The rectangular province of Saskatchewan is bisected by the green treetops of the Boreal forest in the north and the golden wheat fields in the province’s southern agricultural region. And it’s zigzagged with more than 99,420mi (160,000km) of roads for endless road tripping options – so get off the Trans-Canada Highway for some real outdoor adventures.
First-time visitors to Prince Albert National Park might be surprised to see dozens of elk wandering through town. That’s normal in northern Saskatchewan. Although the resort village of Waskesiu and its namesake lake (meaning “red deer” or “elk” in Cree) are the anchor points of the park, true adventure lies in exploration by canoe, kayak or on foot.
Hike or paddle the 25mi (40km) return trip across Kingsmere Lake to world-acclaimed naturalist’s Grey Owl’s cabin during a weekend stay. Easier afternoon hikes are close to Waskesiu. You’ll find carnivorous pitcher plants lining the Boundary Bog Trail in summer and bears fishing for trout in the river on the Mud Creek Trail in spring.
In wintertime, backcountry ski into Crean Kitchen campsite for a true northern outdoor experience. Tent overnight for a chance to watch the aurora borealis dance above the snow-covered lake on a backdrop of a billion stars.
For a glamping wilderness escape outside the park, cruise the scenic route through the mixed forest along Highway 263 to Christopher Lake. Book a night or two in a yurt at Flora Bora Yurts. Or venture to the wild west side of the park for a horseback ride with Sturgeon River Ranch.
If you time it right, you can catch one of the half-a-dozen music festivals at the Ness Creek festival site throughout the summer months.
The highest point in Canada east of the Rocky Mountains can be found in Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park. Saskatchewanians joke you can watch your dog run away for three days in the province; looking out from atop Bald Butte and the Conglomerate Cliffs viewpoints, you wouldn’t doubt it.
Explore further than most visitors and hike the short distance along the Trans Canada Trail to the Hidden Conglomerate Cliffs for a quieter viewpoint overlooking Battle Creek.
Saskatchewan is well-known for its world-class freshwater fishing, and you might even get a view of fly fishermen casting for brown trout in the stream.
While in the West Block, stop at the Fort Walsh National Historic Site and learn the history of the North West Mounted Police (the precursor to Canada’s iconic RCMP). Rent a bike and ride the hilly trails to visit the Cypress Hills Massacre site.
It’s not all about outdoor adventure and nature in Saskatchewan.
A foodie mecca with more restaurants per capita than any other city in Canada, Saskatoon is the province’s largest urban center. It’s home to the country’s only perogy drive-through at Baba’s Homestyle Perogies.
For a taste of history, bike north along the Meewasin Valley Trails to Wanuskewin Heritage Park. An important cultural center, this National Historic Site highlights the rich history and way of life of the indigenous peoples of the Northern Plains. Most intriguing are the artifacts hidden within the soil layers in the park: Relics of hand tools and an elk-tooth amulet have been dated back 6,000 years – twice as old as the pyramids of Giza.
Saskatchewan’s capital, Regina, is known as the Queen City. It’s also a sunshine destination in Canada with more than 322 sunny days a year. Take a tour of Stone Hall Castle, a medieval-style renovated fortress originally built to offer protection from a prairie cyclone. Or go on a hunt for the ghost of Howie at Government House. He’s rumored to haunt the museum and current working office of the Lieutenant-Governor.
Connect your NWMP history learned at Fort Walsh to the RCMP Heritage Centre that celebrates and commemorates the police force’s 132-year history. As every RCMP officer in Canada has learned to become a “Mountie” at Regina’s Depot Division training facility, it’s the only place in Canada you’ll get a glimpse into cadet life.
Want to know more about Canada? Check out our podcast. We discuss when a traveler becomes a snack; the perils of wilderness adventure, a culinary tour of the provinces for foodies, and we speak to World Nomads photography scholarship mentor Richard I'Anson.
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