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SASKATCHEWAN VACATIONS - WHAT TO SEE AND DO

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If you are planning a Saskatchewan holiday, you will find lots of things to see and do. But first, you must get off the Trans-Canada Highway (Hwy 1), the major east-west route across the southern part of this prairie province.

A scenic Saskatchewan back road
A scenic Saskatchewan back road
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Nearby attractions include Regina, Moose Jaw, Swift Current and the Fort Walsh National Historic Site. But if you drive off the main route and explore the back roads of Saskatchewan, you will discover many more things to see and do.

Take scenery, for example. Saskatchewan landscapes range from 30-meter-high sand dunes to highlands, forests and 100,000 lakes and streams. Visitors to northwest Saskatchewan will find the most northern sand dunes in the world at Athabasca Sand Dunes Provincial Wilderness Park.

Just outside Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, on Highway 271, is Cypress Hills Vineyard & Winery, known for its blackcurrant and honey wine.

Grasslands National Park is one of the largest Dark Sky Preserves in the world. Black-tailed prairie dogs and black-footed ferrets live in the park, the only remaining prairie in North America.

Bird sanctuaries

Two national, 34 provincial and 101 regional parks are havens for birds and birdwatchers. Last Mountain Lake National Wildlife Area, established in 1887, is the oldest bird sanctuary in North America. Redberry Lake and its islands, the first UNESCO Biosphere Reserve in Saskatchewan, is home to 200 bird species.

Late-August to November is the best time to see massive waterfowl migrations. You don't have to travel far. Chaplin Nature Centre is close to the Trans-Canada Highway. The Nature Saskatchewan bird checklist includes 440 species.

Child plays with pet rabbit at a vacation farm.
Child plays with pet rabbit at a vacation farm.
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

You can experience the diverse landscapes and parks on hiking, biking, fishing and waterways trips. Saskatchewan Outfitters Association provides information on lodges, guides and packages.

White water rafting

Canoe Saskatchewan helps you find canoe routes, rapids classifications, weather, wilderness resources and information on archaeology, geology and history.

More than 50 documented canoe routes in Saskatchewan range from exhilarating whitewater rapids on the Churchill River to placid paddling on the Bagwa Route in Prince Albert National Park. Rafting through 28 sets of rapids and Skull Canyon on the Clearwater River is guaranteed to raise your pulse.

Winter activities

While spring, summer and fall are the busiest Saskatchewan vacation seasons, you shouldn't avoid the balance of the year. Winter brings a host of enjoyable activities, ranging from dog sledding to old-fashioned sleigh rides, pulled by horses with jingle bells on their harnesses.

Visitors, who cross-country ski through provincial parks, may encounter moose and hear wolves howling. Heated ice fishing huts allow you to land "a big one", even when temperatures drop.

Snowmobiling is especially popular for winter vacations. More than 10,000 kilometers of developed snowmobile trails, some in provincial parks, link communities and resorts.

Winter festivals include the February Mushers Rendezvous in Preeceville and the Prince Albert Winter Festival.

250 museums

Restoring a Model-T Ford in Saskatoon's Western Development Museum
Restoring a Model-T Ford in Saskatoon's Western Development Museum
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

The Royal Saskatchewan Museum First Nations Gallery, in Regina, portrays Aboriginal culture and lifestyles with dioramas, maps, stone tools, furs and traditional medicines. Colourful summer powwows celebrate First Nations culture with drumming, chanting and dancing.

Four Western Development Museums (WDMs) pay tribute to the pioneers and immigrants who settled in Saskatchewan. A recreated 1910 boomtown street highlights the Western Development Museum in Saskatoon.

Moose Jaw

The Moose Jaw WDM features the history of transportation and pays tribute to the Snowbirds, the famous Canadian aerobatic team, based in Moose Jaw. The Western Development Museum in Yorkton portrays western Canadian immigrants. The North Battleford WDM, Heritage Farm and Village have an agricultural theme.

Gangsters, bootleggers and rumrunners from the 1920s Prohibition era (some say even Al Capone) hid in a network of tunnels under the streets of downtown Moose Jaw. Illegal Chinese immigrants escaped persecution and hefty head taxes by hiding in these tunnels.

Nowadays, guides dressed as characters from both eras lead The Chicago Connection and Passage to Fortune tours beneath Main Street. In the Tunnels of Moose Jaw, visitors see a gangster's living quarters, a bootlegging operation, a Chinese laundry and restaurant.

Historic sites

The history of Saskatchewan is also linked to that of 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.

Cypress Hills Golf Course between Saskatchewan and Alberta
Cypress Hills Golf Course between Saskatchewan and Alberta
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Interpretive programs in Saskatchewan's historic parks, historic sites and museums bring history to life. Fort Battleford National Historic Site of Canada has costumed interpreters.

At Fort Carlton Provincial Historic Park, visitors help staff pack furs inside a reconstructed fur and provisions store, located on a late-1800s Hudson's Bay Company fur-trading post site.

Things to do at Batoche

Batoche National Historic Site, 88 kilometers northeast of Saskatoon, commemorates the 1885 Battle of Batoche, between the Canadian government and Metis provisional government, for land and rights. Batoche village remains also pay tribute to the history and culture of the Metis community.

Visitors can watch a multi-media presentation in the Visitor Reception Centre and take a self-guided walking tour of the battlefield, military encampment, cemetery and village remains. Restored buildings portray Metis lifestyle in Batoche between 1860 and 1900.

Costumed interpreters give tours of the restored church and the bullet-pocked rectory. Kids can dress in Metis clothing and help with chores.

Saskatoon

Saskatoon sits on the banks of the South Saskatchewan River. Its Synchrotron, the $174 million Canadian Light Source, creates intense light beams that help scientists understand the molecular structure of materials.

Smaller cities are also worthwhile additions to your Saskatchewan vacation. The Allen Sapp Gallery/The Gonor Collection in North Battleford, for example, features vivid paintings of reservation life by the talented Cree artist.

Where to play golf

Saskatchewan has more than 250 golf courses. Tourism Saskatchewan publishes a Golf Guide, with information on golf courses, clubs and resorts, in each region, with phone numbers, websites and package prices.

Saskatoon skyline and Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan Festival in tents by the South Saskatchewan River
Saskatoon skyline and Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan Festival
in tents by the South Saskatchewan River
Photo © Barb & Ron Kroll

Summer festivals range from Shakespeare on the Saskatchewan Festival, in a circus tent by the river, in Saskatoon, to the Regina Folk Festival. In July, Lloydminster celebrates Colonial Days and Craven hosts a Country Jamboree.

The Great Northern Pike Festival, in Nipawin, runs from June through September. Colourful summer pow wows and Wanuskewin Heritage Park celebrate First Nations culture with drumming, chanting and dancing.

Guest ranches

While cities feature modern hotels and parks offer camping, some visitors may prefer rural accommodations. The Saskatchewan Bed and Breakfast Association provides information on member properties.

Guests can play cowboy at ranches and Saskatchewan vacation farms. They will enjoy trail rides, horse-drawn wagon rides, cattle drives and hearty meals around crackling campfires.


TRAVEL INFORMATION

Tourism Saskatchewan: www.sasktourism.com

More things to see & do in Saskatchewan

Fly-in Fishing Trip - Twin Falls Lodge Saskatchewan

Eastend Saskatchewan T. Rex Discovery Tour

Big Muddy Saskatchewan Tour

Manitou Springs Resort Spa - Watrous Saskatchewan

Missinipe, Saskatchewan - What To See and Do