Summer is a great time of year to get into your vehicle and head out for a fun day or two to explore the route between the city of Regina and the beautiful Qu’Appelle Valley.
Carved out by water from glaciers some 14,000 years ago, the Valley is home to three of the province’s smaller but very popular provincial parks – Crooked Lake, Echo Valley, and Katepwa Point. Along this route, the drive time is only just under four hours, with a total of just under 300 kilometers, but add in the fun and special things to see along the way and you end up creating a great trip out of the city for a weekend or more with a destination of lush, green valleys and scenic beauty.
The best time to travel this route is between late June and early Fall.
**Kindly do not travel during Saskatchewan’s COVID-19 restrictions. Plan your trip now, travel when restrictions are lifted.**
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Regina to Lumsden
From Regina, you will travel to the small town of Craven, just 30 minutes north of the city, and a good place to stop to see some incredible things. Heading out on Highway 11, you can make a slight detour to Over the Hill Orchards and Winery for a picnic enjoying the views of Qu’Appelle Valley (you can get picnic baskets from there; pre-book your time slot) or for a winery tour. If you are driving with kids during late summer /early fall, visit Happy Hollow Corn Mazefor farm fun activities.
Make a stop in Lumsden for a self-guided historic walking tour and to have a sweet treat and check out some fun unique and vintage items in a local store. Located right next to each other and owned by the same family, this is a welcome stop for those who love fun places to shop.
On the road: The short drive from Lumsden to Craven will provide you, in the summer months, an opportunity to see all the roadside garden markets with lovely fresh produce from the surrounding farms.
Craven’s Giant Guitar
In the village of Craven, as you are passing through, you find one of the favourite roadside attractions in the province. The home of Country Thunder, a huge concert series held each summer; this guitar shows the spirit of music in the community. Take a picture to commemorate your road trip!
Hidden Valley Wildlife Refuge
This nature conservatory is a wonderful place to spend a bit of time. An excellent spot to see butterflies, you are also likely to catch a glimpse of deer and even fox here. This small area, owned by Nature Regina, is available to visit and enjoy some hiking. Please note you do need to be a member to visit, the very reasonable rates go towards preserving natural spots around Regina and supporting activities centered on nature.
St. Nicholas Anglican Church
Also called Kennell Anglican Church or simply, the Little Church in the Valley, this historic, red-roofed building was built in a Gothic Revival style in the early 1900’s and is well worth a stop for a photo.
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On the Road: After you have taken your share of pics at the Church, get back on the road to head to your next destination, which is just 15 minutes down the road.
This nature complex, consisting of 493 acres of seasonal wetlands, and 3 acres of permanent wetlands, is not something you expect to see in the prairies of Saskatchewan. This uniquely beautiful landscape opens up opportunities for visitors to enjoy birdlife, along with frogs and other wildlife. The loop trail will take about 1.5 hours to walk, and is considered moderate.
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After your lovely walk here, your next destination will also take you into nature, but you can relax on the 50-minute drive between the two.
Echo Valley Provincial Park
This gorgeous provincial park offers up so many fun outdoor activities that this may be a place you choose to spend the night if you are wanting to camp! Otherwise, take some time to hang out on the two beaches, do some fishing or enjoy some time on the water with your own kayak or canoe, or take the 3-kilometer interpretive trail to learn more about the area. There are fire pits and flush toilets, along with a playground, so if you are thinking of a picnic lunch, this is also a perfect place for that.
On the Road: Another 15 minutes on the road and you will arrive at the town of Fort Qu’Appelle. This historic town was originally established as a Hudson’s Bay trading post in 1852. There are many services available in town, and is a good place to fuel up, grab some food, shop, or, if you are travelling on a Saturday, hit up the local farmers market. There is also a campground and several small hotels here if you want to spend the night.
Fort Qu’Appelle Museum
This museum consists of three connected buildings, including part of the Hudson’s Bay Company Chief Factor’s house from the trading post, along with two other additions. There are many displays including First Nations artifacts, a North West Mounted Police display, information on the nearby Fort San T.B. Sanatorium, and pioneer artifacts. Please check their open hours before visiting.
A unique place to shop, this store offers indigenous crafts by locals, along with art and carvings. (197 Broadway St E, Fort Qu’Appelle)
On the Road: Only about 10 minutes down the highway from Fort Qu’Appelle, the town of Lebret is your next destination. Located alongside Mission Lake, there is an impressive historic site here that is well worth the hike up.
Sacred Heart Church and Hilltop Memorial Chapel
An impressive “Fieldstone Church” on the town’s main street, the first church was established in 1865, with the present church being constructed in 1925. The switchback hike will take you up to the fantastic Memorial Chapel and the pretty views.
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A little museum featuring interesting items from the area, including religious and antique articles, household items and Metis pieces including Louis Riel’s sugar bowl. As well, the Art Gallery displays Indigenous and local artwork. Usually open afternoons from June to September, check opening hours before visiting. (Location)
The Little Glass Hut
Another unique shopping opportunity is located in a quaint house in the town of Lebret. This store features the stained glass work of its owner, along with other items produced by Saskatchewan artists. (Location)
On the Road: A short 10-minute drive takes you south to a second incredible provincial park. Travelling alongside Katepwa Lake, you will find yourself arriving faster than you would like to.
Katepwa Point Provincial Park
This is a lovely day-use park that features probably the nicest beach in the Qu’Appelle Valley region. If you have your own canoe or kayak, you can enjoy skimming along the waters of this good sized lake, otherwise considering renting a SUP or kayak to spend some time on the water. There are some good accommodations in this area, so if you are looking to spend the night to enjoy the beach and water, you can!
We know you will be sad to leave this pretty beach area, but the road trip continues on and there is more to see along the way. Your next destination is Crooked Lake Provincial Park, which is just over an hour away, but if you like, you can make a stop to see a great historical site along the way.
Motherwell Homestead National Historic Site
Just twenty minutes from Katepwa Point, you arrive at this fascinating historic site. This is the perfect place to discover what life was like on the prairies in the early 1900’s. An early Saskatchewan settler, W.R. Motherwell became a community leader whose passion for scientific farming methods took him all the way to parliament as Minister of Agriculture. Check the website for entry fees and open hours/days.
On the Road: From Motherwell, you will drive through the pretty prairie landscape and typical small towns to reach the next provincial park. For a break, take a photo stop in Lemberg for a picture of the grain elevator there.
Crooked Lake Provincial Park
Stunning valley views await you at this little provincial park. Another scenic destination, the lake offers the chance to boat or fish (there is an abundance of walleye and perch, along with northern pike). Explore the hiking trails and keep your eyes peeled for wildlife and birdlife. Camp for a night or two or simply relax and enjoy the area for awhile.
Bird’s Point Resort Village
The last official destination on this Qu’Appelle Valley exploration is the little village of Bird’s Point. Located on the beautiful Round Lake, you will find a hotel and large campground here, along with a local pub and restaurant. There is a nice beach and good opportunities to swim, along with a boat launch, chances to fish, hike and birdwatch.
On the Road: From Bird’s Point you can head directly back to Regina on the TransCanada Highway, which will only take you approximately 2 hours. There are several places along the return route that you may be interested in stopping at.
Another town with a roadside attraction, you can stop for a photo op with the large Indian Head featured here. This historic town has an 18-foot tall statue that weighs more than 3,000 pounds. Located at the corner of Highway 1 and Highway 56, this is an easily accessed, fun stop.
The Bell Barn
One of the most interesting historical sites in the province, this farm is over 130 years old. This corporate farm was an experiment supported by the federal government of Prime Minister Sir John A. Macdonald, and was officially called the Qu’Appelle Valley Farming Company. Its shareholders were located in Ontario, but one of them, Major William R. Bell, came west to serve as general manager of the Company. It wasn’t long before the farm achieved a more recognizable and memorable name: the Bell Farm. Visit this unique site to learn more about the history!
Not to be confused with the other town of Fort Qu’Appelle, this town is also not lacking in history of its own. The Qu’Appelle Town Hall is a Municipal Heritage Property and the fine yellow brick building is well worth a stop for a photo. (Location)