Have you ever felt the desire to leave the cellphone in your pocket and the laptop in your bag, and actually connect with nature? Thanks to a multitude of accessible parks and vast landscapes, Saskatchewan is the perfect place to leave your stress behind and reacquaint yourself with Mother Nature.
Grasslands National Park
When you imagine the prairies in your mind, the wide grassy plains, the sea of green, the bison herds, you’re essentially picturing Grasslands National Park. One of two national parks in Saskatchewan, Grasslands is a great place to experience preserved prairie land from both a modern and historical perspective, and find your home on the range.
Take an Ecotour Scenic Drive, essentially a prairie safari that will bring you close to a herd of bison — the animal that helped to sustain First Nations in the area long ago. On your drive you might also see burrowing owls, eagles, antelope and black-tailed prairie dogs.
If you’re fascinated by these animals, you may also enjoy looking for the fossils of their ancestors. Grasslands is home to archeological digs and tours, led by renowned paleontologists. Or maybe the cowboy life is more your speed. Saddle up a horse and trail real cattle on the open range.
Throw in great hikes, paddling adventures, and unique accommodations, and you can see why the park is such a popular outdoor destination. Plus, after a day spent enjoying so many activities, you can spend your night enjoying unobstructed views of the stars. Grasslands National park is a dark sky preserve, meaning there’s no light pollution to impact your appreciation of the shining night sky.
Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park
While we’re on the subject of dark sky preserves, Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park is another place to see the stars, planets and satellites uninhibited by unnatural light. It’s also much more than just a stargazing destination.
Located in the southwest corner of Saskatchewan, Cypress Hills is named not for the rap group, but for the hills that rise 1,900 feet above the surrounding terrain. This terrain is full of cliffs, lookout points, and forest trails which you can enjoy and explore on your own personal adventure.
That’s still only the tip of the iceberg. Go fly fishing for trout in a number of a creeks during a camping weekend. Feel your heartbeat a little faster as you zipline through lodgepole pines. Cross-country ski through the park when the temperature gets a little colder. Try a new career as a ranch hand at a working cattle ranch or as a paleontologist, examining dinosaur bones. Enjoy the landscape in a more modern and comfortable setting on the golf course and sample a vintage at the Cypress Hills winery. There’s really no shortage of ways to enjoy Cypress Hills.
Prince Albert National Park
The second national park in Saskatchewan, Prince Albert National Park, is located much further north than its counterpart, and offers a completely different environment to enjoy.
The boreal forest dominates the park’s 1,500 square miles, and several scenic driving tours will allow you to experience many of the highlights — including the possibility of seeing free-roaming plains bison. Leave the car behind for a guided hike or venture out on your own to explore the forests and bogs along an accessible boardwalk. Bikes, boats, skis, even wakeboards can also provide different perspectives of the park’s natural beauty. Swim and tan at the many backcountry lakes and six beaches or take a canoe trip to visit the cabin of famous conservationist Grey Owl, whose story was captured in a 1999 film of the same name starring Pierce Brosnan.
Staying in the park can be an adventure all its own. Book one of Parks Canada’s oTENTik sites, a mixture of a tent and a cabin that comes with beds and furniture and allows you to camp in style.
With so much to experience, is it any wonder Prince Albert was named one of Canada’s, “50 Places of a Lifetime” by National Geographic?
Meadow Lake Provincial Park
If you love to hike, you shouldn’t leave Saskatchewan without paying a visit to Meadow Lake Provincial Park. A variety of hiking trails cater to people of all skill levels, but if you want to go home with a story to tell, it has to be the Boreal Trail. The Boreal Trail is the longest hiking trail in the province, at over 60 miles in length, and spans nearly the entire width of the 615-square-mile park. If you’re a passionate hiker, this is one for the list.
In addition to hiking, Meadow Lake contains over 25 lakes where you can go boating, tubing, windsurfing, and paddling, or just enjoy the sun on some of Saskatchewan’s best beaches. If you’re a sportive person, a golf course and tennis courts can also be found in the boundaries of the park.
If that seems like too much to tackle in one day, don’t fret: the provincial park is home to 12 campgrounds with over 800 campsites. You can spend the weekend or spend your summer enjoying the beautiful nature.
Candle Lake Provincial Park
For one of the most unique natural wonders in all of Canada, you’re going to want to make a pit stop in Candle Lake Provincial Park. There you’ll encounter a beach of strange purple sand.
Once you’ve taken your photos of this odd phenomenon, there are more than 4 miles of beautiful beaches to lounge out on. The Minowukaw, Sandy Bay and Waskateena beaches are considered some of the nicest inland beaches in the country. Not only are the clear waters perfect for swimming, but they also make for fantastic fishing of walleye and northern pike.
Visiting in the summer? Camp, go boating or spend your day golfing. Visiting in the winter? Head off on the many cross country ski and snowmobile trails. Candle Lake Provincial Park is a great destination for all seasons.
Discover more ways to enjoy Saskatchewan’s great outdoors.