Saskatchewan is home to some of the unique, naturally occurring, geographically interesting terrains and features which many people are unaware of!
Visit every single one of these destinations in this list of unusual/unique places and rediscover this prairie province of Canada!
1. Athabasca Sand Dunes
Did you think Saskatchewan is a flat boring piece of land? Think again!
In the northwest part of Saskatchewan, there are sand dunes that stretch 100 kilometres along the south shore of Lake Athabasca. Called the Athabasca Sand Dunes, they are the largest active sand surface in North America and the world’s most northerly major sand dunes. These sand dunes support a unique ecosystem and very rare plant life. Athabasca Sand Dunes Provincial Park protects this unique feature in the boreal shield ecosystem. This area is accessible only by float plane.
When: Year-round – Best to Visit Late Spring to Fall.
Where: Athabasca Sand Dunes Provincial Park, La Ronge, SK.
2. Cypress Hills
You might wonder what Cypress Hills is doing in this list! Within Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park is the highest point in the province – 1.39 km above sea level. The Conglomerate Cliffs situated in the west block is also the highest elevation between the Rockies and Labrador. The Cypress Hills rise several feet above the surrounding prairie, making it a geographic anomaly in the prairie province. Because of this unique geological feature, many species of rare plants and animals thrive in the park. Details
Where: The Conglomerate Cliffs, west block Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park
3. Castle Butte and The Big Muddy Badlands
Big Muddy Badlands, located in Big Muddy Creek inside the Big Muddy Valley (55 km long, 3.2 km wide and 160 m deep), is one of the most rugged and driest regions in Saskatchewan. The Valley was curved from an ancient glacial melt water channel during the last ice age. Once you reach here, the flat land, so typical of Saskatchewan are no longer seen. Instead you will see wind-carved buttes, prickly-pear cacti, steep cliffs, and deep-cut sandstone ravines. These rugged buttes are from sedimentary layering process over several geological periods. The area is also dotted with caves carved from the landscape. One of the most significant geological features seen here is the Castle Butte, a 70 m high sandstone and clay formation. The Town of Coronach arranges guided tours of the Big Muddy Badlands.When: Best way to see the area is to take the tour offered. Tours available in July & August. For DIY directions, see the map below.
Where: On Highway 34, south of Bengough, north of Big Beaver.
Book the tour @ Big Muddy Creek, Town of Coronach, SK. Phone: 306-267-3312
4. Massold Clay Canyons
Located an hour southwest of Regina and beside the Claybank Brick Plant National Historic site is the Massold Clay Canyons. The Massold Clay Canyons are renowned for the whitemud formation, formed during the Cretaceous period. Two different types of clay can be seen in the formation: white and grey, each with different properties. The Claybank clay is ‘high-refractory’, referring to its excellent heat and pressure bearing properties making them excellent choices for bricks and tiles. Near the Massold Clay Canyons is the Claybank Brick Plant National Historic Site, where bricks were manufactured since 1914. This brick plant is one of the best preserved examples of early 20th century industrial activity in Canada.
When: July 1 – August | Daily; September | By appointment
Where: Claybank, SK
Claybank Brick Plant National Historic Site is located 15 kms West of Avonlea on Hwy #339 or 1 km East of Claybank village on highway #339
Phone: (306) 868-4474
5. The Great Sandhills
As you travel across Saskatchewan, you will be surprised at the number of sand dunes these prairie region possess! Though less well-known than the Athabasca sand dunes, Great Sandhills holds its own place in the list of geographically unique places in the province. The Great Sandhills is one of the largest set of active sand dunes in Canada lying within the Great Sandhills Ecological Reserve. The Sandhills cover 1900 square km. These dunes are perpetually moving, thereby create an ever-changing landscape. This piece of area is visited by various bird species. You can also see aspen, birch and wildlife including the rare Ord’s Kangaroo Rat. Drop in at the Great Sandhills Museum & Interpretive Centre before you start your journey to the dunes.
When: Great Sandhills Museum & Interpretive Centre: May 15 – August 31 | Daily
Dunes are open year-round.
Where: Great Sandhills are located in the Great Sandhills Ecological Reserve. The Great Sandhills are 27 km south of Sceptre, 47 km southeast of Leader, 137 km south of Kindersley, and 159 km northwest of Swift Current.
The Great Sandhills Museum & Interpretive Centre is located in Southwest Saskatchewan on Highway 32, in the village of Sceptre.
Note: There is no ATM in Sceptre, and a credit card terminal is available weekdays only at the Co-op store. Please plan ahead.
6. Nipekamew Sand Cliffs
Nipekamew Sand Cliffs are unique geological formations dating back to the last ice age. They are located an hour southeast of La Ronge along the banks of Nipekamew River. The sand cliffs are made of layers of compacted sand, pebble and clay deposits. Erosion of the cliffs have made them extremely fragile, so tourists are asked to respect this fragile piece of environment and not to damage them. The trail head to the sand cliffs is from a narrow dirt road on the west side of the Nipakamew River along highway 165. Walk 1.5 km from the parking lot to reach the sand cliffs.
Where: La Ronge, SK
27 km East of junction Hwys 2 & 165, towards Nipekamew River; follow the road south on the west side of the river for 1.2 km to parking area. Hike the 1.5 km primitive trail to the sandstone cliffs.
Phone: (306) 425-4234
Toll Free:(800) 772-4064
Note: The sand cliffs are located on protected land. Stay on the west side of the river to view them.
7. Sand Dunes at Douglas Provincial Park
At the northeast part of Douglas Provincial Park is a piece of landscape that’s nothing like the rest of Saskatchewan- sand dunes. These active dunes stretch more than 1 km in length and as high as 30 m. This landscape is accessed via a hiking trail. The 5 km long Cacti Trail starts at the Interpretive Centre and follows along grasslands, aspen groves and later through arid land with sparse vegetation. All the trees and shrubs in this region has a stunted growth, but surprisingly, abundant wildlife can be seen with many different bird species.
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"We were so fortunate to have a lovely couple join us for an engagement shoot at the sand dunes in Douglas Provinical Park (Saskatchewan). We lucked out big time with textbook Saskatchewan skies and smooth semi snow covered rolling hills of sand. Such a wicked spot hidden in the centre of Saskatchewan and we had it all to ourselves." – @lukelelee #ExploreSask
Where: Douglas Provincial Park, Elbow, SK. The park is located 11 km South of Elbow on Hwy 19.
Phone: (306) 854-6266
8. Sand Castles and Sunken Hill at Beechy
These are large natural sand castle formation seen 7.2 km west of Beechy. Drive along the Beechy Sandcastles and Sunken Hill Trail to see breathtaking views of large sand dunes, teepee rings and the famous Sunken Hill. This was formed when a plateau hill suddenly collapsed and sank from a natural gas pocket. You can see abundant wildlife, amphibian and bird species here. Other attractions in this area are Snakebite Coulee and the Magnesium Sulphate Lake.
Where: Beechy, SK
Note: This is situated in a private land. Please remember to close the gates once you enter/leave.
9. Twisted Trees of Alticane
Although not a geographic phenomenon, the Crooked Bush at Hafford is a natural anomaly. Located northwest of Hafford, 75-minute north of Saskatoon, are a group of warped and twisted aspen trees. Local legends attribute it a variety of things from UFO landing to a lightning strike. This 3-acre grove is located in the Redberry Lake Biosphere Reserve where visitors can walk along the broad-walk enjoying the unique trees. Along the walk there are display boards explaining some of the theories behind about made the trees grow like this (including genetic mutation). They are also known by other nicknames such as Trembling Aspen, Crooked Bush, Quaking Aspen. Details
When: Year Round
Where: Redberry Lake Biosphere Reserve, Hafford, SK
Direction from Hafford: 14.5 km west on Highway 40, past Speers to the Flint Road, north 16 km, east 2.5 km.
Directions to Crooked Bush: Past Speers on Hwy. 40 to Flint Road and follow the sign “Crooked Bush”.
Start: At the parking lot at the sign saying “Friends of the Crooked Bush”. Length in total: 200 meters (loop)
Phone: (306) 549-2360
10. Fossils at Grasslands National Park
When: May 20 – October 10
Where: Grasslands National Park is located in southwestern Saskatchewan near the Saskatchewan-Montana border.
The Park’s East Block can be accessed near the town of Wood Mountain on Hwy #18.
McGowans Visitor Centre, East Block:
Phone: 306-476-2018 (East Block McGowan’s Visitor Centre at Rock Creek Campground)
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Did you know that the first dinosaur fossil to be discovered in Canada was found right here in Saskatchewan? In 1874, pioneer geologist, George Mercer Dawson discovered and collected a fossilized hadrosaur in what today is the East Block of Grasslands National Park. Shown here is a section of fossilized tail from a hadrosaur and surprisingly it’s still articulated. #ExploreSask #GrasslandsNP #Dinosaur #Saskatchewan #KeepExploring #TravelPhotography #ExploreCanada
11. Creighton Limestone Crevices
Located in northeast Saskatchewan are spectacular limestone crevices that look as if the earth suddenly cracked open. These limestone crevices were formed from the cracks in the carbonate rock of the Red River formation. The crevices appeared when water that seeped along the crack froze and expanded repeatedly over time, wedging the rocks apart and forming the crevices.
When: Year-round – Best to visit Late Spring to Fall.
Where: 1 km north of Meridian Creek on Highway 167 (The South Weir Rd) and along the south shore of Amisk Lake.
Note: Supervise children if you are taking them along and be extremely cautious while exploring the crevices.
12. Little Manitou Lake
Although Saskatchewan has over a hundred thousand lakes, Little Manitou Lake near Watrous is unique on its own. Called Canada’s own Dead Sea, the lake is fed by underground springs and has a high content of sodium, magnesium and potassium salts. This means, you can float effortlessly on the water while enjoying the healing properties of the water. The lake is located 1.5 drive southeast of Saskatoon. Details
When: Year-round, Best time to visit: June – August
Where: Watrous, SK
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