Budget Breakaway: Northeastern Ontario Camping for (Almost) Free

Itching for a no-frills, low-budget escape? Camping in Northeastern Ontario is one of the most wallet-friendly ways to get out of town and immerse yourself in the beauty of nature, all without breaking the bank. There is no better way to enjoy its captivating wonder than by pitching a tent or parking an RV and answering the call of the wild.

Campgrounds in Northeastern Ontario are safe, affordable, and situated among some of the most pristine natural landscapes Canada has to offer. There’s an outdoorsy activity for everyone to enjoy, from canoeing, fishing, kayaking, and swimming. Northeastern Ontario is the perfect backdrop for your next adventure away from home, no matter what kind of camper you are.

Before diving into Canada’s national parks, you may not know where to start or which location is best for your budget-friendly breakaway. Whether you’re looking to rough it on a pitched-tent camping trip or enjoy some fine dining off the trails, this region has plenty to offer. To find out more about this diverse area, read our Northeastern Ontario Travel Guide.

1. Killarney: Greater Sudbury Area

Killarney is the perfect place to experience the beauty of Northeastern Ontario camping on a budget. It’s located on the northern shore of Georgian Bay in the Sudbury district and is commonly associated with Killarney Provincial Park. A large wilderness park, Killarney Provincial Park is an ideal low-cost camping destination. 

Killarney is also home to the eastern end of the La Cloche Mountains. This lush natural landscape features the wild Georgian Bay coast and 50 beautiful lakes among its rolling hills. The camping site offers extensive backcountry canoeing and kayaking as well—just some of the top reasons to visit the City of Lakes—so there are plenty of ways to stay busy during your retreat into nature.

2. Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Park: Temagami

If you’re an avid camper who’s looking to get out on the water during your camping holiday in Northeastern Ontario, Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater Park is a no-brainer. This pristine wilderness features 1,491 miles (2,400 kilometres) of ancient interconnected waterways that make it the ideal destination for a canoeing adventure. With rivers flowing in every direction as well as the highest point in Ontario (Ishpatina Ridge) and several other tall peaks, there’s also plenty of waterfall action to be enjoyed here. 

As Lady Evelyn-Smoothwater offers backcountry camping only, you’ll find yourself in splendid seclusion with breathtaking landscapes all to yourself. But that does mean this destination is advised for those with a little more camping experience.

3. Halfmoon Wilderness Camp: Timmins

Timmins, the fourth largest city in Northeastern Ontario, is home to Halfmoon Wilderness Campground, a top-rated campsite for families, couples, and solo travellers alike. The quiet camping grounds make for the laid-back, inexpensive getaway you’re craving and are lovely for spontaneous trips and easy retreats. Pitch your tent or park your RV beside Halfmoon Lake and fish for smallmouth bass, walleye, and northern pike on a lazy afternoon. The grounds are clean, well-maintained, and affordable for long- or short-term camping. And are close enough that you can spend a day enjoying the Timmins cultural scene.

Kettle Lakes Provincial Park: Connaught

East of Timmins sits Kettle Lakes Provincial Park, a gorgeous landscape boasting 22 kettle lakes formed over centuries by glaciers. Hike through the Jack Pine Boreal Forest or fish for rainbow and brook trout in one of the many crystal-clear lakes. Biking enthusiasts will enjoy over nine miles (15 kilometres) of trails, making Kettle Lakes a fantastic destination for anyone interested in Northeastern Ontario campgrounds.

Samuel de Champlain Provincial Park: Mattawa

At just 9.8 square miles (25.5 square kilometres), Samuel de Champlain is relatively small for a Northeastern Ontario park. But that doesn’t mean it’s short on stunning scenery and adventurous activities. The park can be explored by land or water, with plenty of hiking trails—they’re especially beautiful during fall—and canoe routes to choose from. If you’re going to hit the water, try out the Voyageur Canoe Experience to see how Northeastern Ontario’s aboriginal people first navigated these waters.

As far as camping goes, Samuel de Champlain has two car campgrounds: Babawasse and Jingwakoki. Both offer electrical sockets at each of their sites, as well as ablutions (laundry facilities included), and beach frontage.

Fairview Park: North Bay

North Bay is often referred to as an underrated destination for camping enthusiasts and wilderness lovers. Fairview Park, found on the bank of the La Vase River, has no shortage of breathtaking scenery and natural wonder. Their on-site marina offers canoe and kayak rentals, and there’s even a heated pool on the grounds. It’s located within city limits, just a three-mile (five-kilometre) drive to the heart of downtown. Which means you could explore North Bay’s galleries by day before heading back to camp for the evening.

Bayview Camp & Cottages: Callander

Bayview Camp and Cottages is a budget-friendly campsite in Callander, Ontario, that’s great for families, fishermen, and travellers of all kinds. Fishermen will have much luck casting their rods in Lake Nipissing, and travellers will enjoy its beautiful sandy beaches. Paddleboats, kayaks, and canoes are available for rent. Pets are allowed, too, so don’t forget to bring your furry friends along for your next adventure!

Whether you’re looking to rough it on a camping trip or enjoy some fine dining, Northeastern Ontario has plenty to offer. To find out more about this diverse region, read our Northeastern Ontario Travel Guide.

About Northeastern Ontario Tourism

Whether planning a fun-filled family road trip, a quick weekend expedition, or a romantic getaway, Northeastern Ontario is undeniably BIG and unbelievably close.

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