Why Sleeping Giant is an RVer's Dream: Camping and RVing at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park

This is the RV trip that sparks a life-long love for so many. With its legendary views and ideal family sites, Sleeping Giant Provincial Park is the place where camping magic happens.

Camping at one of Ontario’s fine provincial parks is always recommended, and has been a classic family vacation activity for decades. In recent years, recreational pursuits like camping and RVing have exploded in Ontario as an affordable and fun way to travel locally. When I was a kid, camping at a provincial park was an absolute must-do for my parents, so I know first-hand that enjoying quality time in a campground offers a healing effect on the soul, and is a source of true family bonding. It was definitely the case for me personally with Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, the very first provincial park I ever camped at.  

Sleeping Giant; a large, glassy blue lake with a forested peninsula on the other side, under a bright blue sky
Sleeping Giant offers legendary views and lots to explore.

Ontario Provincial Parks had me imprinted for life following that initial trip! The year was 1981. My parents and I were travelling across Canada in a 1980 Volkswagen Rabbit, stopping at every provincial park along the way. Since the Lakehead and Thunder Bay are approximately 17 hours (or 1,400 km) from my family home in southern Quebec, it served as a much-needed first stop on our cross-Canada tour. One very long day to be sure, but well worth the drive!

Sleeping Giant’s Marie Louise Campground

Camping in Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, as I discovered, was the perfect option for a budding ‘outdoors guy’. As we pulled into Marie Louise Lake Campground, I immediately felt a sense of being somewhere special and unique. Even as a teen, I knew this was a magical place. Turning off Highway 587 onto the campground road, we drove past the gatehouse into this glorious park; I felt like I was transcending time and space. Our campsite, as I recall, was a stone’s throw from Marie Louise Lake and just about the prettiest spot I had ever seen.

The Prettiest Campsite I'd Ever Seen

a tent in a forested area overlooking the lake in Sleeping Giant Provincial Park
These sites are memory-makers. // Photo by Jake O’Flaherty

With over 200 nicely treed campsites, more than half with access to electric service, Marie Louise Campground offers the ideal layout. As with all provincial parks, every campsite has a picnic table and fire pit and is within walking distance of water and toilets. In our case, the lake was also within walking distance. Nearby, breathtaking views of Lake Superior and the surroundings are available from the Top of the Giant Trail, with 100 km of hiking trails and geological features such as the ‘Sea Lion’ and Tee Harbour.

Full-Service Cabins At Sleeping Giant

Full-service cabins are also available for rent year-round at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. Well-constructed cabins named after boreal forest orchids (such as Dragon's Mouth, Rose Pogonia, Fairy Slipper, Pink Moccasin, and Coral Root) offer the conveniences of home. There is a 2-night minimum stay and a 3-night minimum stay on long weekends. One cabin (cabin #4) is even dog-friendly. Accommodation rentals include a vehicle permit and full access to the park.

a map of the Sleeping Giant Provincial Park campground
Marie Louise Campground has a family and group-friendly layout and all the facilities to make your trip comfortable.

Group RV Facilities at Sleeping Giant

Avid RVers and caravanners travelling in groups will appreciate Sleeping Giant’s group camping facilities. Two group campsites are available within this provincial park: one site accommodating up to 25 campers and another, larger group site that can accommodate up to 50 campers. These group RV sites offer water and electric service, and vault toilets that RVers can appreciate. Both spots are a short walking distance to the beach.

Historic Nature Exhibits

Exhibits at the Park’s Visitor Centre display the natural and cultural history of the Sibley Peninsula including a model of the Silver Islet Mine, where a rich vein of silver was discovered in 1868. Over the 16 years the mine was in operation, $3.25 million worth of silver was extracted. Homes built to house miners of the day are currently occupied as private summer cottages, and the old general store has been restored and serves meals in its tea room.

Story of Sleeping Giant

an aerial view of Sibley Peninsula
The Sibley Peninsula: Ontario's Sleeping Giant.

The main attraction at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, of course, is the infamous Sleeping Giant, an imposing natural peninsula shaped like a giant sleeping person. The rock juts out into Lake Superior and forms Thunder Bay. One Ojibwe legend identifies the Sleeping Giant as Nanabozho—a mythical shapeshifter who is both zoomorphic and anthropomorphic, meaning they take the shape of a human or beast. Sleeping Giant is also the namesake and general setting for the 2015 Canadian film Sleeping Giant.

Terry Fox Lookout

Terry Fox Lookout
The Terry Fox Lookout is a great place to catch a view of Sleeping Giant.

Another attraction while visiting Sleeping Giant is the Terry Fox Lookout, which did not exist in 1981 when I was there. Coincidentally, the Canadian hero Terry Fox passed away during the summer of '81 when I visited Sleeping Giant. Thunder Bay is significant as it was the location Terry was forced to halt his Marathon of Hope a year earlier in August 1980. Today, the scenic Terry Fox lookout offers a  breathtaking view of the Sleeping Giant and commemorates Terry and his dedication to cancer research.  With a towering bronze statue atop a large granite base, the lookout also includes a Tourist Information Centre and picnic area.

Dreaming of a Sleeping Giant RV Adventure

Though it has been four decades since I visited Sleeping Giant, it is etched in my memory forever. On my next RV adventure through Northwestern Ontario, I plan to return to this impressive campground.  Perhaps I will even reserve the same campsite we had in 1981!

For more information on camping at Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, visit the Ontario Parks website here.

About Jeff Morrison

Jeff Morrison is an award-winning outdoor writer, book author, and nationally-syndicated newspaper and magazine columnist.

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