Winter camping isn’t for the faint-hearted, but I promise it’s not as bad – or as cold – as it seems. If you’re dressed properly and prepared appropriately, winter camping in Saskatchewan is a great way to extend the camping season year-round.
While winter camping is a lot of fun, it does require additional and sometimes specialized gear that can be expensive. If you don’t have access to certain items, consider reaching out to Sask Outdoors and accessing their Lending Library.
**All COVID-19 restrictions and regulations were followed in the creation of this content. Any photos taken with others without masks were captured pre-COVID. Otherwise, content was created within a safe and socially distant manner or within my personal circle.
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Where to Winter Camp in Saskatchewan
Whether you’re front-country or backcountry, a cold camper or hot tenter, here are the best locations to winter camp in Saskatchewan
1. Prince Albert National Park
Prince Albert National Park is excellent for both beginner to advanced winter campers. The park is set up to accommodate all options. Plus, during business hours there is staff on-hand at the Visitor Centre to help answer questions.
Campers are required to register in advance (in person or by phone). Camp fees are in effect for Paignton Beach, Birch Bay and Southend at $5.01 per/person. I recommend deregistering when you leave so the park knows you’ve left. (This also lets them know you didn’t have any issues in the cold weather).
In winter, you can camp anywhere in the park as long as you’re 2 km from a public road or campground. This means there are a lot of places you can set up!
*Bathroom tip: For those who might not want to use a pit toilet and are willing to drive every time you need to go, there are heated washrooms with running water at the Visitor Centre day and night.
Front Country Winter Camping in Saskatchewan
For those that are just starting out, I suggest winter “car camping” as the best way to test your limits. Both Paignton Beach and Birch Bay are set up as great locations to camp. There is cut firewood available, firepits, an enclosed camp kitchen and pit toilets. Birch Bay also has an outdoor stove to cook on. I’ve camped at both locations and recommend either spot.
Back Country Winter Camping in Saskatchewan
Crean Kitchen and Southend are two backcountry campsites perfect for intermediate to advanced winter campers. A few years ago I cross-country skied the 19km return trip into Crean Kitchen and arrived just as the moon was rising above the treeline.
2. Blue Mountain Adventure Park
When I first got into winter camping, it was hard to find open places in the winter season. Blue Mountain Adventure Park is tucked into a forested valley in the Thickwood Hills near North Battleford. It’s the perfect answer to not only winter camping but a variety of other awesome winter adventures. There are 30 km of expertly groomed cross-country ski trails on site (including a biathlon training venue), a tubing hill, a skating rink, snowshoe trails and an on-site chalet (plus cabins to rent if winter camping really isn’t your thing). If you do get cold and want somewhere to warm up, the chalet is the perfect place to escape to.
Non-electrical sites are $20 and electrical are $30. Firewood is extra with 10 pieces at $10 and 25 pieces for $20. If you’re staying a few days, you can get 100 pieces of wood for $75. When you call and book in advance, they’ll make sure to clear a route to the campsite for your arrival.
3. Crown Land
Saskatchewan has more than 37 million hectares of crown land and provincial forest – which means A LOT of options to consider when picking a location to go winter camping.
While it’s best to avoid land being used for forestry or industrial operations there are many choices to consider. Although crown land is owned by the province and open to anyone, people should also respect private landowners by following any no-trespassing signs or asking for permission in advance to access or cross their land.
Where to camp on Crown Land in Saskatchewan?
Maps aren’t easy to come by so you might want to ask around locally to find any hot spots. But generally, the land along the north and south Saskatchewan Rivers is crown land and makes for a great place to access freshwater through the ice.
The forests in the north are ideal due to the shelter the trees provide and access to deadfall for firewood. There are six official provincial forests that would make great locations to pop up a tent for a few days including Canwood, Fort a la Corne, Nisbet, Northern, Porcupine and Torch River Provincial Forests.
4. Saskatchewan’s Provincial Parks
Just as they’re a hot spot in summer and autumn, twelve of Saskatchewan’s 35 provincial parks provide an excellent place to pitch a tent and relax for a few days in the snow. While each park has different set-ups and offerings, Sask Parks has put together a PDF with all the details on what each park offers for winter amenities. You can download that document here.
A few of the best and most easily accessible places to winter camp in Saskatchewan’s provincial parks include Buffalo Pound, Cypress Hills, Meadow Lake, Moose Mountain, Pike Lake and Rowan’s Ravine.
Winter Camping Safety Tips
As with any activity in winter, there are risks associated with being out in sub-zero temperatures. Here are five basic tips I always recommend when out winter camping:
- Leave your trip plan with someone who knows when you expect to return. Have a plan in place in case you miss your return time so they know when to call for help if they can’t reach out.
- Check weather and road conditions in advance. Be prepared to cancel or postpone your trip if inclement weather is expected.
- Don’t rely on your cellphone – batteries die in cold weather and service can be limited at your location. Keep paper maps on hand and carry a Garmin In-Reach or equivalent.
- Pack a well-prepared emergency kit including a few major items like an emergency blanket, hand and toe warmers, lighters and matches, a tarp, dehydrated food or snacks and extra winter gear like mitts, toques, and socks.
- Carry extra fuel, jumper cables and even a battery booster. In extreme temperatures, your vehicle may not start after a night of winter camping.
Leave No Trace
With any trip in the outdoors, following leave no trace principles is important to ensure the sustainability of the sites you visit, the environment around the location and is also in polite consideration of those using the space after you. Pack out what you carry in, harvest deadfall for firewood and start fires in locations that limit your impact on the environment.
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