Located along the shores of Lake Erie, Long Point Provincial Park was established in 1921 and is the fourth oldest provincial park in Ontario. This area was designated as a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in 1982 due to its biological significance as a Ramsar Site (an internationally important wetland) and for being the largest freshwater sand spit in the world. Here you’ll find a unique blend of various habitats including long uninterrupted beaches, sand dunes, wet meadows, woodlands, marshes and more.
As you can imagine, it’s a popular destination for a number of reasons so keep on reading to see why you should plan a Long Point Provincial Park camping adventure!
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Camping at Long Point Provincial Park
Camping at a provincial park is one of the top things to do in Ontario during the summer months with many making the trek to Long Point Provincial Park to do so! The park is split into two areas, the old park and the new park. Both of these areas offer a variety of sites for campers to enjoy with one in the old park and three in the new park. The Cottonwood Campground is located in the Old Park and offers 81 radio-free sites. It has a separate entrance that is located along Erie Boulevard, west of the visitors centre.
The rest of their sites are scattered across three areas, the Firefly, Monarch’s Rest and Turtle Dunes Campgrounds, which are located in the New Park. This is also where the Day Use area is located. The Monarch’s Rest and Turtle Dunes Campgrounds are similar in offerings and layout in that they are partially surrounded by trees with some sites being located very close to the beach. The Firefly campground however is very open and flat with no privacy whatsoever. It’s very common to see RVs here, though you may see the odd one in the Monarch’s Rest section.
I was able to snag site 410 in the Turtle Dunes Campground before the rush of the Victoria Day Weekend. This is one fantastic site! Surrounded by some of the iconic dunes of Long Point Provincial Park, you can easily make it quite private based on how you set it up. It is also quite sheltered from the wind making it great for an evening fire, a quintessential part of camping. Site 410 does not have an electrical hook-up though so if that’s a must for you, you’ll have to check out some of the other sites further north in the park.
While I didn’t spend a whole lot of time exploring the Firefly and Monarch’s Rest campgrounds, I did a little reconnaissance as I walked through Turtle Dunes. Personally, I would recommend sites 410, 413, 415 and 417 as they are all quite sheltered and private. Campsites 444 to 458 would be my next choice. While they’re not as private, they will offer you some beautiful views of the sunrise. Even if you’re not an early bird, I recommend trying to get up for one because the views are spectacular!
Things to Do at Long Point Provincial Park
I have to say, Long Point isn’t my typical park as I often opt for Ontario Parks that have a plethora of hiking trails… and it has none. That being said, it has other great activities to enjoy making it yet another great provincial park to explore!
Hit the Beach
The biggest draw for Long Point Provincial Park is the 2.2 kilometres of beautiful beaches. With 11 access points (some of which are directly from campsites!) throughout the park, having fun in the sun is a given. Enjoy the beautiful Great Lakes shoreline as you feel the sand between your toes thanks to the Lake Erie sand spit, extending easterly ~30 kilometres into the lake.
Along the beach by the Monarch’s Rest and Turtle Dunes Campgrounds, you’ll be treated to beautiful sunsets over Lake Erie. If you’re an early bird though, you’ll want to catch the sunrise over at the end of the park by the parking lot just past the Turtle Dunes Campground or by the boat launch.
When enjoying Long Point beach, be aware that it’s not supervised and there are no lifeguards present. While Lake Erie may be the smallest of the Great Lakes, it has a strong undertow. Please be careful (especially with children) when enjoying the waters.
SOMETHING TO NOTE: While I’ve only heard rumours, it’s said that the beach just past the signs for P11 and the dog beach are a nude beach. It’s a sort of unspoken thing amongst locals which has been passed along to me. Again, can’t confirm but thought I’d share just in case it is true and so anyone who’s not into that can avoid any surprises! Luckily there is plenty of beach to enjoy that avoiding this area shouldn’t be an issue if that’s not what you’re into.
Catch the Sunrise
While sunsets are pretty great at Long Point Provincial Park, I was lucky enough to wake up for a pee break (too much information? Too bad!) and caught the beautiful golden hour colours. Turtle Dunes Campground is definitely one of the best spots to enjoy the sunrise as is the boat launch area. If the Long Point Provincial Park weather is on your side and you have a handful of clouds in the sky, set an alarm and wake up for the view. I swear it’s worth it! Plus you can always nap at the beach later on.
Pedal It Out With Some Biking
If you’re a beginner cyclist, you can enjoy biking on the roadways throughout the park. It offers 5 kilometres of trail and you can always venture outside the park. There are plenty of adorable cottages and additional trails nearby to increase the distance if you’re looking for more of a challenge.
Grab Your Binoculars & Go Birding
Long Point Provincial Park is a world-renown refuge and stopover for migrating birds, making it very popular with birders. During the spring and fall, over 300 different specials of songbirds and waterfowl migrate through this area. Additionally, over 80 species nest here on a yearly basis which makes Long Point one of the best bird watching destinations not just in Canada but in North America!
If you’d like to learn more about birding and see what feathery friends you may be able to spot, head to the Long Point Bird Observatory as it’s located just outside the park. You can also visit Bird Studies Canada, located in the neighbouring town of Port Rowan.
Explore Lake Erie by Boat
If you’re fortunate to have a boat or be friends with someone who does (still taking applications for this position, folks!), Long Point Bay is a great spot to get out on the water. Lont Point Provincial Park offers boat launch facilities that accommodate most pleasure crafts. If you have a Seadoo, you can also easily launch here to get out for a rip on the water!
Cast a Line & Go Fishing
Boating and fishing go hand in hand so bring a rod along and see what may bite! Long Point Bay offers some excellent fishing opportunities as it has one of the top bass fisheries in Ontario. The park even has a fish cleaning station so you can fillet your catch as soon as you dock! Don’t forget that you need a valid Outdoors Card and fishing license which you can purchase in the village of Long Point.
Get Out For a Paddle
While Lake Erie isn’t to be scoffed at, there are a number of spots close to the park that are great for canoeing and kayaking. Right by the boat launch is Old Cut Pond which is the easiest spot to go for a paddle. All you have to be aware of is the boat traffic as it can be busy, especially on summer weekends. If you travel a bit further east along the shoreline, you’ll head into Sturgeon Bay and Velocity Creek. There are plenty of nooks and crannies to be explored! Just make sure you have your life jacket on and be aware of your surroundings. As always, safety comes first!
Have a BBQ
Long Point Provincial Park has a picnic area where guests have access to 12 upright barbeques as they enjoy the park. They cannot be reserved and are only available on a first-come-first-serve basis. As you can imagine, they can be pretty popular so you’ll either have to get there early or plan to eat at off-peak times in order to utilize them.
Check Out the Discovery Program
Throughout the months of July and August, the staff at Long Point offer discovery drop-in sessions. What are these exactly? This program is geared towards kids and helps instil love and respect for nature at an early age. Grab a Discovery Activity Book and then utilize the equipment and materials provided to observe some of the plants and animals as you explore Long Point Park. Be sure to take the Discovery Ranger Pledge so that you can receive your very own Discovery Ranger Button to show your passion for the outdoors!
Things to Do Near Long Point Provincial Park
While there is plenty to do at Long Point Provincial Park, you would be amiss not to check out some of the other attractions in the area. Be sure to leave your campsite at least once and check out some of these things to do near Long Point Provincial Park!
Visit the Big Creek National Wildlife Area
Overseen by Environment Canada, the Big Creek National Wildlife Area is another natural hot spot along the Long Point Peninsula. Climb to the top of the lookout tower near the entrance for an incredible view of the entire wetlands, then enjoy a stroll along the 2 kilometre trail through the marshlands.
What makes the Big Creek National Wildlife Area so important is that it’s home to a number of threatened species. Some include the eastern hog-nosed snake, Blanding’s turtle, the eastern foxsnake and the Fowler’s toad. If you’re quiet, you just might be lucky enough to spot them during your visit!
Meander Around Port Rowan
The closest town to Long Point Provincial Park, Port Rowan is an adorable little small town in Ontario. Established in the 1790s, fishing, hunting, logging and agriculture brought settlers to the area. More recently, tourism has picked up as a major industry as Ontarians and other visitors enjoy the quaint charm of the village.
Stroll down Bay Street and pop into some of the local shops such as Franni’s Attic to see what goodies you may find. Ice cream is always a good idea and the scoops you’ll enjoy at Twins Ice Cream Parlour are delicious. There are also a number of great restaurants like The Country Fork for some tasty home-cooked meals. If you’re looking to enjoy your meal with a view, The Boat House Restaurant is right on the harbour and a perfect spot for dinner and sunset.
Explore Another Provincial Park
Long Point isn’t the only provincial park in this area! There are actually a few parks that are within an hour drive so you can get out and enjoy some more great Ontario Parks sites during your stay.
Turkey Point Provincial Park is just a 30 minute drive east of the park and is another popular destination in the summer months. It offers a number of campsites, great swimming, paddling opportunities, hiking trails and more. While Turkey Point Beach isn’t officially inside the park, it’s one of the great free beaches to enjoy in Southern Ontario.
Port Burwell Provincial Park is 40 minutes west of Long Point and also offers some great camping opportunities, albeit not directly on the water. It does however have some additional features quite unique to many provincial parks such as an amphitheatre, children’s playground, volleyball courts, horseshoe pits, a ball diamond and a basketball foul shooting court, making a great spot to camp with children or with a group of friends.
Port Bruce Provincial Park is about another 20 minutes west of Port Burwell and offers some amazing beaches with great swimming spots. Admission is free which makes it a popular destination for a day of summer fun.
Selkirk Provincial Park is the furthest provincial park from Long Point but is still just an hour drive east. It offers plenty of car camping sites as well as radio-free options. The beach is more pebble than sand though there is a beautiful hiking trail as well as some possibilities for canoeing and kayaking.
Visit a Long Point Region Conservation Area
There aren’t just more provincial parks in the area but some conservation areas too! Long Point Region Conservation Authority oversees six sites throughout Norfolk County: Backus Heritage, Deer Creek, Haldimand, Hay Creek, Norfolk, and Waterford North Conservation Areas. Each one offers something unique and makes for a great way to enjoy a few hours exploring more of this beautiful county in Ontario. You can even extend your camping adventure by booking a site at one of these conservation areas! Visit the Long Point Region Conservation Authority website for more details and to plan your adventure!
Check Out Some of Norfolk County’s Wineries
Norfolk County is a budding wine destination with a number of wineries within driving distance of Long Point Ontario. The closest is Hounds of Erie Winery located west of the park which is also dog friendly for those travelling with their pups. To the east, you have Blueberry Hill Estates and Burning Kiln just outside of Turkey Point. They are all within a 30 minute drive of the park or approximately one hour by bike if you’re an avid cyclist. Either way, you will need to travel from Long Point Provincial Park so if you choose to visit a winery or two, please ensure you do so responsibly.
Long Point Biosphere’s Go Amazing! Itineraries
While I have a plethora of suggestions above, sometimes it’s nice to not have to think and have the day all planned out for you. The Long Point Biosphere has put together six Go Amazing! itineraries that help showcase Norfolk County so you can enjoy more of it during your visit to Long Point!
Each itinerary has its own focus though all include a great mix of foodie finds, some cultural and/or historic stops and, of course, some outdoor fun! A number of them are family-friendly and there are a few geared towards the older crowds. If you see a few stops on various itineraries that tickle your fancy then you can always craft your own! Take a look at the itineraries to see what pops out for you.
I had the pleasure of checking out the “Best of Norfolk” itinerary which was absolutely fantastic. The day started with a guided kayaking tour down “Canada’s Amazon”, Big Creek. Not only is the scenery gorgeous but your guides are so knowledgeable that you’ll learn plenty about this area in the Long Point Biosphere Reserve! Afterwards, I enjoyed a well-earned beer at Charlotteville Brewing with a little retail therapy at The Barntique to follow. Lastly, I rounded out the night with an incredible dinner alongside spectacular views at Long Point Eco Adventures’ Marshview Patio.
For a full taste of what you can expect on one of these Go Amazing! itineraries, check out my Instagram stories here.
Long Point Provincial Park Camping FAQ
Ready to plan your own camping trip to Long Point Provincial Park? I can’t recommend a visit to the southernmost tip of Norfolk County enough! Here are answers to some of the most common questions to help ensure your visit to this in Southwestern Ontario destination is a fantastic one.
When is Long Point Provincial Park Open?
Long Point Provincial Park is open from mid-May until the end of October, making it a fair-weather park. Camping and day-use facilities are available during this time. The park is open in 2022 from May 13 until October 23.
How Much Does it Cost to Camp at Long Point Provincial Park?
Similar to many provincial parks in Ontario, the price to camp at Long Point Provincial Park varies between $42.00 per night and $47.50 per night depending on the site you book. Non-electrical sites are the cheapest with electrical being the most expensive. If you reserve online, there is a one-time booking fee of $9.73 which will automatically be added to your reservation.
Do I Need to Reserve in Advance?
Reserving your campsite in advance is highly recommended, especially if you’re planning on staying for a few days. You can make reservations up to 5 months ahead and the more popular sites close to the beach often go quickly. Sometimes you can get lucky and snag a last-minute spot due to cancellations, but don’t count on this.
Also, Long Point Provincial Park is one of the 33 parks that offer the day use reservation feature. You can reserve your permit for a day pass up to 5 days before your arrival. For more details, visit the Ontario Parks website.
Are There Ticks at Long Point Provincial Park?
Unfortunately, yes. Ticks are prevalent at Long Point Provincial Park and you will need to stay diligent during your visit. Check for ticks on a regular basis and try to stay away from long grass.
I’m not sure if it was because I stayed at Long Point early on in the season but I mainly found them crawling up the side of my tent in the morning as opposed to seeing them throughout the park. Be careful when entering and exiting your tent as you may pick up some without even realizing it. Yes, I’m speaking from experience!
Personally, this is the first time I’ve ever really run into ticks. I know, I’m fortunate! However, I’m very diligent and swear by this anti-bug lotion that, while it will take the nail polish off your fingers, I have found it to be the best at repelling all kinds of bugs and believe this is why I haven’t run into any issues with ticks.
Can You Hunt at Long Point Provincial Park?
While the park is known as the home base for the Long Point Waterfowl Management Unit, hunting within the park is not permitted. Waterfowl hunting season operates from mid-September through to mid-December. Please call the park for more information.
Can I Bring My Dog to Long Point Provincial Park?
Yes, dogs are welcome at Long Point! They should be on leash unless on one of two dog beaches where they can roam off-leash. These beaches are located at the far western and eastern ends of the park.
I’ve Done All the Great Things to Do in Long Point… Now What?
If you’ve had the pleasure of completing all of these exciting experiences during your Long Point Provincial Park camping adventure and are still looking for things to do in Norfolk County, there’s one last thing you can try. The tourism board has put together the Visit Norfolk County app which is a fantastic resource of things to do from beaches to golf courses to restaurants – and even the location of public washrooms!
The app is super simple to navigate and full of great information. Whether you’re a local or have never been to Norfolk County before, I guarantee you’ll find something new you hadn’t heard of before thanks to the app! Click here to download it from the Google Play store and here to get it for your iPhone.
Looking for More Provincial Parks to Explore? Check Out These Guides!
Bronte Creek Provincial Park
Killarney Provincial Park
Mikisew Provincial Park
Oastler Lake Provincial Park
Rondeau Provincial Park
Short Hills Provincial Park
Silent Lake Provincial Park
Windy Lake Provincial Park