Sunday, May 29, 2011

Review: Algonquin Park - Canisbay Campground

Location: 50 km east of Huntsville
Website: Ontario Parks or Friends of Algonquin Park
Map: Google Maps or Canoe Routes
Camping Facilities: Car camping and Canoe-in sites
Grade: B
Summary: Decent car camping, especially walk-in sites, canoe-in sites provide a decent pseudo backcountry experience without much additional effort
Thoughts: The sites here are pretty nice for car camping.  There has been some effort to increase spacing and improve understory growth.  However, it's car camping, with all the usual failings - lack of privacy, noise as loud as your neighbors desire (which can be low or high, but usually is higher than I like), and limited scenery.  One important feature of Canisbay is its fantastic beach; the lake bottom is sandy, the water is shallow for a good few dozen meters off the shore (read "kid friendly") and it's clean and weed-free.  We thought we'd make a return trip back to the beach at night for some star gazing, but we weren't the only ones; there must have been a few dozen others, with varying degrees of consideration of the enjoyment of fellow sky-watchers (some folks speaking softly, others loudly displaying their ignorance of the night sky...a classic chestnut of wisdom "If you draw a line from Orion's belt and one from the handle of the big dipper, they will intersect at the North star"...actually, that's total hooey).  And this was at midnight and park wardens didn't seem to mind, so who knows how late into the night the loud, nonsensical babble can go.

This campground would be yet another car-camping lost opportunity if it weren't for the provision of two key alternatives: walk-in and canoe-in campsites.  The beauty of the walk in sites is that you're aren't sleeping right next to your car, the sites are reasonably well spaced out, in the radio-free and dog-free zones, and many are close to the water (20-23, 72,73,75).  A point to note - just because a site is radio free doesn't mean that it's "drunken yahoo" free; I've been woken up by rowdies wandering the campground in an intoxicated haze at 3am here.  I recommend snatching up a walk-in site as quickly as possible, they're pretty popular.  What disturbs me is the price of these sites; $40 per night in 2011.  We're approaching Motel 6 rates here guys.

algonquin park canisbay campground
View from waterfront at Canisbay Campground 1 
If you have a smaller party, a cheaper alternative (if you already own a canoe...) is to make use of one of the 16 canoe-in sites on Canisbay lake.  These are ~$12 per person, per night (2011).  If its just two people and you don't have to pay for a canoe rental, you'll save a few bucks and these sites have much of the solitary vibe that one seeks in a backcountry site.  On top of that, you can probably lug some luxury items (camping chairs, car camping tents, firewood) along with you since you can dump them straight into your canoe from your car (no portages!)


  1. I recall Kingscote Lake being much more affordable... Did I remember correctly?

  2. It was cheaper, but rates have gone up since then unfortunately. All of Algonquin backcountry is 11.75 for the past couple years. If you're staying in a group of six, I believe that actually exceeds Motel 6 rates.

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