Do you feel right at home with a paddle in your hand? Then you’ll feel right at home in Saskatchewan.

While many people imagine the province as a long, flat prairie plain, two-thirds of the province is actually covered by forest and water. And we’re not talking about one or two big bodies of water here; we’re talking about nearly 100,000 lakes and rivers, each one of them unique and ready to be explored.

Have a look at five different ways to enjoy Saskatchewan’s Northern waterways.

Lake Athabasca - Credit: Tourism Saskatchewan/J. F. Bergeron ENVIRO FOTO

Explore the shores of one of Canada’s largest lakes

At over 3,000 square miles, Lake Athabasca is one big mystery for the curious explorer. Every nook, every bend, every foot of shoreline contains some secret, some new experience that you can only behold by getting out into the water.

Any trip on Athabasca builds up to a stop at the remote Athabasca Sand Dunes, the most northerly dunes in the world. The remarkable dunes reach nearly 100-feet in height, and stretch for over 60 miles along the shores of the lake. They’re also a completely unique ecosystem, containing an extraordinary array of wildlife and rare plant species.

Join Churchill River Canoe Outfitters and set off to explore this subarctic desert-like terrain. Spend a few days hiking to the largest dunes, trekking through the exhumed forest and meandering along the beach, and you’ll understand why this place of tranquil grandeur is being protected.

Paddling the Churchill River - Credit: Tourism Saskatchewan/Greg Huszar Photography

Follow the whitewater trail of the voyageurs

The Churchill and the Paull are two Canadian Shield rivers that cut through northern Saskatchewan with force. The smaller Paull cuts a path through the boreal forest with pockets of powerful whitewater, and several picturesque falls and gorges along the way. The larger Churchill, a cross-provincial route for fur traders and Aboriginal peoples for hundreds of years, runs from beautiful lake to beautiful lake, culminating in the famous Otter Rapids.

With a professional from CanoeSki to guide you, spend a week traveling from the Paull River into the Churchill, tackling challenging whitewater along the way. Test your nerve and your skill as you bounce your way through bumbling rapids. Then, spend your nights enjoying fresh caught walleye, birdwatching, and camping on the shoreline.

Lac La Ronge - Credit: Tourism Saskatchewan/Greg Huszar Photography

Canoe camp at Lac La Ronge

If your idea of a great paddling trip is discovering landmarks and taking in the sights, you won’t find much better than Lac La Ronge. The fourth largest lake in Saskatchewan, it’s home to a remarkable 1,305 islands. Not only that, but the lake is full of points of interest that you can only reach by boat:

  • the oldest building in Saskatchewan (the Holy Trinity Anglican Church)
  • the over 75-foot-high Nistowiak Falls
  • and generations old rock paintings (pictographs) created by the ancestors of local Cree peoples

Rent a canoe and set off on your own, spending your days exploring these landmarks and your nights catching Northern Pike, walleyes and five other species of fish, before camping under the stars.

Churchill River Canoe Outfitters - Credit: Tourism Saskatchewan/Hans-Gerhard Pfaff

Spend eight days on the Fond du Lac River

Far into the province’s remote north lies the Fond du Lac River, first explored by mapmaker David Thompson in the late 1700s. Accessible only by float plane, this gem is filled with exhilarating rapids and whitewater, created by sandstone gorges and rocky ledges.

Because of how remote this river is, you’ll need to connect with an outfitter like Churchill River Canoe for a planned excursion through this wondrous waterway. Spend eight days pushing yourself and your boat, learning outdoor skills from an experienced guide, and generally enjoying the scenery. If you’re lucky, you’ll encounter moose and caribou along the shoreline during the day and the indescribable Northern Lights when the sun sets. Bring an appetite for adventure and a full memory card for your camera, and just enjoy the ride.

Meadow Lake - Credit: Tourism Saskatchewan/Greg Huszar Photography

Relax at a luxury eco-lodge

Not all experiences on the water need to be physically demanding. Case and point: Waters Edge Eco Lodge. Located on the tranquil Greig Lake, in the Meadow Lake Provincial Park, the lodge is the perfect place to relax amongst nature. If you feel like taking to the water, paddleboards and kayaks are there for you to use and enjoy. But you can also just dip your toes in and go back to soaking up the sun.

Discover more outdoor adventures in Saskatchewan.

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