This will be our first time camping at Rondeau Provincial Park. We have driven through the park before but not to stay. So here goes !
Located in southwestern Ontario, Rondeau is the second oldest provincial park established in September 1894. I was surprised about this but Google doesn’t lie, does it? The park is on an 8 km long sand spit on Lake Erie. I was reading about this sand spit and apparently this one, and there is one in Florida, are the only two of it’s kind in all of North America. Pretty unique I’d say. Another thing about this park is that there are lots of cottages right in the park. Very strange layout. Very big park and you pretty much need a bike or vehicle to get around.
The park has 11 km of sandy beaches, 1/2 dozen trails ranging from 1 km to 8 km and of course biking. You can bike on a couple of the trails and there is also a bike path in the park itself. This is also a prime birding area but we honestly didn’t see a lot of birds. Probably too stinking hot for them. Plus I wouldn’t know a three-legged, 2 beaked, fuzzy headed warbler if he flew into my face ! lol
You can boat on Lake Erie of course but as we only have a canoe, and we didn’t bring it this trip, no thanks ! I would not take a canoe out on one of the big lakes anyways. We saw a kayak or two and of course tons of motor boats. Lots of parasailing going on though mostly on Rondeau Bay. We watched the paragliders one afternoon at the shore of the Bay. We watched one poor guy whose sail went down and didn’t go back up so he had to walk it to shore, that must have been exhausting. We kept asking if he wanted help but he chose to do it himself. I didn’t realize how much equipment you needed for this sport. And then the guy said to us that he should have brought his bigger board. Holy cow, the board he had was pretty big.
BUT I DIGRESS, before we got to this park, we made a stop at Railway City Brewery which is on the way to the park, BECAUSE they make my most favourite IPA of all time.
Dead Elephant IPA is my favourite IPA but we did try some other brews and we each purchased a couple of cans. It’s also my beer choice when Clint and I go to the Old Church Theatre for entertainment.
Trum went in for a quick drink out of his little mug. He travels with his own, keeps it in his little backpack. Don’t ask……………..
Well now, back to the Park ! So Clint said it was the quickest we had ever checked into an Ontario Provincial Park. Literally a couple of seconds. We were on site 15 on Tulip Lane, the last site on the right side. Nice treed site and fairly private. There is approximately 250 sites and I’d say about 1/2 hydro and 1/2 no hydro. You are an hour from Point Pelee National Park, which I will speak on later, and also close to Dresden, home to Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site which I will also speak on later !
We rode our bikes a fair bit, not too far maybe 15-16 km the first day. This is “tick” country so there were a few trails that had signs posted that stated these were definitely areas where ticks with lyme disease were found. What I found odd, and by the way we didn’t do these trails, not worth the risk…………anyways what I found odd was that these trails were not cut back or maintained. You would think in this area they would be super conscientious about that. But we did drive our bikes almost every day we here just around the park and on the non tick trails.
There are a number of beach accesses, I think 8 or 9 and also a dog beach at the far end. You would want to drive to that one as it’s quite a way down the road far from the campground. Some of the beach accesses you can walk to, depending on where your site is and what you need to carry there etc. But there are parking spaces and then you just have to walk through a short wooded area and onto the alleged beach. I say alleged because it’s very grassy and there is not much of a shoreline to put your chairs or towels on to. The water is nice and the bottom is clean but it can be wavy at times, you are on a Great Lake after all !
The Visitor Centre is not too big but very nice and quite a number of displays which are very informative and they have some snakes/turtles on display. Live ones that is.
We did another bike trail and the map at the beginning seemed to indicate a long way to the beach on an old narrow dirt road and then you kind of hooked up with another trail and back to come out at a different spot. So that trail was probably 15-17 kms, which isn’t far however we picked the hottest day of the year, or one of them anyways. It was over 40C………..bleh…………….We biked until we hit the beach, completely deserted. We parked our bikes and just walked around and looked at the water and the water looked back. We did not see a connecting trail off the beach. Then a man and his son came out onto the beach on their bikes and he said he used to come to this spot when he was a kid. He thought that if you walked your bikes down the beach, maybe 300 yards or so that you could pick up a trail. So that’s what we did. I loved pushing my bike through the sand !
We did go to the beach one day to swim, but we drove. We needed our umbrella, our chairs, my beach bag with my stuff in it and my beanie chair floatie. Didn’t stay too long, just long enough to say we went and get cooled off. It was stinking hot the whole time we were at this park but I think all of Ontario was stinking hot too.
One day we headed to Dresden, about 40 kms, to Uncle Tom’s Cabin Historic Site. Very informative, interesting place. Uncle Tom of course is a fictional character in Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 novel. She based her character on a real life preacher named Josiah Henson who was a slave and escaped through the Underground Railroad to this area and spent his remaining years. We were a little disappointed because….. we went in the Visitor Centre which has a theatre room (they show a 15-20 minute movie), a gift shop and a museum of artifacts. Then you can go outside, walk around and see Josiah Henson’s home and church and some other buildings. His home and church are shown below. They also have two figures portraying Josiah and his wife. But I digress, here is why were disappointed, they were having a big event the next day, which we didn’t know about, and so the museum was closed for renovations and the movie theatre projector wasn’t working. All we could do was to walk through a couple of the buildings on the outside. You can read more about Josiah at the link above.
We ended up going to Chatham. Drove around to see the sites and then because it was kind of a rainy day, we ended up at the Sons of Kent Brewery. Big place and very open and plain. We tried a few samplers. Farmers Ale, IPA, English ale and Coconut Porter. The IPA was okay, Clint said the porter had an after taste so all in all, nope.
The bartender was nice and she told us about another place in Erieau, yup that’s a town and not so easy to pronounce. Bayview Brewery is actually a big restaurant on the water with a nice outdoor deck. We tried samples of their cherry seasonal, Light Lager, ale and honey amber. They had no dark beer on tap to try but you could buy cans of it. The Cherry beer was surprisingly not that bad lol and you know I don’t like fruit in my beer but it was okay. We drove around Erieau and what a unique spot it is; it is a long peninsula reaching way out into the water. When you drive down the main street you can see houses and the water on both sides. Very popular for cottage/trailer people and fishing people.
One day we rode our bikes around and then ended up just outside Rondeau Park at a waterside restaurant called Rondeau Joe’s.
After eating there, we decided to call it Rondeau NO’s !!!! It was the weirdest menu ever. We ordered Potato Skins with cheese, bacon and onions for us to share. She brought out a potato with cheese on it. We asked our server when she came back why there was no onions or bacon and she said people complained about the onions so they just stopped serving them that way. Say What? Umm I don’t buy that, if you order something with onions and you don’t want onions, just say I don’t want onions. And let’s talk about the bacon !! Where was that? Below is what Clint ordered:
“Grilled rye bread piled high with corned beef, sauerkraut, tangy dressing, swiss cheese and served with fries”.
That is exactly what is in their menu. That is not exactly what he got. No fries but Waffle fries which should be banned. they don’t even taste like potatoes. The sauerkraut was tasteless and served on the side. No Mustard! There may have been, if we were lucky, two slices of meat making this the thinnest reuben styled sandwich ever ordered. Maybe we’re picky but it IS our money and when you order something you kind of expect it to be what the menu says.
I ordered a sandwich with sweet potato fries. the sandwich was okay, not great or I would be able to tell you what it was…………….the sweet potato fries probably have been sitting in the freezer for quite some time. couldn’t even eat them. Very disappointing lunch for sure. I’m not even putting a link…..I put a link on everything but this place is not recommended by me at all so if you are really eager to go there, well you can google it yourself ! Okay so one good thing, it was pleasant to sit outside on their deck and watch boats coming and going.
So moving on, just remember Rondeau NO’s !!
On another bright note, when we left the restaurant there was the cutest little motorcycle outside.
We only stayed at Rondeau Provincial Park 4 nights and it’s an okay park but honestly not to our taste so I can honestly say we won’t be coming back here. The staff at the park are all super though, I do have to say that. Very friendly and accommodating.