Where to Have a Wildlife-Viewing Experience Up North

Wildlife-viewing experiences are never guaranteed, but there are places you can go to greatly increase your odds!

One thing we've noticed is that you love looking at wildlife photos! From the incredible popularity of the trail camera photos story, to the beautiful photo of the lynx we shared on our Facebook Page, images of wildlife captured in their natural environments never lose their charm, beauty, and excitement.

But even better than viewing an image online is experiencing that magical encounter yourself, in person, on the ground (or in your car). Common sightings here in Northeastern Ontario include deer, moose, lynx, squirrels, snowshoe hares, weasels, a variety of birds, and maybe even a coyote or wolf.

Truthfully, on any road trip, business trip, or just about any kind of trip through Northeastern Ontario, there’s a good chance of seeing some wildlife. But there are places that you can go to increase your odds of having a wildlife-viewing encounter—you’ll find those below.

The Chapleau Crown Game Preserve

Where: Chapleau
What: Moose, lynx, beavers, otters, wolves, bears, and a variety of birds
When: Year-round

The world’s largest Crown Game preserve is well worth the drive it takes to get there. The beautiful scenery and drives along the way are photo-worthy themselves, and wildlife encounters can top off what is already bound to be a perfect day. 

Tip: Never forget that these are wild animals! Keep your distance and respect their space. Never approach or attempt to feed a wild animal! Not only can it be potentially dangerous for you, but it can also lead wild animals to become dependent on humans for food.

Hilliardton Marsh Research & Education Centre

Where: Englehart
What: Owls, hummingbirds, a variety of songbirds
When: May to October

A pileated woodpecker. Photo: Jaynie Wallace

The Hilliardton Marsh Research & Education Centre (HMREC) is doing incredible work rehabilitating wildlife habitats in Northeastern Ontario and acting as an outdoor classroom to teach visitors about the necessity of wetlands. The 1,800-acre HMREC hosts special events such as bird bandings, bird counts, and monarch butterfly releases. Travellers can visit the facility and even participate in the banding events and volunteer their time. True bird nerds can round up a group of friends and book an Owl Night!

Moosonee & Moose Factory

What: Beluga whales, bearded seals, snow geese, and more
When: Peak time is in spring and fall

A bearded seal lounges on the dock. Photo courtesy of the Town of Moosonee

This wildlife-viewing expedition is trip-of-a-lifetime material. Ontario’s only saltwater port, accessible only by plane or train, the communities of Moosonee and Moose Factory occupy a place on the Hudson’s Bay lowlands—a very different landscape when compared to the more southern reaches of the province. With its location on the edge of the Arctic, the area is home to a migratory bird sanctuary where visitors can take guided boat tours to photograph wildlife and tidal marine fauna. You will see flora and fauna here that can’t be observed anywhere else in Ontario.

Tip: If you’re planning to take this trip, make sure you plan well in advance. For more information about booking a wildlife tour, contact the Town of Moosonee or the Moose River Tours.  

Honourable Mention: The Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat

Where: Cochrane
What: Polar bears
When: Year-round

Polar bears are all about the snow! Photo courtesy of the Polar Bear Habitat

The Polar Bear Habit (PBH) deserves a very well-earned honourable mention spot on this list! While polar bears don’t come as far south into Ontario as Cochrane, these bears live here because they wouldn’t be able to survive on their own in the wild. The PBH is a facility focused on the bears first, and while you're not out finding them yourself in the wild exactly, visitors are invited to see them in a very natural state. A visit to the PBH is a special experience, and the passion and care the staff have for the bears at the habitat are visible throughout every moment of your visit.

Tip: Prepare to be awed, no matter what season you’re visiting in. If you come in summer, you may get lucky enough to see the bears swimming in their enclosed lake, or in the pool in the main viewing paddock. Come in winter to see the bears gambolling in the snow and enjoying the winter weather.

Honourable Mention: Cedar Meadows Wilderness Park

Where: Timmins
What: Moose, deer, bison, and elk
When: Year-round

Visitors will get up close and personal with a variety of wildlife! Photo: Goh Iromoto

Some of you may already be familiar with the Cedar Meadows Wilderness Park, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t include it in a round-up of great wildlife viewing opportunities in our region. While these animals are not in the wild, you’re guaranteed to see the animals up close and personal, and can also feed them. This creates some phenomenal opportunities to take photos, really see how big a moose is, and have an experience you’re not likely to forget anytime soon.

Tip: Bring extra batteries! Batteries have a tendency to lose their charge faster in colder weather, so bring extra batteries just in case you need to switch it up. This is true for your cell phone as well.

About Jordan Nicksy

Jordan is a writer, digital marketer, amateur photographer, and experiences severe wanderlust. After backpacking parts of Southeast Asia, she knew she wanted to work in travel and tourism, and joined Northeastern Ontario Tourism. She is passionate about food & culinary arts, history, spending time outdoors, photography, and travel.

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