Let’s face it, camping can be expensive. But it doesn't have to be - there is an affordable alternative (more than affordable... it’s free!).
In Ontario, 87% of the province is made up of Crown Land and conservation reserves. Crown Land is owned by the Monarch and is considered to be public space, protected for recreation, tourism, and economic development. This means that nearly 87% of Ontario is available for you to explore, free of charge.
Canadian residents are free to camp on this land for up to 21 straight days. If you are a non-resident, you can purchase a camping permit online*.
Can you camp on crown land?
It’s true that most of these Crown Land campsites do not have nearby facilities. Say goodbye to washrooms, showers, and electricity. But what these spaces lack in creature comforts, they make up for with gorgeous scenery and true, rugged outdoor adventure.
Crown Land camping means not having to worry about bumping into other tourists, since you will be in a more secluded, private area. Most campsites are packed with people that have reserved their campsites months in advance. But not you. Crown Land camping means you (practically) get free-range of the Great Lake wilderness, choosing your own, perfect spot to pitch that tent.
With Crown Land camping, you don’t have to schedule your visit in advance. There is no need for an itinerary, no reservations, no worries! Venturing off the beaten track will make for a more organic trip as you explore all that the Great Lakes region has to offer.
Did You Know
In addition to camping on Crown Land, you can participate in your favourite outdoor activities, like paddling, swimming, fishing**, hiking, and cycling.
Remember, not all Crown Land is maintained, and your campsite might be remote, so plan your trip accordingly and always go with a buddy. Make sure that you leave no trace and tread carefully when exploring the Great Lakes region. Do not harm wildlife, never leave a campfire unattended, and always pick up after yourself.
How to find Crown Land to camp on
To find your next great adventure, check out the Crown Land Use Policy Atlas where you can browse available land and create your own maps.
For beginner campers, we recommend camping at Torrance Barrens Dark-Sky Preserve. There you will find free Crown Land camping under one of the most stunning starry skies in the country. Pack your sleeping bags and set up camp on the gorgeous, rugged terrain that has been shaped and moulded by the Great Lakes for centuries.
*Certain locations require a permit for those wishing to camp. Check to see whether your camping destination requires a permit.
**Keep in mind, if you are between the 18 and 64 years of age, you will need a fishing license if you plan on angling.