My 34-Day RV Road Trip to Thunder Bay

5,560 km later one couple describes their ultimate RV holiday.

When Deb Kelly embarked on an epic 34-day RV trip this fall, we asked her to keep a log of her journey. Here she tells us everything about her Ontario RV adventure.  

Overview: The Stats

  • Total Kilometres Driven: 5,560 km
  • Breakdown: 3,245 km pulling fifth wheel trailer and 2,315 km day trips
  • Total Days:  34 (Sept 8 – Oct 11)      
  • Total Driving Time: approx. 42 hrs, excluding day trips.  

Overview: The Route

From Woodstock across country to Shelburne, then Hwy 89 to Hwy 400; Hwy 400 North to Hwy 11; continuing north on Hwy 11 to Timmins; west across Hwy 101 to Wawa; northwest on Hwy 17 to Thunder Bay; southeast on Hwy 17 to Sault Ste Marie, then east on Hwy 17 to Sudbury; south on Hwy 69 to Britt; east on Hwy 522 to Trout Creek; Hwy 11 south to Arrowhead Provincial Park near Huntsville; Hwy 11 south to Hwy 89, then to Shelburne and across country to Woodstock.  

Day 1– 451 km to Callander

We stayed 2 nights at a Boondocker’s Welcome host in Callander, on Lake Nipissing.   

We stopped at a rest stop just north of Huntsville for a picnic lunch. Along our route there were many nice rest stops, with lots of room to park a truck and fifth wheel. 

Day trip to North Bay (the Gateway to Northern Ontario) – strolled around the Downtown and waterfront area (the North Bay Heritage Railway & Carousel was closed for the season.)  We saw the Dionne Quintuplets house that was moved to the waterfront area and now is a tourist attraction. We didn’t go through it though. We had lunch at Moose’s Cookout where we had the best bruschetta we have ever tasted and tried their famous wings (they have over 100 different sauces).   

Watched a spectacular sunset on the east shore of Lake Nipissing.   

Day 3 – 507 km to Ivanhoe Provincial Park, Foleyet, on Hwy 101.  

Stayed 2 nights.  

Stopped at Gillis Truck Stop in New Liskeard (which is now part of Temiskaming Shores). Best feature was the cool truck décor. Food was good, with pleasant and fast service.  If I were younger, I would have explored the options of a fly-in and canoe trip to Lady-Evelyn Park/Lake.  Maple Mountain is one of Ontario’s highest points. Also in this area is the Ishpatina Ridge, which is Ontario’s highest point of land.  

Ivanhoe Provincial Park is now one of my favourite parks to visit – it was quiet and serene (with the sound of small airplanes at Air Ivanhoe, taking people on air tours—and to several lodges for the best fly-in fishing on remote Northern Ontario lakes. On my next visit there, an Air Tour will be on my agenda! The drive into the campground goes over a small dam and around the lake. Our site was right across the road from the lake. 

In the morning I took my chair and coffee down to the beach and listened to the sound of the Loons. Experienced another beautiful sunset on the shore of Ivanhoe Lake. 

Saw two deer and a bear on the park road. 

Day 5 – 230 km to Wawa. 

Stayed 1 night, at a Harvest Host location – Algoma Highlands Wild Blueberry Farm

Wawa is known for its 8.5-metre statue of a Canada goose. A drive through the downtown district offers beautiful views of Wawa Lake. Stopped at the Bangin’ Burger and Chicken Shack for poutine (heard it was the best here). At the Blueberry Farm tried some unique wine, bought blueberry wine and blueberry jam–both awesome! We didn’t have time for the wine tour.  

Saw a family of partridges crossing the road.  

Day 6 – 205 km to Neys Provincial Park, between Marathon and Terrace Bay.   

We had a site across the road from the beach, on with a spectacular view of Lake Superior and Pic Island as it was immortalized on canvas by Lawren Harris of the famous Canadian painting team, The Group of Seven.   

Spectacular sunset. I wish we had more time here to explore the model of former Neys Camp 100—the park was once a POW camp. 

Day 7 – 260 km to Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, Sibley Peninsula, east of Thunder Bay.

Stayed 5 nights. 

Spectacular views of mountains, cliffs and Lake Superior from Wawa to Nipigon.  The Nipigon River Bridge is a very unique structure – the first cable-stayed bridge ever built in Ontario. 

Sleeping Giant PP is known for its challenging hikes along the rugged shoreline, towering cliffs and spectacular views. We are not great hikers so we took the Thunder Bay Lookout Road – a 9.2 km gravel road with several steep hills, leads you to an incredible scenic lookout. It is a safe lookout for seniors and children to view the spectacular scenery of Lake Superior. It was very foggy when we visited, but we still saw a breathtaking view.  We would have liked to take some of the other less difficult trails, however, we had heavy rains for the 5 days we stayed here, which limited our activities.   

Saw 2 deer at the comfort station and a fox crossing the road. 

Day Trips from sleeping giant

Kakabeka Falls – 30km west of Thunder Bay. Kakabeka Falls is the second-highest waterfall in Ontario – 40 metres high. There is a boardwalk that wraps around the falls, that provides excellent views of the falls and gorge. Kakabeka Falls also is a provincial campground, so our current provincial park pass allowed us free entry.  

Silver Islet – past Sleeping Giant Provincial Park is a little community known as Silver Islet.  At the Iconic Silver Islet General Store and Tea Room we enjoyed the best cinnamon buns, coffee, and tea. The 100-year-old store was closed for several years and was re-opened again in 2021. There is a plaque outside the store that tells the story of the discovery and mining of the “World’s Richest Silver Mine” in the mid-1800s, and how the mine finally flooded in 1884. We didn’t have time for the Lightkeeper Tour to Porphyry Island. It would have been great to spend more time discovering more about this historic little village. I discovered that a best-selling book The Lightkeeper’s Daughters by Jean Pendziwol, tells a story about Porphyry Island. 

Terry Fox National Historic Monument and Lookout – located on Hwy 11/17 east of Thunder Bay. The monument is nine ft tall and provides the legacy of this courageous young hero who in 1977 lost his leg to cancer at the age of 18. He started the Marathon of Hope in 1980, in St. John’s, Newfoundland, and sadly halted his run after 143 days just outside of Thunder Bay, eventually succumbing to the disease at the age of 22. 

Diamond Amethyst Mine – picked a bucket of stones with amethyst – bucket cost $30. 

Day 12 – 345 km to White Lake Provincial Park, between Terrace Bay and White River. 

Stayed 2 nights.   

Day Trip to White River – home of Winnie the Pooh. There is a statue in the park, right on Hwy 17 as you drive into town. You can read the story of the beginnings of Winnie the Pooh. The real Winnie was a female black bear cub, adopted by an army veterinarian heading to war in Europe. Winnie was given to the zoo in London, England. This is where Christopher Robin Milne met her. Christopher’s father A.A. Milne published many stories of Winne the Pooh which children of all ages still enjoy.  

Day 15 – 280 km to Pancake Bay Provincial Park, Batchawana Bay. 

Stayed here 5 nights.   

Along the way we stopped at a beautiful rest stop – Old Woman Bay. Walked down to the long sandy beach, looking left you see cliffs that look like the face of an Old Woman.   

Pancake Bay - the beautiful sand beach and awesome views of Lake Superior and beautiful sunsets makes this park a wonderful place to visit. 

Although the noise from traffic on Hwy 17 can be annoying the park still is a favourite of mine.  Sitting on the beach (where I didn’t hear any traffic) in the morning with my coffee was one of the best moments of our trip.  

Day Trips from batchawana Bay

Agawa Crafts & the Canadian Carver (only 10 minutes away) has an LCBO outlet, a camper’s grocery store, and many local crafts, woodcarvings, native crafts, moccasins, and much more.  

Voyageur Cookhouse, Batchawana Bay – famous for their Apple Fritters. They are huge, and very delicious (I could not eat it all at one time).  There is a small store, gift shop and liquor outlet.  

Sault Ste. Marie – only had 1 day to visit the Soo and it consisted of stocking up on supplies, laundry and propane.  We did enjoy a nice dinner at Swiss Chalet.  It was very good, was very busy – you must have lots of time to go here on a Saturday! 

Day 20 – 285 km to Chutes Provincial Park, Massey. 

Stayed here 3 nights.  

Although the Park is close to the little town (only 1 km down the side road), it was very quiet. And the lovely waterfalls were a surprising treat. At the Falls Lookout you can see the water cascading over the falls, and the beach below, where the Aux Sable River meets the falls.  Here we saw an amazing Salmon Run – watching this mystifying site of nature, where the salmon travel toward gravel beds to spawn, was one of the highlights of visiting this park. 

Day 23 – 190 km to Britt, visiting family.  

Stayed here 6 nights.  

Britt is a small community south of Sudbury, just off Hwy 69, on the shore of the Magnetawan River, which flows into Georgian Bay. 

Day 29 – 160 km to Arrowhead Provincial Park, Huntsville. 

Stayed here 5 nights.  

Met up with family for a wonderful Thanksgiving Dinner at the campsite. We stayed in the Trailer Section. 

Arrowhead is one of the most visited parks in the fall. Here you will see stunning fall colours. Being only 2 hours north of Toronto, be prepared for many day visitors to the park. It is very busy, and I feel that this may be the reason for some negative reviews, as the staff must get overwhelmed with all the visitors, (although we never had any issues.)

Day 34 – Arrived back in Woodstock.    

Our trip to Northern Ontario overall was amazing.  The drive along Lake Superior from Sault Ste Marie to Thunder Bay offers many stunning and spectacular views of the rugged shoreline, breathtaking cliffs, amazing rock cuts and steep hills.  We only ‘touched’ on the awesome places that are available to camp, eat and view the amazing landscape.   

Next time, I would like to do the entire Lake Superior Circle Tour

About Deb Kelly

Deb Kelly is an RV and camping enthusiast who loves exploring Ontario with her family and friends.

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