Influencer Diana Lee lives for adventure, the outdoors, and stand-up paddleboarding (SUP)! Find out what @only1phoenixx likes on Instagram and Twitter.
Enjoy land and water activities beyond the summer season at Rideau River Provincial Park, a welcoming place to experience fall.
Located in the traditional territory of the Omàmìwininìwag (Algonquin), Anishinabewaki, Wendake-Nionwentsïo, Haudenosaunee, the Rideau River Provincial Park campground stretches along the water.
And not just any body of water! Visible from almost anywhere in the park, the Rideau River is part of the Rideau Canal, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and Canadian Heritage River System.
The park is less than an hour’s drive from Canada’s capital, Ottawa, making it a great basecamp for exploring iconic locations along the river.
As someone who camps and paddles year-round, I love visiting parks where I can combine both activities beyond the summer months.
Here are some things I look forward to when camping and paddling in late summer or early fall:
- It’s quiet: fewer campers (especially small children) and less boat traffic on the water. You can even have the entire beach to yourself!
- No more mosquitoes! During my stay at Rideau River, I didn’t encounter a single mosquito (or any flying or stinging insects, for that matter), and I’m usually their number one target!
- Catch the first signs of fall! When I visited in mid-September, some trees were already red.
Autumn is a fleeting season
Blink and the landscape changes before your eyes!
Whether you’re a fall fan or someone who’s eager to embrace this short but special season (some places in the world don’t see the leaves change like we do here), there are a few things you should keep in mind to maximize your outdoor fall experience in the park.
Always check the Ontario Parks Fall Color Report to see what stage of color the leaves are in for the Rideau River and surrounding parks.
But don’t wait also Wait for the leaves to change; Sometimes wet weather causes them to drop before they turn red.
And Rideau River will be closed to camping on October 10, so you’ll want to book soon!
Prepare for those not-so-nice weather days by packing:
- Waterproof and windproof equipment (jacket and pants, if possible).
- insulating layers (such as a synthetic or down puffer jacket or wool base layers)
- gloves and mittens
- wool socks or insulated booties if you want to feel more comfortable
- extra tarps for your camp (always good to have a dry place if it rains)
Be sure to plan a backup activity plan if it’s too cold to go paddling or too wet to walk.
Exploring the park
Ready to see what Rideau River has to offer?
Walk the Shoreline Trail and explore the boardwalk from one end of the park to the other. The easy trail is approximately 2 km long. There are some places that have tree roots and some pedestrian bridges over small streams.
Keep an eye out for fantastic mushrooms and turtle protection work along the way!
Paddle the river on those warm, sunny days or when it’s not too windy.
Bring your own watercraft or you can rent a canoe, kayak, or SUP at the park and launch from the boat ramp or docks.
Before embarking on your paddling adventure, always check the weather, water levels and conditions, and go with a partner.
Always use the appropriate equipment for the weather. Always wear a life jacket/PFD and a SUP leash if you are on a paddle board. Review Transport Canada’s Safe Boating Guide (which includes information for SUP riders).
Need more paddling inspiration?
Start by exploring the nearby lily pads and shallow spots along the shoreline of the Rideau River.
Drop a line from your boat and try your luck fishing! And if you’re new to fishing, Rideau River is a TackleShare spot during the summer where you can borrow all the gear to get started.
Why not paddle out to one of the park’s two sandy beaches for a fall picnic?
Are you a more experienced paddler? He crosses the river and looks at Kemptville Creek. Before he goes, he checks that the water levels are not too low or overgrown with aquatic plants. If you are exploring upstream or downstream, start paddling against the wind to make it easier to return.
If staying overnight, camp on one of the many flat, electric or non-electric sites along the water.
Is staying in a tent not your thing?
No problem! Try one of these alternatives.
Stay in one of the Rideau River cabins (they have their own dock to fish, launch your boat, or enjoy the sunrise or sunset!).
Stay in an Otentik or historic building at one of Parks Canada’s many Rideau Canal National Historic Sites along the river.
You can also camp at some lock stations or stop on your way to the Rideau River to learn how the locks work.
Try a day trip to the city of Ottawa (maybe even paddle the canal!) and get back to nature on the Rideau River
With plenty to do before, during, or after your visit, make Rideau River Provincial Park your first fall camping or paddling spot of the year!
Don’t forget to pick up your park crest to add to your Ontario Parks passport!