Review Date: July 2013
General Information / Location
Sandbanks Provincial Park is located in between Toronto, and Kingston. It’s on the shores of Lake Ontario and is known for it’s Giant sand dunes and golden beaches.
Sandbanks Provincial Park
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Sandbanks is located in Prince Edward county, on Lake Ontario. It’s not to far down the highway (401), but you have to drive a distance off the highway to get to it. But the roads have great views of small lakes, and go through some neat towns. The main gates, or the main park entry, is at the corner of Highway 18 and Highway 11. The park is split into 4 sections. Woodland, Richardson’s, Cedars, and Outlet River. I stayed in Outlet River, and did visit Cedars, and there are 3-4 comfort stations in those areas. I’m not 100% sure about the other 2 campsites, as I didn’t go in them at all. There are also TONS of vault toilets. They seem to be everywhere. There are also a number of different beaches at the park. The only beach I was on was the beach facing WEST in Outlet River. This beach is accesble, and close to most campsites in Outlet River A. Outlet River B campsites are probably easier to go to the beach on East Lake, but I’m not sure as I didn’t see this beach. There are also ALOT of parking lots for Day visiters, but that’s more towards the front of the park and not inside Outlet River.
So, I stayed in Outlet Campground A. This campground has a lot of sites within walking distance to the beach. If you looking to walk to the beach, then get a site in this area. In my opinion, this is the only campground I would book at. The others aren’t near the beach, so whats the point of coming here? (Maybe “Richardson’s Campground” is close to a beach?, looks like it, but I’m not sure cause I never went there). There are a number of campsites that are ON the beach here, but if you can’t get one of those, then get one as close as you can, and just walk. It’s not far. The campsites right on the beach are really nice. There are a few with direct beach access, and awesome views of the water, and some that have a knoll, or small sand dune you have to walk over to get to the beach. (more on that below). The other campsites seem to be deep in the forest. You wouldn’t think a BEACH campground would have thick forest, but the forest is nice and thick here. However… some areas have thick brush, and some have no brush making it not so private. I also noticed the site’s have a lot of “Road Front”. Meaning, they are wide, and very open to the road. The area in South East section of Outlet River A is really neat. However, it’s not very private. See the below picture. Just look how “deep” the forest is, and how mature the tree’s are.
There are 2 comfort stations in Outlet Campground A, which are nice and clean, and have flush toilets and showers. However…, there are only 2 toilets in the bathrooms, and most times there’s a wait to use them. There are a MILLION vault toilets, and they are absolutely disgusting. They stink SOOOO bad, and they have no ventilation. They need to convert these to hybrid flush toilets, with fan ventilation. Seriously… they are gross.
Let’s talk about the beach. As I said above, there are A LOT of beaches at this park. When I was there, the water at Outlet River was closed because of high E-Coli. However, that doesn’t mean ALL beaches are closed. Others were open. The beach at Outlet River was deep, and long. There is LOTS of room for people to sit, or throw the ball around. The sand has a few rocks in it, but it’s still comfortable to walk on. The water is great to walk in, and fairly shallow until you get far out. I noticed the tractor would grade the beach every morning at 7-8am (or maybe it was just because we were camping there on Canada Day Weekend). If you look at Google Maps, of this specific beach, you’ll notice that you in a bay. When sitting on the beach, it seems like you in a deep bay, and all you see is the cottages on the left, and more land on the right. Yes, you see FAR out if you look straight ahead, but it’s just not the same as being on a beach with no “sides”. Know what I mean? One other thing about the beach…. if you have a campsite further back, and not directly ON the beach, then make sure you use the proper access points, and not someone’s campsite. We had so many people walk right through our site to get to the beach, and it really got annoying. The beach at Outlet River is mainly for the campers in the area, and not the day users. This is nice because it doesn’t get to crowded.
As far as I know… there aren’t many hiking, or biking trails here. This is more of a beach campground, where the activities all relate to the beach. However, alot of the camp roads are nicely paved, so bring your roller blades and blade around!
There seemed to be a lot of activities at this park. I noticed a few nights there was a documentary playing about the park at night. Everyone would gather around around 9 pm. They rent canoe’s at the wood lot. There’s a river that runs between Lake Ontario and East Lake, which alot of people seemed to enjoy. There are also some campsites on the river, where you can canoe right up to. I even saw a couple tents right down by the river, beside the canoes. (more below)
I wanted to talk about some of the problems with this park, and some of my pet peeve’s. The camp road going through Outlet River A, one of the busiest sections, is paved. And, it’s 2 lanes, with a yellow line between. As soon as drivers see a paved road, with 2 lanes, and yellow lines, they think it’s a road that they can drive fast one. People FLY up and down the main road into Outlet River. They drive WAY to fast down here. Yes, the road is great for biking, and roller blading, but it only causes cars to drive faster. I think this road used to be a bumpy, gravel road. Which was far better IMO. There are tons of campsites along this road, with young children walking around, and cars are flying down here like it’s a country back road. It’s a problem!
Another thing about this park, is that it’s the GO-TO park in the area. It’s a VERY busy park! I’m willing to say this is one of the busiest parks in SW Ontario. If you go on a weekend, or holiday, prepare to wait at the front gate with 50-60 cars in front of you. There are a lot of DAY guests here, which really congests the front entrance. I also noticed there are a lot of tourists, and NEW campers here. It’s like the Niagara Falls of camping. However, I think there’s a lot of veterans here as well, who come every year and really enjoy it.
This is a Beach park. Meaning people come here to camp near the beach, and go to the beach during the day. This is one of the busiest parks in SW Ontario, so it must be because it has the best beach! Not quite… it’s good, but not as good as Long Point IMO. The campground there isn’t as busy, as has a better beach view IMO.
This park is just too busy for me.
– Campsites right on the beach
– It’s a beach campground, but it also has deep forest campsites
– Lot’s of activities, great park store
– Paved road causing drivers to go FAAAAAST
– Vault toilets are disgusting
– Busy campground
I enjoyed myself at this campground, mostly because we camped on a site right on the water. So, we had water access ALL the time. Camping on a beach is always fun. However, the amount of people here turned me off a little. Grand central station! It just didn’t seem like camping for some reason?