Some of the most beautiful national parks in the country, landmarks in First Nations history, and great outdoor adventures make up the top attractions in Saskatchewan.
The RCMP Heritage Centre: Home of the Mounties
Mounties are right up there with beavers and politeness when it comes to icons of Canada, but they’re far more than just the red suits and cool hats. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police is Canada’s well-respected national police force, which has helped shape and protect our country and identity since 1873. This legacy is put on display at the RCMP Heritage Centre, located near the historic RCMP Depot Division where all Mounties are trained. The center uses art exhibits, multimedia and more to highlight the rich story of the RCMP. Cap off your visit with the Sergeant Major’s Parade, where drill staff work the cadets through roll call, inspection and more.
Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park
No, this isn’t a rap venue. Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park is a must-visit attraction for outdoor lovers. The park is located in the southwest corner of Saskatchewan and is named for the Cypress Hills that rise 1,900 feet above the surrounding terrain. Cliffs, lookout points, and forest trails are all there to be enjoyed and explored. The area is a Dark Sky Preserve, which means almost no unnatural light will impede your incredible view of the stars, planets and satellites in the night sky. Go camping, fishing, hiking, ziplining, canoeing, skiing, and even golfing. Try a new career as a ranch hand at a working cattle ranch or as a paleontologist, examining dinosaur bones. Visit local restaurants or the Cypress Hills winery. There really is just no way to describe everything this place has to offer in a short paragraph. You’re just going to have to see it for yourself.
The Churchill River
For centuries, the Churchill River was used by local First Nations as a travel and trade route. When explorers and voyageurs began visiting the region, the river continued to serve that same purpose. Today, the Churchill is where adventurers can ride the whitewater and make the memory of a lifetime. The mighty waterway is full of rapids and drops that draw out paddlers from around the world. The river connects several major lakes and natural landmarks, including the Nistowiak Falls, the tallest waterfall in Saskatchewan. It’s also a great place to try and spot moose on the shores and bald eagles overhead, or try your hand at angling for walleye, northern pike, and several other species of fish.
Prince Albert National Park
Named one of Canada’s “50 Places of a Lifetime” by National Geographic, Prince Albert National Park is one of the most popular parks in the country. At nearly 1,500 square miles, you’re not going to see it all in one go, but several scenic driving tours will allow you to experience many of the highlights--including the possibility of seeing free-roaming plains bison. Then, leave the car behind for a guided hike or venture out on your own on a bike, boat, or skis (or heck, maybe on a wakeboard). 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.
Little Manitou Lake
How do you like the sound of a combined spa/swimming day? That’s what’s in store on any visit to Little Manitou Lake. This unique lake is filled with briny water that apparently possesses natural skin and body care properties, not unlike the Dead Sea in Israel. These properties take their origins in the concentrations of mineral salts, magnesium, silica, potassium, and other minerals found in the water. Go for a float to relax and rejuvenate your body. Once you feel better, you can enjoy all of the attractions in the surrounding community, from golfing, to sailing, and even great shopping.
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 and find your home on the range. Take a prairie safari that will bring you close to bison, burrowing owls, eagles, antelope and black-tailed prairie dogs. Visit an archeological dig and learn from a paleontologist, or saddle up a horse and join a cowboy on the open range. Hike 70 Mile Butte, which rises 328 feet above the surrounding plains, and end your night with an unobstructed view of the stars, as the park is a designated Dark Sky Preserve. Close to the Montana border, the park is a must-stop for any road trippers.
Wanuskewin Heritage Park
For over 6,000 years, Wanuskewin Heritage Park was a meeting place for indigenous peoples of the Northern Plains. Long before the pyramids, the Pantheon or the Great Wall of China, Saskatchewan’s First Peoples gathered here to hunt buffalo, worship and celebrate. Now, the park is a place to learn about that culture and that history. Explore interpretive trails that wind through the valley. Visit archeological digs full of tipi rings, stone cairns, pottery fragments, animal bones and more. Stay overnight in a tipi and listen to traditional stories around a campfire as you enjoy tea and fresh bannock. Wanuskewin is really an incredible opportunity to immerse yourself in the culture of an ancient people.
Milton Lake Lodge
Milton Lake Lodge is a fly-in fishing destination (with a lodge and outpost camps) in the remote wilds of Saskatchewan. Don’t let its location scare you; it’s well worth the flight for any angler. The lakes in this area of Northern Saskatchewan are known for their huge fish. Every time you throw a line in these waters, you have a chance at a massive northern pike, a powerful lake trout, or a feisty arctic grayling.
Want to leave the city behind? Explore the million-acre wilderness of Northern Saskatchewan’s boreal forest in winter by dogsled, with Sundog Excursions. Learn to harness and mush Alaskan husky sled dogs as you take in the beautiful terrain. Spot lynx, owls and moose. Strap on snowshoes and follow fox tracks. Listen to wolves howl in the serene, silent woodland. Gain a deeper understanding of this unique eco-system while in the company of an imaginative nature interpreter. Spend your nights in a 4-star lodge dining local on elk, bison and Saskatoon berries, or choose to sleep rustic among snow-covered trees in a canvas trapper’s tent warmed by a wood stove.
Remai Modern Art Gallery of Saskatchewan
If you can’t make your trip out to Saskatchewan this year, you might actually benefit from waiting. In 2017, a brand new art museum will open up on the shores of the South Saskatchewan River in Saskatoon. The Remai Modern Art Gallery of Saskatchewan will be architecturally striking, having won an award from Canadian Architect magazine before construction even started. The museum’s collection should be equally impressive, and feature the world’s most comprehensive collection of Picasso linocuts as well as 23 of his ceramic works. If you’re looking for a reason to visit Saskatchewan next year, this is it.