moose eating leaves at the side of the road in Algonquin Provincial Park

Moose Watching in Algonquin Park (North of Toronto)

Whether you’re an avid wildlife watcher or a casual fan of Mother Nature’s cast of creatures, it’s hard not to be awed by the sight of a moose.

If you want an almost 100% guarantee of seeing a moose, one of the premier spots for moose watching is Highway #60, the highway that runs through Algonquin Provincial Park, during the month of May.

The best time to go moose watching in Algonquin Park

two moose grazing by the side of the road in Algonquin Provincial ParkDuring the month of May, Moose sightings occur throughout the day along the 56 km stretch of Highway #60 that cuts through the south end of Algonquin Provincial Park.

Algonquin was the first provincial park in Ontario. It covers 7,630 km (or about 2,946 square miles) which is larger than the province of Prince Edward Island.

But don’t worry.

You won’t have to go trekking through the woods to do your moose watching. Just drive along the highway and you’ll see moose casually drinking along the side of the road.

How many moose?

My family and I have gone moose watching off and on for over 15 years and we’ve seen anywhere from 7-24 moose while casually driving up and down the highway.

Why it’s easy to spot moose in May in Algonquin Park

moose drinking the salt water that has gathered in a ditch off the road in Algonquin Provincial ParkSpringtime (the month of May) is the best time for moose viewing in Algonquin Park, here’s why.

During the long winter months the diet of the moose is salt deficient. By spring, they’re thirsting for salt.

Meanwhile, throughout the winter, road crews have been spreading salt on the road to keep Highway #60 ice-free and safe to drive.

The spring thaw causes much of this salt to end up in the ditches along the road.

Drawn by this irresistible source of salt, the moose make their way out of the woods, and drink up like a sailor on shore leave.

How to go moose watching in Algonquin Park

moose and calf in algonquin provincial parkIt’s approximately a three hour drive (300 km) to go to Algonquin Provincial Park from Toronto.

To get there exit the city and head north on Highway #400. After about an hour and a half, take the Highway #11 North exit. Drive on Highway 11 for another hour until you see the Highway #60 exit into Huntsville.

Huntsville is a good place to stop, stretch and top up your fuel tank. There is also a large grocery store here you can stock up on picnic supplies and snacks. It’s always a good idea to grab some bug spray too.

Refueled and refreshed, jump back in the car and head back onto Highway #60 East. After about 40 km or 30 minutes you will enter the Park. Once you do, slow down and start scanning the roadside.

Pools of water, or wet, mucky areas are prime spots for moose sightings.

When you spot a moose, slow down and pull over onto the shoulder of the road. Turn on your hazard lights to warn other drivers. Then, keep a safe distance and enjoy the rare treat of seeing one of Mother Nature’s most majestic animals up close and personnel.

Some moose watching tips

moose walking along side of the road in algonquin provincial parkThe number one tip: don’t forget to bring your camera. Here are a few more.

While moose watching, if the moose flattens its ears rather than his ears pointing to the sky, this is a warning that he thinks you are too close. Back up.

While slowing down and stopping to look at moose, it’s easy to lose track of how far along the highway you are.

It’s no biggie though.

All along the 56 km stretch of Highway #60 that runs through the Park, you’ll find kilometre markers at each kilometre.

When you arrive at the west end of the Park you’ll find a Visitor Centre. This is a great place to take a break from being in your vehicle and stretch. Inside you can add your moose sightings to the wildlife watch board and check out the displays and short video to learn more about Algonquin Provincial Park.

Another appropriate way to stretch your legs and get some fresh air is to go for a hike.

There are all kinds of hiking trails and walks of varying degrees, all accessible from roadside start points. The Algonquin Logging Museum Trail is one very manageable walk to consider. Keep in mind you are required to buy a Park pass in order to use the trails.

The arrival of spring is a little different each year. To confirm whether it’s a good time to head up for moose watching, call Algonquin Park (1-705-633-5572) and ask if the moose have started coming out to the roadside to drink.

Where to stay when you go moose watching

You can go moose watching for the day and then head home but it makes for a lot of driving.

The day is definitely more relaxing if you plan on staying overnight, plus, if you can’t get enough of moose watching, you can get up the next morning and go out for another run up and down Highway #60.

Places to stay inside the Algonquin Park

algonquin provincial park yurt an affordable place to stay when you go moose watching
Book a yurt and stay overnight in Algonquin Park.

The most affordable way to stay inside Algonquin Provincial Park, somewhere along the Highway #60 corridor, is to camp.

If you want to step it up a notch you could rent a yurt for the night. Yurts are eight-sided, tent-like structures that are mounted on a wooden deck floor and have electric heat. They sleep up to six people.

There are seven available at Mew Lake Campground in the Park.

Accommodations just outside Algonquin Park

Parkway Cottage Resort one of the affordable places to stay when you go moose watching in Algonquin provincial park
Parkway Cottage Resort

Just a few minutes outside the West Gate of Algonquin Provincial Park you’ll find some affordable accommodation options that don’t involve pitching a tent and tucking into a sleeping bag at night.

Approximately 7 minutes outside the park is Parkway Cottage Resort & Trading Post on Oxtongue Lake. Rated 4 out of 5 on TripAdvisor, the cabins here are clean and come with a fully-equipped kitchen. There is also free use of kayaks, canoes, paddleboats, a BBQ and firewood.

Go a little further down the road and you’ll come across Spring Lake Resort Motel. A TripAdvisor Certificate of Excellence winner and rated 4.5 out of 5, Spring Lake is clean and comfortable and features its own lake, free kayak, canoe and paddleboat rental, walking trails and an on-site restaurant that serves up delicious food at a reasonable price.

Next up is the Dwight Village Motel. Rated 4.5 out of 5 on TripAdvisor, it’s located about 15 minutes from the West Gate of Algonquin Provincial Park. Amenities here include a kids playground, horseshoes, basketball, volleyball and a fire pit with complimentary wood.

Feeling hungry? The Moose Café next door is known for its hit-the-spot meals.

Around five minutes from here you’ll come across the Colonial Bay Cottage Resort. It too is rated 4.5 out of 5 on TripAdvisor and is a great spot if you and your family love playing in the water as there is a water trampoline and climbing pyramid down at the beach. There is also free kayak, canoe and paddle boat rentals, free firewood for the firepit, and a complimentary breakfast basket each morning.

If the Colonial is all booked up, give the Tally Ho Inn a call. Rated 4 out of 5 on TripAdvisor it offers a lakeside setting, a hot breakfast each morning, free use of kayaks, canoes, rowboats and paddle boats, shuffleboard, tennis and more.

Last minute accommodation ideas

If you decided at the last minute to go moose watching and all of the suggested accommodation options that are located just outside the Park are booked up solid, you can find a place to stay in the town of Huntsville.

Located approximately 30 minutes from the West Gate of Algonquin Provincial Park, there are a variety of affordable hotels and motels to choose from.

Here are few worth considering: Motel 6 Huntsville, Econo Lodge Huntsville and the Rainbow Inn.

Be thrifty and practical! This information was accurate when published, but can change without notice. We recommend you confirm all details with the provider in question before planning your excursion.

Photo credits: TripAdvisor, Tambako the Jaguar, frostnip907, frostnip907, frostnip97, JLS Photography – Alaska.