Camping in Saskatchewan - Grasslands and Moose Mountain Provincial Park
Updated: Dec 15, 2019
Despite its reputation, we didn't find it that much flatter than a lot of Alberta and Manitoba, though we travelled south of the Trans-Canada Highway. With rolling, grassy hills, friendly folks, and charming farm towns, the drive through the prairies was surprisingly more delightful than we expected. We do enjoy visiting parts of the world that are vastly different than home, so Saskatchewan was certainly that: DIFFERENT. Beauty, after all, are not just found in the popular, instagram-worthy hot spots.
Grasslands National Park
We spent only one night here, but could have easily stayed at least another. We reserved one of the teepees, and funny enough, 3 out of the 4 teepees were occupied by Vancouverites.
Teepee camping in Grasslands wasn't exactly a big luxury above tent camping. It is literally just a giant canvas tent with nothing inside, except for, you guessed it, GRASS. You can rent cots from the office. Maybe it takes away from the authentic experience, but for practical purposes, we actually ended up sleeping inside our tent, INSIDE our teepee. The winds were extreme, and flapped the canvas so loudly that we had a hard time falling asleep. That's when the novelty of teepee camping wore off quickly. Thank goodness for good ear plugs!
We were hoping for clear, star-gazing skies, but instead, forecast called for dramatic clouds with a severe windstorm and occasional flashes of lightning in the distant horizon. Stunning to watch and photograph. Saskatchewan, we learned, does happen to be the most tornado-active province in Canada. A sudden swarm of ravenous mosquitos came out of nowhere when the winds died down for about an hour in the evening. Fortunately, the gusts returned, stronger and louder than ever, blowing away the little blood-suckers into oblivion. Between hungry, biting insects and flappy, noisy teepee, we happily prefer the latter.
We didn't have time to hike to the badlands, but managed to go for a lovely walk the next morning, amongst fields of golden grass waving in the wind.
Overall, the facilities in Grasslands were new and very clean. If you are sleeping in one of the teepees, however, it's a bit of a walk to go use the toilet. They had a sheltered communal eating area with picnic tables and 3 large BBQ grills with fuel, free to use. The Parks attendants even offered free coffee and hot chocolate one morning, which brought campers together to chat and get to know each other. That was one of the highlights for us.
Moose Mountain Provincial Park
3 nights here, perhaps one night too many. We did have lovely days on the beach, and the facilities were brand-new and squeaky clean. They have golf, miniature golf, a popular waterpark called Kenosee Superslides, and even a casino. We didn't do any of those things. We rode our bikes, went to the playground and went paddleboarding on the lake. Simple but free (we brought our own paddleboard) and still fun.
One annoying thing we encountered was that you have to pay this daily vehicle park entry permit fee. This fee is NOT included in your campsite fee. Huh??! That's the first. So we had to pay an additional $10/day to camp there.
Moose Mountain was the land of massive RV's and trailers. It was impressive. Never had we seen so many giant recreational vehicles at a campground. Probably at least 95% or more. We were the odd tenting family passing through, and we sure stood out. A lot of these guys had Christmas lights and potted flowers adorning their sites. We never did find this mysterious, so-called "Moose Mountain". Maybe we were on it. Hard to tell...what a mountain is to some may be just a hill to others.
We decided to not just drive through Saskatchewan in a day. Instead, we dug a little deeper and found more than we expected. Exploring rural Canada is a different experience than hitting at the tourist hotspots. It is very peaceful and quiet, even during high season. There is an anachronistic charm to the general stores, Co-ops, wide open spaces, and giant grain elevators that is well worth exploring. We are driving through in one day on our way back though.
NEXT STOP: ONTARIO