Southwestern Manitoba is a place rich in history with a beautiful and unique landscape. Whether you want to enjoy the beauty of the land or walk with the pioneers, there are a number of things that you can do here. This article lists 25 outdoor activities that will not only acquaint you with the history but also the abundant natural beauty of this region.
1. Enjoy Strathcona Centennial Trail
The Strathcona Centennial Trail is a 17 km all-season recreational trail along a former railway line between Belmont and Ninette. Hike, bike, snowmobile or ATV along the trail and experience the diverse ecosystem along the trail – from prairies to wetlands. The beauty and tranquility of the place will call you back. Details
Location: Trailhead is in Belmont and begins at Boundary Road just south of Highway 23 and proceeds to the west. The trail can also be accessed at any place where municipal roads intersect the trail.
2. Listen along the Manitoba Grasslands Birding Trail
A birders’ paradise, the Grasslands Birding trail is abundant with rare birds and wildlife, and grassland flowers. The trail covers birding hotspots in southwest Manitoba in two routes in a 2-3 day itinerary. The Northern Route has a total driving distance of 53 kilometres (33 miles), while that of the Southern Route is 150 kilometres (93 miles). Both the routes start from Gerald W. Malaher WMA just west of Melita. Details and Trail Map
Location: Starts from Gerald W. Malaher Wildlife Management Area, located 2 miles west of Melita on Prov. Road 445, along Graham Creek.
3. Hike the Bald Hill
The North Escarpment trail is a moderate, 8.7 km long hiking trail that takes you to Bald Hill, one of the most beautiful lookouts in Manitoba. This challenging hike provides stunning views of hills, valleys and forests. Trail Map
Location:Riding Mountain National Park; The trailhead is located a 45 minute drive along Highway 19 from the Wasagaming townsite.
4. Tour Minnedosa Lower West trail
Known as Manitoba’s Valley Paradise, Minnedosa is a place where you can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities including golfing, kayaking, paddling, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, swimming, among others. Minnendosa Lower West trail connects the Heritage Village to the Oxbow Nature Trail as well as the Minnedosa Dam Trail. This is a great way to take in key features of this vibrant place including Manitoba’s longest fish ladder. You can also hike the Oxbow Nature Trail. This is a 3.1 km loop located just a few minutes from downtown and takes you along Little Saskatchewan River, a marsh boardwalk, a viewing tower, across the swinging bridge and the Bison compound where these majestic creatures can be easily be sighted. Later walk down to the Minnedosa Beach to enjoy the sun or make a splash.
5. Enjoy the Riverbank Discovery Centre & Trail System
Established with the view bringing back community to nature as well as to provide a gathering place, the Riverbank Discovery Centre, in addition to being an activity centre, is also a starting point for 17 km of trail system that takes hikers through the heart of Brandon. Don’t miss this Manitoba Star Attraction on your trip to Westman.
6. Explore the Wakpa Tanka LookoutIf you are a history buff, you will enjoy visiting the indigenous campsite at the Wakpa Tanka Lookout. This single component campsite was used by the Sioux First Nation, and is believed to have been their winter home and the only one of its kind in Canada. Artifacts dating back a 1000 years have been recovered from here. See panaromic views of the Assiniboine river valley. Signs placed here provides information on the history of the site. You can access the site via the Silver Bend Trail. Guided tours can be booked by calling 204-567-3757 or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org
Location: near Miniota Off Hwy #83, about 1.5 miles from Miniota.
7. Zoom along Reeve’s Ravine on a Bike
Mountain Bikers have been tackling this trail for the challenge of steep climbs and the descends; not to mention the stunning views of the Escarpment that makes you want to stop and take it all in. Fast or slow, the ride along rugged trail is a challenge for even expert mountain bikers.
Location: Riding Mountain National Park; Travel 400 m west from the East Gate, turn north on the first gravel road and continue till the trailhead.
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Stunning view from Reeve’s Ravine trail on the way to Bald Hill. The fall colours were just starting to creep in last weekend.🥾🌲⛰ 📍Treaty 2 Territory #ridingmountainnationalpark #baldhill #reevesravine #rmnp #hikingtrails #hiking #hikingaddict #exploremb #hikesofmb #hikingcanada #manitoba #manitobatrails #trailsmanitoba #parkscanada #canadatrails #alltrails #allwomenalltrails #discoverclearlake
8. Enjoy Art
Boissevain’s Outdoor Art Gallery is a testament to the town’s love of history and pride in its past. Featuring diverse themes from a depiction of the region’s first locomotive to the stories of Northwest Mounted Police, old sawmill to a pioneer kitchen, these 20 colourful murals narrate their own story. You can get guided maps of the murals from the visitor center and several mural locations. Details
Location: Boissevain Visitor Centre, 298 Mountain St, Boissevain; (204) 534-6303
9. Explore Souris River Bend WMA TrailsLang’s Crossing trail and the Souris River Bend trail are located at Souris River Bend Wildlife Management Area featuring riparian woodlands and mixed-grass prairie. This is where we can see the famous ‘Souris Elbow of Capture’ or the Souris River Bend where the Souris river suddenly changes its southeast direction to northeast. Lang’s Crossing is a well-known ford (crossing site) used by early settlers to cross the daunting Souris River. The Lang’s trail is popular among horseback riders, while hikers tackle the Souris River Bend trail. There is a staging area at the bottom of the valley near the bridge and a sign explaining the trails. Lang’s Crossing Trail
Location: Souris River Bend Wildlife Management Area; east of PTH #346
10. Camp under the stars
There’s nothing more peaceful than watching the stars and falling asleep under the night sky appreciating the magnificent the world we live in. Book your campsite today!
11. Cross the Souris Swinging Bridge
Canada’s longest historic cable-stayed swinging bridge, the Souris Swinging Bridge is 177 m long. The original bridge was destroyed in floods, and a new bridge was later opened in 2013. the new bridge is reinforced to hold up to 1,000 people at a time. Details
12. Hike Spirit Sands and Devil’s Punchbowl
This must do hike takes you through a unique desert-like (it’s not a true desert) region in the middle of Manitoba prairies. Here, one can find cacti, rare hognose snake and the elusive northern prairie skink, in addition to moving sand dunes called Spirit Sands and a bowl shaped depression called Devil’s punch bowl. Hikers can choose from a combination of trails to view these unique features of the Spruce Woods provincial Park. Details and Trail Map
13. Tour the Farmery Estate BreweryNo outdoor activity is complete without a can of beer! That’s why a tour to the Farmery Estate Brewery makes the list. See where the ingredients in the famous beers are grown and how it’s made. Tour the facilities at this farm-to-beer operation and sample their wares. Which is your favourite? Details
Location: 480 MB-5 Neepawa; (204) 777-0909
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Do you know where the ingredients in your beer come from🤷♀️ At Farmery Estate Brewery, we not only make the beer-we also grow the Barley and Hops right here in Neepawa, Manitoba on our family farm!!! Experience Farmery Estate Brewery. A true, refreshing taste of the Prairies. #hopyard #hops #hop #barley #beerbarley #farmerybrewery #farmerybeer #happythursday #thursday #almostweekend #allgrainbrewing #beer #beers #craftbeer #craftbeers #farmeryestatebrewery #estatebrewery
14. Go Fishing
Manitoba offers some of Canada’s finest fishing, and the Westman region is no exception. Westman’s Whitemud River has large quantities of Freshwater Drum. You can also find Brown Bullhead and the Common Harp here. The Assiniboine River is also favoured by anglers for channel catfish. You will need a Manitoba Fishing License for fishing. Rivers Provincial Park is a popular destination for anglers looking to reel pike, walleye and perch. Details
15. See the Stott National Historic Site
Stott National Historic Site was a prominent bison hunt site 700-1900 years ago. To know the history of the site, go on an self-guided hike along the ‘On the Trail of the Buffalo Chase’ trail. Along the trail you can see a reconstructed bison pound, as well as several interpretive signs. Later, climb the lookout tower to enjoy scenic views of the river valley. Details
Location: Grand Valley Park, Highway 1 and 459 Forrest
16. Visit the International Peace Garden
Noted for its exquisite landscaping the garden’s most noted feature is a working floral clock and has a unique design each year. Acres of radiant floral gardens, hiking trails, picnic areas, all add to the gardens allure and peaceful atmosphere. Since the Garden is on the Canada-US border, you will need your passport for exit. Details
Location: 10939 Highway 281 Boissevain; (204) 534-2510
17. Canoe the historic Assiniboine River Route
The historic Assiniboine River canoe route starts at Brandon and ends on PTH 34, north of Holland. Since the Spruce Woods Provincial Park is on this route, anyone who wants to canoe the route can access the river from the park. Depending on the route you choose, you can cover your journey in a couple of days. Book at one of the Canoe Campgrounds at the Park to truly appreciate this historic journey! The Assiniboine River Canoe Route Map is sold at the bookshop at Spruce woods.
18. Hike the Gorge Creek Trail
There is no doubt Riding Mountain National Park is one of the most beautiful Parks in Manitoba. There are a number of activities one can do here from hiking the Grasshopper Valley to enjoying the clear waters, seeing Plain Bisons. Endless views of the escarpment, lush forests and the challenge trekking different terrains calls the hikers to the 12.8 km long Gorge Creek trail. Details
Location: Riding Mountain National Park; Located along PTH 19
19. Visit the Bison Jump
You are now heading to a site of indigenous history. Over 1200 to 2000 years ago when the majestic Bisons roamed the vast stretches of these land, Sonata and Besant First Nations used to hunt Bison at this site by stampeding them over this cliff where the Badger Creek cut a deep ravine. Hunting these beasts were critical to the survival of the people and the carcasses of the Bisons were then used as food, tools, clothing and shelter. Details
Location: Clay Banks Buffalo Jump; From Cartwright Drive north on PTH 5 for about 2 km. Follow the signs to the viewing area.
20. Birding at Douglas Marsh
Home of the elusive Yellow Rail, Douglas Marsh is designated as an “Important Bird Area”. Several other marsh and grassland species such as Le Conte’s and Nelson’s Sharptailed Sparrows, Virginia and Sora Rail, Sedge Wrens, Song, Swamp and Vesper Sparrows can be found here. Details
Location: Located 17 km east of Brandon; A small portion of land on the east side of the Trans Canada highway, just south of Douglas is accessible to birders.
21. Trail the Turtle’s BackHa! You are not going to climb the back of a turtle. But rather hike the back summit of the Turtle Mountain Provincial Park. This is a must do hike that ends at a lookout tower with spectacular views of southwestern Manitoba including the International Peace Garden. Details
Location: William Lake Provincial Park; Located east of Highway # 10 and south of Highway #3
22. Train with Soldiers of WWI at Camp Hughes
Manitoba’s only National Historic Site dedicated to the First World War is located at Carberry’s Camp Hughes. During World War I (1914–1918), more than 38,000 troops of the Canadian Expeditionary Force trained there. Visitors can experience the challenges of the soldiers and walk the training trenches here. A self-guided tour of the camp is available for download. Details
Location: Carberry; Located south of the Trans Canada Highway, 132 km west of Winnipeg near Provincial Road 351.
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Vintage artillery pieces on display at Camp Hughes, MB. This past July was the 100th anniversary of the first public tour of the extensive trench warfare training centre built there to prepare the Canadian Army for battle on the Western Front. It is a National Historic Site and is one of the only remaining WW1 trench networks in the world. #lestweforget🌹 #rememberanceday #manitobahistoricalsociety #exploremb #camphughes #ww1 #canadianarmedforces #nationalhistoricsiteofcanada #mbhistory
23. Explore the Brandon Hills Wildlife Management Area
Brandon Hills Wildlife Management Area is a 722 hectare natural area that is a habitat for many wildlife species and plant life. Hiking, biking, horseback riding, cross-country skiing, and bird watching are the main activities of visitors to this area. Details
24. Hike along the Adam Lake Trails
Located in Turtle Mountain Provincial Park are a network of trails that traverse along the Adam Lake called Adam Lake trails. The trails can be used for hiking, biking, skiing or horseback riding. Details
Location: Turtle Mountain Provincial Park
25. Visit the Criddle / Vane Homestead
This is a great place to visit with your kids. Criddleand Vane homesteads are pioneer houses located in the Criddle/Vane Homestead Provincial Heritage Park. There are two short hiking trails here that are great to undertake with young kids. The site also houses the first entomological laboratory in western Canada. Details
Where: Criddle/Vane Homestead Provincial Heritage Park
26. Explore the Ralph Wang Trail
If you are into nature conservation, this is a place you shouldn’t miss. The Ralph Wang trail preserves the native prairie and well as the wildlife here for future generations. Open from mid-April to mid-November, the trail is maintained by Nature Conservancy Canada. Details
27. Blue Lakes Trail
A 5.5 km hiking loop trail that takes you to beautiful spring-fed East and West Blue Lakes. The 60-metre deep East Blue Lake is one of Manitoba’s clearest lakes. Details
Where: Duck Mountain Provincial Park