Planning a trip to Algonquin Provincial Park? Read this FAQ session to learn about what there is to see and do at this world famous Canadian wilderness destination. Here’s my exclusive interview with Rick Stronks, Chief Naturalist of Algonquin Provincial Park, and Randy Mitson, Marketing Manger of Algonquin Outfitters, at the Algonquin Park Visitor Centre, where we discuss what the park offers in the winter season, and all year long.
I’d like to give special thanks to Justin and Melanie, my travel companions for joining me on this trip to Algonquin Park and helping capture these special moments.
What activities are there to do in Algonquin Park?
Rick: “We have camp grounds where people bring their own equipment. We have educational resources and programs here, which I coordinate. You can also rent stuff here like canoes, bikes, or go hiking with an outfitter in the park. You can easily spend days or weeks in the back country.”
Randy: “When you think of a park, there’s not really anything that doesn’t happen here. It’s got everything covered. If your idea of going to a camp is car camping, you can do that – you have flush toilets, showers and everything else. Or if your idea is spending 10 days canoeing or hiking and not seeing another person, that can happen too.”
What are Algonquin Park visitors’ nature interests?
Rick: “A big part of what we promote is this is really a place to explore, and it doesn’t matter what your interest is – it could be wildflowers, it could be birds – whatever it is, there are opportunities here, and the park is so big that you really could spend your whole life exploring it.”
Randy: “Probably the one activity we don’t do as well as other parks is that we don’t have a sand bay for the beach crowd – but our clients aren’t looking for that – they’re more interested in hiking and doing things. It all depends on what you want – whether it’s car camping, backcountry, wildlife, or anything else, there are avenues to explore that.”
When is the best time of the year to visit Algonquin Park?
Rick: “It’s very seasonal. In the spring, people are looking for moose. In the summer, it’s swimming and fishing season. In the fall, it’s madness here on Thanksgiving weekend. We’ve had 5, 000 people at the Visitor Centre per day, and 30-40 busses at all times, with people parked on the highway, and out and about on every trail.”
Randy: “There’s a lot of opportunities for activities in every season including the winter. We’ve got photographers, outdoor recreationists, and the birding community. We’re open during the winter months. On a good winter day we still get around 150 people.”
Why should I visit the Algonquin Park Visitor Centre?
Rick: “The Visitor Centre sets the stage, shows you maps, and displays a natural history exhibit that identifies the 5 major habitats you can find in the park, as well as a cultural history. The message at the end of our theatre show, This is Yours to Discover, Yours to Explore, encourages visitors to get out and explore the wild Algonquin Landscape!”
Randy: “The museum provides a snapshot of what Algonquin Park is. You can see displays about wildlife, like moose, wolves, bear, turtles, loons, otters, and more. The museum tells the history of the park, including its First Nations culture, to old logging trains, to the pop-up of lodges and resorts, and what it is today.”
Is there anything else our readers should know about Algonquin Park?
Rick: “We are, by far, the number one place in North America for wolf research, and the next one is Yellowstone. As far as lake trout and fisheries research – the Opeango fish station has the longest continuous running lake trout fish data set in the world – close to 80 or 90 years. We also have the longest running snapping turtle research in the world.”
Randy: “The park grows with you. I’ve spent close to 400-500 days on trips in the back country over the last decade. Algonquin Park is world famous, but if you talk to almost anybody in Ontario, chances are they have some connection to the park – first camping trip, first canoe trip, first moose, first wolf – so many people have a connection which makes it pretty special.”
For more information on the Algonquin Park Visitor Centre & Museum, visit http://www.algonquinpark.on.ca/visit/locations/algonquin_visitor_centre.php
For more information on Algonquin Outfitters, visit www.algonquinoutfitters.com
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