Summer adventures in Saskatchewan

Tourism Saskatchewan calls their province “The Land of Living Skies.” I simply call it “The Land of Living” — as nothing makes you feel alive like summertime adventures in Canada’s heartland.

Skip Across Sand Dunes
Kick off your shoes and dance across 1,900-square-km (734 square-miles) of sand dunes and arid plains in the Great Sandhills, easily accessible in Saskatchewan’s southwest. Or for a really far-out dune experience, hire a floatplane to Athabasca Sand Dunes Provincial Park in the northwest. This 100-km-long (60 miles) stretch of up to 30-metre-tall (100-foot) sand dunes is the largest active sand-set in Canada and one of the most northerly dunes in the world.

Healing Waters
Call it Canada’s Dead Sea — Little Manitou Lake is the only lake where “even a goat can float.” Rich in minerals (even saltier than the sea!), and boasting a specific gravity 10 times higher than regular fresh water, it’s not only nearly impossible to sink in this unique body of water but it also is said to have mystical healing powers.

Cowboy Experience
Saddle up, pardner, and play the part of a real cowpoke with a stay at a Saskatchewan guest ranch. Try Historic Reesor Ranch, where guides will put you hands-on during calving season and lead you on backcountry horse rides into the Cypress Hills — Canada’s highest point between the Rocky Mountains and Labrador. Yeehaw!

Paddle The Shield
Northern Saskatchewan seems to be more water than land, thanks to the Canadian Shield — home to 100,000 lakes and just as many canoe and kayak routes. The Churchill River, which cuts across the province at 55 degrees north, is a paddler’s favorite and local outfitters offer weeklong guided- and self-guided adventures along this historic whitewater route.

Birder’s Delight
You’d better believe it’s the Land of Living Skies — Saskatchewan’s skies are actually alive with 350-plus species of birds, from elusive whooping cranes, to bullet-fast peregrine falcons, to snow geese flocks that blot out the sun. Follow the Saskatchewan Birding Trail to 27 bird-rich parks and eco-zones around the province.

Star Gaze
Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park was Saskatchewan’s first park to be designated a Dark Sky Preserve – an area free of artificial light. In other words, it’s a 39,600-hectare (97,800-acre) stargazer’s dream. Stop by in August for the Summer Star Party, an annual affair featuring public telescopes and expert astronomers. Also, Grasslands National Park impresses with its designation as one of Canada’s Darkest Dark Sky Preserve and features summer events with the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.

Sunny Fun Fact
With an average of 2,435 hours of sunshine, Estevan, SK, is Canada’s sunniest city — and the nearby hamlets of Midale and Yellow Grass recorded Canada’s highest-ever temperatures of 45C (113F) on July 5, 1937.

Photo: Tourism Saskatchewan/Greg Huszar Photography

Article courtesy of the Canadian Tourism Commission.