Ontarians will now have to book a day pass for a provincial park 5 days in advance

People canoe in Algonquin Provincial Park in Ontario, Canada, in this 2001 photo. (Ontario Tourism 2005 / The Canadian Press)

Those hoping to visit a provincial park in Ontario for the day—either to go for a hike or enjoy the beach—will need to plan ahead.

A new pilot program that launched Monday allows residents to pre-book their day trips online up to five days in advance at 17 provincial parks. The idea is to prevent people from lining up at a park or driving all the way there, only to find out that the park is at capacity.

“We know you don’t want to spend your time sitting in a line-up at park gates, only to be turned away because your favourite park is already full,” Ontario Parks said in a blog post.

“This new service will provide you with guaranteed access for your day trip.”

Vehicle permits are free at 115 Ontario provincial parks Monday through Thursday until Sept. 2, however visitors are still encouraged to book their spot online if the park is part of the pilot program.

A day pass on the weekend is about $21 per vehicle.

The 17 provincial parks included in the pilot are:

• Algonquin

• Arrowhead

• Batchawana Bay

• Craigleith

• Darlington

• Forks of the Credit

• Kakabeka Falls

• Kettle Lakes

• Lake Superior

• Long Point

• Mono Cliffs

• North Beach

• Pinery

• Presqu’ile

• Sandbanks

• Sibbald Point

• Turkey Point


Individuals are able to book their day-use permit using the same system in place to book camping trips.

Slots will open up at 7 a.m. five days earlier. For example, anyone wanting to book a spot for June 13 will be able to book a day-use pass on June 8.

Visitors can book using the reservation website or call 1-888-ONT-PARK (1-888-668-7275).

Reservations for advance daily vehicle permits open today for arrivals starting June 12! https://t.co/OSSoH2GTen

Learn more about our new advance daily vehicle permits here: https://t.co/frMCP6Xobo pic.twitter.com/YtQ9xKSl6z

— Ontario Parks (@OntarioParks) June 7, 2021

Those using the reservation website can find the “day use” option along the tabs next to “group camping.” Users will then have to choose the park and the date they want to visit.

Visitors will be asked to show confirmation of booking at the gate.

Individuals with a seasonal daily vehicle permit will still have to reserve a spot using the booking systems.

If there are still spots available, parks will allow people to pay at the gate without an appointment. However, Ontario Parks suggests not leaving it up to chance.

“Knowing how much Ontarians love our parks, we strongly recommend securing your daily vehicle permit in advance for all our participating parks,” officials said.

“Otherwise, you may be turned away, even if you arrive first thing in the morning.”