15 Stunning Photos That Will Make You Want to Visit Ontario For Your Next Outdoor Adventure

Winter or summer, the province of Ontario is your best destination to experience the adventure of a lifetime.

From the top of the Sleeping Giant to a train-in winter wilderness wonderland in Wabakimi, Ontario is reserved for those who plan big adventures.

Here are 15 photos to help fuel your dream getaway in every season. 

1. Big Lake Energy

The province of Ontario is home to enormous lakes—destinations where visitors can cycle, swim, paddle and lounge along some of the finest shorelines in the world. Big lakes, such as the Great Lakes, Lake Nipigon and Lake of the Woods, offer stunning sunsets and ample opportunity to connect with the freshwater that Ontario is famous for.

Here are four frontcountry campgrounds to visit beside some of the world’s largest lakes.

Two people pulling a sled by rick cliff
Make the most of winter’s highways. | Photo: David Jackson

2. Below the Cliffs

There is something so magical about the waterways of summer turning to highways of ice in the winter. Walking under towering cliffs across a frozen lake will take your breath away. The freedom to walk where we once floated and the experience of running a mitt-covered hand down a smooth rock face are reasons to cherish the adventures of Ontario.

These outfitters can get you on the snowy trail for a day, night, or week and help you experience the silence of winter in Ontario.

  • The folks at Lure of the North are the premier winter experts and offer introductory, educational, and immersive hot tent winter camping courses from their home in Espanola. They also offer courses on making traditional snowshoes and moccasins.
  • North Ridge Ranch offers one-hour and one-day dog sled tours in the wilds of Muskoka.
  • Voyageur Quest offers winter camping packages in Algonquin Park and has everything you need to experience the solitude of a below-zero night.
  • Take an ice climbing course near Thunder Bay with Outdoor Skills and Thrills.
  • Killarney’s yurts are a great way to snowshoe, ski and spend the night without the need to camp. That said, backcountry camping in the winter is popular in the Park.
  • In the winter of 2022, Quetico Provincial Park introduced winter camping, meaning visitors have access to the best wilderness ice fishing experience in the province.
  • Want to go on an ice fishing trip, but aren’t ready to camp? Rent an insulated, wood stove-heated cabin from Bear Trak Outfitters in Black Bay, Lake Superior.
  • Enjoy a guided, activity-filled weekend getaway in Temagami’s backcountry with Temagami Outfitters.
Girl sitting at the edge of a cliff
Top of the Giant views. | Photo: David Jackson

3. Top of the Giant

If walking below a cliff is spellbinding, then sitting perched atop one is food for the soul. Ontario’s geography is ideal for lake, river, and forest travel, but also provides an abundance of lookouts that are accessible along scenic trails. Here are some hikes you won’t want to miss this summer.

River flowing though cliffs covered in trees
The view of the Barron Canyon from above. | Photo: David Jackson

4. Barron Canyon

The best part about Algonquin Provincial Parks Barron Canyon is that visitors can experience the view from inside the canyon by canoe, or hike a short distance from the road to stunning views from above.

Person sliding down a small sloped waterfall like a water slide
The High Falls waterfall in Algonquin is worth the journey. | Photo: David Jackson

5. Slide into Summer

There are places and moments on some trips where everything aligns to create the experience of a lifetime. With this in mind, the High Falls water slide in Algonquin Provincial Park is the perfect addition to your Barron Canyon trip. Here’s what you need to know.

  • High Falls is a waterfall located in the northeastern corner of Algonquin Park (not to be confused with the other High Falls located on the southern border of the Park). The falls are sloped such that you can ride down it like a water slide (be sure to wear your PFD for padding and moving-water safety, and assess the water level).
  • You can access it by canoe from the Achray access point. You’ll paddle from Grand Lake to Stratton to St. Andrew’s—there’s a trail along the portage from St. Andrew’s to High Falls Lake that leads to the falls.
  • You can also access it by foot. One option is to hike the Eastern Pines trail and visit the falls on an overnight backpacking trip. Another is to do a day hike on the affectionately named High Falls Cheater Trail, which is accessible from Barron Canyon Road (through the Sand Lake Gate).
Foggy morning in Northern Ontario
Find misty mornings like these in the boreal forest. | Photo: David Jackson

6. Boreal Mist

If you’ve paddled in the silence of a foggy morning in Northern Ontario, one where your canoe cuts like a knife through the sunrise-tinted mist, you’ll be on a mission to replicate the experience as many times as you can for the rest of your life. Here are some places to try your luck.

  • Northwestern Ontario is a paddler’s dream, and Goldseekers Outfitting services all remote waterways in the region from their base in Red Lake.
  • Thunder Bay-based Wilderness North offers not only exceptional fly-in canoe trips, but also a fly-in wilderness lodge.

You don’t have to paddle to experience the magic of a misty lake view. Stay at a lakeside accommodation and sneak out to the water’s edge at sunrise or enjoy fine dining outdoors in the evening.

Paddler in a canoe in an ice cave
Immerse yourself in a world of ice. Photo: David Jackson

7. Ice Paddling

There are very few opportunities as immersive and captivating as paddling among the ice of Lake Superior. There’s only one outfitter that can get you out for this once-in-a-lifetime adventure.  

Person canoeing towards a rock arch
Paddle to the sea lion arch in Sleeping Giant. | Photo: David Jackson

8. Experiences on the Water

While you can experience Ontario’s big adventures by gravel bike or scenic hikes, one of the finest ways to truly appreciate all that the province has to offer is to explore landmarks by water. Here are some iconic Ontario sites you should paddle this summer. 

Snowy cabin in the Forest
There is no quiet like a cabin in the wintertime. | Photo: David Jackson

9. Deep Adventure

If you’re the type of person who wants to plan the biggest adventure of your life, then your journey begins on the train and ends in the frozen wilderness of Wabakimi Provincial Park. While not for the unprepared, a visit to this iconic canoeing area in the winter is an opportunity to stay in a truly secluded cabin with Wabakimi Outfitters in the remote north of Ontario.

For those who are less inclined to experience -50°C temperatures, here are some near north glamping cabins to rent in the winter.

Couple embracing on the edge of a cliff looking at the autumn leaves
The best place to experience the beauty of fall. | Photo: David Jackson

10. Fall Hikes

The Ottawa Valley and Algonquin Highlands are famous for their fall foliage, the maple hardwood covered hills alight with colour. But the best kept secret in Ontario has to be the transformation of Northern Ontario’s birch and poplar forests. The best part? No crowds.

Here’s how and where to visit Northern Ontario in the fall:

Tent under starry sky
Dark Sky Preserves are scattered across the province—but simply getting as far away from cities will also do the trick. | Photo: David Jackson

11. Dark Skies

The farther you get from the cities—which is very easy to do in Ontario–the more plentiful the stars become across the night sky. There are a couple ways to experience the stars, one being to travel to near north settings outside Toronto and Ottawa, and the other being to venture farther north into regions hundreds of kilometres from the nearest city lights. Here are a few dark skies to consider for your summer adventures.

Pink sky reflecting on the water
Always keep an eye on the sky at dusk—you never know what spectacle you might witness. | Photo: David Jackson

12. Living Skies

There are sunsets, and there are the evenings when wild Ontario skies come to life. Oftentimes, the most exceptional sunsets happen on the evenings you least expect. When clouds line the sky—but not so thick as to block the sun—here, at the edge of a lake, is where a split second can transform the gray clouds of evening into a pastel arrangement akin to a Group of Seven painting.

To experience wild sunsets in equally wild places, these parks are your places to visit.

Moose crossing the river by a person in a canoe
Moose are the pinnacle of Ontario wildlife viewing. | Photo: David Jackson

13. Moose Crossing

Crossing paths with a moose is very likely in the rivers, creeks, swamps and lakes across Ontario. Sometimes they block the way to a portage, other times they feed happily on aquatic vegetation. Regardless, the best way to see them is to keep quiet when travelling, though that might be hard in the moment when you spot one.

Find a country road in the Ottawa Valley
Two swans fly over autumn landscape
Birds signal the changing of the season. | Photo: David Jackson

14. Trumpeter Swans

The honking of trumpeter swans after winter is a sure sign that spring is in the air. Half a year later, their calls are a joy to hear with a backdrop of autumn foliage. Trumpeters mate for life so often you will see them in pairs, though sometimes they will appear in flocks of 10 or more.

Country road during peak fall colours
Find a country road in the Ottawa Valley during peak fall colours and you won’t be disappointed. | Photo: David Jackson

15. Fall Colours

Eastern Ontario, especially in the Madawaska Highlands of the Ottawa Valley, is a region where the forests transform in the autumn with an explosion of colours. While these same hardwood trees are renowned for their maple syrup in the spring, they are the crown jewel of Ontario’s visual experience in the fall.

The best way to experience the fall season in Eastern Ontario is to stay in the heart of the Ottawa Valley and explore its roads, trails and waterways. The following lodges are great basecamps for your fall tour.

About David Jackson

David Jackson is a freelance photographer, writer, and coordinator for Path of the Paddle Association. He is an avid wilderness canoeist and has paddled many canoe routes in NW Ontario.

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