Ontario offers free provincial park weekday passes all summer long

May 28 2021, 9:56 am

Going for a hike outside Toronto just got a little cheaper if you’re able to get out of the city on a weekday.

Ontario announced Friday it’s offering free day-use passes at provincial parks this summer from Monday to Thursday.

The free permits will be available at 115 parks from June 7 to September 2, 2021. Guests still need to obtain a vehicle permit even on days when day passes are free.

“Getting outdoors and spending time in nature can have many positive benefits on our physical and mental health this summer, as we recover from the impacts of COVID-19,” Jeff Yurek, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks, said in a news release.

Ontario has also created a new system so hikers can reserve a vehicle permit up to five days in advance at 17 of the province’s busiest parks. In the past, guests needed to line up in their car and buy the permit at the park entrance. Advance permits will be available for:

  • Algonquin
  • Arrowhead
  • Batchawana Bay
  • Craigleith
  • Darlington
  • Forks of the Credit
  • Kakabeka Falls
  • Kettle Lakes
  • Lake Superior
  • Long Point
  • Mono Cliffs
  • North Beach
  • Pinery
  • Presqu’ile
  • Sandbanks
  • Sibbald Point
  • Turkey Point

Starting June 7, Ontarians can check how many vehicle permits are available per day on the reservation website.

With public health officials encouraging outdoor activities as a way to mitigate COVID-19 transmission, people have been flocking to parks, beaches, and hiking trails. Ontario said provincial park visits increased 5% from 2019 to 2020 and more than 11 million people went to a provincial park last year.

Provincial parks are currently open to locals for day-use activities such as walking and hiking. People will be able to camp again when Ontario reaches Step 1 of its reopening plan, which is forecast for June 14.

Megan DevlinMegan Devlin

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