Grasslands National Park
Address City
P.O. Box 150 Val Marie
Province Country
SK Canada
Postal Code Phone
S0N 2T0 See Official Website

 

The park protects an area of unique mixed prairie grasslands and is home to keen point of interest to nature observers, a Prairie Dog Town. The Park is separated into East and West Blocks. The Frenchman River Valley is the key feature of the West Block. The key feature of the East Block is the Killdeer Badlands. The park information center is located in Val Marie.

Location: The West Block is locate off #4 below Swift Current in southern Saskatchewan. To reach the West Block take highway 4 from Swift Current to Val Marie where you can head east to pick up the road into the park. The East Block is just southwest of Moose Jaw off the 2 outside Killdeer. Head west and dogleg on the 18, then west again where you turn south, before turning west again into the park. Access to the East Block by car is restricted and only possible in dry weather. Roads become very slippery very quickly if it rains and it's highly advisable to leave the area immediately.

Climate: Hot summers, cold winters, wind, and low precipitation are normal for this semi-arid area. In the summer the daytime temperature averages in the mid-to-high 20s and often climbs into the 30s.

Size: 900 Square km.

Mountain Biking: There are no MTB trails in the park.

Backpacking: Only primitive, random tent-camping is available. Campsites must be at least one kilometre off roads and away from old ranch yards. Open fires are not permitted in the park. The use of portable cook stoves is encouraged. Tents should be used and closed securely at night. No trace must be practiced. Contact the park for details.

Camping: There are no campsites in the park. Camping is available nearby at Val Marie and Mankota. Limited space is available for self contained RV campers.

Hiking: The Two Trees Interpretive Trail is located in the West Block. 1.5km of relatively easy hiking.

Horse Packing: You can hobble your horses to allow for overnight camping in the park.

Backcountry and Cross Country Skiing: There are no designated trails in the park.

Snowshoeing: When the snow cover is adequate.

Canoeing: There is white water in the Spring on the Frenchman River but river levels make paddling impossible as the summer progresses.

WW Kayaking: The Frenchman River in the Spring.

Flora and Fauna: The park is home to the Prairie Rattlesnake. Wear high top shoes or hiking boots and use a stick or hiking pole to agitate the grass as you walk. Rattlesnakes are rarely a threat unless cornered or startled but they are venomous and should be avoided. The park is also home to Black Widow Spiders.

Note: There are no facilities, campsites, drinking water or toilets in the park. Make a point of visiting "Dog Town" (the Prairie Dog Town) at the end of the Frenchman River Valley Ecotour and make sure you bring your binoculars and camera. This is predominantly a nature park with fascinating natural features, habitat, flora and fauna, particularly (but certainly not exclusively) for those with better developed skills in nature observation and appreciation.

Bird watching and nature photography are popular activities in Grasslands. The park is home to a unique blend of prairie-adapted, common and endangered species, from the pronghorn, sage grouse, burrowing owl, and ferruginous hawk to the prairie rattlesnake and eastern short-horned lizard. It's the only place in Canada where colonies of black-tailed prairie dogs can be found in their native habitat. Grasslands is the site of the Killdeer Badlands which had the first recorded find of dinosaur remains in Canada in 1874. On an historical note the park was also a refuge for Sitting Bull after Little Big Horn.
 
Visit the official site from Parks Canada for more information.
 
 

Village of Val Marie - Accommodations
Val Marie Reservoir Bird Sanctuary - Just to the northwest of Val Marie - Environment Canada
Wood Mountain Post Provincial Historic Site - From Saskatchewan Provincial Parks
Wood Mountain Regional Park - From Saskatchewan Regional Parks
Swift Current - Nearest major center.
Tourism Saskatchewan

Prince Albert National Park
Address City
P.O. Box 100 Wakesiu Lake
Province Country
SK Canada
Postal Code Phone
S0J 2Y0 See Official Website

 

Campground Reservations

 

The park is a good example of the other side of Saskatchewan, rolling hills, lakes and bogs set in the Boreal forest. The park has ample opportunities for nature observation, camping, hiking, biking and canoeing. The park information center is located in Waskesiu.

Season: The park is open all year round but there are fewer facilities and amenities available in the winter. Check with the park for details.

Location: The park is located in north central Saskatchewan a few hours north of Saskatoon and just to the northwest of Prince Albert. From Prince Albert take the 2 north to the 263, follow the 263 west into the park.

Size: 3,875 Square km

Mountain Biking and Cycling Paths: The park has a number of trail types and trail lengths to choose from, ranging in length from 8 to 40 km. There are a number of designated off road cycling trails in the park. Mountain biking in Prince Albert National Park is generally over gently rolling forested hills, along lakeshores and water courses with very little change in elevation. A guide to the backcountry trails open to cyclists is available at the information office.

Backpacking:

The park has a number of trail types and trail lengths to choose form ranging in length from 8 to 41 km.
The hiking in Prince Albert National Park is generally over gently rolling, forested hills along lakeshores and watercourses with very little change in elevation. You can choose from many other trails from day trips or longer ranging in length from 8 to 40 km. Some of the trails in the park are: Elk Trail, Grey Owl Trail and Freight Trail. Ask at the park office for the Prince Albert National Park Trail Guide for information on the trails.

Elk Trail: 41 km. This trail has a number of shorter options from various spur trails. The trail is part of the Fish/Hunter Lake Circuit which travels several old warden patrol trail to small lakes in the area. You'll travel through forests of mature aspen, jackpine and white and black spruce. Designated backcountry campsites are located at Fish and Camp Lakes. Check with the park for details and to obtain backcountry use permits.

Freight Trail: Like the Elk, this trail has a number of shorter options from various spur trails. In the late 1800s, horses, wagons and sleighs hauled furs and supplies along this trail between Prince Albert and Waskesiu Wildlife is abundant so you might have a chance to see a moose or elk and more than likely they might just be watching you. Check with the park for details and to obtain backcountry use permits.

Grey Owl Trail: 20 km one way. This is the famous Grey Owl's cabin trail. It begins near the southern end of the Kingsmere River, passes several backcountry campsites and concludes at the front door of Grey Owl's cabin. The trail should take about 6 hours one way to complete. Camping is not allowed at the cabin site but the nearest campground is only 3 km distant, enroute to the cabin. Check with the park for details and to obtain backcountry use permits.

Hiking:

There are a number of day hikes in Prince Albert National Park, including the Boundary Bog Trail, Mud Creek Trail, Treebeard Trail and The Waskesiu River Trail. For more information on hiking ask at the park office for the Prince Albert National Park Trail Guide.

Boundary Bog Trail: 2 km loop. This popular trail takes you into the heart of a black spruce and tamarack bog. On the trail you'll discover how a bog or muskeg is created. A viewing tower near the trail's end offers an overview of the terrain. The trail should take about 1 hour to complete.

Mud Creek Trail: 2 km loop. This trail follows the south lakeshore of Waskesiu through mixed forest with mature aspen, then goes along the banks of Mud Creek. You might get a glimpse of beaver, otter and a variety of birds such as flycatchers, Tennessee warblers and great blue herons. The trail should take about 1 hour to complete.

Treebeard Trail: 1.2 km loop. This trail travels amongst some of the largest white spruce and balsam fir trees in the park. The Woods Cree call it Mi sisi a kaw or Big Forest/Old Forest which is all part of a large boreal forest. You'll see boughs festooned with lichens or "old man's beard." Watch for pileated woodpeckers and a most interesting species for many people unfamiliar with them, flying squirrels. The trail should take about 3/4 of an hour to complete.

The Waskesiu River Trail: 1/2 km to 1.5 km. This is a 1/2 km long boardwalk trail that follows the river. You can continue on another 1.5 km following the riverbank where you might see a moose or maybe a belted kingfisher along the river.

Backcountry and Cross Country Skiing: The park has over 160 km of trails ranging from beginners to expert including Wapiti, Fisher, Lee, Crean, Freight, Trappers, Kinowa, Elk, Fish Lake and Spruce River Highlands. Some are track set and some are backcountry trails, such as the Spruce River Highlands. There are shelters along several trails. You'll also find designated sites for those with the equipment and skills for winter camping (permits and registration is required - see the winter camping section). A map with trail descriptions is available from the park at the information center.

Front Country Camping - Campground Reservations

Wakesiu Area - 152 serviced sites are located at the Wakesiu Trailer Park, while Beaver Glen Campground has 213 sites, 76 of which are serviced. There are showers and flush toilets. There is a trailer dump in the park.

Narrows Campground (25km from Waskesiu) has unserviced sites with vault toilets.

Sandy Lake - 3 sites, vault toilets.

Namekus Lake - 21 sites, vault toilets.

Trappers Lake - 5 sites, vault toilets.

Group Camping:

Trappers Lake - Front country site for qualified groups only, reservations are required.

Northend - Kingsmere Lake - Back country site for qualified groups only, reservations are required.

Westwind - Kingsmere Lake - Back country site for qualified groups only, reservations are required.

Winter Camping: Designated sites are available at Crean Lake, Trappers Lake, Fish Lake, Pairnton Beach, Birch Beach, and Southend campground. Registration is required at the information center in Waskesiu.

Back Country Camping: There are dozens of sites on the backpacking trails and canoe routes. A backcountry permit is required and a fee may be required depending on the site. Check with the park.

Fish and Camp Lakes - Elk Trail

Canoeing: The Bagwa Canoe Route is 7 hours long or can be made into and over night. the Bladebone Canoe Route is a rigorous four-or five-day trip with some long, steep portages. There is also white water canoeing in the spring. There are canoe camping sites on Kingsmere Lake, Creen Lake Waskesiu.

W.W. Kayaking: There is white water kayaking on some of the parks rivers in the spring.

Literature:

Park Brochure includes a campground map, park map, trail descriptions as well as general information on the park.

Guide to the Narrows Road - Available from the Friends of Prince Albert

Prince Albert National Park Trail Guide - Hiking and Backpacking in the park. Available at the park office.

A guide to the backcountry trails open to cyclists in the form of a pamphlet is available at the information center.

A map with trail descriptions is available from the park at the information center.

Brochure on hiking to Grey Owls

Brochure on the Bagwa and Bladebone Canoe Routes includes basic description and map.

Bodies of water comprise almost 30% of the park's area, from huge expanses such as lakes Kingsmere and Crean to the tiny marshes found throughout he park. The park is the ninth largest national park in Canada. It is also the largest protected wilderness area in Saskatchewan, comprising approximately 0.6% of the total area of the province. One of the few free-roaming herds of plains bison make their home in the southwest corner of the park The second largest colony of white pelicans in Canada, 15,000 at last estimate, is found on Lavallée Lake. Typical wildlife residents include lynx, timber wolf, woodland caribou, elk, moose, black bear and over 200 species of birds.
 
Visit the Official Site from Parks Canada for more information.
 

Waskesiu Lake - Town information, lodging etc.
Waskesiu Lake - Town information, lodging etc.
Amisk Adventures, Canoe Outfitters
Rabbit Creek Outfitters - Canoe Outfitters
Grey Owl Adventures - Guided Tours
City of Prince Albert - Nearest major center
Tourism Saskatchewan

 
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