The Lodge Experience

Lodges are the perfect place for a staycation, and a great way to get to know the many incredible parts of northwestern Ontario.

Northwestern Ontario is a land of great beauty. This past year has made many of us realize and appreciate it more than ever. Being unable to travel internatioally has made more people look at some of the amazing destinations in Superior Country.

In my opinion, one of the most unique and relaxing ways to explore your own backyard in Ontario is via a lodge staycation. If you want to experience a wilderness area or lake, but aren’t quite ready to rough it, staying at a lodge is the way to go. The coolest thing about a lodge is they are all different and offer varying levels of service according to your needs—in fact, you can even book an all-inclusive stay with meals included! There are tons of lodges that are accessible by vehicle, making planning a breeze. You can drive to a wide number of lodges and stay for a day, a weekend, or a full week. A little bit of research will reveal just how many options are on offer.  

Evenings by the campfire are the perfect way to cap a long day of adventure in Superior Country.

The term lodge (or resort) can cover a wide variety of accommodations and experiences. The traditional lodge is a central building on a property that may or may not include cabins, connected housekeeping units, or even camping areas. A few lodges have all the rooms under one roof.  Lodges generally feature a main sitting area that can have things like a stone fireplace bar, pool table, or tackle shop. Many lodges have television and most have Wi-Fi.  

Meals are included with the all-inclusive option. Enjoy fresh fish, local produce, and hearty fare for every taste. 

Some lodges are ornate and rustic, with a ton of history and cool things like fish and game mounts, older pictures, and historical information about the area. Others are more modern like a nice hotel dropped in the wilderness.  Many lodges also include a dining area, where you can sit down and be served a delicious meal or hot breakfast.  For those that like to be served on a vacation, the dining room option is very appealing.           

Adventure Central

Most lodges offer complimentary use of kayaks, canoes, and other watercraft. 

Most lodges in Superior Country are centrally located in places where multiple types of adventure are accessible. As often as not, that means the lodge is situated on the water, or close enough to it for access by vehicle or foot.  Lodges that cater to angling usually have boats, canoes, or kayaks available for rent. Some will have guides on staff that can take you fishing and give you a full adventure.

A day (or three) spent fishing with a knowledgeable guide makes for a memorable vacation. 

All you have to do is fish, then sit back and enjoy the ride. If you don’t have fishing gear, many lodges (or guides) can help you out there as well. Just be specific about what you need and want when you are arranging your trip. Quite a few lodges are focused on fishing or in the fall, hunting. Yet most lodges also have a wide variety of other things you can do. Many people like to experience the area they are visiting, and a lodge is the perfect headquarters for this.  

Hike, Bike, Canoe, Swim, and Forage

Superior Country covers a lot of wild land and that means there is much to explore. Not every lodge will be located near a park or maintained trails, but a surprising number are.  Many of the lodges I’ve stayed at (or worked at) have had hiking areas close by. Some are within walking distance others may require a short drive to access. Lodge owners will usually know what’s available to hike, or bike in the area and what other points of interest there may be. They can also point you to the best beaches and swimming options nearby!

Bike, swim, and spend time away from screens with your family. 

Often lodges located on the water have a swimming area close by. In season, there can be places to go and forage for wild blueberries and raspberries.  Not all lodges will have berry picking within walking distance, but many will know where to drive to. If the lodge isn't directly on the water, there are usually nearby lakes, ponds, and rivers that can be fished and explored by canoe, kayak or on foot. Some of these smaller lakes are stocked with trout by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. A quick check of the area in question via the Fish Online website will reveal any options.

See Wildlife

Wildlife sightings are all but guaranteed up here. 

Another interesting but often overlooked part of the lodge life is the opportunity to view wildlife. The viewing opportunities can range from birds such as loons, ducks, swans, woodpeckers, and songbirds to large raptors like the bald eagle. Smaller rodents including red squirrels, chipmunks, and snowshoe hare are nearly a sure thing, but larger mammals like moose and deer are possible as well. Some wildlife viewing is spontaneous, while certain areas along a road may be conducive to moose and bear coming out to feed in the evening. Again, let your lodge owner know what you would like to try and see. There are never guarantees when it comes to viewing wildlife, but it’s amazing what you can bump into.

Lodges are a great place to just hang out and burn a few days doing as little as possible. You can get in a lawn chair or hammock and read a book. Maybe you just want to soak up some sun listen to the wind and the birds. Perhaps drink wine and play crib. A lot of lodges have a sauna or steam bath - perfect for relieving stress. Most lodges have a fire pit, and a bonfire is a great way to end an evening. A guitar, a drink, and the northern lights. There are worse ways to cap a summer day.

Relax, unwind, and enjoy the good life at one of Superior Country's welcoming lodges.   

Lodges aren’t just for other people from other places. They are the perfect place for a staycation, and a great way to get to know the many incredible parts of northwestern Ontario. Make this the year you discover a lodge in Superior Country.

About Gord Ellis

Gord Ellis is a lifelong resident of Thunder Bay, Ontario and a full time journalist, broadcaster, professional angler and guide. He is the senior editor of Ontario Out of Doors magazine, Canada's best read fishing and hunting magazine. Gord is a regular on CBC radio's Superior Morning and writes a monthly column on Ontario for the Northern Wilds magazine, in Minnesota. He has written over a thousand feature articles and columns for publications as diverse as Sentier Chasse Peche, in Quebec, the Financial Post and the Globe and Mail. He is a long time member of the Outdoor Writers of Canada and has won better than 25 national awards for his writing and photography. In 2018, Gord was inducted into the Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in Hayward, Wisconsin.

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