How to spend two weeks in Saskatchewan, Canada’s prairie province

This two-week road trip will help you discover the best Saskatchewan has to offer, so you too can fall in love with this state dominated by rugged, wild open spaces, in western Canada.

White-tailed deer at Grasslands National Park, West Block, Saskatchewan.

Photograph by Tourism Saskatchewan/Chris Hendrickson Photography
By Ashlyn George
Photographs By Tourism Saskatchewan
Published 31 Oct 2021, 16:00 GMT, Updated 18 Nov 2021, 16:01 GMT

Whether it’s canoeing historic fur trade routes on the Churchill River or galloping on horseback under the wide-open skies of the prairies, Saskatchewan offers adventures galore. This western Canadian province is one of forests, fields and grasslands, filled with some of the most untouched sections of wilderness left on the planet — all waiting to be explored on an epic two-week road trip. Here’s how to do it.

Days one and two: Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park

Travelling from Calgary in neighbouring Alberta, start your adventure in Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park. A giant plateau once surrounded by glaciers, this area hosts the highest point of land in the province. From atop Bald Butte and the pebbled Conglomerate Cliffs viewpoints, the sweeping views of patchwork hills extends for miles.

In the park’s Centre Block, Treeosix Adventure Parks’ guides will hook you up to whiz through the canopy of the 100ft-high lodgepole pine forest on an adrenaline-inducing zip-line tour. History plays out in the hills of the West Block at the Fort Walsh National Historic Site, which was the headquarters of the North-West Mounted Police — the precursor to Canada’s iconic Royal Canadian Mounted Police, also known as the Mounties.

The Conglomerate Cliffs at Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park.

Photograph by Tourism Saskatchewan/Chris Hendrickson Photography

Days three and four: Grasslands National Park West Block

Follow the sinuous curves of the Frenchman River Valley eastwards to Grasslands National Park West Block. Rugged coulees, steep ravines and flat-topped buttes dramatically shape this region, alongside 12,000 tipi rings left behind by the pre-contact Indigenous peoples who once lived on this land.

Grasslands National Park is one of few remaining locations to explore a mixed grass prairie ecosystem. The Ecotour Scenic Drive takes you past black-tailed prairie dog colonies, and if you’re lucky, you’ll spot the herd of Plains bison in the distance. At night, the park transforms into a Dark Sky Preserve. When the skies are clear, the Milky Way and its galactic core is visible arcing overhead, while the occasional meteor streaks across the sky.

Watch out for herds of Plains bison in Grasslands National Park, West Block.

Photograph by Tourism Saskatchewan/Chris Hendrickson Photography

Days five and six: La Reata Ranch

Heading north, you’ll quickly discover cowboy culture is alive and well in Saskatchewan. Don’t forget your boots when you spend two nights at La Reata Ranch. Whether it’s learning to lasso a cow, or saddling up on a horse to help round up cattle along the shoreline of Lake Diefenbaker, you’ll be joining in on this working cattle guest ranch. Learning the ways of the cowpoke isn’t too difficult, though, as evening campfires, wildlife viewing, hiking, swimming, boating and games of horseshoes are also customary ranch activities.

Learn the way of the cowpoke at La Reata Ranch, a working cattle ranch where you can learn to ride a horse, lasso a cow, and enjoy evening campfires, hiking, and boating.

 

Photograph by Tourism Saskatchewan/Chris Hendrickson Photography

Day seven: Saskatoon

Located on Treaty 6 Territory and the Homeland of the Métis, Saskatoon is the province’s largest city and a haven for gastronomes. Wanuskewin's Han Wi Moon Dinner is a dining experience unlike any other. The three-course evening meal uses locally foraged ingredients, while Indigenous teachings are shared through traditional storytelling, drumming and singing. The experience culminates with the setting of the sun and rising of the full moon over the sacred Opimihaw Valley.

After sampling the city’s culinary offerings, hit the extensive trail system along the Meewasin Valley and head to River Landing. On the banks of the South Saskatchewan River, the striking Remai Modern art gallery houses 8,000 artworks, including the most comprehensive collection of Picasso linocuts in the world. The stacked, cantilevered design of the museum is an inspired nod to the surrounding agricultural landscape.

Read more: Meet the producers at the heart of Saskatchewan's culinary capital

The Han Wi Moon dinner at Wanuskewin is a three-course evening meal that uses locally foraged ingredients, while Indigenous teachings are shared through traditional storytelling, drumming and singing. 

Photograph by Tourism Saskatchewan

Days eight to 10: Churchill River

Continue north to the community of Missinipe, which is a paradise for kayakers and canoeists. Carved into the Canadian Shield’s Precambrian rock is the 994-mile Churchill River — an epic series of lakes, rapids and waterfalls in the subarctic Boreal Forest.

A three-day canoe trip to Nistowiak Falls combines the rare opportunity to see ancient pictographs and visit Saskatchewan’s oldest church, near Stanley Mission. The highlight of the trip is the thundering power of the Nistowiak Falls, one of Saskatchewan’s highest waterfalls, which crashes through the narrow gorge. Guided trips can be arranged through Churchill River Canoe Outfitters, whose owner will regale you with hilarious and shocking stories from his 50 years of paddling before sending you off to have your own adventure. Watch out for moose wading in the shallows and bald eagles, American pelicans and great blue herons flying overhead. You may even spot the odd black bear strolling along the shore.

The thundering power of Nistowiak Falls on the Churchill River at sunset. Take a three day canoe trip that rushes through these rapids and offers the opportunity to view ancient pictographs.

Photograph by Tourism Saskatchewan/Chad Chicilo Photography

Days 11 and 12: Prince Albert National Park

Leaving the canoes behind and heading back south, opt for an adventure on foot in Prince Albert National Park. Plan a 25-mile, two-day pilgrimage to the world-acclaimed naturalist Grey Owl’s cabin or choose from several shorter hikes near the townsite of Waskesiu and its namesake lake (meaning ‘red deer’ or ‘elk’ in Cree). First-time visitors might be surprised to see the resident herd of elk wandering through the town or lounging on the 18-hole golf course, but wildlife sightings are common here. Bears, moose, timber-wolves, lynx and 195 species of bird all call this million-acre park home.

Hiking into Grey Owl's Cabin in Prince Albert National Park. Look out for bears, moose, timber-wolves, lynx and 195 species of birds that all call this park home.

Photograph by Tourism Saskatchewan

Day 13: Moose Jaw

Further south, the city of Moose Jaw is dubbed Canada’s most notorious for its bootlegging exploits during the US Prohibition era. Before getting swept up in rumors of Al Capone and tales of the city’s turbulent past, spend a night at Temple Gardens Hotel & Spa to experience their geothermal mineral pool — sourced from a natural artesian well — to alleviate any muscle aches. Once fully rested, catch an electric trolley car tour through the stately historic downtown, then head deep underground at the Tunnels of Moose Jaw for one of three theatrical productions exploring the city’s lurid history.

Hop aboard the electric trolley car in Moose Jaw for an easy way to view the cities stately historic downtown. 

Photograph by Tourism Saskatchewan/Greg Huszar Photography

Day 14: Regina

No trip to Saskatchewan is complete without a trip to its bustling capital, the city of Regina. Stop by Wascana Park, located in the heart of the city, for a stroll along the paths in its urban forest and marsh ecosystem. This lush greenspace is also home to galleries, art installations and museums, as well as the provincial Legislative Building.

Often known as the Queen City, Regina is renowned for its RCMP Academy, Depot Division: a training camp that every Mountie in Canada passes through before qualifying for active service. The history learned at Fort Walsh complements the stories shared at the RCMP Heritage Centre. To celebrate the end of your trip, take in the Sunset-Retreat Ceremony as you watch the lowering of the Canadian flag to mark the end of the day in The Land of Living Skies.

The RCMP Sunset-Retreat Ceremony at the RCMP Heritage Centre. 

Photograph by Tourism Saskatchewan/Chris Hendrickson Photography

For more inspiration and to plan your trip, visit Tourism Saskatchewan.

Join our Saskatchewan Travel Geeks event online on 23 November 2021. 

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