Step 5: Making Reservations
By the time you get to this step, you will have already figured out the amount of time the trip will take and have a specific route planned. After all that work, having trouble making reservations can turn out to be heartbreaking. You could have the perfect trip planned and suddenly you find out the lake you wanted to stay at is completely booked. It’s really tough when that happens, but unfortunately, unless you know where you’re going and how long it’s going to take to get there, you won’t know what you need to reserve. I’ve had to re-plan trips over and over again when I decided to go out on a long weekend at the last minute. When you’re reading about the parks, note the places that seem unpopular. Of course, if you’re not staying at a state or provincial park, or some non-operating parks, there may not be any reservations to make. This has its own pros and cons, the most obvious being that you can skip this step.
The best way to make sure that you won’t have to adjust your perfect trip is by planning well in advance – especially for more popular areas at the busiest times. Ontario Parks will take reservations 5 months in advance, so to book on the first long weekend in May, you can reserve near the end of December – and if you’re planning on putting in from the Canoe Lake access point, that might not be a bad idea. Nothing breaks up the winter longing to be out on the lake than to dream up the next year’s trips.
Find out how long in advance the park that you’re going takes reservations, and give them a call as soon as you’re able. You may also want to look over the reservation policies as well, in regards to canceling, deposits and of course overall cost. Ontario Parks expects a deposit of the cost of one person staying on one night, and will expect the rest of the payment when you pick up your permit at the access points. When you call, you will need to have a credit card ready, know how many people are going, when you’ll be there, and which lakes you’re hoping to stay on. Some parks will have specific numbered campsites available to reserve, but for the most part, they divide the parks by lakes or general areas. So have you’re map ready because you will be asked which lake you’ll be staying at on which nights (e.g. June 1st: North Tea Lake; June 2nd: Manitou Lake).
You may get lucky here and there with last minute planning, but it’s probably better to be safe than sorry – good advice for any aspect of camping, really. So make sure to book the campsites for your route as soon as you can, and be prepared with a map of the park, your travel dates and a method of payment handy. As soon as that’s booked, you can start to prepare your travel arrangements
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