Saskatchewan: The Land of Living Skies

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August 12, 2009

Just north of Montana and North Dakota, the Canadian province of Saskatchewan beckons with a fresh vacation experience. It’s a haven for the nature lover, with countless opportunities to go fishing, horseback riding, or river kayaking. There’s plenty of wildlife roaming free in the forest, prairie, and riparian areas in this province called the Land of Living Skies. But there’s also a bustling city life, too. Countless opportunities for dining, shopping, and nightlife await you in Saskatoon and other points north. This One Tank RV Trip from Woodall’s starts in Saskatoon, about 2.5 hours northwest of the provincial capital of Regina via Provincial Route 11.

Saskatoon is a young city (founded in 1882) named for a small purple berry native to the region and is the largest city in the province. The South Saskatchewan River runs through the middle and features several parks along its banks. Take an hour-long river cruise to see the scenery or start a 3-hour paddling trip into the city from the Poplar Bluffs canoe launch. Wander along the Meewasin Valley Trail, 60km of riverbank trails that wind through the heart of the city, or explore the Univeristy of Saskatchewan’s beautiful riverfront campus.

The Mendel Art Gallery overlooking the river houses works by Canadian and European artists. Free admission, free parking and a complimentary coat check make it easy to spend an afternoon in this lively gallery. Also worth a look is the Ukrainian Museum of Canada just down the street from the Mendel, which features displays of traditional cultural items to honor the large number of Ukrainian immigrants that settled here at the beginning of the last century. And of course you’ll find all manner of cafes and shops in Saskatoon’s trendy Broadway shopping district. Leaving town, head northwest on Canada Highway 16 for about 80 miles and you’ll come to the Battlefords.

The Battlefords are twin cities facing each other across the North Saskatchewan River valley in the heart of Canada’s Old Northwest. Battleford on the south side features old Fort Battleford, a defense outpost against hostile Native raiders, constructed in the late 19th century. Take a tour of four original buildings filled with artifacts from the period. A variety of nature walks through wildlife preserves are wonderful ways to enjoy the area’s wilderness habitats. Museums and historic sites feature exhibits from the days of Saskatchewan’s early settlement by First Nations and European settlers. From Battleford continue traveling northwest on CAN-16 and you’ll arrive in Lloydminster.

Established in 1903, Lloydminster is a single town that actually straddles the Alberta-Saskatchewan provincial border. The city has 29 municipal parks with trails just waiting to be explored, as well as a teeming downtown shopping district which includes the Lloyd Mall. And for your four-legged traveling companions, there are off-leash pet parks where they can run freely and feel the wind in their fur. Enjoy the fresh air and sunshine while cycling around town or playing a round of golf on the 18-hole public course.

All told, the whole of Saskatchewan is a road-less-traveled vacation destination to indulge your wanderlust. In preparation for your trip, be sure to watch the Saskatchewan Driving Etiquette video, featuring tips on how to appropriately greet oncoming vehicles on the road.

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