Port Burwell Provincial Park has been a family camping destination for me since I was a kid. I have many fond memories of campfires and fun times at the park, and it seemed that I spent most days there riding around on my bike looking for adventure. When it was time to start taking my wife and two young kids out camping we made the (easy) decision to camp at Port Burwell. The park never disappoints. The sites are very private and spacious, washrooms and water taps never seem too far away, and the park staff is always friendly.
My wife and I setup camp Saturday afternoon with lots of help from my nephew, who was along for the Port Burwell experience. It was a nice evening to enjoy a lazy campfire and roasted marshmallows with the kids while spotting bats and fireflies in the dying light. On Sunday morning a young Ontario Parks employee stopped in at our campsite to show the kids a beaver pelt and skull. She let them handle the pelt and answered a few questions about beavers, then was on her way after leaving us with some activity books. I thought it was a nice touch that the park had her coming around to educate the kids.
Our morning activity was a paddle on the Otter River with the boys, while my wife took our daughter to the park. We set in under the bridge of Highway 19 in Vienna and paddled up river a few kilometers until the current was too strong to paddle against. We spotted some Herons on the river and a few other interesting bird species. We also found a frame and other remnants of an old pickup truck stuck in the riverbank and speculated as to how it may have ended up there. My nephew decided that it must have rolled down the hill in a high-speed police chase at some point (there are no roads nearby). Good enough story for me. After our turn around we rode the quick current back down the muddy river and navigated through some tricky spots with downed trees that the boys really got a kick out of.
After heading back to camp, we changed and went to the beach for a couple of hours. The Port Burwell Provincial Park beach is beautiful but with a powerful undertow and caution must be observed. We played at the dog beach with our water-phobic dog while the kids enjoyed the water and built sand castles, then packed up and returned to our site for a campfire sausage cookout.
I spent some time teaching my nephew some safe handling techniques for knives and how to start a fire with birch bark and ferro rod. The rest of our trip was spent with campfires and easy bike riding through the park roads and before we knew it, we were packing up Tuesday morning. Heading home is always tough because I feel like I could always use just one more day out there, but the kids are getting homesick by then.
I can’t wait to come back to Port Burwell for our trip in October, but we have an adventure booked at Silent Lake Provincial Park to look forward to in August which is going to be amazing. My wife and I have not been that far north since our honeymoon camping trip, which is a story all on its own.