Looking to get away to a new Quebec campground this year? La Belle Province is full of parks, some just a short drive from Quebec City or Montreal and others much farther out. Some places, like La Mauricie National Park, are expected to be very popular this summer, especially since there’s free admission to all Parks Canada sites (you can pick up your parks pass at MEC). To help you find a few quieter spots to set up your tent, here are five lesser-known gems to explore with your friends and family.
Get ready to pack up your camping gear and fall in love with Quebec’s landscapes all over again.
Parc national du Lac-Témiscouata
Located in the heart of the Notre-Dame Mountains near the New Brunswick border, Parc national du Lac-Témiscouata has tons of hiking and biking trails, and many of them make nice day hikes or loops to wander while you’re camping. Since the park borders Lac Témiscouata, the largest lake in the region, it also offers plenty of swimming, paddleboarding, canoeing and kayaking options. Campers can choose from easy-access sites near the trails (with playgrounds for the kids), canoe camping sites, special bike touring camping spots, or even huts or Huttopia tents if you want to travel light.
Parc national d’Aiguebelle
If you really want to get away from the city, then head north to Parc national d’Aiguebelle in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region. Located on geological formations dating back 2.7 billion years, you can see evidence of glaciers, walk on a 22-m high suspended walkway above a huge fault, and learn what a “giant’s kettle” is. The park has a few different campgrounds – some you can drive to, others are a short walk in – that also offer canoe camping, bike camping and ready-to-camp Huttopia set-ups.
Day hikers can walk easy loop trails or tougher options, and paddlers can enjoy calm Lac Patrice in the heart of the park. Watch for wildlife – if you’re lucky you may even spot a moose. Dusk and dawn can get chilly in this region, so pack a warm sleeping bag, layers and some warm beverages for those cooler mornings. My personal recommendation: coffee!
Vallée Bras-du-Nord is the place to go if you want to combine camping with lots of activities. It’s only an hour from Quebec City in Saint-Raymond, and has hiking, mountain biking, canoeing and kayaking, plus canyoning and via ferrata rappelling from May to October.
Choose from three campgrounds, each one with a distinct vibe. If you’re looking for rock-filled activities, head to Camping Shannahan at the foot of the Montagne des Falaises. If you’re looking for some peaceful family time, try the Etsanha campground, featuring a long sandy beach by a river. And if you’re looking for a wilder backcountry trip, bring a canoe and head off to Camping de la Vallée, accessible only by the Bras-du-Nord River.
La Vérendrye Wildlife Reserve
La Vérendrye Wildlife Reserve is less than three hours from Montreal by car, but is one of the best places to find some solitude. The reserve has over 1000 campsites, countless lakes and two huge reservoirs, Dozois and Cabonga. With over 800km of canoe-camping circuits, this is a great choice for paddlers, but drive-in campers have plenty to explore, too. Whether you opt for tents, miniature chalets on the banks of the reservoirs or ready-to-camp Hékipia tents, La Vérendrye is a great option for a peaceful weekend away.
Parc d’Escalade de la Montagne d’Argent
Attention campers who love to climb: pack your climbing shoes and harness – this is the rock playground for you. Located in the Laurentians, Parc d’Escalade de la Montagne d’Argent has more than 250 climbing routes (a third are trad routes) for avid climbers and beginners who are learning the sport. Campgrounds are located on reddish sandbanks of the beautiful Rivière-Rouge, where you can relax after a long day of climbing.
Where to find these camp spots
Three things before you go
- If you don’t have your own canoe, kayak or paddleboard, you can rent one from your local MEC store before leaving town. Parc national du Lac-Témiscouata, Parc d’Escalade de la Montagne d’Argent, Vallee Bras-du-Nord and La Vérendrye Wildlife Reserve also offer rentals on site.
- Plan to spend a day on the trail? Make sure to bring the 10 essentials, along with a sturdy pair of hiking shoes or boots, a pack that can carry plenty of water and snacks, some sunscreen and bug protection.
- Whatever hidden gem you choose, remember to follow the Leave No Trace principles – being respectful of your environment means future generations will also be able to enjoy Quebec’s great outdoors.
Photo credits: Shutterstock / LeventeGyori, Shutterstock / Photobac, Shutterstock / lightpoet