Ours to Discover

Ours to Discover: Winter Camping

Connecting with nature. These five options will open your eyes to the joys of camping and glamping while surrounded by snow and ice

By Karen Kwan Wheels.ca

Feb 5, 2022 5 min. read

Article was updated 4 months ago

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About this series: Wheels wants to inspire you to get ready to explore — but only if COVID-19 conditions make it safe to do so. This series of daytrips and longer drives highlight great experiences you can have in the province, ands show you why Ontario is “Ours to Discover.”

 

For many of us, road trips often wind down during the colder months, but there is still much to enjoy during this season. Add some camping and glamping adventures to your calendar to help you learn how to embrace winter and all it has to offer. If you’re a newbie to this type of experience, be honest with yourself. Depending on your comfort zone, you can make a reservation in a heated yurt or simply bring your tent and a sleeping bag designed for winter camping. While these five destinations range from just dipping your toe into winter glamping to a full-on winter warrior-level outing, all of them will find you surrounded by a majestic blanket of snow – and will make you love the season a little more.

Lanark County Treehouse


Built 20 years ago using recycled and donated materials, this eco-friendly, two-level treehouse in the Lanark Highlands is a four-hour drive from Toronto along Highway 7. Available on Airbnb, this unique lodging sleeps eight and is heated by a wood-pellet stove so you’ll be warm and cosy inside. It is also pet-friendly (past guests have brought everything from a pot-bellied pig to a goat). The treehouse is perched over the Mississippi River, so you can enjoy the icy view as you play boardgames, or, better yet, while relaxing in the hot tub. Explore Lanark County’s many distilleries, including Perth Brewery and Stalwart Brewing Company, if you’re looking for something to do other than snowshoeing.

Glen Oro Farm


Snatch up a cancellation for a stay in one of Glen Oro Farm’s Stargazer Domes if you’re keen on seeing the stars as you drift off to sleep (openings are posted on its Instagram stories) or book an equally spectacular stay in one of its Explorer’s Tents. Equipped with a wood-pellet stove, king-sized bed and chairs, you’ll hardly feel put out with these home comforts, and you can decompress with a visit to the wood-fired sauna, which has a stunning view of the forest. During your stay, learn basic horsemanship as you ride, groom and care for the farm’s horses during a boutique trail ride experience. Don’t feel like cooking during your glamping trip? Book Laforet Catering to cook your meal of locally sourced ingredients over an open fire. Glen Oro Farm is a one-and-a-half-hour drive north of Toronto, along Highway 400, and is located between Barrie and Orillia.

Nature’s Harmony Eco-Lodge


A four-hour drive from Toronto following highways 401 and 11 north, followed by 17 east, Mattawa is a small community near the Mattawa River and set against the backdrop of the Canadian Shield. It is also where you’ll find Nature’s Harmony Eco-Lodge. Book its authentic, handmade Mongolian yurt – where you’ll find traditional paintings decorating the interior poles and doors – along with a bed, Moroccan-style sofa, and a wood stove to keep you toasty. Nature’s Harmony is off the grid with no cell service, allowing you to truly disconnect. Fill your time untethered from your smartphone by tubing down the property’s seven-lane sledding hill or 20 kilometres of trails to explore by kick sled. The sled is equipped with runners that you stand on, kicking at the ground to propel yourself forward. There is a seat in front for a passenger and handles for the kicker to hold.

Ours to Discover

Voyageur Quest


If you’ve camped in the summer and are keen to try it in the winter, get the know-how by booking the Winter Experience with Voyageur Quest. The quest takes place in Algonquin Park, about a three-and-a-half-hour drive north from Toronto. During the excursion you will learn basic winter camping skills, including how to haul toboggans loaded with all of your gear through the snow, and the proper way to set up a winter campsite. Be sure to take in the beauty of Algonquin Park during a snowshoe trek to Surprise Lake.

Arrowhead Provincial Park


Seasoned winter campers will want to make the two-and-a-half-hour drive north of Toronto along Highway 400, and then take Highway 11 to Arrowhead Provincial Park. Along with all of your winter camping gear, be sure to pack your cross-country skis, snowshoes and skates, or, if you want to pack lighter, rent them at the park. Arrowhead has top notch trails for both hiking and skiing, so plan on doing both. At night, check out its famous skating trail, a 1.3-kilometre icy path that winds through the forest. Make sure to pre-book your tickets as it is often sold out. If you’re not feeling up to setting up a camp, you can also reserve one of the park’s cabins.

Ours to Discover

For the drive


The Group of Seven were known for painting Ontario’s Canadian Shield landscape, including its beauty in winter. They also influenced artists from various mediums over the years, including the Rheostatics, who released the album “Music Inspired by the Group of Seven” in 1995.

COVID-19 need to know


Ontario is follow provincial COVID-19 guidelines. Some attractions and businesses may be closed or operating at a reduced capacity. Consult the provincial website (ontario.ca) for the most up-to-date information and contact individual businesses ahead of your trip to confirm how they’re currently operating.

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