Saturday, July 20,2024 10:10 pm EDT

Riding Mountain National Park: Top 5 Best Tips for Camping

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Nestled in the heart of Manitoba’s rugged wilderness, Riding Mountain National Park is a jewel of Parks Canada’s celebrated network of natural sanctuaries. This majestic park, part of the Clear Lake country, offers a serene escape where the whispers of the aspen and the howls of wolves punctuate the tranquility of the mountain region. A mosaic of habitats, from rolling hills to expansive boreal forests, teems with an abundance of wildlife, inviting adventurers and nature enthusiasts alike to explore its vast expanse.

Introduction to Riding Mountain National Park

As you set out on your journey, you are embarking on a path well-trodden by the indigenous peoples whose experiences and deep connection with this land continue to resonate. Each trail tells a story, each vista holds a history, and every encounter with the park’s natural wonders offers a glimpse into the soul of the earth. From the moment you breathe in the crisp, pine-scented air to the evening’s last light casting long shadows over the forested valleys, your camping experience in Riding Mountain National Park promises to be one of profound beauty and reflection.

In preparation for your sojourn, it is essential to harmonize with the spirit of the national parks – to tread lightly and with respect, embracing the ethos of conservation and stewardship that safeguards these treasures for future generations. With thoughtful planning and an open heart, your adventure in Riding Mountain National Park will not only be successful but transformative. Let us venture into the wild, carrying with us the anticipation of discovery and the promise of a timeless connection with nature.

Tip #1: Choose the Right Campsite

When selecting the perfect campsite in Riding Mountain National Park, it is crucial to consider several factors to enhance your connection with the park’s unique environment. Parks Canada offers a variety of camping options within the mountain region, from backcountry wilderness sites to well-equipped front-country spots. Opting for a site near Clear Lake country provides access to stunning lake views and water-based activities. However, you may wish to delve deeper into the boreal forests for a more secluded experience.

Reflect on the indigenous experiences that have shaped this land, choosing a location that allows you to appreciate the cultural history and the natural beauty without causing harm or disruption. As with all national parks, it is important to follow Leave No Trace principles to minimize your impact on the delicate ecosystems and ensure that the pristine nature of Riding Mountain remains unspoiled for others to enjoy. By carefully selecting a campsite that aligns with your desired activities, respect for the environment, and interest in the rich heritage of the area, your stay will be a harmonious extension of the park’s legacy.

Riding Mountain National Park offers a diverse range of camping options to suit various preferences and levels of adventure. Near Clear Lake, the Wasagaming Campground is a popular choice, providing easy access to amenities, including showers, electrical hook-ups, and close proximity to the townsite of Wasagaming. For those seeking a more rustic experience, the park also has a number of backcountry campsites accessible only by hiking or canoeing, where one can immerse themselves in the solitude of nature. These sites typically offer basic amenities such as pit toilets and fire pits.

In addition to these, there are several other front-country campgrounds like Moon Lake and Whirlpool Lake, which are more remote than Wasagaming but still provide some facilities. Group camping is available for larger gatherings, and oTENTik accommodations blend the outdoor experience with the comfort of a cabin-like structure. Each camping choice offers a unique way to experience the beauty and tranquility of Riding Mountain National Park, whether through direct lake access, deep forest seclusion, or the convenience of nearby services.

Tip #2: Essential Gear and Packing Tips

Embarking on a journey through Riding Mountain National Park, an emblematic part of Parks Canada’s commitment to preserving natural heritage, requires meticulous preparation in terms of gear and equipment. Whether you’re setting up camp in the inviting Clear Lake country or venturing into the more remote areas of the mountain region, packing the right items is pivotal. Your gear list should include durable tents and sleeping bags rated for the variable temperatures that can occur in this region, as well as portable cooking equipment and food storage containers that are bear-proof to respect the wildlife.

Navigation tools like maps and compasses, or GPS devices, are vital for safe exploration, especially when treading paths woven with indigenous experiences and historical significance. To honor the ethos of national parks, equip yourself with eco-friendly toiletries and biodegradable soaps, ensuring that your presence leaves no trace on the delicate ecosystem. Adequate clothing layers, sturdy hiking boots, and a first-aid kit round out your essentials, preparing you for the rugged beauty and unpredictability of nature’s playground. By carrying the proper gear, you fortify your connection with the park, ready to embrace its wild majesty while upholding the principles of conservation that protect it.

For a camping trip in Riding Mountain National Park, where the terrain varies from lakefronts to dense forests and rolling hills, certain unique gear would be particularly beneficial. Given the park’s ecosystem, it is advisable to include wildlife deterrents such as bear spray and containers designed to be bear-resistant for food storage, especially if venturing into backcountry areas. Insect protection is also crucial, so items like bug jackets or head nets, and high-quality insect repellent are important due to the prevalence of biting insects in certain seasons.

Since the weather can be unpredictable, waterproof bags and cases can protect sensitive equipment like cameras or binoculars for wildlife viewing. Additionally, considering the park’s rich cultural history, bringing along interpretive guides or resources on the indigenous peoples and local flora and fauna could enrich the experience. For those interested in stargazing, due to the park’s dark sky preserve status, a star chart or an astronomy app suited for the Northern Hemisphere could enhance the enjoyment of the night skies. These specialized items complement the standard camping gear, ensuring a well-rounded and respectful engagement with the unique features of Riding Mountain National Park.

Tip #3: Wildlife Safety and Respect for Nature

Riding Mountain National Park, under the stewardship of Parks Canada, is a sanctuary where the balance between human visitors and the diverse wildlife population is carefully managed. The park’s fauna, including bears, moose, and elk, roam freely within the Riding Mountain National Park region and Clear Lake country, offering campers a rare opportunity to witness these creatures in their natural habitat. To maintain this delicate equilibrium, it is imperative for campers to adhere strictly to wildlife safety regulations.

This means securing food in bear-proof containers, maintaining a safe and respectful distance from all wildlife, and never feeding or attempting to attract animals. Understanding and respecting these guidelines are crucial not only for the safety of campers but also for the well-being of the wildlife that call this park home.

The principles of respect for nature in Riding Mountain National Park extend beyond mere safety precautions; they are a nod to the indigenous experiences deeply woven into the fabric of the land. Indigenous peoples have long practiced sustainable coexistence with the earth’s flora and fauna, a philosophy that is echoed in the ethos of national parks. By observing wildlife from a distance, keeping campsites clean, and following all posted guidelines, campers honor both the cultural heritage of the indigenous communities and the conservation efforts that ensure the park’s ecosystems thrive.

In essence, when exploring the rugged terrain of the mountain region, your actions should reflect a profound reverence for the natural world. This approach aligns with the overarching mission of Parks Canada: to provide a sanctuary for species while allowing humans to commune with nature in a manner that is both enriching and non-intrusive. By embodying these values, your experience in Riding Mountain National Park will be one of awe and harmony, leaving a lasting impression that is both personal and universally significant.

Tip #4: Outdoor Cooking and Meal Planning

In the context of a camping trip to Riding Mountain National Park, outdoor cooking is an integral part of the experience that requires careful meal planning and preparation. The parkland region, known for its diverse ecosystems and proximity to Clear Lake, provides a picturesque backdrop for campers looking to enjoy their meals amidst nature. Before setting out, campers must plan their menu to ensure they have all necessary ingredients and cooking equipment. It’s advisable to opt for non-perishable food items and easy-to-prepare meals that require minimal cooking time, especially if hiking or exploring the national parks’ extensive trail systems.

Campers should also be mindful of the park’s regulations regarding food storage and cooking to protect wildlife and the environment. At Riding Mountain National Park, designated cooking areas and fire pits are provided in various front-country campgrounds, while backcountry sites may only offer basic amenities like a fire ring. Cooking over a campfire is a popular choice in Riding Mountain National Park, but due to the risk of forest fires, it’s essential to check for any fire bans or restrictions before your trip. Portable stoves are a reliable alternative, as they can be used under most conditions and provide more control over cooking temperatures.

For those staying near Clear Lake, the townsite of Wasagaming offers additional services such as grocery stores and restaurants, which can be convenient for supplementing meal plans or dining out. Regardless of the chosen method, all campers must adhere to Leave No Trace principles, ensuring that all food waste and litter are packed out and that cooking sites are left clean to maintain the pristine condition of the national parks.

In preparation, campers should pack all necessary cooking gear, including pots, pans, utensils, and a means to clean up afterward with eco-friendly products. A bear-proof container or food locker is essential for storing food and scented items, particularly in the backcountry, to prevent attracting wildlife. By thoroughly planning meals and cooking methods, campers can fully immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the parkland region, enjoying satisfying and environmentally responsible outdoor dining experiences.

When planning meals for a camping trip to Riding Mountain National Park, campers should focus on simplicity, nutrition, and minimal environmental impact. For breakfast, easy-to-prepare options such as oatmeal packets, which only require hot water, can be both filling and energy-boosting. Adding dried fruits or nuts to the oatmeal enhances the nutritional value and provides variety. Lunches can consist of hearty sandwiches made with nut butters or pre-cooked meats that don’t require refrigeration, along with whole grain bread that provides sustained energy. Including fresh vegetables like carrots or bell peppers adds crunch and vitamins without much additional weight.

For dinner, dehydrated meals are an excellent choice for backcountry camping due to their light weight and ease of preparation—simply add boiling water and allow them to rehydrate. These meals come in a variety of flavors and can cater to different dietary requirements. Alternatively, pre-portioned pasta or rice with a mix of dehydrated vegetables and a protein source such as pouches of chicken, tuna, or plant-based alternatives can create a satisfying meal. Seasonings and spices can greatly enhance these simple dishes without adding much bulk to your pack.

Cooking methods while camping in Riding Mountain can include portable camp stoves, which are useful for quickly boiling water or heating up meals. They are especially valuable during fire bans when open flames are prohibited. When campfires are permitted and safe to use, wrapping vegetables and proteins in foil packets and placing them over the coals is an effective way to cook food thoroughly while infusing it with a smoky flavor. This method also helps to contain any food waste or juices, reducing the likelihood of attracting wildlife.

All meal planning should incorporate Leave No Trace principles at Riding Mountain National Park, including proper disposal of waste and minimizing the use of single-use plastics. Reusable containers and utensils are environmentally friendly alternatives to disposable options. By carefully considering meal choices and cooking methods, campers can ensure that their culinary experience in Riding Mountain National Park is both enjoyable and respectful of the park’s pristine environment.

Tip #5: Activities and Attractions within the Park

Riding Mountain National Park is not only a haven for camping enthusiasts but also tha hub of activities and attractions that beckon visitors to immerse themselves in its natural splendor. The parkland region offers an array of outdoor pursuits, from leisurely strolls along the shores of Clear Lake to challenging hikes through rugged terrain, each trail offering a unique perspective of this diverse ecosystem. Here, at Riding Mountain National Park, the water’s edge becomes a playground for kayaking, canoeing, and fishing, while the dense forests are a sanctuary for birdwatching and wildlife photography.

Visitors to Riding Mountain National Park can also engage with indigenous experiences through interpretive programs that provide insight into the cultural significance of the land. Riding Mountain National Park is a place where history and nature intertwine, creating a rich tapestry of experiences that resonate with all who wander its paths. Whether it’s the call of a loon across Clear Lake or the rustling of aspen leaves in the parkland region, the essence of Riding Mountain National Park captivates the heart of every camper, leaving an indelible mark of awe and appreciation for Canada’s cherished wilderness.


In the embrace of Riding Mountain National Park, where nature’s heart beats strong and untamed, you will find a world that stirs the soul and ignites the spirit of adventure. Here, amidst Manitoba’s rugged wilderness, each camping trip becomes a journey through the very essence of the wild, guided by the wisdom of the land and the ancestors who have walked it before us.

From the moment you select your campsite, be it under the watchful gaze of towering pines or beside the tranquil shores of Clear Lake in Riding Mountain National Park, you begin to weave your own story into the park’s rich tapestry. The land calls you to set down roots, even if only for a night, in a place where the indigenous peoples found harmony with the earth—a harmony you too are invited to experience.

With every piece of gear you pack, you prepare not just for survival, but for the opportunity to thrive in the great outdoors. Your tent becomes a humble abode, your cooking fire a hearth of warmth and sustenance. As the aroma of your meal mingles with the scent of pine and the crisp mountain air, you dine under a canopy of stars, each bite a celebration of life’s simple pleasures.

The wildlife you encounter—majestic elk, elusive wolves, and curious bears—are not merely animals but are the beating heart of Riding Mountain. In observing them with respect and caution, you honor the sacred balance of this ecosystem, becoming a steward of the land as you move silently through their domain.

As you explore the myriad activities and attractions, from paddling the serene waters to hiking the whispering forests, you partake in the living history of this place. The stories of the indigenous peoples, the legacy of conservation, and the personal memories you create here are threads in a vibrant tapestry that is ever-growing, ever-enchanting.

Riding Mountain National Park, with its deep valleys and high peaks, invites you not just to visit but to connect—to become a part of something greater than yourself. It is a place where the past is present, where adventure awaits, and where the echoes of the land resonate within every camper’s heart. Let the call of the wild draw you to these ancient hills, where the beauty of the earth is yours to discover, cherish, and protect.

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Parmeetpal Dhillon
Parmeetpal Dhillon
An adventurer at heart, Parmeetpal Dhillon is an author at 'This Old Campsite'. With a deep love for camping and hiking, he loves to share his experiences.
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