Few things can ruin a camping excursion like bad weather. Near our home in Western Canada, bad camping weather typically takes the form of cold but head to Eastern Canada and its more likely that rain will put a damper on the outdoor adventure. Such was the case when we spent two nights at the KOA in Sault Ste. Marie during our epic cross Canada camping trip the summer of 2015.
Weather was a constant, if not peculiar, companion on our drive from Alberta to Ontario. We left in the midst of a scorching heatwave with temperatures in the mid-thirties under blazing sun and stayed with us until Winnipeg. Here temps plummeted, the skies clouded over, and rain became a steady escort throughout Northern Ontario. By the time we reached our first multi-night stay destination in The Soo, we were more than a little curious as to where those infamous hot, humid Ontario summers of our childhood had disappeared too.
Rain aside, Sault Ste. Marie KOA was a wonderful campground that can only be made even better under sunny skies. Located just north of the city, this campground is quickly becoming an urban oasis as the Soo expands. Carved into mixed forest just west of the TransCanada highway, there are ample towering Maple and Birch trees providing a protective canopy from the sun. Of course, with the moist Ontario climate mosquitoes are far more prevalent so bug spray is a must in these parts.
The grassy sites are decently sized, not as sparsely placed as the mountain parks we’re used to, but not excessively claustrophobic. A large, fenced clearing houses a massive dog run full of obstacles for canine frivolity. I’ve never seen such an amenity as any campground in my life but I’m sure dog owners must love this perk, not to mention their pups. They also have a self-serve dog grooming station. Obviously the owners of this campground like dogs.
Fear not, there is lots of fun available for humans as well. A modest, clean pool that isn’t over 4’ deep provides good fun for families of all ages and is surrounded by a small patio just big enough for everyone to lounge around in the chairs provided. At least we imagine this is what happens when it’s not raining. There is a mini golf course, life-sized checkers board, playground for the kids, pool table, a camping kitchen area, and a movie gazebo with modern TV that allow groups of people to watch movies.
Practical amenities are in good supply as well. A fully laundromat can be found attached to the large, well-stocked store at the main office. A large, wooden chalet looking building, the store/office offers a small grocery and camping hardware section as well as treats, both cold and warm. There is also a lounge area. Staff is friendly and very helpful even taking you to your site upon check-in with a golf cart. In addition to the convenient dump station there is even a high pressure RV cleaning station, again something I’d never witnessed at a campground before.
In addition to all the onsite amenities, this KOA is a mere five minute drive from all the conveniences a small city has to offer. This ranges from tourist activities, such as museums and entertainment, to necessities like, groceries and alcohol. For us, having just finished a lengthy jaunt across the prairies and Canadian Shield, this handy access to civilization was welcome. Others might prefer something more wildernessy which, in this part of the country, is never too far away either with the entire north shore of Lake Superior beckoning.
If I have one gripe about the Sault Ste. Marie KOA it is trains. We just cannot escape trains! These glorious foundations of our country are a regular nuisance when camping in the mountains of Alberta and B.C. not to mention along the TransCanada on the prairies. We had hoped to be done with them once we got to Ontario, but apparently not yet. A rail line runs to the west of the campground. It’s not nearly as busy as the main lines out west, but it is used and for people sensitive to these disruptions we gave a forlorn sigh when we heard the train rumble past.
Despite our visit to this KOA being dulled by weather, I still comfortably give it 4 ½ Baby Dill Pickles out of 5. This is a great campground for those looking to enjoy a full-serviced, near urban camping experience; an ideal homebase for exploration Sault Ste. Marie. If we’re ever in the neighbourhood again, we’ll certainly camp here and hope to make better use of the many outdoor facilities on offer.