Camping at lockstations
Rideau Canal National Historic Site
Spend the night camping in the great outdoors during your travels on the Rideau Canal. Boaters enjoy tent camping as a fun and affordable way to experience the historic setting at the lockstation. Paddlers and cyclists too will find the sites make great staging areas for multi-day excursions, and perfect places to stop for the night along any route.
Know before you go
Where can I camp along on the Rideau Canal?
No car campingFirst-come, first-served tent camping is only available to visitors arriving by boat (paddlers or vessels under power), and those who hike/cycle to the lockstation. Drive-up car camping is not permitted at the lockstation. Select reservable campsites on the Rideau Canal do allow drive-up camping.
Lockstations with camping:
Tent camping is allowed at most lockstations on the Rideau Canal at the discretion of the lockmaster on duty. Sites are typically located in grassy areas around the lockstation and adjacent the canal's mooring areas and/or paddle docks. The lockmaster will direct you to an area where you can set up your tent.
Lockstations without camping:
Camping is currently not available at the following stations due to a lack of public space and facilities:
- Ottawa Locks
- Hogs Back
- Smiths Falls Combined
- Smiths Falls Old Slys
- Brass Point Bridge
Campsites can not be reserved and available space on any given day is not guaranteed. Large organized cycling and hiking groups (6+) should communicate their camping plans to Parks Canada in advance of their visit, to better prepare for their arrival. Please email:
Various other camping options exist along the Rideau Canal, in provincial parks and privately-owned sites along its length. Check with the local tourism experts in your region to learn about camping options near the canal.
How do I reserve a campsite?
Camping at lockstations works a bit differently than camping at other Parks Canada places. Most campsites on the Rideau Canal are first-come first-served. Available space on any given day is at the discretion of the lockmaster on duty.Phone ahead!
The best way to check the availability before you visit is to phone the lockstation directly and notify them of your plans.
Reservable campsites:There are some reservable tenting sites along the Rideau Canal which can be booked online or by phone:
National Reservation ServicePhone number: 1-877-RESERVE (737-3783)
How much does it cost?
Camping permits and fees may vary; depending on the availability of services at each lock. Check our Fees page for current camping costs and other related fee information for visitors.
Boaters who pay for overnight mooring camp free of charge.
When does camping open for the season?
Camping at lockstations is available annually from mid-may to early-October during the Navigation season.Hours of Operation
What facilities are available at the lockstation?
Service levels throughout the season are subject to change without notice. It's important that you phone ahead for the most up-to-date information.
At the lockstation:
- Potable water
- Garbage and recycling
- Firepit with cooking grill
- Picnic tables
- Maps and other visitor information
Select locksations may also offer showers, firewood and ice. Contact a lockstation directly to inquire.
When you get here
- Staff hours:
- Lock Staff are on site as per the Rideau Canal National Historic Site Hours of Operation seasonal schedule, and will be prepared for anticipated arrivals between 1:00 pm and 4:00 pm
- Check-in time:
- After 1:00 pm
- Check-out time:
- Before 11:00 am
- After hours registration:
- If you plan on arriving outside of staffed hours, please call the lockstations directly to obtain check-in instructions ahead of time.
Accessing your site
- Boaters can safely moor their vessels at the lockstation overnight while they camp
- An overnight mooring permit is required for your vessel; camping fees will be waived (1 tent)
- Mooring permits may be purchased on-site or online in advance
- A short walk from the mooring area may be required to reach your campsite
- Maximum vehicles per site: 2
- Recreational vehicles (RVs) are prohibited
- Parking spots are usually located adjacent the lockstation
- A short walk may be required to reach your campsite
- Parking may be limited when you arrive; speak to the lock staff
- Walking and cycling:
- Your campsite may be located in an area of the lockstation that could be challenging to reach on foot
- In some cases, you may be required to cross the lock gates on a narrow overhead walkway
- Bicycles may not be able to cross some overhead walkways
- Visitors should be physically prepared to carry their gear and equipment short distances to reach their site
- Phone the lockstation in advance to inquire about specific site access limitations
- Quiet hours:
- 10:00 pm to 7:00 am
- Maximum camping units per site:
- 2 Tents
- Maximum persons per site:
- Up to 6 people
- Generator policy:
- Use of any generator is limited to 7:00 am - 10:00 pm
- Electrical service:
- Fires are only allowed in designated fire rings
- Random fires are not allowed on National Historic Sites
- Charcoal barbecues and propane fire rings are permitted
Please keep your campfire safe for you and the environment by following these rules:
- Keep fires small
- Never leave a fire unattended
- Dump cold BBQ ashes into a fire pit
Firewood can not be brought into the historic site. Transporting wood from elsewhere may spread invasive insects and disease. Firewood must be purchased within the site and is available at the lockstation. Do not burn garbage or collect deadfall from the surrounding forest for burning.
Protect your forests from the Emerald Ash Borer
The Emerald Ash Borer is a highly destructive invasive insect which attacks and kills all species of ash. It has the capability to spread rapidly throughout trees and forests. A single piece of infected firewood can be detrimental to thousands of trees and forests.
- Storing food
Please store all food, drinks, and wildlife attractants (scented products) in your vehicle or on your boat
Impact on wildlife
Leaving food out in a campsite can attract wildlife. Wildlife is also attracted to non-food items that smell like food including garbage, dishes, pots, coolers and even toiletries. Accidentally leaving food out or not properly disposing of garbage teaches animals that humans provide food. Once the animal has had a taste of human food, it may begin to seek it above all other sources of natural food.
Feeding wildlife at a National Historic Site is illegal and you can be charged under the Canada National Parks Act. This includes feeding them directly by offering them food, or indirectly by leaving garbage behind for them to find.
- Garbage and litter
- Garbage and recycling bins are located at all lockstations on the Rideau Canal. Please use them to dispose of your waste.
- Good times in the great outdoors are safer and more rewarding when you Leave No Trace of your visit
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