Polar Bear Provincial Park – the ultimate travel guide

The largest Provincial Park in Ontario home to polar bears and more...


Polar Bear Provincial Park is an isolated wilderness park ccupying a huge swath of territory along Ontario’s northern coastline. It was established as a means of protecting the fragile habitat of the regions wildlife, especially that of the polar bear, one of Canada’s most iconic animals.

Accessible only by air it is very remote and little visited and all visitors planning a trip to the park must get permission and special landing permits before making the journey.

Comprised of unspoiled low-lying tundra, at 23,552 sq. kilometres (9,093 sq. miles) it is huge and is in fact the largest and most northerly park in Ontario. Situated on the southern shores of Hudson’s Bay and stretching all the way to the western shore of James Bay it has no visitor facilities or services, no permanent structures are allowed within the park and it is devoid of any human populations whatsoever with the only sign of humanity being a few old Cold War era radar stations that have long been abandoned.

The small aboriginal Cree communities of Fort Severn and Peawanuck lie just outside the park’s boundaries and are the only settlements of any kind to be found within hundreds of miles. The former community of Winisk can be found just north of Peawanuck but is now an abandoned ghost town after its residents were moved following a disastrous flood of the Winisk River in 1986.

The mighty Winisk River in fact bisects Polar Bear Provincial Park in two and is part of a greater environmentally protected area as the shores along its entire length are part of the Winisk River Provincial Park system.


Location of Polar Bear Provincial Park

Getting to Polar Bear Provincial Park:

Flying into one of the 4 airstrips is the only way of getting to the park and only about 300 brave souls visit annually to partake in the wilderness adventures, surreal scenery and extraordinary wildlife viewing. Getting there is an adventure in itself and there are only a few outfitters that provide services to the area including:



Once there, accommodations are limited to tents and portable teepee structures and travelers should be prepared and well equipped for any circumstances. Depending on the time of year one visits, bad weather can suddenly appear and delay any scheduled pickups. Due to the low lying nature of the parks terrain, high winds are always a possibility so tent heights should be as low as possible. It is also strongly recommended that visitors should have some protective weaponry of some sort as this is a natural wildlife environment and large predatory animals can be found throughout the park.

Established in 1970 about 70% of Ontario’s polar bears maternal denning sites are located within the parks boundaries and as many as 200 of these magnificent beasts use the park as they migrate through the coastal region during the ice-free season when their natural habitat, the ice of Hudson’s Bay, breaks up and they wait for the frigid waters to once again freeze over.

In addition to the star attraction polar bears this huge wilderness is also the domain of many other animals including:

  • Woodland Caribou
  • Black Bear
  • Moose
  • Beaver
  • Maarten
  • Fox
  • As well as hundreds of bird species

The long coastal areas and waters of Hudson’s Bay and James Bay are also teaming with wildlife including:

  • Beluga Whales
  • Seals
  • Walruses
  • White Whales

Check out this video recently shot by a visitor to the park:


In addition to wildlife viewing one of the more popular activities is fishing in some of the parks pristine bodies of water. From offshore fishing on Hudson’s Bay or James Bay to throwing a line in one of the numerous fast flowing rivers and streams or innumerable small lakes and ponds found within Polar Bear Provincial Park ‘s boundaries this is some of the best fishing in the world. Many anglers have walked away with trophy fish and comments that fishing in the region is the best fishing adventure they have ever experienced.

Other activities that visitors can partake in include:

  • Canoeing
  • Kayaking
  • Hiking

Depending upon the time of year one visits, Polar Bear Provincial Park is also one of the best places on the planet to view the natural wonder that is the Northern Lights. This spectacle is a wonder to behold and the clear skies over the park make it a natural viewing area to witness this phenomenon that is second to none.

While most visitors to Ontario Canada will not have a trip to Polar Bear Provincial Park on their itinerary for those that do decide to conduct this adventure of a lifetime it will definitely be a trip they will not forget. Careful planning must be undertaken and this journey will most likely take up the bulk of your trip to Ontario.

An outfitter must be hired as you simply cannot conduct the journey on your own and a trip to the park should not be lightly undertaken. The time of year you plan to travel is also a major consideration as the travel season to the park is limited due the harshness of the weather and terrain. The peak season is the Canadian summer that is significantly shorter in these northern extremes. For more information contact:

Polar Bear Provincial Park
c/o Northeast Zone Office
P.O. Box 730
2 Third Ave.
Cochrane, ON
P0L 1C0
Phone: 705-272-7107


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