Montreal summers are, in the words of Barney Stinson, legen — wait for it — dary. Legendary. And it’s more than just the festivals, parties, and sangria-sporting sidewalk terraces in the city. Perhaps more than anything, it’s the gorgeous summer weather — those sunny, 25℃ days we wait for all winter loooong.
As Montrealers, when those days finally arrive at our doorstep, we take advantage, often by escaping the concrete jungle to follow the call of the wilderness. While most Quebecers know that their province is a sprawling, natural beauty, many of us haven’t quite seen it all. For us outdoorsy types, it wouldn’t be summertime if we weren’t pitching a tent somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Here’s our collection of the best camping spots near Montreal for a long weekend outside the city.
For a group camping trip, renting a Montreal charter bus is the perfect vehicle to transport all your gear and get you to that remote campsite you can’t seem to ever find on your phone’s GPS.
Lake Témiscouata National Park
The Drive: 5 hours, 41 minutes from downtown Montreal
Let’s head straight to the outer reaches of Quebec. Three and a half hours east of Quebec City and just shy of Rimouski, Lake Témiscouata is no easy trek. In all, the drive runs just short of six hours, but much of the route runs parallel to the gorgeous St Lawrence River. In fact, it’s as close to the American border at Maine as it is to the neighbouring province of New Brunswick. The park is made up of forest and a trail of lakes, plus a brand new trail network for hiking. However, the real draw at Témiscouata is the water. Kayaks, pedalos, and paddle surfboards are available to rent, and canoe campers are especially welcome. At the end of a strenuous day on the lakes, gather around the community fire pit — and don’t forget the marshmallows! This park has 72 campsites from which to choose, with furnished ready-to-camp tents as well as spots to set up your own.
La Bannik (Duhamel-Ouest)
The Drive: 9 hours, 5 minutes from downtown Montreal
For campers that aren’t necessarily looking to live off the land, La Bannik is a great choice. It’s a hefty trek — nine hours of driving is needed to get there. While within Quebec’s borders, it’s as close as can be to the Ontario side and is directly north of Toronto beyond Algonquin National Park. With a coach bus’ comfortable leather seats, air conditioning, and Wifi, the drive just won’t seem that bad. And once you get there, it’ll be worth every kilometer (675 in all!). La Bannik campsite is a lakeside resort on the Ottawa River at Baie Laperrière. If roughing it in a tent isn’t what you consider a good time, you’ll appreciate the cabin-style camping offered here, along with some sweet amenities. There’s a pool, gym, and a sit-down restaurant with local offerings. Plus there’s laundry access on-site. And there’s a beach with a dock for recreational boating.
The Drive: 1 hour, 44 minutes from downtown Montreal
We all know Tremblant for its prowess as a ski destination, but it’s equally as beautiful in the summer. Less than two hours from Montreal, Tremblant offers awesome hiking, climbing, canoeing, and fishing. There are guided bike tours for those that can handle the mountains (remember, it’s still a ski hill!) with wildlife to spot all around you. And it has a whopping 887 camp sites for those looking to stick around a few nights. For groups, there are three sections that can accommodate you: La Diable, La Pimbina, and L’Assomption. With campsites for groups of 15 to 100 people, head to Tremblant with your school group, colleagues, or family reunion for a rustic camping experience close to home.
The Drive: 2 hours, 32 minutes from downtown Montreal
Actually closer to Ottawa than Montreal, Gatineau Park is on the Quebec side of the National Capital Region. A two and a half hour trip from the big city, head to Gatineau for a spot around the quiet Renaud Lake, which has three sites for groups between 25 and 75. Group campsites include a fire pit with a grill, plus picnic tables for sit-down meals. The park also has 260 tent sites and 33 sites for canoe camping on La Pêche Lake at the northwest end of the park. If you’re looking for a turnkey solution to your camping needs, Gatineau has 11 ready-to-camp units (yurts, four-season tents, and cabins) equipped with beds and wood stove cooking surfaces. The popular Gatineau Park began accepting summer reservations as of February 15th — so act fast!
La Mauricie National Park
The Drive: 3 hours, 8 minutes from downtown Montreal
Glampers, rejoice! La Mauricie National Park may be just what you’ve been looking for. A three-hour bus ride from Montreal, north of Trois-Rivières, La Mauricie shows off a fresh new glamping-style concept branded oTENTik. The clever play on words — in French, it reads like “authentique,” a direct translation of “authentic” — is more than just a sales pitch. (See what we did there?) It’s a camping experience fit for those looking to enjoy the wilderness while still feeling the comforts of home. It’s a tent-chalet hybrid, a cross between rustic and cottage. The unit, which resembles a treehouse at ground level, has a canvas roof and a wooden frame and floor. Inside, there’s a kitchenette with a wood stove and coffee maker, and outside a BBQ and picnic table. There are 13 units at the Rivière à la Pêche campground and 12 more at the Mistagance. Each unit has one large mattress and three smaller ones.
Mingan Archipelago National Park Reserve
The Drive: 12 hours, 41 minutes from downtown Montreal
Mingan may be the most remote camping option on this list. More than 1,000 kilometres from Montreal and more than 12 hours on the road, Mingan is a First Nations Reserve in Northern Quebec on the St Lawrence. While Mingan town is on the mainland, the National Park is actually its own set of islands in the bay. You’ll have to get off and unload the bus to take a taxi boat to the archipelago, but the genuine seclusion and solitude on these wilderness campsites will make it all worth it. There are six islands from which to choose: Île Nue de Mingan, Grande Île, Quarry Island, Niapiskau Island, Île du Havre, or Île à la Chasse. Like La Mauricie, Mingan also has oTENTik glamping sites on Quarry. But diehards can go traditional, and Anse des Noyés and Île du Havre each have 25-person basic-service campsites. For a twist, Île aux Perroquets has 4-star accommodations: 50s-style rooms inside a lighthouse.
Hautes-Gorges-De-La-Rivière-Malbaie National Park
The Drive: 4 hours, 53 minutes from downtown Montreal
A taste of Colorado in Quebec? For that, you’d head to Hautes-Gorges-De-La-Rivière-Malbaie. At five hours, the drive is almost as long as the name. But this Northeastern Quebec park close to Saguenay has enough going for it that you’ll be glad you chose it. For one, it has one of the highest rock faces east of the Rockies, so if you won’t be making it out to Denver any time soon, you can sleep at night knowing you saw the next best thing. At Hautes-Gorges, campers spend their days on dinghy excursions and riverboat discovery cruises on the rapids of Rivière Malbaie. Camping options include semi-serviced, rustic, and group camping.
Book your bus ASAP
With summer fast approaching, everyone is in the midst of confirming their summer plans. Make sure that you snag the bus model that fits your group best before everything gets booked up! Check out our Ultimate Guide to Bus Rentals to get a head start.
If your group is made up of 15 campers or fewer, it might make sense to rent a sprinter van in the place of a coach or school bus. A sprinter van is a comfortable type of passenger vehicle designed with small groups in mind. Bus.com offers sprinter van rental services in Montreal.