FIRST, some facts about Ontario outdoors:
Ontario is BIG – bigger than France and Spain combined.
Ontario has more than 250,000 lakes.
That doesn’t count the massive Hudson’s Bay and James Bay up north and the mighty St. Lawrence River along the southern edge of the province.
In order words, Ontario is a land of WATER! Good news for boaters and water-sport enthusiasts!
Ontario is also a land of forests.
An incredible EIGHTY PERCENT of our population is squeezed into a small number of cities and towns in the southern part of Ontario, clustered along the river and the great lakes near the border with the United States.
This means that there’s a whole lot of WILDERNESS up north. If you like hiking, camping & wildlife observing you’ll find plenty of opportunity in northern Ontario.
But does this mean that you need to go far to experience Ontario nature in the raw?
If it’s the true wilderness experience you want, yes, you’d be wise to “fly in” to a place up north where no roads go.
However, you can still experience Ontario nature – slightly tamed, but grand, still – in southern Ontario or the middle of the province in Ontario provincial parks and regional conservation areas. Ontario has hundreds of parks. The oldest and perhaps best-known one is Algonquin Park, famous for its association with the Group of Seven artists. (See that moose up there? I took that photo from the side of the road on my last trip through the park. He was just sloshing along through a marsh...)
Here I’ll provide some first-hand accounts of outdoor adventures I've had, mostly in southern Ontario, plus links to good sites that will give you more information for your nature journeys.
Algonquin Park - Ontario's largest and old provincial park. Great for Canadian wildlife encounters, wilderness camping. Also opportunities for daytrippers and those seeking more comfortable accommodation.
Balls Falls - Visit two wonderful falls, a ghost town and a great interactive conservation centre geared to families. Located in the Niagara Region.
Crawford Lake - Tour the boardwalk around an unusual lake, and learn about 15th century Iroquois life in a reconstructed village with longhouse.
Royal Botanical Gardens and Cootes Paradise - Wonderful gardens and hiking trails through wooded areas. Observe blue herons and other birds.
For more information, see my page about Ontario Parks.
External sites with good information:
Ontario Outdoor - http://www.ontariooutdoor.com- a good web site published by the provincial government's tourism bureau. Learn about the natural regions, find organized tours, etc.
Ontario Field Ornithologists - http://www.ofo.ca - For passionate birdwatchers. Organizes field trips to birding hotspots around Ontario.
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