The appeal of motorcycle camping – WHEELS.ca

With the top of Razorback Mountain looming in the distance and the sun dipping behind it, I fumble with poles, stakes and my little nylon ripstop bivouac for the first time in my life. Equal parts exhausted from the day’s commute from Bella Coola and excited for my first night out under the stars, I still find it hard to believe it took me thirty-six years to crouch down in a tent . My inexperience shows that I am the last of our group to settle down despite the simplest structures. Either way, I’m delighted to have my humble house ready for the night.

More than that, there is an added sense of pride and accomplishment knowing that the entirety of my humble abode – tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, pillow and even kitchen supplies – was born from a set. side cases attached to my motorcycle. While the breathtaking backdrop of the interior of British Columbia didn’t hurt, there is something about this self-sufficiency that taps into the nomadic part of my soul. The experience cements a decision that motorcycle camping will become a pursuit of a lifetime.

On my last trip my cousin Jeff and I did a four day loop through northern Ontario. There are a handful of roadside attractions that we wanted to check out as well as some towns and roads that have generated interest. So with that in mind, we are reserving campsites in Temagami, Timmins and Tobermory. Our “Crossing T’s Tour” came to life.


Autumn may have dawned a few shortened days ago, but these days the epilogue of summer tends to be sixty pages long. As such, we were hoping for warm sunny days to end September.

It started out as a drizzle around Orillia, but by the time we found ourselves in The Screaming Heads of Midlothian, we felt completely overwhelmed. Certainly, the dark, crying sky gave a certain atmosphere to the Burk’s Falls art installation. Hundreds of concrete sculptures – some in the shape of dragons, others of spiders but most of howling heads – dot the landscape of artist Peter Carmani’s 130-acre home. An impressive site worth seeing, it even offers land on which to pitch a tent for the night. I mentally take note of it for a future adventure before posing with my bike in the gaping mouth of a “head” near the exit.

motorbike camping

The rain is relentless as it follows us to our campsite at Finlayson Point. While checking in I notice the two puddles of water that our soggy wet gear deposits as the ranger marvels that we are still planning to camp. It is the last weekend that the park will be open for overnight stays but this weather has caused many cancellations. Needless to say, we are the only motorcyclists registered.

Our campsite overlooks Lake Temagami, and in the distance, I see a patch of blue sky that gets bigger. The ground is soggy, but the showers are slackening as the tents are deployed and the equipment is unloaded. With dinner cooked over the campfire, I hope the clouds clear and we are rewarded with a heartwarming sunset. Mother Nature doesn’t really disappoint, even though she took a short solar shower.

motorbike camping

With the sun shining the next morning, we quickly consolidate camp in our saddlebags and make trails to Earlton and our date with a nine ton bison. Measuring almost 6m high and 8m long, Earl the Bison is a metal monster with Christmas lights and an impressive ensemble of prairie oysters. Our next campsite is only a few hours away, so we ditch the main road and meander towards Iroquois Falls before stopping at Kirkland Lake and scratching our heads that there is a town called Swastika in Ontario. As at the right time, the rain started to fall as soon as we left Earl and followed us through each town before giving way to Kettle Lakes Provincial Park, our home for the night.

Just like the night before, we have the park to ourselves except for one daring and curious chipmunk. We take turns fighting it and the smoky fire that our damp wood produces. Snuggled up in my tent, I set an alarm for the morning. With an afternoon ferry crossing, there won’t be much time left for sightseeing.

The morning air is cool, to say the least. A quick coffee at camp warms us up and moves us as we are greeted by a grayer, heavier sky. Luckily it didn’t rain overnight, but our day of driving seems to be in keeping with soggy tradition.

motorbike camping

Route 144 runs 271 km connecting Timmins and Sudbury. It is one of the most beautiful roads I have taken in Ontario. Bordered by boreal forest, lakes and huge chunks of the Canadian Shield, the scenery is breathtaking as it ripples across the northern watershed. We make a quick stop at The Watershed for some piping hot coffee and a gooey butter pie.

The sky is finally clearing as we descend to Manitoulin Island. Highway 6 is another magic sliver of asphalt and every dry curve is nice. It’s been years since I’ve driven the Big Canoe to the end of the road, but the skillfully wrapped MS Chi-Cheemaun is a familiar and welcome sight. One of the advantages of motorcycle travel is that we bikers are the first to get on and off the ship, but this advantage is insignificant in the grand scheme.

Sitting around our last campfire in Bruce Peninsula National Park, surrounded by RVs and RVs, Jeff asks if I would consider taking the same road trip. I looked at him questioningly before we both burst out laughing and dismissed the idea. In the same way that a hotel interrupts or interrupts the flow of the road, a car or truck does the same for the camping experience – it brings you out of the very elements that you are looking for. With motorcycle camping, this is not the case, the adventure never ends.


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