The stillness of the park, the whisper of the wind and NO BUGS - just some of the draws for winter camping. It is a special type of camper that you need to be, a lover of the outdoors. You need to be prepared to face some pretty cold nights, but with the right gear and the right knowledge, it can be an awesome experience.
Winter camping is not just for the “big rig” type of camper with a home on wheels that has a gas fire place, heat and a queen size bed. Even those in a tent or even hanging in a hammock come out during the colder months to enjoy a campfire. There is something about a campfire in the winter. Not only does it bring some added warmth, it just makes the experience that much more enjoyable.
I haven’t been a “warrior” like the ones we get at Valens Conservation Area, but I have enjoyed a weekend of the white stuff while staying in a yurt (a canvas type cabin with electricity and heat) up in Algonquin Park. The peacefulness of camping during this season is something worth experiencing. You won’t find many others out, and those that you do find enjoying the winter wonders, are the friendliest people you will ever meet. And the calm nights allow you to hear the howls of the coyotes. I’ve enjoyed the days with some bird seed in my hand and the winter birds will come by (chickadees, nuthatches) and eat right out of my palm. A suet block will bring by some of the woodpeckers (red bellied, hairy and downy). You can’t get this close to these birds during the summer months when they are scared off by quick movements and the busy-ness of the campground.
I’ve spent the majority of the day exploring trails and the many tracks in the snow left by deer, rabbit, fox and others. At the end of the day, it is so relaxing to sit by the fire and cook up a nice steak and baked potato, right on the campfire. I don’t know if it is from being outside all day and starving or having dinner cooked on an open fire that makes it so delicious...mmm
Valens, sees on average a dozen or so “winter warriors” that will come out for a weekend camp during the winter. The park has a different beauty than what you see in the summer. The snow seems a little whiter, thicker and softer and the visitors practically get the park to themselves. You can explore the trails on foot, ski or snowshoe. Typically Valens boasts a great spot to strap on a pair of skates or try your hand at ice fishing, however with the winter of 2012, the lake has yet to see"safe" ice.
I think Valens is a perfect winter get away from the busy city - a peaceful retreat to allow for our batteries to recharge for the upcoming week ahead. We hope to see you out this winter to experience for yourself how special and different camping can be during the colder months.
Valens Conservation Area