Have you ever thought of what it would have been like to paddle the wilderness of Canada 300 years ago? To view unspoiled lands, to have the freedom to chose when to travel and where to lay your head at night? For most of us, such desires remain unobtainable as the few wilderness parks we have left become increasingly overcrowded and rule-based. Well, what if I told you that an opportunity still existed that offered you complete freedom to choose where and how you wanted to camp? A place where you could travel by canoe without worry of moving off a campsite or whether the next one ahead could be occupied? Well such as place does exist, located in the northwest corner of Ontario and it’s called Woodland Caribou Provincial Park
Woodland Caribou Provincial Park remains one of the few parks left in Ontario that offers a non designated campsite system. Yes, over 2,200 campsites have been identified within the border of this 1.2 million acres protected wilderness, however, backcountry campers are not required to stay on these sites. It’s truly one of the last great remaining paddling destinations in Canada!
Where The Heck Are The Campsites?
One of the more popular questions we’re asked is whether or not Woodland Caribou Provincial Park has campsites and if so, if they’re easy to find. The question around campsites is likely one of the greatest barriers preventing more paddlers from exploring the park so it’s important to realize that established campsites are found virtually everywhere in the park. At the time of this article’s publishing, over 2,200 established campsites have been documented within the park’s boundaries. You can expect that every lake will offer you several options.
Non-Designated Campsite System
Although the park offers so many established campsites, it’s important to note that you are not legally required to stay on any of these sites. While staying on existing sites is usually more convenient (as tent pads and fire areas already exist), any permit holder within Woodland Caribou is free to camp wherever they see fit. Just remember to always obey park regulations and you’re all set.
For the most part, the sites you’ll find in Woodland Caribou will be smaller than other popular canoeing destinations. 2 or 3 small tent pads, and a basic fire area are staples of our campsites. You won’t find any fire grates or thunder boxes here. These are rustic, backcountry sites in every respect.
Firewood….Yup Its everywhere.
One major difference you’ll notice about the sites in Woodland Caribou is the amount of dry, dead firewood around camp. With so few padders and such a large park, we don’t run into the “people” problems of other destinations. You won’t find barren sites without firewood, rather, instead, you’ll likely be able to harvest all you require within steps of the fire area and tent pads.
Up until recently, there was not a reliable campsite map for Woodland Caribou. This has now changed and 1:50,000 scale topographic maps are now available that show all campsites and portages. There are 11 topographic maps in all that cover the park and each one of these maps has now been made into a waterproof, 9-page set. These maps are the culmination of years of documentation and work and are the most accurate source of campsite information in the park. To learn more or order a map, click here
For centuries, explorers and adventure seekers from around the world have paddled the lakes and rivers within Woodland Caribou Provincial Park. Working hard by day they enjoyed the simple pleasures of camp life at night. Now you too can follow in their footsteps, taking solace in knowing you’re experiencing the same level of freedom they once did. For to be in complete control of where you lay your head each night is a special gift that too few will get to experience.