To get the most out of your Lake Superior road trip, immerse yourself in this region’s richness of nature by choosing to camp.
This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to rough it entirely. You can, of course, but we know tent camping is not for everyone. Most of the parks listed below offer roofed accommodations.
At Pukaskwa National Park, you can stay in an oTENTik, a half-tent, half-cabin accommodation with ready-made beds and a barbecue. Some Ontario Parks offer a variety of roofed accommodations such as yurts and cabins. The catch here is these require multi-night stays and are in high demand. You’ll likely need to book early to secure the itinerary you want.
If you don’t mind using a traditional campsite but aren’t really into constantly setting up and breaking down a tent, check out our guide for camping in an SUV (yes, really!).
You’ll cover a 700-kilometre distance when you follow the coast of Lake Superior between Sault Ste. Marie and Thunder Bay. This itinerary is very flexible and is best suited to travelers with a deep appreciation of nature and outdoor activities. We’ve offered some suggested timelines, but you can easily spend less time at some parks and more at others depending on your interests.
Stop 1: Pancake Bay Provincial Park
Pancake Bay Provincial Park is the gateway to Lake Superior when approaching from the south on the Trans-Canada Highway. It offers a three-kilometre beach that looks dropped here straight from the Caribbean. It’s also home to the Edmund Fitzgerald Lookout Trail, an intermediate hike with spectacular views over a rich history.
This park has hundreds of traditional and RV campsites as well as yurt and cabin options. Plan to spend at least one night here to visit the beach and experience the Edmund Fitzgerald Lookout Trail.
Stop 2: Lake Superior Provincial Park
The Agawa Bay Pictographs are a perennial draw to this park’s rugged shores. It also offers extensive hiking and paddling opportunities. However, this park does not offer roofed accommodations and there are no private businesses in the area.
If you don’t mind tent or trailer camping, stay at one of the park’s two campgrounds and spend a weekend exploring its trails and waterways. If you’d prefer not to camp, spend a full day at the park and stay overnight at a hotel in Wawa. Don’t forget to say hello to Little Wawa the goose on the way into town!
Stop 3: Pukaskwa National Park
On the way to Pukaskwa National Park, stop in White River to visit the Winnie-the-Pooh memorial. Optionally, White Lake Provincial Park is just off Highway 17 and is situated on one of the largest lakes on the Lake Superior Circle Route. The campground has nearly 200 traditional campsites, roughly a third of which have electrical service.
Pukaskwa National Park is accessed via Ontario Highway 627, which turns south from Highway 17 just east of Marathon. It’s a 16-kilometre drive from the Trans-Canada Highway to the park’s main gate. This park offers extensive hiking opportunities appropriate for all skill levels as well as swimming and paddling during the summer months.
The park’s oTENTiks can be reserved, but the traditional campsites at Hattie Cove Campground are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Plan to spend at least two days to make the most of the park.
Stop 4: Neys Provincial Park
Although it’s not far from Pukaskwa, Neys Provincial Park is worth an extended visit on its own. The beach is covered in sand and smooth rock and is one of the most beautiful on Lake Superior’s north shore. Paddling and fishing are possible on the Little Pic River and Lake Superior.
There’s one roofed accommodation at this park, the Trapp Cabin, and roughly 150 campsites with half having electrical hook-ups. Plan to spend at least one night exploring the remains of the POW camp and the beach on Ashburton Bay. If the cabin is unavailable and you prefer not to camp, visit for the day and stay the night by either doubling back to Marathon or continuing on to Terrace Bay or Schreiber.
Stop 5: Sleeping Giant Provincial Park
It’s a 300-kilometre, three-hour drive from Neys Provincial Park to Sleeping Giant Provincial Park. In between, you’ll likely want to make the most of the Lake Superior National Marine Conservation Area by doing some sea kayaking or hiking.
If you’re tent camping, you can shorten this somewhat by staying a night at Rainbow Falls Provincial Park. (Note: we haven’t stayed at this park but have heard good things.) At the Rossport Campground, some park campsites are located directly on the shores of Superior. If you’re seeking roofed accommodation, Nipigon has numerous options.
Upon reaching Sleeping Giant Provincial Park, you’ll drive from the Trans-Canada Highway for approximately a half hour to reach the Marie Louise Lake Campground. Five deluxe cabins and 200 campsites are available here. Swimming in Marie Louise Lake is accessible via a short walk through the campground. Note that when we visited in 2019, we found mobile phone service was much more reliable near waterfront areas and campsites.
Hikers will want to dedicate at least two days to exploring the park’s extensive trail system.
Stop 6: Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park
While it’s technically not on Lake Superior, those continuing into Thunder Bay and points west should set aside time to visit Kakabeka Falls Provincial Park. This park is home to a 40-metre high waterfall known as the Niagara of the north. Traditional campsites are available, or a day visit can be followed up with an overnight stay in nearby Thunder Bay.