Robin and Arlene Karpan
September 20 , 2018
Saskatchewan is tailor-made for back-road exploring. We have more roads than any province in Canada - enough to circle the equator four times. With that much to choose from, the possibilities for nature photographers are mind-boggling, from drives to spectacular river valleys, sweeping natural grasslands, lake-studded boreal forest, wild badlands, some of Canada's largest sand dunes, and hidden-away treasures.
Great Sand Hills
To see the best that Saskatchewan has to offer, we have to take the road less travelled - secondary highways, gravel grid roads, and lonely backroads. In our new book, Saskatchewan's Best Scenic Drives, we guide you along many of the province's most awesome road trips.
Some drives we outline are alternate routes between familiar places. Instead of taking quick and easy Highway #11 between Saskatoon and Regina, a route slightly to the west takes us to sand hills, wildlife refuges, three provincial parks with beaches, fishing and hiking trails, impressive sand dunes, and southern Saskatchewan's largest lake.
East Block, Grasslands National Park
Rather than the main highway between Saskatoon and Prince Albert, take Fish Creek Road which follows the scenic South Saskatchewan River valley, past onion-domed Ukrainian country churches, Metis historic sites at Fish Creek and Batoche, and a beautiful ferry crossing at St. Laurent.
St. Laurent Ferry
Saskatchewan's deep south is especially rich in great driving routes. Chief among these is Grasslands National Park, with one of North America's largest tracts of wild prairie. More land has been added to the park in recent years, with more roads becoming accessible and better chances of finding wildlife. But it's not just the park itself. Scenic hills and coulees abound along little-travelled backroads in the adjoining Wood Mountain Uplands east of the park. Head farther east and wander through the delightful Souris River Valley, parts of which see extremely little traffic.
Canoe Jade Lake
Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park (straddling the Saskatchewan/Alberta border) has excellent driving routes that are very popular. But towards the eastern edge of the hills, near the appropriately named town of Eastend, we find a wealth of little-known routes through outstanding Cypress Hills landscape. Our favourite is the road between Eastend and Ravenscrag through the Frenchman River Valley, with its backdrop of badlands-like slopes streaked with brilliant white sandstone.
Frenchman River near Eastend
Approach to Prairie Lake Provincial Park
Other southern trips include routes circling massive Lake Diefenbaker with its 800 kilometres of shoreline, seeing Canada's most easily accessible major sand dunes in the Great Sand Hills, and travelling over a third of the way across Saskatchewan while staying entirely in the picturesque Qu'Appelle Valley.
Then there's surprising landscapes such as the Cactus and Dirt Hills. Only a short drive from Regina, these are the largest and most well-defined glaciotectonic hills in the world. Surrounded by farmland, these ice-shoved hills are a world away, chock-o-block with wildlife-rich wetlands and special features such as the Avonlea Badlands.
Hidden conglomerate cliffs
Great Sand Hills
Heading north, the landscape changes yet again, with driving routes through aspen parkland and boreal forest. Highlights include the Narrow Hills, Prince Albert National Park, and Churchill River country. Here too, we go beyond well-known parks to include off-the-beaten-track routes to places such as the brilliant white Nipekamew Sand Cliffs, the other-worldly Crooked Bush, or the picture-perfect Gem Lakes. All this and much more awaits when you take the road less travelled.
The 208-page Saskatchewan's Best Scenic Drives book features 185 colour photos, 42 colour maps, along with precise directions to several driving routes. It is available at bookstores and gift shops, and direct from Parkland Publishing.
Saskatchewan's Best Scenic Drives by Robin and Arlene Karpan
About the Authors
Robin and Arlene Karpan are writers, photographers, and book publishers based in Saskatoon. They are authors of several books (www.parklandpublishing.com), plus their writing and photography has appeared in over 100 publications around the world. They have received numerous awards for their work, including First Place for the Best Outdoor/Adventure Feature at this year's Travel Media Association of Canada Awards. Robin and Arlene's blog on travel photography www.photojourneys.ca has been named by Feedspot as among the Top 100 Travel Photography Blogs and the Top 100 Canadian Photography Blogs. Also follow their photography on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/@KarpanParkland) and Instagram (http://www.instagram.com/karpanphotojourneys).
Robin and Arlene's blog on travel photography www.photojourneys.ca has been named by Feedspot as among the Top 100 Travel Photography Blogs and the Top 100 Canadian