping experience in South Algonquin.

  2. Bon Echo Provincial Park: With its beautiful Mazinaw Rock and pristine Mazinaw Lake, Bon Echo offers camping experiences for both tents and RVs. The park also features hiking trails and canoeing opportunities.

  3. Pinery Provincial Park: Located on the shores of Lake Huron, Pinery Provincial Park is renowned for its sandy beaches, cycling trails, and excellent camping facilities, making it an ideal destination for beginner campers.

Pro tip: The summer months (June-August) are the warmest and the best months to camp in Algonquin but you should never miss the red, orange and yellow leaves of Fall in Algonquin Park.

What to bring for camping?

If you’re looking into Ontario camping for beginners, it’s important to check you have the right gear and tools for a great first experience.

2 mugs on a bed in a redy-to-camp tent

Consider the following essentials to pack for your first camping experience:

  1. Clothing and Personal Items: Pack weather-appropriate clothing, including layers, rain gear, sturdy shoes or boots, umbrellas, hats, and sunglasses. Remember personal items like toiletries, sunscreen, insect repellent, and a first aid kit.

  2. Lighting and Navigation: Ensure you have flashlights or headlamps, extra batteries, and a map or compass for navigation purposes.

  3. Tent and Sleeping Gear: A sturdy camping tent is essential to carry with you if you opt for traditional camping or car camping. Also, don’t forget sleeping bags, sleeping pads, and pillows for a comfortable night's rest.

  4. Cooking Supplies: Bring a portable stove, cooking utensils, pots, pans, ingredients for meals and dishes for preparing meals at the campsite. Don't forget essentials like matches, firewood, and a cooler for storing food.

Pro tip: You can forget the pain of carrying around cooking supplies and tents if you opt for a glamping experience. Check out the blog to explore the comforts provided at a glamping site like Four Corners.

What to wear for camping?

You might be wondering…what should I wear camping? Check out the list below to know the camping clothing essentials:

  1. The best is layered clothing: Moisture wicking T-shirts, pants or shorts (middle layer), breathable underwear and socks (inner layer), and fleece or puffy jackets (outer layer).

  2. Long-sleeved Shirts and Pants: Long-sleeved shirts and pants are essential for protection against bugs, ticks, and sunburn. Opt for lightweight, quick-drying materials that provide both breathability and coverage.

  3. Rain Gear: Weather is always unpredictable and it is recommended to carry waterproof rain jackets and pants.

  4. Sleepwear: Comfy sleepwear is a must-carry cloth to have a good sleep in a tent.

  5. Footwear: Wear sturdy shoes for hiking and carry a pair of comfortable sandals for water activities.

How to stay safe while camping?

Staying safe while camping is a serious business. The consequences of not following these rules can be fatal. They can also result in charges under the Conservation Authorities Act.

Always be a courteous camper and follow the tips listed below to keep yourself safe:

1. Never eat where you sleep. Most hunters in the animal kingdom are nocturnal, which means they prowl while you sleep. Discourage them from visiting the zone you need to be safest in - DO NOT EAT in your tent.

2. Store anything with a scent away from your sleeping area In a backcountry camping experience, this means hanging your food in bags from trees. At Four Corners Algonquin, this means storing these items in the trunk of your car overnight.

3. Never throw food scraps into the forest Yes, we understand that the food will break down into compost, but while it does it creates an irresistible odour which makes your campsite more attractive for curious animals including bears. Bag your trash and take it with you, or if permitted, some items can be burned in a campfire. To learn how to dispose of waste safely, we recommend this website from the Leave No Trace group.

4. Leave your small pets at home We recommend leaving your small pets at home. We have weasels, fishers and martins in our forests. These rodents are cute to people but will stalk your teacup poodles, shitzus, rabbits, cats and other small animals and snatch them in a heartbeat. Neither you nor your beloved pet will even know what happened. Remember also that the forest can be really strange and scary from your pet's perspective too. If you must bring them, keep them caged or leashed and in your immediate presence at all times. The Ontario SPCA has some trustworthy guidelines on camping with pets.

5. Know the animals in the areas where you camp. Animal behaviour is predictable 99% of the time. The Ontario Government posts great information about Bears on their Be Bear Aware site. This Wildlife Awareness website is also good to get awareness.

6. Always choose a safe camping location

Research and select a campground or camping area that is safe and well-maintained. At Four-Corners, we prioritize the safety of our guests. Four Corners Algonquin is also near a grocery store and local pharmacy both located in the town of Whitney (4 minutes away) if you need any first-aid supplies.

7. Fire safety

If you plan to have a campfire, follow all fire safety guidelines. Keep the fire contained within a designated fire pit or ring, and never leave it unattended.

12 tips for camping in Ontario

  1. Plan, research and book campsites ahead. Create a schedule such that you reach the campground before sunset.

  2. Practice responsible camping by adhering to Leave No Trace principles, such as properly disposing of waste, minimizing campfire impact, and respecting wildlife.

  3. Take precautions to ensure your safety. Be mindful and be safe.

  4. Familiarize yourself with wildlife safety guidelines, store food properly, and keep a safe distance when encountering wild animals.

  5. Be curious and open to learn more. For example, South Algonquin is really an undiscovered paradise. It's just far enough away from the hustle and bustle that you can really enjoy a quiet stay. Read about "Things to do in South Algonquin". And absolutely, ask your host lots of questions when you arrive.

  6. Remember to plan ahead for what you’ll need for food, activities and basic medical needs.

  7. Being a beginner, choose furnished camping sites or opt for ready-to-go glamping.

  8. Follow the weather forecast and check updates to see if there is any fire ban.

  9. Try camping during weekdays rather than weekends. Camping sites are usually packed with people during weekends and if you want a calm getaway, plan for weekdays. Find out camping places like Four Corners that provide wifi facilities so that you can work from anywhere.

  10. Be frugal and pack the minimum to enjoy your hassle-free camping experience.

  11. Seal up your food and keep it in your vehicle at night.

  12. Avoid plastics, carry water bottles and make sure to stay hydrated.

Ready to Book Your First Glamping Trip in Ontario?

If you’re ready to take the first step and try a camping experience truly designed for beginners, look no further than our sites here at Four Corners Algonquin.

No matter your age, stage or ability, we pride ourselves on removing as many barriers as possible to help as many people as possible reconnect with the great outdoors. Whether it’s a tight budget, lack of equipment, minimal to zero camping experience, accessibility concerns or apprehension about camping, we provide options for everyone.

If you’re ready to book, then we’re ready to welcome you! Here’s where you start your next adventure.

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