Although Gatineau Park is the playground for those traveling to Ottawa, Ontario, the park is actually located in Quebec, Canada (hence the French name). The tourism partnership between the two provinces makes this an easy trip between the “borders” and well worth the excursion (it’s only a 15-minute drive to Gatineau Park from downtown Ottawa).
So what is so great about the park? The highlight is probably the fact that access and most programs are FREE. Through the National Capital Commission, visitors can hike and camp in the summer, snowshoe in the winter and take advantage of year round nature programming.
The park covers 361 square kilometers, with over 200 kilometers of groomed trails for cross-country skiing. Fees for this apply ($12 CDN for a daily pass). For those who want to stay in the park overnight, camping is available in cabins and yurts ($20 CDN on weekdays and $25 CDN on weekends, and $15 CDN during the winter). Groups rates are available.
The trails here are really well maintained and the staff are super helpful. Stop by the visitor’s info center if it’s your first time visiting and they will set you up with everything you need to know. Staff are bilingual, so don’t worry if your French is a bit rusty.
Visitor’s Center: 33 Scott Road, Chelsea, Quebec J9B 1R5
1-800-465-1867 / 819-827-2020
Open daily from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm except December 25 (12:00 pm to 5:00 pm)