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A Guide to Wildfires in Ontario 2023

Heading north to camp, paddle, and explore? Here's everything you need to know about wildfires in Ontario this season.
campfire

The beautiful summer season is a time for camping, campfires, marshmallows on the fire, and S'mores. We take full advantage of it here in Ontario. But what to do when wildfires are a concern? 

Wildfires are becoming more frequent in Ontario during the summer months and they can have an impact on the activities of some parks in the Ontario Parks system and on other tourist sites.

As of June 13, the 2023 fire season is already particularly active—there is some smoke in places close to the fires which makes for overcast skies—in the North, in Toronto, in Quebec. We are following the situation and will update this page regularly, to help you better plan your trip north. Keep in mind, Northern Ontario is massive, nearly twice the size of Texas! So while you may want to avoid some areas, most of Northern Ontario is open for business as usual. 

If travelling close to a destination affected by the fires we urge you to be cautious. Communicate with your hotel, motel, or campsite, check the updates at the resources below, and know before you go!

Also be aware that in the case of forest fires, the situation can change quickly. Always listen to the authorities and follow any orders or advice you may receive. 

Park Closures in Ontario 

As of June 13, 2023, no Ontario Parks are closed to the public due to forest fires. However, traffic is prohibited in certain forests, notably in the district of Chapleau-Wawa and in Heast-Cochrane-Kapuskasing.

The fire ban, however, is real across the North—from Algonquin to Caliper Lake, the region remains heavily impacted by fires. It is even forbidden to light candles and the use of a stove is limited to propane. The situation is so active that the map indicating the risk index of wildfires is not accessible at the time of our update. Check it out as it's important!

Ontario Parks posts updated alerts here.

The entrance to French River Provincial Park on July 30, 2018. In the smoke!
 
June 12, 2023: lots of fires, provincial restrictions.  Red indicates areas with extreme fire risk, yellow with high risk, green and blue with low or medium risk.
June 12, 2023: lots of fires, provincial restrictions. Red indicates areas with extreme fire risk, yellow with high risk, green and blue with low or medium risk.
 

Open Parks in Ontario During the Forest Fires

With a network of over 330 provincial parks, Ontario Parks has plenty of options for campers! You will find them in particular on the Twitter page of Ontario Parks (in French here and in English here ), those of the Northeast and Northwest parks. Other campgrounds are listed on Camping in Ontario.

You can also consult the interactive map of forest fire risks from the Ministry of Natural Resources to assess the situation.

We repeat: the situation can change quickly in the event of fires or forest fires. So check the Twitter page of the park you want to visit to make sure the information is up to date.

Parks may prohibit campfires depending on the situation—know before you go.

Ban on Fires

You can confirm whether campfires are prohibited at the Ontario Parks site or by consulting the Government of Ontario wildfire map—restricted areas are marked with grid lines. As of June 5, 2023, this was the case for many of the parks in the North—and the list goes on. Be aware: the ban is total, and there hefty fines for anyone who doesn't observe it.

In the Northeast: (update coming soon, see the Ontario Parks page)

In the Northwest: (update coming soon, see the Ontario Parks page)

Central North: (update coming soon, see Ontario Parks page)

Central: Many day-use parks and nature preserves are affected.

Where To Go For Updates on Ontario Forest Fires

You can follow the Ontario Parks Twitter accounts, where updates are provided regularly. 

On Twitter, the hashtag #ONFires can also be used to follow discussions surrounding the forest fires in Ontario. 

Even better, the official Ministry of Natural Resources page is dedicated to forest fires

You can view the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources Forest Fire Information Map by clicking here.

About Andréanne Joly

A freelance journalist and travel writer, Andréanne Joly has been exploring and sharing her attachment to Northern Ontario and its French culture for 20 years. Northern Ontario's destinations are beautiful, diverse, and incredible!

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