No matter how many times you visit Saskatchewan, you will always find something new to see and do. Take parks, for example. One year you may visit Grasslands National Park to admire the scenery in the Killdeer Badlands, one of North America's richest deposits of dinosaur fossils. Another year, you can enjoy the beaches and 18-hole golf course at Battlefords Provincial Park.
Canada’s central province is home to 15 cities and dozens of communities. You could visit the city of Yorkton on a trip to see its annual August harvest-themed Threshermen’s Show with old-fashioned entertainment, competitions and craft sales (www.tourismyorkton.com). On another vacation, you could base yourself in the community of Beechy to explore the nearby Beechy Sandcastles and Sunken Hills (www.beechysask.ca).
Places to stay can be equally varied—big city hotels, vacation farms, lakeside lodges, numerous B&Bs and even houseboats, such as the Aurora Houseboats on Tobin Lake (www.aurorahouseboats.com ). You can pitch your tent in a vast number of parks and private campgrounds, park your camper in RV resorts, or enjoy nature from charming cabins and oTENTik camping accommodations in Prince Albert National Park (www.tourismsaskatchewan.com/things-to-do/camping; www.saskparks.net/Reserve-A-Site
The 650,000 sq. km (250,000 sq. mi.) province has more attractions than you’ll have time to experience. Kids are drawn to places such as Apex Trampoline Park in Saskatoon and Foam Lake Water Park, sporting its Olympic-sized pool, 39-m (128-ft.) waterslide and splash park with beach entry (www.jumpapex.com
Saskatchewan’s 250-plus museums appeal to all ages, with topics as varied as a pioneer home and 1913 school in the Hudson Bay Museum, and a CN steam engine and old-style caboose in the Melville Railway Museum (www.townofhudsonbay.com
). Art galleries are as diverse as the unique and storied Humboldt Historic Murals—a series of paintings decorating downtown buildings—and the Moose Jaw Museum & Art Gallery which features a First Nations beadwork collection (www.humboldt.ca
Nature-lovers also have no shortage of places to visit. Hikers and cross-country skiers can look for many species of mammals along the trails in the Turtle Lake Nature Sanctuary (www.naturesask.ca/what-we-do/nature-sanctuaries
). On the Leader loop of the Saskatchewan Birding Trail, birdwatchers can look for more than 210 avian species (www.leader.ca/visiting-leader/places-to-go
INDOOR AND OUTDOOR ENTERTAINMENT
Whether it’s spring, summer, fall or winter, Saskatchewan offers many options for fun. Shopping, for example, encompasses malls and boutiques, as well as places such as the Country Farms Marketplace in Saskatoon and Martensville, and the Regina Antique Mall (www.countryfarmsmarketplace.com
Theatres span the spectrum from Regina’s 2,031-seat concert theatre in the Conexus Arts Centre, home of the Regina Symphony Orchestra, to the Station Arts Centre in Rosthern’s renovated CN Railway station (www.stationarts.com
). Here, audiences can experience summer theatre and a fall, winter and spring concert series. In Kyle, you can even enjoy a drive-in theatre with modern screens and digital projection (www.clearwaterdrivein.com
You’ll find a marina and 18 holes of golf at Candle Lake Golf Resort (www.candlelakegolfresort.com ) and hiking, cycling and ATV trails at many other vacation resorts. For fishing, swimming, snowmobiling and other outdoor activities, check out places such as Carlton Trail Guest Ranch at Shell Lake and Little Pine Lodge at Chitek Lake (www.carltontrailranch.ca
Every trip to Saskatchewan will undoubtedly bring new discoveries that will inspire you to return for more.
Elk Ridge Eco-Adventures, near Prince Albert National Park, has a new zip-line (www.ecoadventures.ca
The craft beer scene is growing in Saskatchewan with breweries such as Black Bridge Brewery in Swift Current (www.blackbridgebrewery.ca
), Nokomis Craft Ales located midway between Saskatoon and Regina (www.nokomiscraftales.com
), Rebellion Brewing Co in Regina (www.rebellionbrewing.ca
) and Prairie Sun Brewery in Saskatoon (www.prairiesun.ca
Taste-It Food Tours has added a new Saskatoon tour to supplement their tours in Regina, Moose Jaw and Cypress Hills/Maple Creek (www.tasteitfoodtours.ca
The Saskatoon Inn & Conference Centre completed its room renovations in February 2015. It also has a new fitness centre (www.saskatooninn.com
Regina’s attractions are both modern and historic (www.tourismregina.com). The Saskatchewan Science Centre features the Kramer IMAX Theatre and hands-on exhibits ranging from anatomy to outer space (www.sasksciencecentre.com
). The Royal Saskatchewan Museum displays fossils, geology and Megamunch, a robotic T. rex (www.royalsaskmuseum.ca
). The Wascana Centre (www.wascana.sk.ca
) encompasses the MacKenzie Art Gallery (www.mackenzieartgallery.ca), Saskatchewan Legislature (www.legassembly.sk.ca
) and a lake where visitors can feed Canada geese and rent pedal boats.
The RCMP Heritage Centre showcases RCMP history and boasts the world’s largest collection of Mountie artefacts (www.rcmpheritagecentre.com
The Edwardian Gardens surrounding Government House in Regina incorporate historical Edwardian designs popular when it was built in 1891. One of two such gardens in Canada, the grounds enhance the national historic site and provincial heritage property (www.governmenthouse.gov.sk.ca
Saskatoon sits on the banks of the South Saskatchewan River (www.tourismsaskatoon.com
). Cruises and riverside trails offer great views (www.riverlanding.ca
). Every summer, the city hosts several festivals including Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan, held
in tents by the river (www.shakespeareonthesaskatchewan.com
Saskatchewan’s smaller cities are also worth visiting. North Battleford’s Allen Sapp Gallery, The Gonor Collection
, features vivid paintings of First Nations life by the talented Cree artist (www.allensapp.com
). In Moose Jaw, Temple Gardens Hotel & Spa offers spa treatments and packages at Canada’s largest therapeutic geothermal indoor and outdoor mineral rooftop pool (www.templegardens.sk.ca
THE GREAT OUTDOORS
Canada Nature Escapes Co-operative members offer packages featuring Saskatchewan lakes, parklands, forests and rivers: Redberry Lake Biosphere Reserve (www.redberrylake.ca); Churchill River Canoe Outfitters (www.churchillrivercanoe.com
); Forest House (www.foresthouse.ca
); Ness Core Ventures (www.nesslinlake.com); Sturgeon River Ranch (www.sturgeonriverranch.com
); and Sundogs Sled Excursions (www.sundogs.sk.ca
In the northwest, Athabasca Sand Dunes Provincial Park protects more than 50 rare plant species. In the southwest, Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park’s highlands are the highest point of land between Labrador and the Rocky Mountains.
Saskatchewan has nearly 300 golf courses and bargain green fees. Tourism Saskatchewan’s Discovery Guide
includes information on golf courses, clubs and resorts in each region, with phone numbers, websites and fees (www.saskgolf.ca; www.saskgolfer.com ).
Energetic visitors can paddle more than 50 documented canoe routes and follow bike paths in many recreational areas and prov-
incial parks (www.canoesaskatchewan.rkc.ca; www.saskcycling.ca ).
If you prefer more relaxing water-based activities you can sunbathe on sandy beaches or enjoy a dinner cruise on The Prairie Lily
riverboat in Saskatoon (www.theprairielily.com ). Do-it-yourselfers can rent houseboats to explore Lake Diefenbaker. At the end of the day, watch the sunset paint Saskatchewan’s wide open skies with orange and pink hues.
HERITAGE AND CULTURE
Saskatchewan’s history is linked to the famous red-jacketed, Stetson-hatted Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), who maintained law and order in Canada’s West between nomadic First Nations people and white hunters, traders and settlers.
You can drive to Saskatchewan’s Trails of 1885 sites, related to the 1885 Northwest Resistance events (www.trailsof1885.com ). The free self-guided tours visit places like the Duck Lake Regional Interpretive Centre. Its museum and art gallery help you understand pioneer life, the impact of the near extinction of buffalo on the First Nations and the aftermath of the Northwest Resistance on the Métis
The First Nations Gallery in Regina’s Royal Saskatchewan Museum portrays First Nations culture and lifestyles with dioramas, maps, stone tools, furs and traditional medicines.
Wanuskewin Heritage Park, located five km (three mi.) north of Saskatoon, features First Nations sites older than Egypt’s pyramids. Besides buffalo kill sites, teepee rings and a 1,500-year-old medicine wheel, you’ll see dance demonstrations, tools and artefacts in the visitor centre (www.wanuskewin.com
MUST SEE, MUST DO
Watch a Saskatchewan Roughriders football game in Regina (www.riderville.com
Hike along the longest documented hiking trail in Saskatchewan provincial parks, the Boreal Trail in Meadow Lake Provincial Park (www.saskparks.net/borealtrail
Explore the Tunnels of Moose Jaw to learn about 1920s Prohibition-era gangsters, bootleggers and rum-runners, who hid in a network of tunnels under downtown Moose Jaw streets. On The Chicago Connection
and Passage to Fortune
tours, you can see a gangster’s living quarters, a bootlegging operation and a Chinese laundry and restaurant (www.tunnelsofmoosejaw.com
Look for more than 380 species of birds throughout the year. From late-August to November, view massive waterfowl migrations (www.naturesask.ca
Bob like a cork in Little Manitou Lake and Manitou Springs Resort and Mineral Spa. Like the Dead Sea, the water contains dissolved minerals and salts that allow you to float easily (www.manitousprings.ca
The two-day “From Field to Fork” drive takes you north and west of Saskatoon to visit farmers’ markets, orchards and restaurants serving local foods. Highlights include the Living Sky Winery in Perdue and the Hepburn Museum of Wheat, which offers awesome views from the top of a wooden grain elevator.
The five-day “Driving through Southwest Splendour” tour includes: the Big Muddy Badlands; the monolithic Castle Butte landmark; the Frenchman River Valley—the only place in Canada where you can see black-tailed prairie dogs in the wild; and Eastend, home to Scotty, Canada’s most complete T. rex skeleton.
Other road trips focus on Saskatchewan’s heritage, scenery, art and culture (www.tourismsaskatchewan.com/experience-saskatchewan
Although they often get lost, every fall kids have fun navigating their way through Saskatchewan’s corn mazes. Bulldog Park Corn Maze in Cut Knife, northwest of Saskatoon, is the newest maze. Pumpkin Hollow Corn Maze, near Regina, also features pony and wagon rides as well as a petting zoo (www.pumpkinhollow.ca
PARK PICK: BATOCHE NATIONAL HISTORIC SITE
Batoche is one hour northeast of Saskatoon and one hour south of Prince Albert. Riding a new open-air shuttle, relive the last battle of Métis resistance in 1885, led by Louis Riel and Gabriel Dumont against the Canadian government at Batoche. Cemetery gravestones tell eloquent tales. In the Journey Through Time
, interact with the townsfolk of Batoche in the 1800s: talk to Métis settlers, help out with their chores, take cover in a rifle pit, discover stories of how Batoche was the last battlefield in the 1885 Northwest Resistance, and view bullet holes that are still visible. On the Geocache Treasure Hunt, use your smartphone or rent GPS units to find clues and earn geocoins (www.parkscanada.gc.ca/batoche
More info on National Parks and Historic Sites: www.pc.gc.ca