The popularity of Quetico Provincial Park is on a global level, and it is recognized as one of the world’s foremost paddling and fishing destinations. Encompassing over 469,456 hectares, and sharing its southern borders with Minnesota’s Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, this Canadian provincial park is part of the largest international area in the world.
When the Ojibway first traveled to Ontario in their birch bark canoes, they found themselves in the rugged Canadian shield terrain of Quetico Provincial Park with its imposing waterfalls, rock cliffs, virgin pine and spruce forests, and attractive lakes and rivers. Years later, and the park is still notorious for its unparalleled quiet and untouched serenity.
The recreational opportunities in this park are endless and due to its size, vacationers can explore the area for two weeks straight and still find themselves stumbling upon a sanctuary nestled within the forests and between the hills.
The park is home to more than 1000 lakes and one of the best ways to explore the park and travel distances is with the active use of canoes. As friends and families plan their vacations in the provincial park, they come back home with the memories of an adventure of a lifetime.
It doesn’t matter what interests you as a camper, this park offers wildlife, birds, watercraft, angling and many more opportunities to keep you engaged and immersed in nature.
The most popular entry point of this massive provincial park is Dawson Trail, located off Highway 11 on French Lake. The town nearest to the provincial park is Atikokan, located 30 miles away.
There are various options to get to the park. Shuttle services drive tourists from the Thunder Bay airport to the park.
The park also allows fly-in canoe options in certain areas. If driving by RV, motorhome, or in a big rig, the roads are wide and the campsites are spacious with smooth gravel and paved roads leading to many various amenities and facilities available at Quetico Provincial Park.
The wilderness of the Quetico Provincial Park offers 2000 campsites to buccaneers.
However, those with RV camping in their minds will find campsites for them only on the Dawson Trail Campground located on the French Lake and at the very threshold of wilderness. This campground is divided into two campground loops Chippewa and Ojibwa campgrounds.
Both campgrounds have a total of 107 campsites, with 49 campsites designed for RV campers, that come equipped with electric hook-ups. The campground provides various facilities such as vault toilets, flush toilets, laundry, showers, and water taps.
If you are planning a visit in July and August, make sure to make reservations as this is one of the most popular parks in the greater Ontario region.
The wilderness attracts a large number of birds as they migrate from one region to another, in addition to being home to many local species. Just in the summer months, over 100 species of birds come over to stay.
The area is also a popular spot for birdwatchers to catch sight of bald eagles and osprey.
Till date, birdwatchers have recorded sightings of over 200 species of birds in Quetico Provincial Park.
The park is home to twenty-eight indigenous rock paintings called pictographs. The pictographs are sacred for Lac La Croix First Nations members and contain images of turtles, moose, hunters, canoes and many other things. Some of the images are also drawn on flat cliffs barely missing the water line.
The tourists are not allowed to touch these pictographs as they deteriorating fast and perspiration only speeds up the process. However, they are truly amazing to look at and a fantastic activity to spend a day in this picturesque park.
What is a wilderness without wildlife? The backwoods of Quetico Provincial Park are abundant with many species of wildlife. From large mammals like the great black bear to white-tailed deer, moose, and top predators like wolves all patrol the surrounding woodlands. These animals rarely wander off towards the camping area but can be spotted trotting around deeper into the wilderness. In order to get up and close to them, one will either have to hike on the many trails within the park or go canoeing down the more remote lakes and rivers dotted around this vast landscape. Don't get too close though - these wild animals can be unpredictable.
To come to Quetico Provincial Park and not go canoeing should be considered an offense. There are so many looping river trails and waterways in the park that it’s impossible to name them all. One thing, however, is sure, every canoe ride takes the campers amidst waterfalls, rock cliffs, forests, and the entire remote splendor of this natural park.
In total, there are 55 well-maintained portages linking hundreds of lakes and rivers together. Some of the routes are easy to take, while others could be more challenging and only fitting for the most daring outdoor enthusiasts.
With 1000 lakes within its boundaries Quetico Provincial Park is home to many species of fish. Anglers enjoy catching fishing by the lakes and river banks to catch sturgeon, northern pike, pickerel (walleye), lake trout, and smallmouth bass among many other panfish.
Anglers can use the fish cleaning station situated near the RV campground, Dawson Lake. Only artificial bait and barbless hooks are permitted within Quetico Provincial Park to maintain the condition of the lakes. Leeches, salted minnows, and worms can introduce invasive species into the lake and destroy its health.
The campers can challenge themselves by exploring roughly 35 km or about 22-miles of hiking trails looping around this large park. The hiking trails wind through mountainous terrain, boulders, woods, streams, and some truly breathtaking flora and fauna.
The teaching trail is around three km or two miles long and takes about two hours to trek as it is strenuous and tedious hiking due to an uneven topography, steep grounds, and rough terrain.
The two km long French Falls Trail is also strenuous and takes about an hour to cross with its steeping climbs. However, the majestic view of the French River at the end is worth it the grueling climb.
French Portage Trail is just as strenuous whereas Pickerel Point Trail is a 30-minute moderate trail.