Ontario’s Algonquin Park is known for its fall colours.
Its 7,600 square kilometres of natural beauty make it the mecca of places to watch the trees evolve from their summer greens, and is world renowned for its fantastic fall foliage.
While it’s further from downtown Toronto than popular viewing spots like High Park or the Don Valley, the three-hour drive to the provincial park will be well worth it. But you will need to plan ahead.
The Ontario Parks Fall Colour Report notes that Algonquin’s “birch, aspen, and tamarack trees are turning a rich yellow and really starting to shine.”
Although this is a favourite spot for many, this fall is looking a little different at the park
According to Ontario Parks, “Algonquin will stop selling permits once we reach parking capacity along the Highway 60 Corridor during busy fall colour weekends.”
If the park has reached capacity, you will not be allowed to visit.
Algonquin will regularly post weekend capacity updates via Twitter.
The Park recommends visiting on weekdays to avoid crowds. They say that fall weekends get extremely busy, especially at the West Gate.
“The West Gate and East Gate open at 8:00 am until Thanksgiving, but day use permits can be purchased at self-serve fee stations at both locations on weekdays as early as 7:00 am,” said Ontario Parks on their website.
“Also, consider visiting on rainy or overcast days. The colours really pop, and there will likely be fewer visitors.”
If you’re coming from the GTA, Ontario Parks asks that you consider entering via the East Gate.
“Here’s how: take Hwy 35/115 north to Peterborough, 28 north to Bancroft, and 62 and 127 north to Whitney, west on 60 and access the park through the East Gate (about 5 minutes from Whitney). Generally, there is less traffic congestion and quicker access to park facilities taking this travel route,” they recommend.
Disclaimer: While enjoying Ontario Parks, continue to follow all of the public health advice, including physical distancing by keeping at least two metres from others, wearing a face covering when physical distancing may be challenging or not possible, washing hands regularly with soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available, and if you are worried you may have COVID-19, get tested.
As part of its COVID-19 measures, Ontario park adds that “safety of our visitors and staff is always our top priority. We will be implementing measures to address overcrowding and promote physical distancing in our park spaces and buildings during busy visitation times by limiting occupancy for day-use and camping in select provincial parks.
This may include limiting the number of daily vehicle permits sold or the number of campsites available for reservations. You may notice that day use parking areas will not be as full, or some campsites will remain empty during your stay.”
More info on how to prepare for a visit to Ontario Parks places during COVID-19 can be found on their website.