October is going to be here sooner than you think, so now is the time to reserve your fall camping trip in Quebec. After a summer of increased domestic travel (and the good and bad that comes with it) and quickly-filling campsites, this fall could be one of the busiest in living memory at the province's national parks and reserves. And, this year, these autumn getaways will be more critical than ever.
They could be residents' last chance to enjoy the great outdoors to the fullest extent before a particularly stifling winter — when closures and festival cancellations will only exacerbate the limits to mobility brought on by the snow and ice.
The following campsites represent a wide range of experiences.
There are tried-and-true spots at some of the most popular national parks within two hours of Montreal, but also some more out-of-the-way grounds that require a bit more travelling but could present an opportunity for a unique fall road trip.
At one campsite, you might even be able to spot some whales swimming nearby.
You'll be able to find stellar fall views in every case.
Be aware that many campgrounds are requiring online reservations and are imposing limits on accommodations.
Wildlife Sanctuary Port-Daniel
Distance from Montreal: Nine hours and 40 minutes
This spot may be a little far from Montreal but the natural landscapes are worth every minute of the drive. From day fishing and hiking to wildlife watching and mushroom picking, there is a lot of fun to be had.
Kiamika Regional Park
Distance from Montreal: Two hours and 42 minutes
This "well-kept secret" under three hours from Montreal features a large lake with dozens of islands and sandy beaches to explore.
In the fall, the reflection doubles the foliage.
As a bonus, it's even cheaper in the autumn than in the summer.
Camping Paradis Marin
Distance from Montreal: Six hours
From the beautiful grounds, campers might even spot some whales swimming off-shore.
Note that for the 2020 season, the site is only accepting RVs with their own bathrooms.
Rouge-Matawin Wildlife Reserve
Distance from Montreal: Two hours and 15 minutes
Located a little over two hours from Montreal next to Mont-Tremblant National Park, this camping spot has enough to explore for a full weekend stay.
Papineau-Labelle Wildlife Reserve
Distance from Montreal: Two hours and 20 minutes
According to Sépaq, "the rich and diverse vegetation" at the reserve "creates ideal conditions for wildlife observation."
The society also specifically highlights the "exceptional views from the Devlin, Resther, and Bondy mountains" and "the sandy beaches of Lac Écho, Lac Joinville, and Lac Marie-Le Franc."
Jacques-Cartier National Park
Distance from Montreal: Three hours and 10 minutes
This national park is right outside the Quebec City region, three hours from Montreal. It's known for its rolling hills and sweeping valleys that offer optimal views for leaf-peepers.
Saint-Maurice Wildlife Reserve
Distance from Montreal: Two hours and 25 minutes
Just a little over two hours from Montreal, this quiet reserve, with its serene waters, is a great spot to set up camp and pass the day looking at the leaves.
Sépaq indicates that there are several waterfalls visitors can try to locate.
Mont-Orford National Park
Distance from Montreal: One hour and 15 minutes
This super-popular national park in Estrie is only an hour and fifteen minutes from Montreal.
Sépaq makes it clear: "hiking is definitely the best way to discover Parc national du Mont-Orford. It's the perfect way to get access to numerous viewpoints, which are said to be among the most spectacular of the Eastern Townships region."
"In the fall," it says, "the forest presents a show featuring the flamboyant colours of the sugar maples."
The park includes three campsites.
We strongly advise that before you go swimming or visit any location, you check the most recent updates on potential hazards, security, water quality, and closures. If you do plan to visit a location, respect the environment and obey any local laws.
This article's cover image is used for illustrative purposes only.