Today’s post comes from Sanjay Chauhan of @jayeffex!
As someone who travels a lot in the warmer months, I always like to find ways to make winters more exciting!
I cherish every moment I spend outdoors, away from the hustle and bustle of Toronto. So when the opportunity arose to spend two nights in a heated yurt in Windy Lake Provincial Park, my friend Solmaz and I jumped at the chance!
First time camping in winter
We flew into Sudbury and then it was only a 55 minute drive from the airport to the park.
We loaded our stuff on a sled from the parking lot to our yurt (which wasn’t far), and it felt like part of the experience.
Photo: Sanjay Chauhan
I love photographing winter landscapes, but this was my first time experiencing winter camping.
I hadn’t explored northern Ontario in winter either, so this was the perfect opportunity to do so.
The park has two cabins and four heated yurts. I’ve stayed in a yurt before, but never during the winter months.
Photo: Sanjay Chauhan
The yurts can accommodate up to six people and each has a table and chairs, lighting, electric heating and a power outlet.
Each site also has a large deck, fire pit, picnic table, and propane barbecue.
The interior of the yurt. Photo: Sanjay Chauhan
I had a whole yurt to myself, and Solmaz too!
They are spaced so there is plenty of privacy. This glamping experience was the perfect combination of spending time in nature and basic comfort.
Every morning I went for a walk when everything was covered in snow and enjoyed the peace, quiet and a little sunshine.
An aerial view of the Windy Lake cabins. Photo: Sanjay Chauhan
I often saw foxes running around! Unfortunately, they were too quick to photograph.
My day usually consisted of snowshoeing on various trails and trying out cross-country skiing in silence and tranquility.
The Onaping Falls Nordic Ski Club operates a 15km trail network with professionally groomed trails for classic and skate ski styles.
Left: cross-country skiing. Right: Snowshoe route. Photo: Sanjay Chauhan
This was my first time cross-country skiing and I loved how quiet it was; a perfect opportunity to reflect on everything around me.
ice fishing packages
One of the highlights of winter at Windy Lake is their ice fishing packages.
With a complete ice fishing package, the park office will set up a portable ice fishing shelter with two seats, rods/reels, flippers, baits, stool and an ice auger.
It was perfect for a beginner like me because I didn’t have to carry any fishing equipment and everything was ready when we arrived.
Note: For the 2021/22 season, ice fishing package rentals are available, but visitors are responsible for setup.
Left: I dug my own hole! Medium: Fishing tent set up by Windy Lake staff (service not available for 2020/21 season). Right: The first trout we caught! Photo: Sanjay Chauhan
Call it beginner’s luck, but Solmaz and I caught two lake trout in five minutes. I also tried digging my own hole in the ice. It was good exercise…and fun too!
Being on the frozen lake felt like being on the arctic tundra, and it was a total blackout as far as the eye could see. I also saw quite a few private fishing cabins on the lake.
The winds created some very interesting textures in the snow. I loved this experience, which allowed me to make the most of this cold weather.
Private fishing cabins on the lake. Photo: Sanjay Chauhan
The option to try ice fishing, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing, and then being able to relax in our heated yurts was a great experience!
Every night we lit the barbecue and prepared a hot dinner. We also lit a fire in the stove to warm ourselves.
Photo: Sanjay Chauhan
Living in a city like Toronto is fantastic, but clearly they miss out on moments of peace like the ones we found.
So if you are looking for a way to make your winters exciting, get out of your comfort zone, and want to try some winter activities, I would recommend Windy Lake Provincial Park!
Many thanks to Ontario Parks and Ontario Travel for hosting us.
Interested in booking your own stay at Windy Lake?
Book your adventure online today!
Pst! Don’t forget to follow Sanjay’s advice and book a midweek trip. You will find more availability of reservations and a lot of peace of mind along the way.