Chutes Provincial Park Aces the Family RV Test

Finding an RV spot that leaves the whole family happy can be a tall order, but this beautiful park is a winner.

Last fall, my wife, two daughters and I hopped in the Toyota Tundra with our 26-foot travel trailer attached and headed for Northern Ontario. As an avid camper and RVer of over 40 years, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting dozens of wonderful provincial parks from coast to coast, and Ontario certainly boasts some of the nicest anywhere. I'm an outdoor enthusiast who is intrigued with lakes, rivers and waterfalls, so any park with ‘aquatic appeal’ is right up my alley. I had previously camped at Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park, a jaunt up the highway near Thunder Bay, so the next logical choice for that pure symphony of water is Chutes Provincial Park—perhaps the "wateriest" park in Ontario.

Raging rapids surrounded by green forest under a blue sky.
This park has no shortage of beautiful sights.

RV Destination: Chutes Provincial Park

Nestled in the famous Aux Sables River Valley, Chutes is known for its camping, hiking and picturesque views but most of all, its incredible river gorge. And let me tell you, the gorge is gorg! This provincial park offers 134 campsites including 56 with electrical hookups suitable for RVs. In the park is an awesome 6 km hiking trail with breathtaking views of waterfalls and the entire gorge. The location was exactly the ‘symphony of water’ I was looking for! Conveniently located minutes off the TransCanada highway and approximately 6 hours from my home in Ottawa (4.5 Hours from Toronto), the Park serves as a great launching pad to explore Manitoulin Island and the North Channel of Lake Huron.

History of Chutes Provincial Park

a black and white photo of the wooden log chute that used to be at Chutes Provincial Park
Loggers used the large chute to transport logs over the main falls.

Named for a large wooden log chute which operated here during the early 1900s, the Park is steeped in forestry and logging history. The original chute was constructed at the main falls to protect and funnel logs travelling over the waterfalls, much like fish ladders of today. Loggers of the day made wooden trestles filled with water and trust me, there is no lack of water here! The waterfall is really the main attraction at Chutes, along with the Seven Sisters Rapids located upstream. We walked the full length of the rapids soaking in the beauty of this rushing water along the way. The whole family appreciated the beauty of the Canadian Shield and all the exposed bedrock.

A wooden interepretive panel next to a wooden trail walkway at Chutes Provincial Park. It is surrounded by vibrant red, orange and green foliage with a carpet of orange autmun leaves on the ground.
Visitors can read about the history of the area by checking out the interpretive panel at the Falls Lookout

Park RV Camping

At 108 hectares, Chutes Provincial Park is a massive campground offering a mix of treed and shaded sites divided into four loops: A, B, C and D. The A and B loops are larger sites with electric hookups where the travel trailer and RV folks like us go, while C and D loop boasts more wilderness sites. C-loop also includes a "radio-free" zone located along the banks of the Aux Sables River. In total, there are 57 electric hookup sites for RVs, 2 group camping areas and 71 additional camping spots for smaller trailers and RVs. As with other provincial parks, every campsite comes with its own firepit and picnic table. The campground has multiple potable water spigots spaced throughout the park, flush toilets, showers, a laundry facility and a camp store. 

a cozy-looking camper parked next to a warmly glowing fire pit at night.
Never a better way to watch the stars together. 

Family Friendly Activities in Chutes Provincial Park: Birders are Us!

Chutes Provincial Park, by location alone, makes it a perfect nesting and staging area for waterfowl and birds of all kinds. The insects, berries and forage are plentiful along the Aux Sables River, and surrounding forests offer plenty of cover and nesting options for our avian friends. My daughter and I are biologists and bird enthusiasts, so we grabbed our Bushnell Elite 10-42s and headed for bird paradise. We spotted a bunch of large pileated woodpeckers, downy woodpeckers, and golden-crowned kinglets among others. Under the beautiful fall foliage, nature just seems to come alive here at Chutes, especially the featured variety.

Hiking Trails Near Chutes Provincial Park

Twin Bridges Trail; a beautiful forest trail lined with mossy rocks in Chutes Provincial Park
Twin Bridges Trail is a great way to experience the beauty of the area.

For those who wish to explore more of the 108 hectares, the 6 km Twin Bridges Trail showcases almost everything Chutes has to offer, including the falls, rapids, rocky ridges, and of course bridges. The highlight is the Seven Sisters Cataracts, a series of white-water rapids. Anyone camping at Big Chute Crescent can take the wooden stairway which leads to a viewing area above the falls with spectacular views of the river moving through the gorge, culminating in a wonderful sandy beach at the bottom. If you camp at Chutes Provincial Park in the fall as we did, (and I highly recommend it) you will be treated to spectacular autumn colours along the trails.

A view of the river at Chutes Provincial Park; a rocky river with steep stone banks and red and green autumn trees in the background.
The Aux Sables River wearing its autumn finery.

Chutes Final Word

My family and I enjoyed a wonderful time during our early fall camping trip in Massey, at Chutes Provincial Park. The river and surroundings were inviting and memorable and the facilities were clean and well laid out. Feeling a tad melancholy, with thoughts of rushing water and wonderous nature going through our heads, we loaded up the trailer at the end of the trip and headed east on the TransCanada towards Ottawa. I will certainly be back!

For more information on camping at Chutes 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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