This year, my goal is to visit as many National Parks as possible, for FREE! Since 2017 is Canada’s 150th anniversary of confederation, entrance into all national parks and national historic sites is free. All you have to do to get your pass is search Parks Canada Discovery Pass and you’ll find an order form for your very own Parks Canada discovery pass.
Click here to get your pass
My first adventure was this past March at Fundy National Park. Over my spring break, a friend and I went on a winter camping and hiking trip to one of the rustic cabins. Fundy isn’t usually open in the winter, but since this year is Canada 150, they made an exception and have some attractions and accommodations open.
Parks Canada has been getting innovative with their accommodations lately. I don’t know if it was all in preparation for Canada 150, or if the whole camping scene is changing, but the changes are exciting! Now, instead of getting a campsite that’s a patch of dirt with a picnic table (and there’s nothing wrong with that), you can rent an oTENTik, a yurt, a tear-drop shaped cabin suspended in the trees, a cocoon tent… the options are really endless. We stayed in a beautifully situated rustic cabin overlooking the gorgeous Bay of Fundy.
Packing for this adventure was a little bit different than normal winter camping, we weren’t sure exactly what the cabin would be like, or what would be provided, so we were kind of guessing when we were packing. We packed our -20degree sleeping bags, warm clothes, cooking supplies, lots of food, and rain gear. The rain gear was key, especially for our walk out on day two.
So, if you’ve ever been to Fundy National Park, you know the drive along the 114 from Riverview and the Fundy coastal drive is stunning. We were so grateful that our drive down was sunny and clear. There was no fog on the bay (which is quite rare), and it was warm enough to stop and take in the sights every once in a while. We stopped at a cute café along the way for cinnamon rolls and finally arrived at the park around 2 pm.
After we had checked in and driven up to the trailhead parking lot, we strapped on our snowshoes and hit the trail… or, more accurately, the road. We were slightly disappointed to find that the “trail” we were hiking to our cabin on was really just an unplowed summer road. But, the upside to this was that we could enjoy the late afternoon sun as we weren’t completely under tree-cover. The hike was a short 3.5 km, but when we arrived, we were thankful it wasn’t any longer. We had overdressed and were quite warm after walking in the sun even for such a short time.
Making the last turn and seeing our cabin come into view was so exciting. We came up behind the cabin and could see the open meadow and beautiful view out in front of it. We were like kids in a candy shop for a while, exploring our home for the night and enjoying the beauty of our resting place.
We spent the rest of the day relaxing, reading the books we brought, making tea on the stove, cooking dinner, and watching the soft snow that started to fall as the sun set. It’s safe to say that night was my favourite night of the entire winter.
When we woke up the next morning it was to the sound of snow sliding off the metal roof and hitting the ground all around the cabin. Overnight the snow had changed to freezing rain, then to straight rain. We took our time getting ready in the morning, hoping that maybe the rain would stop before we had to walk back out to the car.
By about 10 am, we decided that we’d better set out, it didn’t look like the rain was going to stop anytime soon. So, we took a look at the map and decided to take opposite way out than we had come in, it looked to be about equal distance. So, we started out, and about thirty minutes in, we took a wrong turn and found ourselves on a plowed road. Studying our map, we couldn’t seem to find where we were, so we took a chance on a trail that looked to be heading in the right direction, and headed off in that direction.
By the time we got back to the car we were tired, soaking wet, and a little on the cranky side, but we made it and it was so much fun. Some tips for anyone wanting to go on a late winter camping trip: (1) make sure you check the weather and pack accordingly, we packed much too warm and that made hiking in and out much more difficult. (2) Take a book to read and games to play, the sun sets really early and it’s nice to have something to keep you busy before bed. (3) Enjoy it, there’s something special about being out in the woods in the winter.