Known for being Canada's first National Urban Park, Rouge National Urban Park is an amazing RV friendly getaway destination that is surprisingly located within Greater Toronto. While it may sound crazy to think of a city as large as Toronto having any areas of natural wonder, you will be pleasantly surprised by what you can experience at Rouge National Urban Park. Located in Toronto's suburban district of Scarborough, the natural history of the park dates back 12,000 years when water from glaciers melted, which resulted in the ancestral Lake Ontario being formed. Humans have been in the area for over 10,000 years, with nomadic hunters, farmers, and early European explorers all being apart of the area's history.
The original Rouge Park was first established in 1995 by the Province of Ontario and Parks Canada agreed to work towards the creation of Rouge National Urban Park in 2011. Before the urban park was opened, Parks Canada consulted and collaborated with over 20,000 Canadians and 200 organizations to make sure that the park would be suitable for everyone and their various wants and needs. The modern day park is huge, encompassing 15,552 acres (62.9 kmsq) and has multiple events, community programs and recreational activities available for visitors to experience throughout the year.
During the summer, Lake Ontario is popular for those looking to cool off and relax by the water, the mouth of the Rouge River is perfect for fishing and hikers can explore landscapes including meadows, forests, wetlands, and farmland. For RV campers, you will feel right at home when you stay at Glen Rouge, which is the only campground in the City of Toronto. The campground offers 114 sites that includes 87 electric sites and 27 unserviced sites. The park is open in winter and peak season runs from May to October.
Rouge National Urban Park is located in Greater Toronto and is situated only 20 miles (32km) from downtown Toronto. The park has multiple entry and exit points with the most common one being off Meadowland Road as it is the closest to the middle of the park.
Due to the close vicinity of Toronto, any services and amenities will be very easy for you to find as the park is in an urban area. This is super handy as everything you need to enjoy your stay at the park will be within a short driving distance if you do forget any supplies. While downtown Toronto is 20 miles (32km) away there are other cities within the Greater Toronto Area that are even closer. These include Markham, Pickering and Ajax.
Accessing the park is fairly straightforward but there are different roads for different areas of the park. Because of this, make sure you know where you want to go, as a highway does separate the park. Due to the park being under 10 years old the roads are very well maintained and you should have no trouble with accessibility. During the winter the park is still open, however if you do plan on visiting the park during winter make sure you call the park in advance to confirm that you will have road access.
There is plenty of parking at Rouge National Urban Park.
There are plenty of public transport options to take you to Rouge National Urban Park due to its vicinity to Toronto. From the city you can catch the 92 bus straight to the park.
Glen Rouge Campground has the special claim of being the only campground that is found in the City of Toronto. The campground is very well maintained and the sites are made of compacted grass and packed earth. In total there are 114 RV-friendly sites for visitors to call home during their stay at the park.
One of the great things about Glen Rouge Campground is that there are a few different site options for you to choose. You have the opportunity to stay at sites that offer 30 or 50 amp connections or go off grid and have a primitive camping experience. Since the campground is in an urban setting, staying here will be a different experience to what camping in a normal park would be. There will be more noise as it is close to major roads and there aren't as many trees inside the campground as there usually would be at standard parks.
Despite the noise and lack of trees the campground does have some great amenities, including toilets, showers, water collection points, playground, easy river access and a dump station. The campground is also pet friendly but they must be leashed at all times.
Reservations are recommended due to the popularity of the campground during the summer months. Reservations are not available after mid-October.
The banks of Lake Ontario within Rouge National Urban Park contains the picturesque Rouge Beach. The beach is a very popular area in the summer time for visitors to the park to cool off and relax in the calm, clear waters of Lake Ontario. Along with those staying at the park it is also a popular spot for city dwellers who are looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of Toronto. Along with the peaceful surroundings the beach features an area patrolled by lifeguards and a washroom that you can get changed in. During the summer the beach can get busy so we recommend arriving early if you want to beat the crowds.
To the north of Rouge Beach you will find Rouge Marsh, which is a tranquil area and the largest remaining wetland in the City of Toronto. The marsh is a fantastic place to go paddling, with kayaking, canoeing and taking out a paddle-board onto the waters all being very popular during the warmer months. If you are looking to go on a paddling adventure, we recommend paddling down south on the Rouge River from Glen Rouge Campground as this will take you to Rouge Marsh. This will take around an hour and give you the chance to see some stunning wetland views and local animals.
Rouge National Urban Park has some great rolling hills and cycling atmosphere thanks to the park’s farmland and forests. You will find many miles of cycling paths available for you to use and you will encounter few traffic lights to interrupt your ride. If you are looking for a family-friendly bike path to ride on, check out the multi-use Waterfront Trail at Rouge Beach. This trail runs both east and west along the shore of Lake Ontario and is a perfect low traffic area to take kids for a bike ride. There is no guarantee rentals will be available, so make sure to bring your own bike if you want to do some cycling.
If you love to lace up your hiking shoes and reconnect with nature then Rouge National Urban Park is the best place to do so in the Greater Toronto Area. The hiking trails within the park travel through a variety of landscapes that include forests, wetlands, meadows and farmland. In total there are 11 different trails that total to 16 miles (26km) of trails for you to explore. If you have the time we recommend the Monarch Trail. This gently rolling loop trail is moderate in difficulty and takes you through a mix of habitats, including rare cedar savannah, farm fields and a restored stand of white pine.
The mouth of the Rouge River and marsh area at Rouge National Urban Park are both great fishing spots. Depending on the season you will find a wide variety of species, including northern pike, brown bullhead and black crappie in the early season, rainbow trout, suckers and carp later in the spring and chinook salmon and brown trout in late summer. Anyone is allowed to go fishing in the park as long as you have a valid Ontario fishing license. For more information on fishing licenses you can contact the park office.
One of the best features about Rouge National Urban Park are the many free events that the park holds throughout the year for visitors to the park. You will find several education and orientation centers, facilities, signage and interpretive panels at the park, along with numerous free public events that you might be able to catch during your stay. Some of these include Earth Run & Fall Festival, Canada Day Celebrations, Taste of the Trail and Rouge After Dark. For more information on specific events check out the park website for more information.