Yes, it really happened!
The 5 hour drive north to Algonquin Provincial Park was scenic and winding. We were blessed with sunny skies and a warm breeze that made the drive much more pleasurable. Once inside the park it was another 40 kilometre drive to our camping spot at Rock Lake. Reservations are required to camp at the park and luckily Ontario Parks has a pretty organized online system where you can choose your spot via an interactive map. However you do need to know which location within the park you want to camp at beforehand. Within Algonquin Park there are eight campgrounds located just on highway 60. Rock Lake was chosen randomly based on what was available. There are a few more campgrounds further north and the option of backcountry camping as well for those who truly love the outdoors.
Algonquin Park is the most popular spot to camp in all of Canada due to its history and its rich biodiversity.
Canada’s most popular artists, The Group of Seven, used Algonquin Park as their muse in the early 1900’s making the landscapes popular all over Canada. The park has also been named a National Historic Site of Canada and once at the park, there are a few museums you can visit to get more of an understanding as to why it’s so popular and how its well preserved.
The park also has 14 trails on which you can spot wild animals such as a moose, deer, and birds. One of the most popular activities at the park is canoeing since there are numerous lakes that are part of the park. Renting a canoe is easy to do since most companies will also deliver to your campsite but also expensive. It is cheaper to bring your own or rent one at the store on your way to your campsite.
Rock Lake has a small stretch of a sandy beach and the water was lukewarm in early August. The water is simply beautiful, reflecting like glass as the sun beams down on it.
The campsites were all filled up making it quite busy. There were more RVs than tents as well.
Camping for me is about relaxing with nothing else to do. Once the tents were up, it was all about hanging out by the beach by day and making smores over the fire by night. Although we had plans of trekking and canoeing, we all succumbed to doing nothing at all (and playing poker).
As a bunch of girls camping on our own we faced a huge challenge – how do we get our fire to start?
We were lucky to have experienced campers nearby that helped us start our fire. It really is harder than it looks! Firewood can only be purchased at the campsite office and kindling wood is highly recommended.
Our second challenge was unintentional – our campsite was also the home to a beehive. After numerous attempts of trying to kill all the bees that began to nest in one of our tents, we did have to call the park warden for help. The only solution to getting rid of bees is to smoke them out. Sure enough once the campfire started they began to diminish. However it was a serious buzzkill (pun intended!) especially since one of my friends did get stung by a bee. But I suppose those are the challenges of an outdoor vacation.
You also need to be prepared for the outdoors since the weather can get quite chilly at night even if it is a warm day. It’s a drive away to civilization (such as stores) so we were glad we did all of our last minute shopping before hitting up the site.
The park office does sell ice along with firewood. Most of the campsites also have showers and (clean) toilets.
Most people choose to camp closer to home since five hours of driving can be a lot to just get away from the city. In my opinion it’s well worth the drive up north because Algonquin park is like no other! It is the epitome of Canadian beauty being completely serene.
The campsites are not as isolated as you would think when you envision the biggest national park in Ontario, but it is clean, adventurous and Ontario at its best.