1000 islands

The 1000 Islands National Park is an overlooked natural wonder in Ontario

The 1000 Islands, a tropical-like island oasis in the warmer months and a brilliantly coloured excursion come fall is one of the most wondrous outdoor destinations in Ontario.

There is plenty to be seen including a massive lookout tower, as well as over 1,800 islands ranging from large properties for million-dollar homes and castles to small uninhabited pieces of natural land. 

This unique archipelago is found in the St. Lawrence River at the border of the U.S. and Canada and used to be a summer resort for the wealthy nearly 200 years ago.

Boldt Castle has to be the most impressive of the structures on the islands. Hotelier George Boldt started building the giant stone castle as a tribute to his wife in 1900. But it was left vacant for over 70 years when she passed away suddenly before it could be finished.

It has since been completed and visitors can journey to Heart Island to see the castle straight out of a fairytale. Although visits to the island on the U.S. side of the river are unavailable to Canadians this year, you can still see it aboard a boat cruise.

Another cruise that runs daily through mid-October passes a number of sunken ships deep within the St. Lawrence River.

Paddling is an alternative way to explore the area, with a kayak or a canoe providing a bit more of an up-close look at all the 1000 Islands have to offer.

Paddle rentals are available in Gananoque or Lansdowne for the entire day. There are also paddling routes to help direct you when taking in the far reaches of what happens to be one of Canada's biosphere reserves.

If you'd prefer to admire the vast scenery from the sky, helicopter tours are yet another way you can experience this one-of-a-kind spot. 

The area is also home to Thousand Island National Park, one of the oldest national parks in the country and smallest after Georgian Bay Islands and Point Pelee. It includes a mere 24-square-kilometres across 20 or so islets. 

For those looking to stay a night or two, oTENTik accommodations are available on McDonald Island, as well as on the mainland at Mallorytown Landing. Or you can grab a campsite.

If you plan on visiting and exploring the 1000 Islands, make sure to practice safe physical distancing and pick up after yourself to leave the area as beautiful as you found it.

Lead photo by

Visit 1000 Islands/Feather in Flight Productions

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