Yurt alert! Winter camping in Gatineau Park
Published Thursday, February 18, 2016 6:22PM EST
Last Updated Thursday, February 18, 2016 7:15PM EST
As you continue to shovel out from our record-breaking snowfall, remember that a lot of people are actually grateful for snowy, cold, wintery weather.
Skiers, snowmobilers, campers…
Yes, winter camping has become a thing.
In Gatineau Park, winter campers can do it the old fashioned way, pitching a tent or building a snow shelter, or they can rent one of a number of shelters designed for spending the night in the middle of the wilderness in the middle of winter.
They have four-season tents, cabins, and yurts.
Yes, yurts have become a thing.
A yurt is a large, round tent made of cloth and wood. The design originated in Central Asia.
And they have a handful of them nestled deep in the woods of Gatineau Park.
Whichever structure you rent, it comes with amenities like bunk beds (you’ll have to bring a sleeping bag), eating and cooking areas (you’ll have to bring food), a barbecue, and a propane-powered refrigerator.
Wait a minute. Why would you need a refrigerator in the middle of winter?
That’s because of the other amenity, a toasty-warm wood stove. (You’ll have to learn how to start a fire.)
But don’t be lulled by all that luxury. There’s no electricity or plumbing. And the outhouse is a long wintery walk away – especially in the middle of the night when the coyotes are howling.
Oh, and there’s another catch.
The only way to get to these winter shelters is by skis or snow shoes. They are, shall we say, remote.
“Typically, to get to either the four-season tents, yurts, cabins, it’ll be between an hour and a half to maybe four hours of travel,” says Louis-René Sénéchal, Senior Coordinator, Interpretation and Information Programs at Gatineau Park.
Nevertheless, winter camping is booming in popularity. Sénéchal says weekends are booked up as soon as they open the season, and there are only a few weeknight bookings left. He claims that, once you try it, you’ll be hooked. “There’s nothing more calming than spending a day, or night actually, in Gatineau Park in the middle of February.”