Batchawana Bay is known for its beauty. It’s one of the most scenic spots on Lake Superior along Trans Canada Highway 17, between Sault Ste. Marie and Wawa. On a sultry summer day, the beach is lined with locals taking in the rays and enjoying a swim in the shallow, warm waters. During these active months—with all the accommodations, restaurants, provincial parks, and shops open—it’s a hub of fun outdoor activities.
But in winter, Batchawana Bay transforms. Provincial Parks are battened down and gated, ready for Lake Superior’s lake effect snow. Seasonal businesses are closed, waiting for the spring thaw to once again welcome visitors to area. The travellers who do use this stretch of highway in winter are either driving out of necessity, headed north to snowmobile, or locals headed to their winterized cottages.
And those travellers, as they drive this stretch of highway in winter, all ask the same question: Where is a washroom?! We don’t have On-Routes here. If you’re going to stop for a coffee, you’ve picked one at the Tim Hortons in Wawa or Sault Ste. Marie, depending what direction you’re headed. Now that large double-double you needed so desperately is making you desparate for a washrrom
We have exciting news to share with you: you do have a place to go!
Traditionally part of Batchawana Bay Provincial Park, the Batchawana Bay Tourist Centre is now open all year, 24 hours a day. You’ll find a well-plowed road into the centre, ample parking and, most importantly, clean heated washrooms. No more waiting until you reach Sault Ste. Marie or Wawa. No more pulling over at a private home, begging to use the washroom. There’s now a safe place to rest, make a phone call, use the facilities—or just take a break if poor driving conditions have forced you to pull off the road.
Visiting Batchawana Bay in winter
But there's more going on in the area than just a new washroom. Just because businesses are seasonal doesn’t mean there aren’t things to do in the area in the winter.
beautiful winter views
Looking for some inspiration? Lake Superior in winter is a wild and wonderous place. Its soft sandy beaches turn into snowy coastlines with unique ice formations. You may remember the ice caves that appeared a few years back. While this phenomenon does not take place every year, local photographers find many magnificent scenes to capture on camera:
- Sawpit Bay (approx. 15 minutes from Batchawana)
- Photograph the Northern Lights in Lake Superior Provincial Park or Havilland Bay
- Milky Way from Batchawana Bay Provincial Park
- Weather phenomena such as snow tornadoes, or just the clouds and the open water north of Batchawana
- Animal tracks
- Winter birds and animals
- Waterfalls and streams in winter
- Trees and dried grasses/cat tails
- Ice formations along the road
Our Favourite Winter Activities Along Lake Superior
- Ice fishing (Ontario Fishing Regulations)
- Snowshoeing the many bays along Highway 17 and in the parks
- Bird watching for eagles, snowy owls
- Snowmobiling back country logging roads
- Back country cross-country skiing
- Ice climbing with a guide!
- Kite flying on the lake
- Car tour to Wawa and back
- Winter Bonfires with hot chocolate and marshmallows in the day time!
Whether you’re a first-time winter enthusiast or well-seasoned at winter adventures, it’s always important to be prepared. Lake Superior Provincial Park offers excellent advice, tips, and a list of snowshoe trip ideas in the park. You can view it here.