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Destination Ontario Parks… The Camping Adventure Began in February.

I read a very helpful blog post from Ontario Parks the other day. It has some great tips on how to book a site.  Our friends at Ontario Parks make the point that not all campsites are booked in advance, and that most of the early reservations happen for the top five busiest parks. That would be the top five out of over 100 parks with “visitor facilities”.

But what the blog doesn’t say is what every seasoned Ontario Parks camper knows…..

Preparing for camping season actually started back in February.  And it probably started on a cold, cold, snowy morning at about 6:30 a.m.  If you’re familiar with the Ontario Parks reservation system, you know that you have to drag yourself out of your warm bed and plop yourself in front of a computer when it’s still dark out, the wind is howling and snow is blowing to be sure you book the best site when reservations open at 7 am, five months in advance.  
You’ve prepared for this morning by searching the Ontario Parks website at least a day or three or four in advance for the best park and the best site to give you your camping fix.  You might have a fave site that you always choose to book, but you know that if it is YOUR favourite site, it is probably somebody else’s favourite site. And that somebody else is also probably sitting – shivering – at their computer, mouse poised to book YOUR site.  So you also have a second and third choice ready to book. Just in case.
It’s 7 am.  You’re tired. You’re cold.  You’re face is illuminated with the glow of the Ontario Parks registration site. And you want that site.
Yup – booking a site early on the Ontario Parks website is a competitive sport. It takes planning. Training. Strategy.   You might even drag your partner out of bed with you to sit by your side with the other laptop running to book site choice number two…. just in case.  Whoever has the fastest connection and the fastest fingers wins.
We were lucky and were able to secure out top site picks for three different camping trips this year. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the luck will hold when reservations open for the fall trip we’re planning.   I feel just a little bad that we cheered when the reservation confirmation popped up, because there was probably someone sitting at their computer – shivering – at just after 7 am feeling a bit disappointed that they didn’t get that site.  

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  • Anonymous

    I don't bother with the reservation system, its a joke. I posted a YouTube video of a "completely full campsite" at Lake of Two Rivers Algonquin Park.
    Thanks to the reservation system for keeping everyone else away so we can have some nice sites.

  • Gayle Labuz

    I wish I was an insider. It seems harder every year to get a decent site. I think we were just lucky last year. We always have a first, second and third choice. This year we were actually worried that we weren't going to get a site at all for one of our planned trips. We did, but it is far from the (first, second or third-choice) site we really wanted. I also think there are a lot of issues with the system, and it really needs to be revisited.

  • Anonymous

    You must be an insider to get it every time you wanted it. I have been up and ready everday by 7am in February and have not booked a single site I wanted. Always they are open and then instantly gone. This reservation system is a scam.

  • David

    I am always amazed at why I even go camping. Moving away from the comforts of home to sometimes cramped quarters, etc. It seems to defy logic. But I always come away refreshed. Nowadays you can camp with great creature comforts too. A company that rents campers in various sizes and floorplans is http://www.campingvacationrentals.ca. This is becoming a more and more popular alternative to owning a camper. No payments and no storage makes sense for more and more people.

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