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Algonquin Park Fall Colour Report

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Algonquin Park Fall Colour

Image above: Fall colour and new pavement along Highway 60 at km 26 in Algonquin Park on September 22, 2017 (click to enlarge).

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Summary

Temperatures dipping to the freezing point in late August and early September created an early maple colour change in Algonquin Park. A recent extended period of unseasonably hot, dry conditions has dramatically slowed the colour change of Sugar Maples. Leaves part-way through their colour change process have stalled and are currently receiving little incentive to proceed with their colour change because of the warm, calm conditions. The normally brilliant orange-red colour of the maples at this time of year is now being displayed as a muted orange-rusty red colour.

The Sugar Maple understory remains green and will likely resume its colour change with the return of colder temperatures. Some of the earliest changing Red Maples are loosing leaves with isolated individual trees almost bare and prepared for winter.

Sugar Maple canopy leaves are expected to remain on the trees until the first major cold front that is currently forecast for the final days of September. Determining the exact fall colour peak for maples will be difficult this year, given the slow rate of colour change and the extended calm conditions that will allow fragile leaves to persist on the trees until the first rain or wind event.

If you are interested in observing this year’s Sugar Maple fall colour, a visit this weekend (September 23/24) and into early next week is recommended.

Later changing poplar, birch and Tamarack are showing a greenish-yellow colour indicating these species are just getting started with their colour change normally peaking in early to mid-October. Watch for updates on the colour change of these species in the days ahead. For live views see the Algonquin Park Webcam.

Algonquin Park Autumn Day Use Guide
Autumn Day Use Guide - EN, FR, DE, ZH, JA, KO
Algonquin Park Autumn Day Use Guide Algonquin Park Autumn Day Use Guide

During the past 40+ years, the earliest Sugar Maple peak recorded in Algonquin Park was September 15 (1982) and the latest October 9 (1996). During 2015 and 2016, the peak Sugar Maple colour was determined to be October 8 (almost record late) and October 5, respectively. The average peak of the Sugar Maple canopy in the western portion of the Highway 60 Corridor is September 27.

Algonquin Park Autumn Day Use Guide

Park visitors will notice that some individual trees that are likely subject to stress (disease, damage, insect outbreaks, etc.) are changing colour earlier than the majority.

Please check back for updates as conditions warrant.

The best fall colour watching in Algonquin Park is expected from mid-September to mid-October. Fall colour is subject to numerous environmental variables such as daylight length, moisture, temperature, frost, wind, heavy rain, etc., so the exact peak of fall colour is difficult to determine in advance. High winds, rain, or even snow can sometimes quickly result in fragile leaves being knocked off the trees increasing what is called leaf fall.


Live Algonquin Park Webcam

Algonquin Park Webcam: Live Views of Algonquin ParkFor real-time video, plus daily panorama images of Algonquin Park, watch the Algonquin Park Webcam broadcasting from the Algonquin Park Visitor Centre. It should be noted that this location is dominated by poplar and birch species that show their best yellow-orange colour in early to mid October, after the peak of the Sugar Maple forest. Thus we would not recommend using this live webcam as indicator of Sugar Maple colour in Algonquin Park. Use the "current status" graphic below for Sugar Maple fall colour.


Current Status of Algonquin Park's Fall Colour

Below is the current status of Algonquin Park's fall colour change. Please check back throughout fall for more detailed updates as conditions warrant.

Current Algonquin Park Fall Colour Status

Report Date:
Current Status Category: PEAK
Percentage of Colour Change: 90%
Percentage of Leaf Fall: 20%

Current Maple Colour Status in Algonquin Park

Current Poplar and Birch Colour Status in Algonquin Park


Recent Images of Algonquin Park

Below are recent images of Algonquin Park. Click to enlarge the images and see the captions for the image date and location. For live video see the Algonquin Park Webcam or The Friends of Algonquin Park's Facebook page for additional images.

Algonquin Park Fall Colour on September 22, 2017

Image above: Fall colour at km 16 of Highway 60 in Algonquin Park on September 22, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Algonquin Park Fall Colour September 22, 2017

Image above: Fall colour at km 20 of Highway 60 in Algonquin Park on September 22, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Algonquin Park Fall Colour September 22, 2017

Image above: Fall colour at km 26.5 of Highway 60 in Algonquin Park on September 22, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Algonquin Park Fall Colour September 19, 2017

Image above: Fall colour at Park Lake near the West Gate of Algonquin Park on September 19, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Algonquin Park Fall Colour on September 19, 2017

Image above: Fall colour approaching the West Gate in Algonquin Park on the foggy morning of September 19, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Algonquin Park Fall Colour September 19, 2017

Image above: Highway 60 at km 22 on the foggy morning of September 19, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Algonquin Park Fall Colour September 19, 2017

Image above: Fall colour approaching the West Gate in Algonquin Park on September 19, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Algonquin Park Fall Colour September 15, 2017

Image above: Fall colour near Tea Lake Campground in Algonquin Park on September 15, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Algonquin Park Fall Colour September 15, 2017

Image above: Fall colour at Highway 60 and Hardwood Hill (km 16) in Algonquin Park on September 15, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Algonquin Park Fall Colour September 15, 2017

Image above: Highway 60 at km 20 in Algonquin Park on September 15, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Fall colour at Highway 60 and the Track and Tower Trail in Algonquin Park on September 13, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Image above: Fall colour at Highway 60 and the Track and Tower Trail in Algonquin Park on September 13, 2017 (click to enlarge).

At Big Pines Trail in Algonquin Park on September 13, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Image above: At Big Pines Trail in Algonquin Park on September 13, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Near Cache Lake in Algonquin Park on September 13, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Image above: Near Cache Lake in Algonquin Park on September 13, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Highway 60 at km 20 in Algonquin Park on September 13, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Image above: Highway 60 at km 20 in Algonquin Park on September 13, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Lake of Two Rivers in Algonquin Park on September 13, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Image above: Lake of Two Rivers in Algonquin Park on September 13, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Highway 60 at km 26 in Algonquin Park on September 13, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Image above: Highway 60 at km 26 in Algonquin Park on September 13, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Tree canopy at km 16 of Highway 60 in Algonquin Park on September 13, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Image above: Tree canopy at km 16 of Highway 60 in Algonquin Park on September 13, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Near Hardwood Lookout Trail in Algonquin Park on September 13, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Image above: Near Hardwood Lookout Trail in Algonquin Park on September 13, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Near Tea Lake Campground in Algonquin Park on September 13, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Image above: Near Tea Lake Campground in Algonquin Park on September 13, 2017 (click to enlarge).

West Gate of Algonquin Park on September 13, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Image above: West Gate of Algonquin Park on September 13, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Just outside the West Gate of Algonquin Park on September 13, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Image above: Just outside the West Gate of Algonquin Park on September 13, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Park Lake in Algonquin Park on September 13, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Image above: Park Lake in Algonquin Park on September 13, 2017 (click to enlarge).

At the western boundary of Highway 60 in Algonquin Park on September 13, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Image above: At the western boundary of Highway 60 in Algonquin Park on September 13, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Near Park Lake in Algonquin Park on September 13, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Image above: Near Park Lake in Algonquin Park on September 13, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Tea Lake in Algonquin Park on September 13, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Image above: Tea Lake in Algonquin Park on September 13, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Near Highway 60 at km 7 in Algonquin Park on September 13, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Image above: Near Highway 60 at km 7 in Algonquin Park on September 13, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Brewer Lake in Algonquin Park on September 13, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Image above: Brewer Lake in Algonquin Park on September 13, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Near Rock Lake Road in Algonquin Park on September 13, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Image above: Near Rock Lake Road in Algonquin Park on September 13, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Red Maple in Algonquin Park on September 13, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Image above: Red Maple in Algonquin Park on September 13, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Algonquin Park fall colour September 7, 2017

Image above: Foggy beginning to September 7, 2017 in Algonquin Park near km 8 of Highway 60 (click to enlarge).

Algonquin Park fall colour September 7, 2017

Image above: Fall colour near Whiskey Rapids Trail in Algonquin Park on September 7, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Algonquin Park fall colour September 7, 2017

Image above: Some Red Maples are showing their most vibrant red colour already. Near km 5 of Highway 60 on September 7, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Algonquin Park fall colour September 7, 2017

Image above: Fall colour just outside the West Gate of Algonquin Park on September 7, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Algonquin Park autumn colours September 7, 2017

Image above: View from Hardwood Hill near Smoke Lake in Algonquin Park on September 7, 2017 (click to enlarge).

Algonquin Park fall colour September 7, 2017

Image above: View of Track and Tower Trail entrance at Highway 60 in Algonquin Park on September 7, 2017 (click to enlarge).


New for Fall Colour Season 2017

Fall Colour and Moose Algonquin Park

  • Ontario Parks has increased the cost of a Daily Vehicle Permit until October 31, 2017 for weekends and statutory holidays only on Highway 60. Fees will increase to $20 per vehicle per day from the current $17 (applicable taxes included).
  • Ontario Parks has announced that Hardwood Lookout Trail, the shortest interpretive walking trail in Algonquin Park measuring one kilometre in length, will be closed on fall weekends in 2017 to improve traffic flow. All other interpretive walking trails are expected to remain open, but Hardwood Lookout Trail will be closed on:
    • September 16/17
    • September 23/24
    • September 30/October 1
    • October 7/8/9 [Thanksgiving weekend]
  • The East Beach Picnic Pavilion, a covered picnic facility suitable for 110 people, is open free of charge 7 days a week starting September 16 until October 16, 2017. A valid Park permit is required for use of this facility. Flush toilets and running water are available at the nearby comfort station.
  • Ontario Parks has announced that large recreational vehicles (RVs), vehicles towing trailers, and buses are not permitted to park in the following interpretive trail parking lots on fall weekends, as these parking lots offer limited parking and challenging entrances for large vehicles. These locations are:
  • The first loop of the Minnesing Mountain Bike Trail, the Sugar Bush loop, will be operating as a multi-use trail for biking and hiking during fall weekends. Bathroom facilities are also available near the trail head.
  • Tea Lake Campground is open as a day use picnic ground starting September 16 to October 16, 2017. A valid Park permit is required for use of this facility. Flush toilets and running water are available at the Tea Lake Campground comfort station. This campground is closed to overnight camping during this period.
  • A portable washroom trailer will be located in the Visitor Centre parking lot from September 22 to October 16, 2017 to reduce building congestion and enable uninterrupted bathroom cleaning.
  • Ontario Parks will be implementing payment lanes on busy fall weekends at the West Gate. Park visitors are encouraged to have payment for their daily vehicle fee ready when approaching the West Gate. Cash payments are preferred by Ontario Parks as this is the fastest option to obtain a permit. Credit and debit payments will be still be available to those who do not have cash available. Visitors can remain in their vehicle when purchasing a Daily Vehicle Permit which aids in reducing potential line ups. Please note that Ontario Parks no longer accepts Amex cards. Park staff will also be available in the West Gate parking lot to provide information and answer questions.
  • The Ministry of Transportation of Ontario is reporting that there will be Highway 60 construction and reduced speed limits until October 31, 2017 for activities including grading, drainage, granular base and hot mix paving from Cache Lake (km 24) to Pog Lake Campground entrance (km 37). Expect delays up to 15 minutes. Possible shoulder and single lane closures will be in effect on Highway 60 within the limits of the project, controlled by traffic control persons when operations are taking place. Advisory 60 km/h signs will be in place. Construction happens Monday to Thursday 6:00am to 7:00pm, and Friday 6:00am to noon, single lane closure operations controlled by traffic control persons. Construction information via the Ministry of Transportation of Ontario.

Algonquin Park Autumn Day Use Guide

When Should I Visit Algonquin Park?

A trip to Algonquin Park between mid-September and mid-October is best for observing Algonquin Park's fall colour, but more precision regarding an exact date depends upon what species of tree you are interested in observing.

Red Maple in Algonquin ParkAlgonquin Park is home to 34 native species of trees. Of these species 10 are classified as conifers (cone bearing) and will retain their leaves (needles) year-round and are often referred to as "evergreen". The only exception is the Tamarack that changes to golden yellow colour before dropping its needles in preparation for winter. The other 24 species of deciduous trees change colour at different times, depending upon the species, their location in Algonquin Park, and the specific environmental conditions in that area.

No tree happens to grow in a random location, rather each tree struggle against great odds and hazards for a place in the sun and each species is subtly equipped to do better than its competition in certain conditions. Certain species of trees grow in different locations in Algonquin Park. Therefore the mosaic of forest types in Algonquin Park is no accident but is determined by soil type, moisture, climate, etc. resulting in the amazing blend of green, yellow, orange, red, and purple colours makes Algonquin Park's fall colour so special.

Traditionally, Algonquin Park's fall colour occurs earlier than surrounding areas because of the Park's higher elevation, up to almost 600 metres above sea level. This can mean the best colour is observed several weeks (or more!) prior to leaf colour change in places like Ottawa (70 metres above sea level), Toronto (75 metres above sea level), or or even communities just outside Algonquin Park's boundaries. Algonquin Park’s high elevation, thin soils, and cooler temperatures results in a shorter growing season for all plants including its trees.

Mid-September to Early October

Fall Colour in Algonquin Park

If visiting Algonquin Park during mid-September to early October, you will observe the colour change of the Sugar Maples and Red Maples. This fall colour covers hills in orange and red colours and is best observed at locations with expansive views such as trails and views across water. During the past 40+ years, the earliest Sugar Maple peak recorded was September 15, 1982 and the latest October 9, 1996. During 2016, the peak Sugar Maple colour was determined to be October 6 (almost record late), as a result of warm fall temperatures and a late frost. The average peak of the Sugar Maple canopy in the western portion of the Highway 60 Corridor is September 27. See the current status of Algonquin Park's colour change above.

Early to Mid-October

Large-toothed Aspen in Algonquin Park

An Algonquin Park visit between early to mid October (including Thanksgiving) will observe the yellow-orange colours displayed by poplar and birch species, plus the orange colour of the Sugar Maple understory. This time known as the "Golden Encore" generally occurs after the Sugar Maple and Red Maple peak colour, but offers great landscape views in poplar and birch dominated areas. The eastern portion of the Highway 60 Corridor and the Park's East Side is a great location to view this colour.

Once leaves have fallen from the tops of the Sugar Maples, the understory changes colour at ground level as it was previously protected from cold temperatures by the blanket of overhead leaves. A hike along an interpretive trail dominated by maples is a great way to see understory fall colour up close.

Mid to Late October

Tamarack

A mid to late October visit showcases Tamarack at their peak yellow colour before dropping their needles in preparation for winter. The Tamarack is Algonquin Park's only cone bearing tree that changes colour and drops all its needles in preparation for winter. Search for Tamaracks in wetlands and bogs including the Spruce Bog Boardwalk, the Mizzy Lake Trail, or along the Opeongo Road. By late October or early November (depending upon environmental conditions) all deciduous trees are bare and prepared for winter.

How Long Will the Fall Colour Last?

Upcoming weather conditions (including wind, rain, and snow) will determine the end of the fall colour viewing season. In some years, the best colour is short lived as a result of high winds for example. In other years the best viewing will remain for weeks. Environmental conditions control the duration that various species of trees will retain their fragile fall coloured leaves.


Red Maple in Autumn, Algonquin ParkWhy Does Fall Colour Happen?

Algonquin Park is ablaze with vibrant colours during September and October. In a landscape so often dominated by the green of summer, how does this brief explosion of reds, oranges, and yellows happen in the early autumn? The answer involves a complex process of numerous chemicals and environmental variables. Read more at Why Does Fall Leaf Colour Change Happen?


Where Should I Visit in Algonquin Park?

Algonquin Park Autumn Day Use Guide
Autumn Day Use Guide - EN, FR, DE, ZH, JA, KO
Algonquin Park Autumn Day Use Guide

The "Algonquin Dome" refers to the high elevation piece of the Canadian Shield that underlies the western two-thirds of Algonquin Park. Here an ancient mountain range continues to exist increasing elevation well above that of surrounding areas (primarily outside the Park). These ancient rolling hills covered by soils deposited by a glacier thousands of years ago, creating suitable conditions for the growth of maples. The maples - primarily Sugar, Red and Striped - experience a cooler climate than those outside the Park area as a result of the higher elevation. These cooler conditions and the resulting shorter growing season make for an early fall and thus an earlier fall colour watching season than other locations in southern Ontario. Fortunately for visitors, Highway 60 runs through a large section of Algonquin Park's higher elevation. The Highway 60 Corridor provides easy access to the Park area dominated by these three species of maples for keen "leaf peepers".

Below is a satellite image taken near the peak of the Sugar Maple canopy showing the red/orange colour of the Sugar Maples and the boundary of Algonquin Park. Algonquin Park's West Side including the Highway 60 Corridor is dominated by maples, while the the Park's East Side is dominated by pines that show green needles that do not change colour. This satellite image was taken on October 1, 2012.

Algonquin Park's Fall Colour Seen From Space

Suggested Places for Viewing Algonquin Park's Fall Colour

Below are suggested places for viewing Algonquin Park's fall colour. These locations change according to the date and conditions observed within Algonquin Park.

Recommended Interpretive Walking Trails

Regardless of the exact date, Algonquin Park's Interpretive Trails are a good way to view the fall colour. Trails offering lookouts with wide vistas are especially popular around the Sugar Maple peak and the later peak of poplar and birch species. These day walking trails range in length from 800 metres to 11 kilometres in length. Trails that are suggested for fall walking include:

Side Roads with Foliage Viewing Opportunities

The following side roads connected to Highway 60 offer foliage viewing opportunities with lower speed traffic than Highway 60.

  • Roads leading to Access Points around the periphery of Algonquin Park

Tips for Viewing Algonquin Parks Fall Colour 2017

Fall colour in Algonquin Park

Coming to Algonquin Park to enjoy the best fall colour? Here are a few tips for fall colour watchers.

1. Plan ahead

Know where you want to explore and how to get there. Use official Park information sources such as:

2. Know when to visit

Not all trees change colour at the same time. Traditionally, Algonquin Park's fall colour occurs earlier than surrounding areas because of the Park's high elevation, thin soils, and cooler temperatures results in a shorter growing season for all plants including its trees. This can mean the best fall colour is observed several weeks (or more!) prior to leaf colour change in places like Ottawa, Toronto or even communities just outside Algonquin Park’s boundaries. Algonquin Park fall colour season typically starts in mid-September and concludes in mid-October.

3. Know where to visit

No tree happens to grow in a random location, rather each tree struggle against great odds and hazards for a place in the sun and each species is subtly equipped to do better than its competition in certain conditions. Certain species of trees grow in different locations in Algonquin Park. Therefore, the mosaic of fall colour in Algonquin Park is no accident but is determined by factors such as geography, soil type, moisture, climate, etc. Check the “Where to Visit” section for more information.

4. Get a Park permit

Everyone who uses a provincial park requires a valid permit. Display your permit on your vehicle’s dashboard so Park Wardens can easily see it. Park Wardens issue tickets for failing to display a permit on a parked vehicle.

5. Stay locally

Consider staying within Algonquin Park or just outside the Park boundary to avoid entering the Park during the busy late morning or mid-day period. Reserve early as many accommodation options will be full for popular fall weekends.

6. Consider a weekday visit

Fall weekends are always busier than weekdays. If possible consider a mid-week visit to Algonquin Park as all facilities are open 7-days a week during the fall colour season. During 2017, the busiest weekends in Algonquin Park are expected to be September 23/24, September 30/October 1, and Thanksgiving weekend (October 7/8/9). By visiting on fall weekdays, Daily Vehicle Permit prices are also reduced when compared to weekends.

7. Arrive early

The West Gate and East Gate open at 8:00am until Thanksgiving*, but day use permits can be purchased at self-serve fee stations at both locations earlier. Self-serve fee stations are only available on weekdays during fall 2017. Permits can also be purchased at the Visitor Centre or Logging Museum as long as you don’t use other Park facilities prior. Another option is to purchase a Seasonal permit that allows an unlimited number of day-use visits either by season or annually. Seasonal permit holders don’t have to stop to purchase a permit on each visit.

* See the Events Calendar for more operating dates and hours

8. Avoid traffic congestion

On the busiest weekends of the year (likely September 23/24, September 30/October 1, and Thanksgiving weekend [October 7/8/9]) traffic can become slow or even stopped at some locations in Algonquin Park. Most visitors enter Algonquin Park via the West Gate that can experience traffic congestion during the late morning/early afternoon on peak weekends. Consider entering or exiting Algonquin Park’s Highway 60 Corridor via the quieter East Gate (near Whitney, Ontario). Use "East Gate Algonquin Park" or latitude/longitude: 45.537182°, -78.264907° in many mapping programs, such as Google Maps.

9. Visit on a cloudy day

Many people avoid visiting Algonquin Park on cloudy or rainy days during the fall colour season. Overcast conditions cut the glare and many people agree that leaf colours appear brighter than on sunny days. An added benefit is that the Park will have fewer visitors.

10. Drive and park safely

If you stop to look at fall colour or wildlife, ensure you pull completely off the traveled portion of the road and watch for traffic. Never stop in a lane of traffic. When parking do so in designated areas only. Never block emergency vehicle or pedestrian access.

11. Get away from your vehicle

Consider getting into a canoe, hiking a longer trail, or heading off the "beaten path" as most fall visitors stay close to their vehicles or hike only the shortest trails. Or for the adventurous visitor or one seeking solitude, head into the Park’s vast backcountry.

12. Keep wildlife wild

Algonquin Park is not a zoo, all animals in Algonquin Park are wild and act accordingly. Never feed or approach wildlife regardless of its size. Feeding, harming or harassing wildlife is illegal in Algonquin Park (and all provincial parks). Use caution with your cell phone camera as getting a closer image may cause you to approach an animal too closely.

13. Take home the proper souvenirs

The removal of natural or cultural objects from Algonquin Park is illegal. All vegetation (including brightly coloured leaves) and other natural features are protected and can not be removed from a Provincial Park. Many Park facilities sell appropriate souvenirs as memories of your visit.

14. Be a responsible pet owner

All pets must be on a leash not exceeding two metres in length and under control at all times. Pets can not produce excessive noise or harass wildlife. Pet owners must also “poop and scoop” in Algonquin Park.

15. Explore beyond the Highway 60 Corridor

Algonquin Park covers 7,630 square kilometres and many backcountry access points around the periphery of Algonquin Park, especially on the Park’s West Side, offer excellent fall colour viewing with fewer people. Algonquin Park’s backcountry accessible by canoe or hiking trail is also a quiet location for those seeking solitude. Check the Algonquin Park Canoe Routes Map or Backpacking Trails Map for route ideas.

16. Don’t litter

Garbage cans plus recycling and organics (compost) facilities exist in most location in Algonquin Park. Garbage serves as a wildlife attractant and is also unsightly to other visitors. Use the provided waste management facilities or “pack out” your garbage.

17. Stay late

The busiest times in Algonquin Park are from late morning to mid-afternoon. If you are planning a day visit, your permit is valid until 10:00pm. Try observing a sunset before heading home or stop by the Visitor Centre that is open until 7:00pm. For your safety ensure you are off any trail prior to darkness. Only registered overnight campers are permitted in Algonquin Park after 10:00pm.


Related Information

Images

Plan Your Visit

Other Resources

 

 

Reserve your developed or backcountry campsite for your next visit.

Share your passion for Algonquin Park by becoming a member or donor.

Special regulations for Algonquin's special fishery.