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Travelling one week from Montreal to Toronto in the week before Halloween. I read there is a thing called "Indian summer" with wonderful colors through the country. But friends told me national parks will most likely to be closed (why?). Can you give me a rule of thumb when and where on the route you will likely to have open national parks during that time?

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    how important are the colours to you? In other words is this about the park being open, the leaves changing, or Indian Summer which is a different thing? – Kate Gregory Jun 29 '16 at 14:01
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    also, why national parks rather than provincial parks or just random highways you can drive along and stop at a scenic lookout? Do you want to camp, or just hike in the daytime? (Some parks are closed to camping and open to day use in the late fall.) – Kate Gregory Jun 29 '16 at 14:04
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    The last week of October may be too late for the "fall colors" season in Central Canada. (I live further south, in the New England region of the US, and late October would be too late even down here.) Most websites seem to say that the best times for fall foliage in Ontario and Quebec are late September through early October. – Michael Seifert Jun 29 '16 at 14:10
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    @MarcWittmann, As you can see in my answer, the rule of thumb is that, unless stated othewise, all parks are open. – JS Lavertu Jun 29 '16 at 14:45
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    Note that the term "Indian summer" refers to a period of unseasonably warm weather during the autumn. It doesn't really have anything to do with the colours of the autumn leaves, except they both happen in the autumn. Autumn colours happen every year; Indian summers, by definition, do not. – David Richerby Jun 29 '16 at 16:34
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I think your friends are rather misinformed.

I am unaware of parks closing at any point during the year apart from the occasional holiday or similar occurrence. For example, the Oka national park is open all year round as can be seen here:

Parc national d'Oka is open year-round from 8 a.m. until sunset. Source

Basically, visit the information page of the parks you want to visit beforehand to confirm that it will indeed be open (they sometimes close for special occasions, but these are rare) and you will be fine. There is no reason for the national parks to be closed during the color changes.

Do keep in mind that, as Michael Seifert mentioned, the colors do not always coincide with the Indian summer.

As for where you can visit, I recommend you visit Oka national park, but also Mont-Saint-Hilaire and Mont-Saint-Bruno. The first is not a national park, but both are nearby Montreal (about 30 minutes by car) and feature some of the most beautiful scenery in the area.

Personally, I prefer Mont-Saint-Hilaire as it is taller and features more rugged terrain, but Mont-Saint-Bruno is perfect for a relaxed hike.

Hope you have a beautiful trip!

  • Note that Oka is a provincial park. Quebec province considers itself as a nation. – Vince Jun 29 '16 at 14:35
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    @Vince, I am aware that Oka is a provincial park, but Its designation is Oka national park, I doubt the OP specifically wanted only parks administered by the Canadian government. Also, Quebec considering itself a nation is NOT a consensus here in Quebec. – JS Lavertu Jun 29 '16 at 14:38
  • definitely, I hesitated to add to my comment that it does not change the validity of your answer. It was really just a note. – Vince Jun 29 '16 at 14:43
  • @Vince SOME Quebeckers consider themselves.... Different. Last time we voted for it it didn't pass, so the province cannot think itself a nation. – Patrice Jun 29 '16 at 17:48
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    @Patrice technically the federal government has legislate in 2006 that > the Québécois form a nation within a united Canada – Zenon Jun 29 '16 at 19:36
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In Canada, many parks have a summer season. For example, the Mont-Tremblant provincial park in Quebec, where these color changes can be seen has its facilities mostly open during the high season (July and August) but most facilities open from mid-May to mid-October.

In general, in Eastern Canada, the summer is considered starting on Victoria Day weekend, around the 24th of May, and ending on the Thanksgiving weekend, the second weekend of October. You can consider all parks will be open during that time. "Open" just applies to facilities though. You can probably enter parks out of these times, just don't expect most facilities to be open, and the temperature might be low.

I have been to both the Mont-Tremblant and the Algonquin park around September/October, both are good to take advantage of this "Indian Summer". On Flickr, you can see many pictures of around the last week of October (in 2015) showing you will have nicely colored leaves.

Lac Monroe, Mont Tremblant
Lake Monroe, Mont-Tremblant National Park, taken by Vince mid-October

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