We’ve been hearing an awful lot lately about ATV trail closures and land usage issues in the United States. What you may not know is that our friends north of the border, specifically in Ontario, are living in a veritable off-road paradise. Over the coming weeks ATV.com is going to take a closer look at ATVing in Ontario and the burgeoning ATV tourism industry in the heart of the Canadian Shield.

To make this ATV tour as easy to follow as possible, we’ll use Toronto as our home base. That may seem strange, seeing that Toronto is a huge metropolis with millions of inhabitants, but a short drive from the city will find you surrounded by peace, quiet, and miles of ATV trails.

When it comes to planning an ATV trip to Ontario, the best place to start is ATVOntario.com. The Web site breaks down the province in five different areas and has a wide array of ATV packages to choose from to suit any budget or riding ability.

With 1,000 acres to explore, Bear Claw Tours is an ideal way to experience ATV riding on Ontario.With 1,000 acres to explore, Bear Claw Tours is an ideal way to experience ATV riding on Ontario.

The first stop on our tour is Parry Sound, which is located about two hours north of Toronto.  Parry Sound is right in the heart of the 30,000 islands in Georgian Bay – the world’s largest freshwater archipelago. This area is cottage country for many of Toronto’s city slickers and it’s easy to see why. Just step off the highway and you’ll find yourself surrounded by towering pine trees, serene fresh water lakes and 2.5 billion-year-old granite rock formations.

If you’re new to ATVing or don’t feel like taking your quad and all your gear with you, Bear Claw Tours is the perfect place to get a taste Ontario ATVing. Bear Claw Tours, Canada’s premiere ATV touring company, offers a Canada Safety Council-approved ATV RiderCourse with a licensed instructor. It’s a great way to learn how to ride an ATV or improve on the skills you already have.

Once you’ve honed your skills, you’ll be whisked away for a half-day guided ATV tour on 1,000 acres of private property. Bear Claw Tours can provide you with everything you need – helmets, goggles, gloves, and 18 current model Honda ATVs. This is a great opportunity explore this part of the province as you’ll travel through forests and lakes. This area also boasts a wide variety of terrain for you to tackle on your ATV – from smooth, easy to ride trails to big rocks and deep water and mud crossings. You might even be lucky enough to spot a black bear or moose, but if not you can always soak in the breathtaking scenery of Georgian Bay Country while you enjoy some trail side refreshments. It’s all included in the package.

For those looking for something extra on your trip to the Parry Sound area, consider the Fly and Ride ATV Adventure from Bear Claw Tours. This is the ultimate ATV trip that combines fantastic adventure and a little pampering. To begin this trip of a lifetime, check yourself into the recently completed Red Leaves Resort on Lake Rosseau – Canada’s first J.W. Marriot resort. Get a massage at the spa, play a round of golf at the Nick Faldo designed course The Rock and rest up for what is sure to be an unforgettable day.

For a little post-ATV pampering, consider Red Leaves Resort on Lake Rosseau.For a little post-ATV pampering, consider Red Leaves Resort on Lake Rosseau.

The ATV adventure begins after you take a short drive over to Parry Sound harbor and climb aboard a floatplane from Georgian Bay Airways where you’ll get a bird’s eye view of the 30,000 islands. After a short flight you’ll land in the granite rimmed, glacier-formed Haines Lake where you’ll be met by Bear Claw Tours Owner Andrew Ryeland. Ryeland will escort you on a guided ATV tour before bringing you back to the plane for your return flight. Could you imagine a more perfect day?

Bear Claw Tours and Georgian Airways joined forces to create the Fly and Ride ATV Adventure.Bear Claw Tours and Georgian Airways joined forces to create the Fly and Ride ATV Adventure.

Guided tours aren’t for everybody and if you’re the type that likes to explore on your own, the Parry Sound area has plenty to offer. The Seguin Trail is one of the most popular ATV trails in Ontario, thanks largely to the fact that it’s the closest major ATV trail to Toronto. Part of an old railway bed, the Seguin Trail is mostly flat and easy to navigate. It basically runs from Parry Sound east towards Huntsville. This area is teeming with small lakes, forests, and wildlife so make sure you bring a camera.

There’s nothing like the freedom of riding your ATV right to your campsite.There’s nothing like the freedom of riding your ATV right to your campsite.

After a day of riding on the Seguin Trail there’s no need to load your ATV back on the trailer and drive back to your hotel. The Parry Sound KOA allows you to ride straight off the trail to your log cabin or camp site.

If you’re the type who wants to share ATVing with a big group, ATV riders from all over the province converge on Parry Sound every year for Spring Jam. This is Ontario’s biggest and most anticipated ATV event of the year. It marks the beginning of the ATV riding season for many in the area who have been patiently waiting for the snow to melt. The trails will most likely be a little muddy, so you’re bound to get dirty – a sure fire sign you’re having fun! The 2010 Spring James is scheduled to run from April 30 to May 2.

To help get you more exciting about ATVing in Ontario, Ontario Tourism has put together a very cool contest that will give somebody the trip of a lifetime. The Choose Your Dream Ride contest is a package worth almost $5,000 that will allow you and a friend to experience ATVing in Ontario. The winner will receive round trip air transportation to and from Toronto and ground transportation between all the stops on your chosen itinerary, accommodation at one of six different locations, the use of rental vehicles for any guided tours, as well as all meals and other on-site activities.

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