Last Updated: October 18th, 2022
One of only two landlocked provinces in Canada, Saskatchewan is widely known for its flat prairie landscapes, but it’s also home to chiselled badlands, thick boreal forests, sand dunes, and thousands of lakes. It’s very much an “outdoor” province as it doesn’t have any major metropolitan centres. However, it does have some cool cities and towns, including Saskatoon, which has one of the youngest demographics in Canada.
Located on the Western side of Canada, east of Alberta, Saskatchewan is often overlooked during a cross-Canada road trip. But that’s a big mistake. After exploring Saskatchewan a lot during the last five years, it’s become one of our favourites, thanks in part to the incredible landscapes of Grasslands National Park, the bustling food scene of Saskatoon, and the beautiful lakes such as Waskesiu in Prince Albert National Park. You’ll even find old tunnels below the town of Moose Jaw that were used by Al Capone back in the prohibition days, fascinating indigenous culture, and sand dunes in the north that look like something you’d find in Saudi Arabia. Those looking for outdoor adventure away from the crowds, or a cool, hip small city scene will love exploring Saskatchewan.
Whether you’re planning to explore the cities, the badlands, or everything in between, we’ve got you covered in this comprehensive travel guide to the many things to do in Saskatchewan!
Road to 150 – Saskatchewan Road Trip
Before we get into the travel guide, you might want to check out our video about Saskatchewan. This was created during our 150-day road trip across Canada back in 2017.
During our 150-day road trip across Canada, we spent more than a week in Saskatchewan. We drove a pontoon boat around Lake Waskesiu, learned about the province’s first nations at Wanuskewin Heritage Centre, and went for a float in Canada’s version of the dead sea. We also toured the RCMP Heritage Centre, witnessed the RCMP sunset ceremony, climbed a massive sand dune, and hiked through one of the few remaining natural grasslands in North America. We packed a lot of adventures into our short visit and can’t wait to return one day and explore the province further.
Saskatoon is a beautiful Northern Canadian city, which is also known as both the city of bridges and “Paris of the Prairies”. Here you’ll find Saskatoon’s youngest demographics, a hip vibe, a wealth of Art Nouveau architecture, the incredible Wanuskewin Heritage Centre, the beautiful South Saskatchewan River, and so much more. There are also loads of award-winning restaurants in Saskatoon, making this a great stop for food and drink.
Wanuskewin Heritage Centre
Situated just 5 km north of Saskatoon, this wonderful place is the perfect spot to learn about Saskatchewan’s first nations, not only through the museum but also through the land itself. In fact, Wanuskewin is an archeological goldmine, with discoveries that take us back as far as 6,000 years. Wanuskewin is also Canada’s longest-running archaeological dig! There are many ways to get interactive including guided walks, performances, and the chance to spend the night in a tipi.
In fact, Wanuskewin is the recipient of the 2019 Tourism Industry Association of Canada (ITAC) Indigenous Tourism Award. The site is home to 21 pre-contact sites, four walking trails, a medicine wheel, tipi rings and buffalo pounds. The Visitor Centre includes an art gallery, conference facility, gift shop and restaurant.
The stunning Meewasin Valley is home to more than 80 km of trails for year-round recreation and beautiful sightseeing opportunities in the heart of Saskatoon. The maintained and multi-use pathways are perfect for cycling, jogging, cross-country skiing or walking along the riverbank.
In addition to the urban section of the River Valley, there are other Meewasin sites to explore as well, including Beaver Creek Conservation Area, Meewasin Northeast Swale, and the Cranberry Flats Conservation Area, just to name a few. In fact, the Meewasin Trail is also part of the Great Trail which spans across Canada for more than 24,000 km.
Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park & Zoo
What began as a simple tree nursery is now a National Historic Site with carefully crafted gardens, restored heritage buildings, an outdoor playground, a fishing pond, and Saskatchewan’s only CAZA-AZAC accredited zoo. The Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park & Zoo is a distinctly-Saskatchewan experience where you’ll also find the charming Mistaya and Koda grizzly bears, and the two playful cougars – Malcolm and Jethro.
Beaver Creek Conservation Area
Beaver Creek Conservation Area, located near Saskatoon, is an accredited watchable wildlife site. Discover this semi-wilderness area by hiking four nature trails and exploring the hands-on displays in the interpretive centre. We’ve only visited in the winter months, but it was wonderful to have little Chickadee birds fly into our hands to eat some seeds we got from the interpretative centre.
Prairie River Cruises
Situated along the banks of the beautiful South Saskatchewan River, Prarie River Cruises offers the chance to get out on the water and see the city from a whole new perspective. Hop aboard The Prairie Lily, a 118-passenger riverboat that traverses the river in the heart of downtown Saskatoon. Tour options are varied and include sightseeing tours, dinner cruises, special event cruises and Sunday Brunch cruises.
Western Development Museum
The Western Development Museum (WDM) is the largest human history museum in Saskatchewan and is actually located in many places across the province, including Saskatoon, North Battleford, and Moose Jaw. With a collection of over 75,000 artifacts ranging from pins to locomotives, the WDM shares the Saskatchewan story from the beginning of settlement to the present day. You’ll learn about Saskatchewan through its exhibits, educational and public programs, special events, and research about the history of the province.
If you’re looking for a thrill, try jumping out of a plane at 11,000 feet with Skydive Saskatoon! We did this in 2022 and it was such an incredible time. The staff are super fun and energetic and there’s nothing quite like falling towards the Earth at 200 km/h. If you’re closer to Regina, there’s also Skydive South Sask.
Explore Prince Albert National Park
This massive 3,875 sq. km national park is home to beautiful Northern lakes, a variety of hiking trails, and hordes of wildlife. It’s also home to the famous cabin of Grey Owl, a world-acclaimed naturalist, author and orator from the early 1900s. Located just 200-km north of Saskatoon, this is a great place for getting into nature. It’s super popular in the summer but is also a great place in the winter with fun activities such as dog-sledding, ice fishing, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, and more. If you do end up visiting Waskesiu in the winter, we highly recommend staying at the winter playground of Elk Ridge Resort.
Rent a Boat on Waskesiu Lake
With the massive Waskesiu Lake taking up a big chunk of the national park, it makes sense to get out on the lake and enjoy it. We rented a pontoon boat during our visit, which was perfect for going around the lake during sunset. Whether you’re looking to go fishing or just go on a cruise, it’s a lovely way to spend a day.
Visit Grey Owls’ Cabin
For the ultimate adventure, head to Grey Owl’s Cabin. It takes a solid day by foot or by canoe but is highly worth it. Home to the man whose writing, lectures and films opened the eyes of the world to the need for conservation, his work, even in death, continues to be celebrated as nature lovers make pilgrimages to his cabin.
With so many trails, Prince Albert National Park is perfect for hikers. Some of the popular ones include Mud Creek Trail, Elk Trail, Fisher Trail, Red Deer Trail or the adventurous route to Grey Owl’s Cabin.
Saskatchewan’s capital city, which is also known as Queen City, is the cultural and commercial centre for southern Saskatchewan. It’s conveniently located right on the Trans-Canada Highway and there are many things to do in Regina, such as exploring the legislative building, watching a CFL Football game, and using the city as a base for exploring other nearby attractions such as the Big Muddy Badlands, Moose Jaw, and more.
Wascana Lake and Wascana Centre
This massive urban park is basically the heart of Regina with so much beautiful scenery and top Regina attractions. In fact, before the city was called Regina, its name was Wascana, which means “Buffalo Bones” in Cree. The city was basically a treeless flat plain with few topographic features other than a small spring run-off called Wascana Creek. Today, Wascana Centre is home to some of the best Regina activities, scenery, and the provincial government building.
Wascana Lake is the focal point of Wascana Centre and is a great place to go for a walk, jog, or bike ride, featuring water fountains, bridges, trails, and tree cover. However, it’s also home to some of the best things to do and see in Regina, including the Provincial Legislative Building, the University of Regina, the First Nations University of Canada, the Royal Saskatchewan Museum, the Regina Conservatory, the Saskatchewan Science Centre, the Mackenzie Art Gallery, and the Saskatchewan Centre of the Arts. You can practically spend a couple of days just exploring all the sights around Wascana Centre.
RCMP Heritage Centre
If you want to learn all about Canada’s iconic national police force, this is the place to go! There are so many interesting facts and stories, as well as artifacts and interactive games. There are so many things to do including solving a crime, virtual reality exhibits, and even an arcade game where you can drive a police car!
The RCMP Heritage Centre is also located on the doorstep of the RCMP Academy, “Depot” Division, which is the only training academy for the Mounties in all of Canada. For tours, you can hop aboard their electric “people mover” and enjoy a ‘behind the gates’ driving tour of the Training Academy. Driving tours are scheduled daily from April to October and are included in your admission price to the Heritage Centre. Stops include the RCMP Chapel, dormitories, classroom buildings, Drill Hall, armoury, firearms building, driving track, Officer’s Mess, ‘Depot’ Cemetery, and the riding stables.
If you time your visit right, you can also enjoy the famous sunset ceremony as well.
RCMP Sunset-Retreat Ceremony
Located right next to the RCMP Heritage Centre is the RCMP training academy where all RCMP officers in the country are trained. Tours can be taken throughout the year but the Sunset-Retreat Ceremony is a special Canadian signature event that happens on select days during the summer. It lasts approximately 45 minutes and includes military music, the lowering of the Canadian flag, the March Past, and a troop drill display performed by cadets dressed in the famous scarlet tunic.
Royal Saskatchewan Museum
If you’re interested in learning about Saskatchewan’s natural history and indigenous cultures, past and present, you should visit the Royal Saskatchewan Museum. We loved the Life Sciences Gallery, where we learned so much about the flora and fauna in the province, but we especially loved the First Nations Gallery, which included so many beautiful artifacts from the local indigenous groups. The museum is actually pay-by-donation and is home to a life-size cast of the world’s largest T. rex – Scotty!
The museum is also a world-class research institution in paleontology, sustainability, Indigenous studies and biology. Its collections are part of Saskatchewan’s heritage and help scientists from all over the globe study our natural world.
Completed in 1912, the Saskatchewan Legislative Building is a grand beaux-arts building designed to reflect the architecture of the English Renaissance and Louis XVI of France. While visiting Regina’s Wascana Centre, you’ll see this beautiful building and the garden in front. We recommend taking the time to stop in and view the building’s beautiful Grand Staircase, Rotunda and Legislative Assembly Chamber. Daily tours are offered in English and French. The Building and its grounds were designated a National Historic Site of Canada in 2005.
Watch a RoughRider CFL Football Game
If you like Canadian Football (similar to American Football), then you don’t want to miss a Saskatchewan Roughriders home game. Saskatchewan is known for being home to the most passionate fans in the league and we agree! It’s fun, energetic, and a thrill to be among the 30,000+ fans, especially on a nice summer night. So, grab some green, black, and white face paint, a cold beer, and cheer on the Saskatchewan Roughriders at Mosaic Stadium.
Saskatchewan Science Centre
If you’re travelling with kids, you might want to stop at the Saskatchewan Science Centre, which is also conveniently located in Wascana Centre. They offer ever-changing interactive exhibits, daily programming, stage shows and much more. The Kramer IMAX Theatre is the province’s only large-format 3D theatre, so if you’re looking to catch a flick, this is the place. It features science, travel and nature-oriented documentary films on its giant screen.
Experience Government House, the former Lieutenant Governor’s residence, restored to its Victorian splendour of 1891. Located in Regina, this National Historic Property provides tours, engaging programs, enriching exhibits and 8.5 acres of vibrant Edwardian Gardens. Tours are available daily throughout the summer at 10 a. m. and 2 p.m.
Explore Grasslands National Park
Despite its relatively small size, Grasslands National Park has become one of our favourite national parks in all of Canada. From its dark skies to its rare wildlife and unique hiking opportunities, we look forward to visiting each and every year. Grasslands National Park is a truly accessible “off-the-beaten-path” slice of extraordinary nature. It’s so unique compared to other parks in Canada and is home to some of Canada’s rarest wildlife. If you want to really experience natural grasslands, badlands, and prairies, this is an incredible place to explore. Plus, there are tons of hikes, scenic drives, and camping options, which include spending a night in a tipi or in a comfortable oTENTik. Grasslands National Park is also one of the darkest Dark Sky Preserves in Canada, making it an incredible place to see stars, planets, and the Milky Way.
This national park is home to both the West Block and the East Block, both highly worth visiting. The East Block is even more off-the-beaten-path and reminded us of a mini Grand Canyon, home to dazzling badlands. Here you might catch a glimpse of a short-horned lizard or even spot dinosaur bones exposes in the eroding layers of Earth. The West Block is home to the stunning Frenchman River Valley and rolling prairie landscapes. It’s the perfect place to spot some bison or the cute and comical Black-tailed Prairie dogs.
Big Muddy Outlaw Cave Tours
If you’re looking for some good old wild-west history, not to mention incredible landscapes, you’ll want to spend a half-day exploring the Big Muddy Valley and the Outlaw Cave Tours. Once the stomping grounds of Sitting Bull, Sam Kelly and the North West Mounted Police, these rolling hills are dotted with dramatic cliffs, canyons and ravines. Tours depart from the Coronach Tourist Information Centre and take in stunning Castle Butte, Outlaw Trail and caves. You’ll even witness indigenous sacred sites that include Canada’s only known buffalo effigy, tipi rings and ceremonial circle. In addition, you’ll find the popular Big Beaver General Store, Nature Centre and Paisley Brook School House. We took this tour back in 2019 and it was truly awesome. We highly recommend it.
For those making the drive between Saskatoon and Regina, you might want to stop at Manitou Beach to witness and experience Canada’s version of the Dead Sea. Located in central Saskatchewan, the Resort Village of Manitou Beach is home to Little Manitou Lake, best known for its healing mineral waters and buoyant salinity, giving you a similar floating experience as you would find in the Dead Sea.
Whether you come for a quick dip, to spend the night and take in a show at the Jubilee Drive-In, or marvel at one of the spectacular sunsets (or potentially even the northern lights), this place is well worth the visit.
Visit the Tunnels of Moose Jaw
For those travelling the Trans-Canada Highway, don’t miss the chance to explore the tunnels of Moose Jaw for a unique take on Canadian history. There are two popular tours here. “Passage to Fortune” is a 50-minute journey of the early Chinese immigration to Canada and their triumph over adversity. “The Chicago Connection” is a 50-minute tour of the prohibition era focusing on the connection between Al Capone, Chicago and Moose Jaw. This is an interactive tour where actors bring history to life.
See the Murals of Moose Jaw
Another thing not to miss in Moose Jaw is the beautiful murals. In fact, Moose Jaw is the mural capital of North America featuring 46 giant outdoor murals. This classic collection of murals painted on the exterior walls of downtown buildings depicts the challenge and excitement of the city’s early years. One of these murals was created in 2016 when Moose Jaw participated in the Canada 150 Mosaic National Mural project. They created a new large mural with painted tiles that depicts The Canadian Forces Snowbirds and is located on the Moose Jaw Visitor Centre at 450 Diefenbaker Dr.
Get a Photo with Mac The moose
Still in Moose Jaw? Don’t miss the famous Mac the Moose roadside attraction. Standing 32 feet (9.8 m) tall, it’s the largest moose on Earth. He was built in 1984 to attract tourists and functions the same today. In fact, Mac the Moose is now internationally famous. He was bested for the title of largest moose statue in the world by a new statue in Norway not long ago but quickly regained the distinction with the installation of new antlers in 2019. Don’t mess with our moose!
The giant moose, which is made out of a steel frame with metal mesh and four coats of cement, was created by Saskatoon artist Don Foulds. He was moved in 2004 from his original location to the visitor centre on Thatcher Drive, just off the Trans-Canada Highway.
Climb the Great Sand Hills
The Great Sandhills of southwestern Saskatchewan are home to a unique 1,900 sq. km area of active desert-like sand dunes. Native grasses and small clumps of trees such as aspen, willow and sagebrush grow amongst the dune formations while mule deer and antelope frequent the area. For an overview of the region’s natural and human history and to obtain a directional map to the dunes, visit the Great Sandhills Museum in Sceptre (open mid-May to Labour Day weekend) prior to travelling to the dunes. We visited during our 150-day road trip across Canada and were often unsure if we were heading in the right direction. But eventually, there we were, running down sand dunes as if we were in the deserts of Peru.
Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park
The first interprovincial park in Canada, the Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park offers something for every visitor. Through towering hills, lush forest and fescue prairie, you’ll find an array of breathtaking views. The park offers several campgrounds, including an equestrian campground in the rustic West Block wilderness area. For those looking for modern amenities, the Centre Block of the park features a resort, swimming pool, hiking trails, ziplining and one of the largest Dark Sky Preserves in the world. Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park is the perfect year-round destination that the whole family can enjoy and is also home to the Fort Walsh National Historic Site mentioned below.
Fort Walsh National Historic Site
Step back in time to the 1870s and discover life at a working fort in the spectacular Cypress Hills during the lawless time of rotgut whiskey runners. Hear Metis legends handed down through generations, learn traditional crafts and skills, and uncover the history of Canada’s part in the aftermath of the Cypress Hills Massacre. Test your bartering skills at the new trading post and Metis cabins, walk the new interpretive walking trail or hike the new backcountry route.
Grab a Coffee at the Paperclip Cottage Cafe
It might seem strange to recommend a cafe as a “top thing to do”, but it’s the story behind it that’s so incredible. Located in Kipling, Saskatchewan, just east of Regina, the Paperclip Cottage Cafe is home to the world-famous One Red Paperclip story. Back in 2005, Kyle Macdonald started an idea that would eventually lead him to trade one single red paperclip for a house in Kipling. The idea reminded him of a game he played as a child called “bigger and better,” where each player starts with a small object and tries to trade it up for something bigger and better, without spending any money. Whoever has the most valuable object at the end wins.
Kyle took this idea and expanded it in a big way. From a paperclip, he traded it for a pen. Then he took the pen and traded it for a doorknob. From there, he traded up to a camping stove, an electric generator, a neon sign, a keg of beer, a used snowmobile, a box truck, a recording contract, a year’s rent in Phoenix, an afternoon with Alice Cooper, a KISS snow globe, a speaking role in a Hollywood production, and lastly, his very own house in Kipling, Saskatchewan.
That house is now the Paperclip Cottage Cafe where you can enjoy homemade meals and baked goods as well as the works of local artisans and has souvenirs for sale.
Athabasca Sand Dunes Provincial Park
Stretching approximately 100 kilometres along the south shore of Lake Athabasca, the Athabasca Sand Dunes is the largest active sand surface in Canada. With outstanding scenery, dunes as high as 30 meters and a unique ecosystem that’s rich in rare and endemic plants, scientists consider the dunes an evolutionary puzzle.
This park is not easy to reach either. This park is accessible by floatplane only and is only recommended for experienced wilderness users. As there are no onsite services located within the park, visitors must check with a conservation officer prior to visiting the area. Guided tours by licensed outfitters are available and are recommended.
Getting to Saskatchewan
If you’re a visitor looking for different ways of getting to Saskatchewan, here’s some practical advice on how to get here.
Getting to Saskatchewan by Car
If you’re planning to drive to Saskatchewan, it’s located to the east of Alberta and to the west of Manitoba. It’s located north of both Montana and North Dakota and south of the Northwest Territories, although you wouldn’t become from NWT unless you’re in a bush plane. It’s one of only two landlocked provinces in Canada and makes for an excellent road trip in the spring, summer, or fall. However, Saskatchewan does have lots of winter activities as well for those willing to brave the cold.
Getting to Saskatchewan by Plane
Despite having no massive metropolitan centres, Saskatchewan is home to two international airports, which can be found in Saskatoon and Regina. These are small airports and are served by select destinations, but are also easily accessed from other airports in Canada. The distance between Saskatoon and Regina is just over 250 kilometres, which takes around 2.5 hours by car.
Both airports offer rental cars, making it easy to grab your own transportation and hit the open road.
Best Time to Visit Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan is home to some pretty extreme weather. We’ve heard that the highest recorded temperature in Canada was recorded in Midale at 45°C (113°F), whereas the coldest temperature recorded in Saskatchewan sits around −56.7 °C (−70.1 °F). Either way, you can see how extreme the weather is. From winter Chinooks to autumn Indian summers and intense thunderstorms, the climate varies season to season and month to month.
Saskatchewan has relatively warm and dry summers. High temperatures range from 15 C (60 F) in May to the mid-30s C (90-95 F) in July and August. They tend to get more sunshine than any other province in Canada, although some say Alberta holds this title. The evenings are generally cool, even if the days are hot. Spring tends to start around late April, whereas the cold winter months start around November.
While the summer months do bring rain, they remain the most popular time to visit this prairie province. This is when the greatest number of attractions remain open and the weather is at its warmest and most predictable, even though Saskatchewan does get frequent thunderstorms.
Another good time to come is during the shoulder seasons from April to May or September through November. We visited Grasslands National Park in the fall and seeing the fall foliage (though much less than out east) was beautiful. The weather won’t be as hot but is still generally warm and comfortable.
Then, those wanting to experience an extreme winter, and perhaps go dog-sledding, cross-country skiing, or ice fishing, can come during the winter months, which last from November to March.
Getting Around Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan is a big province. However, many of its popular attractions are in the lower half of the province, which makes it relatively easy to drive. It’s not a very populated province and getting around without your own vehicle can be tricky, especially if you’re looking to explore many different areas. For this reason, we recommend renting a vehicle. However, in cities like Regina and Saskatoon, you’ll find public buses and taxis that can take you to where you want to go. On nice sunny days, both cities are quite easy to explore by bicycle as well.
Fun Facts about Saskatchewan
- If you like Mustard, you can probably thank Saskatchewan. Since the 1950s, Sask has been responsible for up to 75 percent of all mustard grown in Canada, producing over 150,000 tons in 2010.
- The indigenous language of Cree is the second most commonly spoken language in Saskatchewan. There are over 20,000 residents who speak Cree. Cree bands are said to make up more than 50% of 74 First Nations in the Saskatchewan area.
- Despite having just over 1 million people in the province, it’s almost as big as Texas! Saskatchewan is 652,000 square kilometres while Texas is about 696,000 square kilometres.
- Here’s another fun one. Despite being widely known for being flat, Saskatchewan is actually home to the tallest mountains in-between Labrador and the Canadian Rockies. Located in Cypress Hills, these “mountains” are 1400 metres above sea level!
- Saskatchewan is home to the most northerly sand dunes in the world, which sit alongside the shore of Lake Athabasca, which also happens to be the 8th largest lake in the country. However, even if you can’t go as far north as this, you can go to the Great Sand Hills of southern Saskatchewan and find dunes as high as 25 metres.
- Regina is home to the RCMP training academy. All RCMP officers go through training in this very spot!
- Grasslands National Park is home to the rarest wildlife in Canada!
- Canada’s version of the dead sea, the salty lake of little Manitou, is located right between Saskatoon and Regina!
For more things to do in Canada, check out these articles below:
- Things to Do in Manitoba
- Things to Do in Calgary
- Things to Do in Lethbridge
- Things to Do in Winnipeg
- Things to Do in Edmonton
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