fbpx Skip to Content

Best National Parks in Ontario to Explore

Best National Parks in Ontario to Explore

Ontario has numerous parks to explore and Ontario being Ontario…many of the parks are huge. You’ll have no shortage of trails, water routes, wildlife, and scenic sites to visit. While there are few national parks in Ontario, and the ones that do reside in Ontario are among some of the most stunning, unique, and biodiverse regions in all of Canada.

Ontario truly does not disappoint when it comes to nature, especially with the top provincial parks in Ontario added in. So whether you are new to exploring parks in Ontario, or are simply looking for some travel inspiration, I guarantee you’re going to want to see these Ontario parks.

How many national parks are in Ontario?

There are a total of 48 national parks in Canada and 6 of them are in Ontario. Each has a completely different ecosystem so they are all worth exploring! Don’t forget to keep these parks in mind when you’re looking to find the best fall colours in Ontario!

National Parks in Ontario

Get your bucket list ready, I have a feeling you’re going to be adding some of these Ontario destinations to it.

Bruce Peninsula National Park

  • Driving time from Toronto: 3.5 hours
  • Driving time from Ottawa: 7.5 hours

This national park is the most famous and well-known in Ontario and for good reason. Often referred to as the Caribbean of Ontario, Bruce Peninsula National Park is made up of turquoise waters, dramatic cliffs for stellar viewpoints, forest, and wetlands. Though the waters are alluring, be mindful that the waters are cool (though they warm up in the summer enough to swim). They are excellent for a kayaking or paddleboarding experience if you want to get close to the water.

Situated on Georgian Bay, this national park is rugged, beautiful, and worth spending a couple of days exploring, especially since there is another park close by! Not to mention that Bruce Peninsula National Park is part of the dark sky nature preserve.

Some of the best hikes at this park include the Grotto, a hike to a cave where you can swim, and the Half Way Log dump. The views won’t disappoint on either but parking for both hikes can fill up quickly.

Where to Stay near Bruce Peninsula National Park

In the park itself, there is Cyrpus Lake Campground, where yurts are also available, along with backcountry camping.

The closest place to stay is Tobermory, a cute town that is a great base for the Bruce Peninsula and Fathom Five National Marine Park. Be sure to book accommodation in advance, whether camping or staying in nearby Tobermory at this park’s close distance to Toronto make it a popular spot and truly one of the most beautiful places to visit in Canada, especially during the summer. Another favourite town that is about a 50-minutes away is Sauble Beach.

READ MORE: Incredible Things to do in Tobermory

Fathom Five National Marine Park

  • Driving time from Toronto: 3.5 hours
  • Driving time from Ottawa: 7.5 hours

Bruce Peninsula Parks neighbour, Fathom Five National Marine Park, is famous for Flowerpot Island where you can find rock formations that tower over you, looking just like flower pots! Fathom Five park is one of three marine parks in Canada and is an easy visit for those who are also visiting Bruce Peninsula National Park.

The park protects the freshwater ecosystem, rock formations, and also the 22 shipwrecks in the area that make for a great diving experience. It is possible to kayak to the park’s biggest draw, Flower Pot Island, but it’s most often accessed by cruise which will take a scenic route so that you can see many of the shipwrecks.

There are a couple of hikes on Flower Pot Island, most of which are easy-moderate. The most popular is to the flower pot rock formations which is where most people will turn back to make it onto the boat in time to return.

Where to Stay Near Fathom Five National Marine Park

The closest town is Tobermory. Sauble Beach is another option if you don’t mind the 50-minute drive.

READ MORE: Best National Parks in Canada

Thousand Islands National Park

  • Driving time from Toronto: 3 hours
  • Driving time from Ottawa: 1.5 hours

Nestled between Kingston and Brockville, this is Ontario’s oldest national park and the first created east of the Rocky Mountains. Though this national park is small, it is well worth a visit to explore the islands and inlets by boat. With views of castles, epic sunsets, and being one of the most bio-diverse (it’s part of the Frontenac Arch Biosphere Reserve) areas in Canada, Thousands Island National Park is a treat to visit.

The island themselves are explored by boat (or kayak) and are said to be part of a prehistoric mountain range. On the mainland, in Malloytown Landing, you can find some trails, as well as Landon Bay, and even of some of the islands themselves.

Where to Stay Near Thousand Islands National Park

There are a number of campsites in this park, including backcountry camping inland and on some of the islands. There are also a few oTENTiks to book, on the mainland and islands.

The town of Gananoque is a picturesque place to stay with a number of places available for accommodation.

Georgian Bay Islands National Park

  • Driving time from Toronto: 2 hours
  • Driving time from Ottawa: 5 hours

Don’t skip on this park just because it’s the smallest national park in Ontario. Even as the closest national park to Toronto, you’ll still be able to get away from all the busyness for a day trip to take in the picturesque sites. Georgian Bay Islands National Park is made up of 63 islands, the largest being Beausoleil Island, where you can find hiking, campsites, and cabins for overnight stays.

You can only access the park by boat, canoe, or kayak so pack light if you’re staying overnight. If you don’t have your own water transportation, you can book round-trips for day trips, or hire a water taxi to get you and all of your camping equipment over.

On Beausoleil Island you’ll find a number of trails, many are short and sweet but the views of the bays and forest canopies are peaceful. Thumb Point draws in visitors because of Giant’s Chair, a rock formation that is a unique mystery as to how it was formed.

Where to Stay Near Georgian Bay Islands National Park

There are a number of camping spots and oTENTiks within the park, including campsites on the island, though they are more basic (and remember you have to bring your gear by boat). The closest town for accommodation is Honey Harbour.

Point Pelee National Park

  • Driving time from Toronto: 3.5 hours
  • Driving time from Ottawa: 7.5 hours

Point Pelee National Park has a number of draws for visitors that make this small national park a true treasure. The area was deemed a Wetland of International Significance by UNESCO and it’s here that you can stand at the southernmost part of mainland Canada (the most southern part is Middle Island which is in Lake Erie, just off of Point Pelee). The park is also extremely diverse with bird species (over 300) that migrate to this park annually. Additionally, during the fall you can visit to see the thousands of monarch butterflies that make Point Pelee National Park their home.

Even though this park is marshland, you can still find sandy beaches, and hiking across the boardwalks. The hikes are quite short here but you will be lead to beautiful viewpoints. Kayaking is a popular activity here, and whether hiking or kayaking, be sure to be aware of the waters as the wind is strong (it actually changes shoreline frequently) and swimming or kayaking can become dangerous.

Where to Stay Near Point Pelee National Park

While you won’t find camping in this national park, you will find walk-in oTENTiks, lots of cottages for rentals nearby, and the town of Leamington has accommodation options.

Pukaskwa National Park

  • Driving time from Toronto: 11.5 hours
  • Driving time from Ottawa: 13 hours

As the largest national park in Canada, Pukaskaw is a true nature-lovers paradise. You could spend lots of time exploring here and still not even see a fraction of it. Its sheer size and location in Northern Ontario mean that it’s not as often visited, so if you’re after some peace and quiet with nature and nature alone, this is your hint to visit.

On the Canadian Shield and the shores of Lake Superior, this national park offers tons of hiking with short day hikes and multi-day treks, swimming, and camping.

Where to Stay Near Pukaskwa National Park

Since this park is so remote, it’s best to camp here. But be aware that the campsites are on a first-come, first-serve basis. Otherwise, the closest town with accommodation is Wawa, a 2-hour drive away.

Rouge National Urban Park

  • Driving time from Toronto: 30 mins from downtown
  • Driving time from Ottawa: 4 hours

Ontario’s newest national park (2011), is also the only one within city limits, making it the first Urban Park in Canada. That’s right, you can find this park that’s larger than Central Park (we’re talking like 20 times larger) right in Toronto and it’s accessible by public transit.

Aside from hiking, which there is plenty of in this park, it’s also the only spot to camp in Toronto. The area used to be a conservation area but today this forested, marshland, and farmland area is for you to explore. The park has several sections and even a canoe launching area.

You can find hiking trails on the Rouge App and always remember to be mindful because even though you’re in a city there still have been wildlife spotted!

Where to Stay Near Rouge National Urban Park

You can camp in this park with a couple of campsites that offer varying services. oTENTiks are also available and accommodation nearby is easy to find as it is in Toronto! Your best bet is to find hotels around the Toronto Zoo.

Find more Ontario travel inspiration!

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links which I earn a small commission from and are at no additional cost to you.

Disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links which I earn a small commission from and are at no additional cost to you. See my disclosure policy for details. Thank you for supporting my small business!

Disclaimer: Taylor’s Tracks is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.Com and affiliated sites.