The best camping near Wapusk National Park

Discover the most magical spots to pitch your tent or park your rig on your next Wapusk National Park adventure.

The ultimate wildlife thrill: a chance to see polar bears roaming North America’s arctic ice.  

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The best camping near Wapusk National Park guide



Polar bears are the stars of the show at Manitoba’s Wapusk National Park, whose name means “white bear” in Cree. From the safety of tundra buggies, you can see adult bears—as well as arctic foxes, wolverines, and shorebirds—roaming Cape Churchill. The prize sighting, however, is that of mama bears and their cubs slipping on snow as they emerge from denning areas in spring. As well as polar-bear spotting, you can take flightseeing tours over the icy Canadian subarctic or kayak down Owl River in summer. Activity within the park is strictly limited with just two bear-proof campgrounds, so overnight stays few and far between (but not impossible). Still, most visitors make their base in nearby Churchill and take day excursions to the park.

Notable campgrounds

  • Best for kayakers: The Owl River compound, accessible by canoe, includes space for tents and a washroom.
  • Best for wildlife-viewers: Broad River is primarily accessed by air or snowmobile.
  • Best for day-trippers: Churchill offers a number of accommodation options, given that in-the-park stays are extremely limited.

Tips for snagging a campsite

  1. For all activities in the park—with the exception of kayaking Owl River—you’ll need to enlist the services of a licensed tour operator.
  2. There are two fenced, bear-proof camping compounds within Wapusk: one at Broad River and another at Owl River. For access to either compound, you’ll need to contact Parks Canada well in advance of your arrival.
  3. Alternatively, Wat’chee Lodge (south of Churchill) and Frontiers North’s Tundra Buggy Lodge offer park-edge accommodation and daily wildlife-viewing excursions.

When to go

Fall is prime time for adult polar bear and beluga whale sightings around Western Hudson Bay, while cubs usually make their first foray out of the den in late February and early March. In summer, the wetlands and boggy areas of the park are unsafe, though the tundra remains accessible by air.

Know before you go

  • To reach Wapusk National Park, you’ll have to make your way to Churchill first, but there are no roads into town (train or plane, likely from Winnipeg, are your only options) and no roads to the park. Depending on the season, you can get there by boat, snowmobile, helicopter, or dog sled.
  • The weather in Canada’s far north is harsh and changeable, with vast temperature swings and snowstorms possible at any time of the year. 
  • Find the Parks Canada visitor center in Churchill’s train station.

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