Events Calendar

Current Weather

Winter in Algonquin Park

Skiing in Algonquin Park During WinterWinter Yurt at Mew Lake Campground Algonquin ParkEvening Grosbeak in Winter Algonquin Park

Algonquin Park is a fascinating place to visit in the winter. For many visitors the deep snow, ease of viewing wildlife, and the vast solitude of Algonquin Park's ski trail network and backcountry are appealing. Algonquin Park is open year-round but facility dates and hours of operation vary during the winter months (November to March).

Permits

  • Park permits are required during winter and are available at the West Gate, Visitor Centre, and East Gate during normal hours of operation. See the Events Calendar for operating dates and times.
  • If permit offices are closed, please use the self-serve "pay and display machines" at the West Gate or East Gate to obtain your permit.
  • For safety reasons, no permits will be issued within one hour of sunset. Permits are valid from 7:00am to 10:00pm.
  • After obtaining your permit, ensure it is displayed on your vehicle's dashboard at all times while in Algonquin Park.
  • For pricing see Fees and Permits

Highway 60 Corridor

Highway 60 Algonquin Park in WinterHighway 60 is open year-round and is ploughed, salted, and sanded by the Ministry of Transportation. For Highway 60 winter road conditions call 511 or see the Ontario Winter Road Conditions Report. As snow accumulates and is not ploughed by Ontario Parks, some secondary roads become impassible and thus closed to vehicular traffic. The following secondary roads off Highway 60 are not ploughed by Ontario Parks and thus closed to vehicular traffic for winter:

In situations where little time has elapsed since the last snowfall, visitors may experience deep snow conditions in normally ploughed areas. Visitors attempting to drive into deep snow conditions should use caution and travel with necessary emergency equipment to free their vehicle without assistance from Park staff. Ploughing in Algonquin Park is done on a priority basis, as staff time permits. For more preparedness information see "Winter Safety" below.

Gray Jays in Winter, Algonquin ParkVisitors wishing to drive a side road off Highway 60 are encouraged to travel the Opeongo Road (north from km 46.3) which is ploughed to the Opeongo Access Point (located approximately 6 kilometres from Highway 60 [no Access Point services are available at this time of year]). This narrow road with good wildlife viewing opportunities has limited winter turn-arounds and no shoulders – drivers should use caution.

From Thanksgiving (the second Monday in October) to mid-May, commercial services are available only outside the Park, this includes accommodation, dining, and outfitting services, plus gasoline and car repair. Visitors should obtain services in Whitney and beyond to the east, and in Oxtongue Lake or Dwight and beyond to the west.

West Gate

The West Gate, which offers Park permits, information and bathroom facilities, operates on reduced hours during the winter months. Please see the exact operating dates and hours in the Events Calendar.

East Gate

The East Gate also operates on reduced hours, listed in the Events Calendar during winter. This facility offers permits, information and bathroom facilities.

Algonquin Visitor Centre

Algonquin Park Visitor Centre in WinterThe Algonquin Visitor Centre is open on weekends from early November to late April (with extended operating dates during holiday periods [see the Events Calendar]) and offers a bookstore featuring souvenirs plus outstanding exhibits on the Park's natural and cultural history. A theatre presentation sums up the Park story and takes you out to a viewing deck from which you can admire a breathtaking panorama of wild Algonquin landscape. The Visitor Centre also issues Park permits (day-use only, no camping permits) and provides Park information, plus bathroom facilities. A stop at the Information Desk to talk with Park staff is also a wise idea if you are in search of winter wildlife.

Mew Lake Campground

Mew Lake Campground is the only developed campground open year-round. Please see "Developed Camping" below for more details.

East Side

Moose in Winter, Algonquin ParkThe Barron Canyon Road (access road to Sand Lake Gate) and associated parking lots such as the Barron Canyon Trail, McManus Lake Access Point, Lake Travers Access Point, etc. is not ploughed in the winter by Ontario Parks. This includes the +/- 18 kilometres of road outside the Park. Road maintenance (ploughing and sanding) is performed by the forest industry to meet their needs, with no maintenance on weekends or holidays. Forest industry winter road maintenance has concluded on the East Side as of March 7, 2014 in anticipation of the spring melt. Public travel on any of these roads is strongly discouraged. For current road conditions on the Park's East Side (not Highway 60) during winter, contact Brent Frederick, Achray Group Leader, Ontario Parks at (613) 732-5553.

The Achray Road is typically gated one kilometre from the (closed) Achray Campground from Thanksgiving (the second Monday in October) to late April and visitors must access the trails and the backcountry on foot from the gate. When winter's snow arrives, visitors wishing to access the Eastern Pines Backpacking Trail, Berm Lake Trail or the backcountry in the Achray area will have to snowshoe or ski about 5 km from the intersection of the Barron Canyon Road and the Achray Road, if the Barron Canyon Road is ploughed (see above).

Permits are required for all Park visits and are available at the self-serve fee station at the Sand Lake Gate.

There is no cell phone coverage on Algonquin's East Side.

Developed Camping

Developed camping is available year-round at Mew Lake Campground on a first-come, first-served basis. The main parking lot and the roads adjacent to campsites #1 to 76 are ploughed, and sites #1 to 66 have electrical hook-ups. Sites are ploughed as time and weather allow. First-come, first-served camping permits can be purchased at the West Gate or East Gate during operating hours on the day of your arrival (see the Events Calendar for operating dates and hours). If you are arriving at the Mew Lake Campground when offices are closed, you may purchase your permit from the self-serve fee station located at the entrance to the Mew Lake Campground. Please note that the self-serve fee station takes cash only, so exact change is required. See fees and permits for pricing information. Payment by credit card for late arrivals is possible by calling and speaking with Park staff at 613-637-2780 ext. 229 the morning after your late arrival.

Yurt Mew Lake CampgroundThe Mew Lake Campground also features seven yurts (spacious tent-like structures with basic furniture and electric heat; available by reservation only) for those who would like a simple style of roofed accommodation. Reservations for Mew Lake Campground's yurts are taken up to five months in advance through the centralized Ontario Parks Reservation Service.

A fully-winterized comfort station (flush toilets, showers, and laundry facilities) is available at Mew Lake Campground.

A skating rink is also available near the Mew Lake Campground comfort station for Park visitors.

Firewood may be purchased at the Mew Lake woodyard and is housed in a shed beside the woodyard gate. Place payment (cash only) in the fee box at the woodyard.

All Ranger Cabins accessible by vehicle are closed for the winter and typically reopen in late April.

Backcountry

For the adventurer, winter camping is permitted in the Park backcountry, accessible only by ski or snowshoe. For overnight backpackers, the parking lots for the Western Uplands Backpacking Trail and Highland Backpacking Trail are ploughed.

Western Uplands Backpacking Trail in Winter, Algonquin ParkProcedures for permits and registration differ during Algonquin's winter period (Canadian Thanksgiving to the last Friday in April). During this period, winter backcountry camping is on a first-come first-served basis. The Ontario Parks Reservation Service Call Centre does not accept backcountry campsite reservations for the winter period. Permits can only be purchased at the West Gate or East Gate during office hours on the day of your arrival. When the West Gate is closed, you may call 613-637-2780 ext. 229 and speak with Park staff to obtain a permit using a credit card. For safety reasons, visitors must leave a note on the vehicle dash clearly indicating your name, destination, arrival and departure dates and the permit transaction number that will be given at the time of the booking. In the event of an emergency your trip details will be used as confirmation.

Winter backcountry camping is not permitted on designated summer campsites, marked on the Canoe Routes Map or Backpacking Trails Map, or within 30 metres of a lakeshore, trail, or portage. We recommend that you camp in low sheltered areas where there is a good supply of standing dead firewood for warmth and cooking.

All Ranger Cabins are closed for the winter and typically reopen in late April.

Interpretive Trails

Parking is available at most of the self-guided interpretive trails along Highway 60 during the winter months, however, regular trail maintenance takes place only from early May to late October. Guide booklets are removed from trailhead dispensers from late October to early May. During the winter trail guide booklets are available year-round at the East Gate, West Gate and the Visitor Centre, or online.

The following interpretive trails have ploughed parking lots or parking areas throughout the winter months.

For safety reason, plan your trip and ensure you are off all interpretive trails prior to darkness.

Winter Recreation

Cross-country (Nordic) Skiing

Skiing Leaf Lake TrailAlgonquin has 48 kilometres of groomed and 23 kilometres of non-groomed cross-country ski trails available in three trail networks. Trails range in degree of difficulty from easy to difficult. Ski trails typically open in December and close in March, but obviously are subject to weather conditions. Check the latest ski trail conditions to ensure you are prepared. To minimize damage to groomed ski trails (Fen Lake and Leaf Lake) dogs, walking, snowshoeing, toboggans and sleighs are not permitted on groomed ski trails. Snowshoeing is permitted on the ungroomed Minnesing Ski Trail.

Winter equipment rentals (snowshoes, skis, camping equipment, etc.) are available only from outfitters located outside the Park during winter.

There are no downhill skiing opportunities in Algonquin Park.

Snowshoeing

Snowshoeing enthusiasts can go virtually anywhere (except the groomed ski trails). If you prefer to stay on marked trails, check out the interpretive walking trails or either of the two longer overnight backpacking trails. Algonquin's network of portages shown on the Canoe Routes Map also makes a great snowshoeing alternative - but ice travel is not recommended.

Wildlife Watching

Pine GrosbeakMany winter visitors enjoy observing the tracks of deer, Moose, martens, Fishers, otters, foxes and wolves and occasionally, the animals themselves. Birds such as the Common Raven, Gray Jay, Boreal Chickadee and colourful winter finches are also frequently seen. Check the latest winter birding report for what is being seen and where or stop by the Visitor Centre to talk with Park staff about wildlife watching.

Walking the Spruce Bog Boardwalk Trail in search of northern bird species such as Spruce Grouse, Gray Jay, and Black-backed Woodpecker, or exploring the Opeongo Road are popular winter activities for birders and wildlife watchers. Another popular location for birds is the observation deck at the Visitor Centre.

Dog Sledding

Dog sledding trails are found in two locations in Algonquin Park one along Highway 60 and one in the northwest section accessible from the village of South River on Highway 11. Commercial operators offer dog sledding services and should be contacted directly for information or, if you wish to use the trails independently, contact the Park for detailed trail maps and permit information.

Skating

An ice rink is available near the Mew Lake Campground comfort station. Pack your skates on your next visit to Algonquin Park.

Winter Ice Fishing

Winter fishing is prohibited. Algonquin Park serves as a fish sanctuary from December to late April. See Fishing in Algonquin Park for more details.

Snowmobiling

See Snowmobiling in Algonquin Park for more information on this topic.

Winter Safety

West Gate, Algonquin Park in WinterA visit to Algonquin in winter can be extremely rewarding, but there are dangers. On any visit to Algonquin Park, visitors must be aware of their limitations. Your safety in Algonquin Park as elsewhere is ultimately your responsibility. Be prepared! Winter camping requires special care and attention to equipment. On any trip it is wise to tell someone back home your exact itinerary and expected return date. Even following this advice and the fact that the Park staff do patrol the Park, it cannot be taken as assurance that you would be found in time if you were to become lost or have a serious accident in sub-zero temperatures.

The Park advises against ice travel due to a range of environmental variables and the difficulty in detecting hazards. Be prepared for a cold-weather emergency.

Cellular telephone coverage is not Park-wide; generally it is limited to 3 kilometres on each side of Highway 60 and, even in this area, service can be "none" to "limited."


Related Information

 

 

Reserve your developed or backcountry campsite for your next visit.

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

Thanks to our 2013 Raffle Partners.