Bienvenue au Canada! Welcome to Canada!
Looking for the perfect Canadian winter wonderland? Think friendly native animals, horse-drawn sleigh rides through the snow, fresh maple taffy, and stunning First Nations art. This type of Canadian winter experience really does exist, and it’s at Omega Park.
A day trip to Omega Park is one my favourite things to do in Ottawa in winter. It’s a place where happy, beautiful animals eat carrots straight out of your hand. I love connecting with wildlife, and so feel incredibly fortunate to call Canada home and to live so close to such an wonderful place.
Here’s everything you need to know about visiting Omega Park in the winter!
Why Visit Omega Park in Winter
Winter is one of the best times to visit Omega Park! It’s less crowded than during the on-peak, summer months. On this visit we went on a tour of Omega Park with a guide who told us that many of the animals are also more active during the winter. For the animals that have antlers, winter is the time of year when they’re in the full glory.
I’ve made visiting Omega Park a winter tradition for the past few years. It’s only an hour drive from my home, and it’s the perfect winter day trip.
What’s New: Winter 2019
- Mountain Goats: This past year, Omega Park welcomed it’s first mountain goats! It’s your first chance to see them in the winter, at their impressive new escarpment. The mountain goats are located right before the bears, and they’re very active. Watch for them up high on the rocks enjoying a climb.
- Wolf Cabins: One of Omega Park’s most incredible experiences is encountering the wolves, and now you can even sleep over with them. The wolf cabins accommodate up to 4 people, and include floor to ceiling windows looking out at a wolf enclosure. You will be right there with the wolves, waking up to their howls and watching them roam during the day. There are plans to add more wolf cabins is coming years!
Omega Park in Winter Visitor Information
- When Omega Park is Open: 365 days a year, my friends. There are always animals that want carrots. This includes Christmas Day, New Year’s Day, and any other holiday that you can think of. The park opens at 10AM come rain, shine, or full fledged Canadian snow storm every single day of the year. Come right for 10. The animals are most playful and eager for carrots first thing in the morning!
- How to get to Omega Park: Omega Park is located in Montebello, Quebec about halfway between Ottawa, Ontario and Montreal, Quebec. The best way to get there is to drive, and you will need a vehicle to really enjoy the park once you get there. Take the 50E (Est/ East) if you’re coming from Ottawa. Take the 50O (Ouest / West) if you’re coming from Montreal. The drive is just over an hour in both cases.
- Omega Park Prices: Prices vary by season and by participant age. It’s $26.96/ adult in the winter.
What to do at Omega Park in the Winter
Wondering what to do when it’s cold outside? Omega Park has loads of different activities, some seasonal and some always available. Here’s what you can do in the winter!
Feed carrots to the animals
Omega Park is best known for it’s car tour. Remain in your vehicle as you drive through park, and animals come up to your window for carrots. You can buy carrots at the Park House before heading out. The elk know the drill, and they will stand in the middle of the road blocking your way until you pay the carrot toll. Feed happy pigs, friendly deer, and adorable alpine ibexes.
Along the drive you will also have a chance to spot other species from afar like arctic foxes, black bears, and caribou. Halfway through the park, there’s also a rest area where you can hop out and feed the deer in person!
Watch for Birds
When I arrived at Omega Park on this visit, I was excited to discover dozens of birds enjoy the feeders just outside the Park House. Blue birds, chick-a-dee’s, woodpeckers, and finches are just some of the many bird species that call Omega Park home. In the winter they spend their mornings enjoying the bird seed and water that Omega Park provides for them. Keep an eye out and you will spot dozens of happy birds.
This year (Winter 2018-2019) a large flock of grosbeaks has made Omega Park their temporary home. These beautiful yellow birds only come to Omega Park every 6-7 years – however, Omega Park is planning to create more bird-friendly environments and homes so there’s a good chance they’ll be back!
Visit the sugar shack
Make a second stop and walk up to Park Omega’s Sugar Shack if you’re visiting in February or March. Enjoy fresh maple taffy, and learn about how maple syrup is obtained and why it’s only possible in a few parts of the world. Then… have a second maple taffy. Maple taffy is made by boiling maple syrup and pouring it on to snow, then winding it around a popsicle stick as it cools. It’s a Canadian treat worth trying, and the maple taffy at Park Omega is the best I’ve tasted.
Snowshoeing and Sled Rides
Bring your snow shoes and strap them on, or relax on a horse-drawn sleigh ride through the snow. Part way through the car route you will arrive at the Trading Post, the aforementioned perfect place for hand feeding carrots to deer. From here, embark on your chosen adventure!
Visit the Wolves
The Trading Post is also where you park to go and visit the wolves. Wolf presentations take place at 1PM and 3PM on week days, and at 12PM, 2PM, and 4PM on weekends. The wolf enclosure is a one-of-a-kind, unique design that makes you feel immersed and as though you are among the wolves (while in reality, there’s a safe distance and some thick glass). This was my first time seeing the wolves, and they’re absolutely spectacular.
Walk the First Nations Trail
The First Nations have a powerful presence at Omega Park. Our visit was guided by Omega Park’s Technical Director, who shared with us that Omega Park is the only place where all 11 of the First Nations of Quebec are represented together. The First Nations Trail has a totem pole from each of the 11 tribes. It’s a beautiful walk in the winter, and, as always, there are deer ready to relieve you of carrots.
Make sure you take a few minutes to appreciate this unique aspect of Canadian history, and keep an eye out for First Nations art and designs all over Park Omega.
Interactions With Animals
Places like Omega Park are such innovative ways for us to connect wildlife. The animals that live here are incredibly well cared for, and they have loads of freedom. Our guide told us that at night, many of the animals will venture 3-5km away from the car loop, and the ones that come to collect carrots in the morning do so of their own accord. There are some animals living in the park that prefer not to interact with humans, and that’s absolutely okay.
The animals have choice. This is extremely important to me any time that I visit a place with animals. The animals come and see you if they choose to do so. They pose for your photos if they feel like it. Here’s what you can do to care for the animals on your visit:
- respect the signs and fences. Don’t feed animals that aren’t supposed to be fed, and don’t climb over any obvious barriers.
- no littering! Take your garbage (and empty carrot bags) out with you.
- never hold on to the animals. Pat them, or gently lay a hand on a deers back for a photo, but never grab on or force them to hang out with you if they don’t want to.
Spend the Night with Wolves
Omega Park offers cabins for you and some friends to spend the night. Fall asleep to the sound of howling wolves, and wake up bright and early to start your day. You’ll be among the first to circulate the park with carrots, so you will be extra popular with the elk.
In the winter, the wolf cabins are open (but they fill up, so book ahead!) to stay in. The wolf cabins lookout over a wolf enclosure, through floor-to-ceiling windows that put you right there, immersed in nature with the wolves. Cabins occupy up to 4 people, so share the experience with some friends! Get more information about the wolf cabins here.
Thanks to Omega Park for the complementary access and tour! This has been one of my favourite places for years and I was thrilled to write about it!