Mix culture, history, and adventures outdoors when you camp near Canada’s stately national capital.
Set where the Ottawa River and Rideau Canal meet in eastern Ontario, Canada’s capital city is surprisingly outdoor-oriented, with biking routes, rafting spots, forested hiking trails, and ice skating. Several area parks have tent and RV spots for campers within 90 minutes of the city, including Rideau River, Murphys Point, and Fitzroy provincial parks. With a stay on the Quebec side of the river, campers can add francophone culture to their outdoor adventure. Quebec’s Gatineau Park, in Ottawa’s “backyard,” has more than 250 campsites.
Explore the Indigenous pictographs and camp by the lake in this popular Ontario Park two hours southwest of Ottawa. The park has more than 500 car camping or walk-in sites, including 200 with electrical hookups, as well as comfort stations with flush toilets. Other options for campers include yurts, cabins, and backcountry campsites.
Camp on the St. Lawrence River, hike the nature trails of Upper Canada Bird Sanctuary, and go back in time at Upper Canada Village, a family-friendly re-creation of a 19th-century community. Parks of the St. Lawrence operates several family camping areas and RV parks around Morrisburg, which is just over an hour’s drive south of Ottawa.
More than 1,800 islands dot the St. Lawrence River, spanning the U.S.-Canada border, and nearly two dozen are protected as part of Thousand Islands National Park. Camp on one of the park’s islands, or on the mainland near the towns of Gananoque or Brockville, take a boat tour, or explore offshore by canoe or kayak.
Ottawa is only two hours by train, bus, or car from Canada’s most cosmopolitan metropolis, so you can plan a weekend getaway for a hit of contemporary culture, great food, and cool cafés and bars. Choose a campground somewhere like Oka National Park between Ottawa and Montreal to explore the best of both cities.
For campers, Ottawa’s weather is most comfortable in the fall, when the days are crisp and the trees take on their autumn colors. Summer is the busiest season, with hot days and plenty of festivals, concerts, and other activities to keep you busy. Spring can be cool, with snow lingering into March or April. While the city stays active through the icy winters, when heavy snow is common, Ottawa rivals Moscow as one of the world’s coldest capital cities.
Free camping options near Ottawa, Canada, are limited. However, you can find some Crown land areas where you can camp for free. These lands are managed by the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. Keep in mind that amenities and facilities are typically not available in these areas, so be prepared for a more rustic camping experience. To find Crown land locations, consult the Crown land Use Policy Atlas provided by the Ontario government.
There are several camping options outside of Ottawa, Canada. Some popular choices include:
Remember to check the specific campground's availability and reservation policies before planning your trip.