Few things are truly constant, but we can always count on change – both in life and in the Ontario Parks reservation rules. Okay, maybe they don’t change that often, but there are significant changes to Ontario Parks Day Use that you need to be aware of if you’re planning any day trips this season.
What Are the Changes to Ontario Parks Day Use This Season?
If you live near one of the provincial parks or will be near one when you travel, the Ontario Parks day pass is a great way to incorporate some time outdoors into your schedule.
These passes allow you to be in the park from 8 AM to 10 PM on the selected day, giving you use of the beach (usually limited to a day use beach), trails, picnic shelters, and other amenities that the parks provide.
However, there is a limit to how many people they can allow into the park on any given day.
When a park’s day use allowance reaches capacity, the park must then turn away any additional visitors. For some, this may mean a significant drive only to be turned away at the park gate.
Recognizing that the demand is high in some areas, Ontario Parks introduced a new program advance day use reservation program that allowed visitors to book a permit up to five days in advance in 2021.
They then extended this list, bringing the total up to 33 of the most popular day use locations in 2022.
After a year of success with this program, they are extending the ability to pre-book your day passes to include to even more parks as we head into the 2023 season.
The parks that have been added to the list since October 2022 include the following:
These parks were selected due to their high traffic levels in the previous years. If you plan to visit one this season, we highly recommend completing your Ontario Parks day use reservations in advance to secure your spot.
This will guarantee that you will not be turned away regardless of the number of people who show up hoping to spend the day at that park.
If you have already purchased an annual Ontario Parks pass, please note that you must still complete a reservation. During the reservation process, you can indicate that you have an annual pass to secure your spot without paying an additional fee.
How Much is a Day Use Pass at Ontario Parks?
The cost of any provincial park passes here in Ontario vary depending on the park and the season.
If we were to create a chart that outlines the fees specific to each of the over 100 Ontario Parks locations with camping and facilities, this post would be too long and complicated for most travellers to find the information they are looking for.
Ontario Parks day use rates range from $12.25 to $21.00, including HST.
Discounts to these rates are available for seniors and persons with disabilities. Additionally, Canadian Armed Forces and Veterans residing in Ontario can visit the parks free of charge on weekdays (Monday to Friday).
Visiting Ontario Parks Locations for Free
In addition to Canadian Armed Forces and Veterans, there is also a way for the average citizen to access free park passes. This program is available through the Ontario Parks Pass Lending program.
Ontario Parks Seasonal Permits can be checked out at participating libraries across the province.
These passes provide unlimited day use access to the parks during the period that you are borrowing them. But pay attention to the above advance reservation locations, as you will still need to complete the reservation process to secure your spot.
You can see a complete list of participating libraries on the Ontario Parks website.
Free passes are also available to Canoo members (formerly known as the Cultural Access Pass program) to celebrate new Canadian citizens.
Can I stay Overnight on a Friend’s Site with my Day Use Pass?
No, an Ontario Parks day use pass differs from an additional vehicle added to a campsite registration.
Day use passes are specifically for the use their name indicates, visits during the day. They are valid for use from 8 AM to 10 PM on the day that they are issued.
After 10 PM, the only vehicles permitted to stay within the parks are those with valid campsite or additional vehicle permits.
How to Book Day Use at Ontario Parks
Are you ready to book an Ontario Parks day use pass for your next big outdoor adventure? To begin, you will need to create an account on the Ontario Parks Reservations system.
After your account is set up, follow these directions from Ontario Parks:
Have you ever taken a day trip to enjoy any one (or more) of the beautiful provincial parks here in Ontario? If so, I invite you to tell us about your experience in the comments!