Ever wanted to remove yourself from the busy hustle and bustle of the city and go somewhere really remote? Well then you will find that Killarney Provincial Park is exactly what you are looking for. Killarney park, also called ‘The Jewel of Ontario’, is one of Canada’s most beautiful parks. A beautiful five hour drive from Toronto will take you through the Canadian Shield and what feels like country road driving while still remaining on paved roads. Your last hour of the drive is very peaceful on Highway 637, the only road in and out of Killarney. Make sure you keep your eyes out for fox, deer and even black bears as they are known to be out at all hours of the day.
Here is our experience at camping at Killarney Provincial Park!
Getting to Killarney Provincial Park
Located only five hours north of Toronto you head up the 400 to to Highway 69 until you need to take a left down ON-637 where you will spend the last hour on and off paved and gravol roads heading into Killarney. Once you turn down On-637 there is only one gas station and convenience store along the road until you hit the town of Killarney so make sure you have a full tank of gas and some snacks!
Killarney Provincial Park is located 10 km before the town of Killarney on the right hand side of the highway.
Killarney Provincial Park – George Lake Campground
We managed to book a stunning campsite in Killarney Provincial Park that was right on the lake (Site 87)! The site was a bit windy at night with a storm coming off of the lake, but the view was worth it! If you ever get a chance to book a site on the waterfront, this is the way to go. If you are planning on booking a site in Killarney, you will have to plan well in advance as they only have just over 100 drive in campsites and another 180 back-country canoe access sites. The majority of the front country campground sites have a decent amount of privacy and are all within walking distance to both the bathrooms and the lake.
The first thing you need to do upon arriving in Killarney Provincial Park once you arrive at your campsite is lock up all your food, toiletries, and anything that may attract animals. The bears, deer, and the raccoons will wander through your site at any time of day. If you are like us and sometimes travel with the roof and doors off on our Jeep, Ontario Parks will happily provide you with a bear-proof box that is big enough to fit a cooler and lots more. Despite us locking up the majority of our stuff, a raccoon managed to find the one item that we left in the tent and pestered us all night to find more!
What to do in and around Killarney Provincial Park
Killarney is home to some of the most beautiful hiking in the area, so we took to the trails to explore. We parked the Jeep in town and then hiked out to the Killarney East Lighthouse. The lighthouse rests on rock 30 feet above Georgian Bay and provides incredible views.
On our way hiking back into town we decided we would stay there for dinner and check out the downtown main street. Killarney was founded in 1820 as a fur trading post on Georgian Bay.
We had dinner at the Mountain Lodge and sat out on the bar deck and watched the sun go down. One of our favourite spots for watching the sunset is down on the docks by the Mountain Lodge. The way the sun reflects on the bay makes for some great photos!
The drive back to the provincial park from the town is only about 10 minutes into the park gates. Although chilly, George Lake offers a nice refreshing swim with a sandy bottom at the shore. We were able to walk right from our site into the water for a refreshing night swim before bed. If you enjoy stargazing, this is the ideal place with very little light pollution allowing you to see thousands of stars from your campsite.
Chris and I explored all of the drive in campsites as we walked around to see if we could get an idea of where we would like to camp next year when we come back. Killarney offers great sites with close proximity to the bathrooms and a short drive to the main bathhouses. Next time I would explore the back-country lots as there are 645 square kilometres of the park to be explored for those willing to paddle their way into those remote areas.