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Car Camping in Parc National d'Oka
A beautiful campground with a unique history

©Outdoor Adventure Canada

Parc National d'Oka situated in the lower Laurentian region of Quebec, is about 60 km northwest of Montreal. The park's proximity to the city and its dual mission of protecting the environment while promoting outdoor recreation make it a wonderful place to get away.

Historically, the land belonged to the Seigneurie du Lac des Deux Montages (Lake of Two Mountains) and managed by Sulpiscian Monks since 1717. The influence of the religious order is still visible in a monastery that you pass along the way to the park and a school that you can see from the North Gate. In 1881 the Trappist Monks also developed a model farm for the education of the colonists and natives in the area and made the world famous OKA cheese.

The most impressive and lasting of the Monks' achievements is certainly the Calvary which consists of four oratories and three chapels built on the mountainside amidst the trees and natural décor. This beautiful spot is only a few minutes walk from the campsites and is a great place to get away, reflect, enjoy the scenery, and admire the recently restored artisanship of the Monks.

Although the fall colours are particularly stunning, the walk along the wide and very well tended gravel dust trail is beautiful in all seasons. You can even rent snowshoes to do the trail in the wintertime, although, because it is on a hill, neophytes may find it difficult.

The park is open all year round with camping from May to October. There are a total of 580 sites for tents (semi-serviced - water and toilets nearby) on four campgrounds and 301 sites for trailers and RV (water, electricity and sewer connection). At central locations, there are toilets, showers, garbage stations and hot ash disposal. The sites, which are situated in the woods, and are far enough apart to afford relative privacy. All sites have access to the beach, trails, observation activities and Interpretation center.

One of the wonderful features of this Parc National d'Oka is what they call their "Turnkey Package in A Tent"; especially useful if you are vacationing from afar or if you don't have camping equipment of your own. It consists of a six-person tent, a rechargeable lantern/flashlight, a ground sheet, a woodstove and enough wood for the duration of your stay. All you need is your sleeping bag, dishes and camp stove.

The beach is certainly the main attraction of the park in the summer. It is a sandy expanse of more than 1.5 km and is supervised by lifeguards until dusk. You can bask in the sun, or set up in one of the many shaded picnic areas. There is also the opportunity to rent paddleboats, sailboards and various nautical craft. The new Littoral Visitors' Centre is open year round, has a restaurant with a patio facing the lake, lockers, and a first aid post. Challenge your campsite neighbours to participate in the sand castle contest!

Tired of the beach? Getting restless? There are dozens of kilometers of walking trails in many diverse natural environments - wetlands, forests, hills - and most of these have been set up with information panels to let each one discover at their own pace. Or you might want to go out in a kayak for a relaxing paddle.

Even better, you can arrange for a guided tour with a qualified naturalist who will explain the natural surroundings in depth. The Interpretation and Visitors' Centre has a permanent photograph exhibit, a projection room and is the departure point for two of the hiking trails. Over 200 species of birds have been identified within the park. Grab your camera and find out how many species you can spot!

If you brought your bicycles, you won't be disappointed. Ten kilometers of the La Vagabonde cycle path's forty kilometres are within the park boundary. There is also a fairly difficult mountain biking trail, for those of you who are adrenalin junkies.

Recently, Parc National d'Oka made their hiking trails more accessible for the mobility-impaired persons who visit in the winter. Their "Made-to-Measure" product is available free of charge and gives the visitor the ability to use the trails.

There's so much to do and see in Oka that you might find yourself booking extra days just to rest up!

For more information please visit the Sépaq website.

Written by Mariane Colombe
Calvary photo courtesy Enviro Foto ©Sépaq
Lake photo courtesy Jean-Pierre Huard ©Sépaq

masthead photo courtesy




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