If you live in Saskatchewan, you’ll know how much of an impact winter has on our lives. Sometimes, it feels the season lasts for half the year. Although it isn’t quite that long, the best way to enjoy winter is to embrace the snow and all the wonderful activities that come along with it.
****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.
A Guide to all the Winter Activities to Try if you Live in Saskatchewan
Here are 12 winter activities to try if you live in Saskatchewan including all the details on where and how to try them.
1. Cross-Country Skiing
Cross-country skiing is having a comeback. With more trails than ever in Saskatchewan, this sport is the perfect low-impact activity to get outside and not only enjoy the winter weather but discover some pretty cool warm-up shelters and hidden gems along the trail systems.
There are dozens of trails in communities all across the province – so many in fact, that I dedicated an entire blog to a dozen of them (with a part II planned in the future!). You can read about the best cross-country ski trails here which include several dog-friendly trails as well.
Where to Rent Cross-Country Skis in Saskatchewan
If you’re looking to rent cross-country skis during a staycation or holiday, inquire at the destination you’re headed to first. It’s the most budget-friendly option to rent directly when possible. Places such as The Resort at Cypress Hills and Ness Creek rent skis.
Otherwise, you can book in advance and pick-up rentals in major cities in the province. Check out Fresh Air Experience in Regina or Prince Albert or Escape Sports and Eb’s Source for Adventure in Saskatoon for cross-country ski rentals.
Locations like the Nipawin Evergreen Centre, Buffalo Narrows Ski Club and Prince Albert National Park’s The Hawood Inn as well as Elk Ridge provide rentals free of charge.
This province has more than 10,000 kilometres of marked and groomed snowmobile trails. There are 67 snowmobile clubs in every corner of the province to join plus interactive maps online as well as a trail app to download on your phone. Hitting the trails in Saskatchewan is one of the best ways to travel and explore the province in wintertime.
Three Epic Snowmobile Trips to Take in Saskatchewan
- Snowmobile to Wildcat Hill Provincial Park
Fifty kilometres north of Hudson Bay, Wildcat Hill is one of the most remote and inaccessible provincial parks in Saskatchewan. But in wintertime, it’s easy to hop on the trails and ride through deep powder and up to one of the highest elevated areas in the province at 670 metres above sea level (AKA Wildcat Hill). Starting at the base of the Pasquia Hills, you’ll pass through a stunted dwarf forest, ride along steep canyons and be able to warm up at the Bankside Shelter as you arrive at the lake. This is a bucket list trip worth doing.
- Snowmobile to Nistowiak Falls near Stanley Mission
Snowmobiling is a way of life in the north. A perfect 150-kilometre day trip is riding across Lac La Ronge to Stanley Mission and out to Nistowiak Falls and back. As one of the highest and most accessible waterfalls in the province, winter is the perfect time to experience this spectacular ice and water display. Along the way, stop in to view one of the province’s oldest Provincial Heritage Properties at Holy Trinity Anglican Church which was built in 1860.
- 1000 Miles of Snow, Northeast Saskatchewan
The northeast region of Saskatchewan has created a “1000 Miles of Snow” initiative to encourage multi-day trips through 12 different communities. While there are more than 40 snow shelters along the way to warm-up in, there are some of the coolest accommodations to stay at like Shell’s Fitness and Soul Centre in Carrot River and Fir River Ranch in Hudson Bay. There are also top-tier restaurants to dine at such as Rawhides in Stenen and Mabel Hill in Nipawin.
You can read the details about the 1000 Miles of Snow route here to learn more about the area and how to plan your trip. I’ve personally ridden these trails many times over the years and highly recommend it!
For more information on snowmobiling, including etiquette and rules, you’ll want to check out the Saskatchewan Snowmobile Association website. They have all the details to help plan your trip.
Where to Rent Snowmobiles in Saskatchewan
There are two places in the province to rent a snowmobile, otherwise, you’ll have to have your own or know someone to ride with. Pines Power Sports Marine and Lake Country Rentals are both located in Prince Albert with Lake Country having secondary rental locations at Elk Ridge and Whiteswan.
Snowkiting is an epic mashup between paragliding and wakeboarding or water skiing. But instead of a boat towing you on water, the kite uses the power of the wind to pull you across a field in the snow. (In the summer, many snowkiters hop in the water for kite surfing). For those based in southern Saskatchewan, this is the perfect sport to take advantage of all those windy days.
The Saskatchewan Windriders are the group to look to for all details on organized events and starting out. They’re an incredibly inclusive community and always happy to welcome newcomers. They’ve also negotiated agreements with landowners north of Regina to use their fields during the winter months. But it’s not uncommon to see snowkiters sailing across frozen lakes and fields anywhere the wind blows in the province.
Where to Book Snowkiting Lessons in Saskatchewan
My first recommendation is to take a lesson. Learning to properly fly and control the kite is key, otherwise, you’ll literally get dragged through the snow across the field (speaking from experience here!)
4. Dog Sledding
As a passionate animal lover, dog sledding might be one of the most magical experiences to enjoy in the winter months in Saskatchewan. While the province is home to professional mushers, there is only one company that offers dogsledding excursions.
Based near Anglin Lake, Sun Dog Excursions is the company to go with. You can book in for a short hour-long ride up to a multi-day trip with Brad Muir and his team of humans and dogs. The pups are very friendly and love people so you can pet and interact with them as much as you’d like. The bonus of longer trips is you get to drive the sled yourself.
5. Winter Camping
I promise winter camping is not as intimidating or scary as it sounds. In fact, it’s the best time to head out sans any bugs or mosquitos. An added bonus is you’re likely to have the campground to yourself. Plus, the longer nights mean there’s a higher chance to see the northern lights.
The secret to a fun trip is to keep a fire going while you’re at your campsite. Most campgrounds that allow winter camping also provide firewood. The second trick is to pack foods that aren’t ruined if they freeze (skip the veggies, fruits and liquid-based foods like eggs). I opt for protein-dense meals like chillis, stews and soups that can easily be reheated from frozen in a pot over the fire or on a camp stove.
When packing, making sure you have a temperature-appropriate sleeping bag and keep a barrier between the bag and your body. I also use a -26 synthetic sleeping bag for the really cold nights and this one for both my summer, fall and warmer winter nights. This is my go-to sleep mat as it has an R-value of 4.2.
Where to Winter Camp in Saskatchewan
There are several locations in Saskatchewan that are perfect for winter camping, including
- Pike Lake Provincial Park
- Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park
- Buffalo Pound Provincial Park
- Blue Mountain Adventure Park (pack your cross-country skis with you)
- Meadow Lake Provincial Park
- Front-country at Birch Bay or Paignton Beach in Prince Albert National and backcountry on cross-country skis overnighting at Crean Kitchen camp
- Saskatchewan also has thousands of acres of crown land that is accessible to winter campers.
Most of these locations have outhouses, chopped wood and some even have a camp-kitchen-style shelter. Please always remember to pack out what you pack in and leave your camping spot better than you found it.
For those that want to level up their overnight winter experience, you can also build a quinzee – a temporary outdoor shelter that’s a mix between a snow fort and an igloo. I built one in Meadow Lake Provincial Park in -52C (with windchill) as well as one in Prince Albert National Park. I share all the details on how to DIY one here.
Snowshoeing is ideal when accessing off-trail locations or deep snow. There are nearly limitless locations to strap on snowshoes and get exploring in Saskatchewan, regardless of groomed trails or otherwise. Regardless, snowshoes are just fun to try out and adventure with.
Where to Rent Snowshoes in Saskatchewan
Like cross-country skiing, inquire at the destination you’re headed to first for snowshoe rentals. It’s the most budget-friendly option to rent directly when possible. Places like The Resort at Cypress Hills, Ness Creek, and Pike Lake, Buffalo Pound, Echo Valley and Duck Mountain Provincial Parks rent snowshoes.
Locations like Alive Sky Lodge near Rosetown, Shells Fitness and Soul Centre and the Town of Carrot River, Prince Albert National Park’s The Hawood Inn as well as Elk Ridge all provide rentals free of charge.
Otherwise, you can book in advance and pick-up rentals in major cities in the province. Check out Fresh Air Experience in Regina or Prince Albert or Escape Sports and Eb’s Source for Adventure in Saskatoon for snowshoe rentals
Where to Snowshoe in Saskatchewan
Listed below are a few spots that are extra special and worth adventuring to on snowshoes.
- Wolf’s Bay Hiking Trail, Meadow Lake Provincial Park
Hike to the stunning viewpoint over Lac Des Isles Lake on this 3km loop. There is a firepit and benches at the backcountry site so pack a picnic and have a fire.
- Valley of the Windfall Interpretive Trail, Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park
This 1.2-kilometre trail leaves from The Resort down to Loch Leven and is pure magic amongst the lodgepole pine forest.
- Path of the People, Wanuskewin Heritage Park
Snowshoe to one of the best viewpoints just outside Saskatoon on the combined Path of the People and Trail of the Bison trails.
- Treebeard Trail, Prince Albert National Park
Picture a towering old-growth forest in a winter-wonderland-esque setting of the deepest, powdery snow along this 1.2 km loop
- Gem Lakes Trail, Narrow Hills Provincial Park
Winter puts a different spin on this popular 5.5 km route along the seven gem lakes in Narrow Hills Provincial Park. Road access to the lakes may be limited so be prepared to park and snowshoe into the trailhead.
7. Downhill Skiing and Snowboarding
According to Saskatchewan’s half a dozen ski hills, this province isn’t as flat as some people think. Our prairie paradise holds its own on the slopes with all the trimmings of family-friendly alpine adventure close to home. Depending on what you’re in search of, there’s a ski hill for every type of downhill enthusiast. While season length and hours may vary, rentals and lessons are available at most resorts.
Where to Ski and Snowboard in Saskatchewan
- Optimist Hill, Saskatoon
The province’s newest winter leisure destination with two lifts, a terrain park and a tubing hill.
- Mission Ridge Winter Park, Fort Qu’Appelle
Mission Ridge stands out for its night runs under the stars in the scenic Qu’Appelle Valley.
- Duck Mountain Ski Area, near Kamsack
In the hilly terrain of the Manitoba escarpment, Duck Mountain has 22 runs that boast all-natural, knee-deep powder and offer breath-taking views of the boreal forest.
- Timber Ridge, near Big River
There are six runs and a cozy lodge at this community-built ski hill serving the Big River region.
- Wapiti, near Melfort
*Wapiti Valley Ski Resort is currently closed for the 2020/2021 winter season
- Table Mountain, near North Battleford
Table Mountain has been around for more than 50 years and is a classic downhill spot for those looking for day and nighttime skiing.
- Kinsmen Ski and Snowboard Centre
Located in Litte Red River Park just outside Prince Albert, this hidden gem hill is perfect for those who love a good terrain park.
8. Ice Fishing
I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a province of people SO excited about a sport than they are about ice fishing. People will literally sit out on the ice for days (even sleeping out on the ice), just waiting to see what they can catch. And I get it, we have some of the best fishing in the world here (literally world-record!) Plus, when our lakes freeze over, some of the cutest and most unique ice fishing shacks, cabins, huts – and yes, even grain bins – pop up on the lakes with enthusiastic ice fishers huddled around holes inside.
Best Ice Fishing Locations in Saskatchewan
While there are 100,000 pristine freshwater lakes to try your hand at ice fishing, here are three of the most popular locations to ice fish in Saskatchewan.
- Tobin Lake
Fishing shacks are sprinkled like confetti on Tobin Lake as locals try their hand at pulling out world-record walleye (18.3lbs is the record), perch, pike, whitefish, goldeye and burbot.
- Lake Diefenbaker
Lake Diefenbaker was the sweet-spot for my first-ever ice fishing experience and it didn’t disappoint. There are hundreds of fishing spots and a wide diversity of habitat for fish to call home.
- Last Mountain Lake
As a popular ice fishing spot close to Regina, people head out to 93-kilometre Last Mountain Lake for carp, pike, perch and trophy-sized walleye.
9. Horseback Riding
Yes, horseback riding in winter is a thing in Saskatchewan. In fact, it’s one of the coolest ways to explore the wild west side of Prince Albert National Park.
At Sturgeon River Ranch there’s an opportunity to see the only free-ranging herd of Plains bison in their natural habitat as well as stay in a genuine ranch house. The chances of seeing the northern lights while visiting are also pretty good.
READ MORE: Horseback Riding in Prince Albert National Park’s Wild West Side
Outdoor rinks are one of the most common sites you’ll see when driving around Saskatchewan. Thousands of sloughs, lakes and ponds get cleared by kids and adults alike for impromptu games of shinny (it’s easy to spot with iconic red hockey nets on most rinks). Some lakes even turn into a web of interconnected rinks in front of cabins with locals plowing and clearing the ice every time there’s a fresh fall of snow.
Best Outdoor Skating Locations in Saskatchewan
Here are some of the best outdoor skating locations in Saskatchewan
- Crossmount Cider Company Skating Pond
Grab a mulled cider and sit around an outdoor fire post-skate at Crossmount outside Saskatoon
- Boffins Public Garden
*Currently closed due to covid* The ultimate Instagram-worthy location complete with an outdoor fireplace, wooden gazebo and a small pond to skate on. They even light it up at night.
- Meewasin Skating Rink at Nutrien Plaza
This is one of the most iconic skating rinks across Canada with views overlooking the South Saskatchewan River in downtown Saskatoon. There’s a warm-up shack and free skate rentals but donations are appreciated.
- “Iceville” at Mosaic Stadium
This year, Mosaic Stadium turned itself into a giant ice sheet and the province’s largest outdoor rink for locals to enjoy.
Private bookings are required in advance.
- Pike Lake Provincial Park
Pike Lake has a 5-kilometre skating trail along the shoreline including a fire pit at the start to warm up and enjoy a winter day.
- Echo Valley Provincial Park
Echo Valley is home to a very popular skating loop located in their summer campgrounds. On weekends, there are often food trucks as well as hot chocolate and outdoor firepits to enjoy.
- Patrick Park, Yorkton
This year, the city of Yorkton has maintained a skating path through Patrick Park
- Elk Ridge Resort, near Prince Albert National Park
Elk Ridge is famous for its series of outdoor ice hockey rinks and skating oval. Skate rentals are included if you’re staying at the resort.
There are hundreds of kilometres of trails to be explored in Saskatchewan. When they’re covered in a fresh skiff of snow, it’s the perfect playground to rent a traditional Norwegian kicksled from Escape Sports in Saskatoon.
Kicksledding is a chair mounted on a pair of skis. You kick along the ground to move like skateboarding. It’s a family-friendly activity and even my mom loved it when I took her out on the Meewasin Valley Trails one afternoon in Saskatoon.
12. Fat Biking
You’ve likely seen them on trails or bike paths where you live – bikes with oversized tires. These are fat bikes. In the same way bigger tires on a truck help with traction, fat bikes are efficient at rolling through snow, especially because of their decreased tire pressure. This makes them perfect to use in Saskatchewan during our long winter season to make it easier to bike in almost any condition.
In Saskatoon, the FatLanders FatTire Brigade is a local group dedicated to fatbiking in the city but they also make great recommendations about fatbiking all around the province.
Where to Rent Fatbikes in Saskatchewan
Several bike shops in Saskatoon and Regina rent fatbikes including Western Cycle in Regin, Bike Doctor and Bruce’s Cycle Works in Saskatoon and Fresh Air Experience in Prince Albert. Fresh Air also provided two bikes to the community of Nipawin which can be taken out free of charge with a deposit.
Where to Fatbike in Saskatchewan
More trails in Saskatchewan are accommodating those who want to fatbike. You’ll also want to check out the TrailForks app to have a look at where all to go. But here are a few spots to head out on a ride:
- Buffalo Pound Provincial Park
The park started grooming trails for a better winter experience and is one of the best locations to bike in the province (in any season).
- Duck Mountain Provincial Park
Most trails are fatbike friendly within the park and the 20km Green Lake Loop is a great ride along a portion of The Great Trail in the boreal forest.
- River Ridge Nordic Trails
Located 5km north of Langham, this new trail system on an old golf course along the North Saskatchewan River is not only fatbike-friendly but is cross-country ski, snowshoe and dog-friendly as well.
- St. Barbe Winter Trails, Saskatoon
These trails just south of Saskatoon are maintained by locals. The area is in an old tree nursery so there’s great wind protection.