Did you know Canada is home to 46 National Parks? The nation is packed full of stunning natural beauty and the National Parks system showcases the finest elements of Canada's varied landscapes.
Riding Mountain National Park is among the best in the country. Packed with amazing things to see and do, it's a great place to reconnect with the great outdoors and escape from the pressures of daily life.
We'll take you through all the highlights of this extraordinary outdoor attraction and help you plan a trip.
Sitting atop the vast range of hills known as the Manitoba Escarpment, this beautiful national park spreads across almost 3,000 miles of unspoiled land.
Boasting forests, grasslands, rivers, and lakes, it's a microcosm of the nation of Canada. Across these varied ecosystems, visitors can enjoy an enormous range of activities, all with a photogenic background.
The park was opened in 1933 and has continued to improve year on year, offering an ever-increasing range of facilities for visitors.
As one of the most impressive natural attractions in Canada, it might be expected that the admission fee to enter the park would be excessive. In fact, visiting the park won't hit you too hard in the wallet.
Admission costs $8.50 for adults, $7.00 for seniors, and is free for those aged 17 and under. Group tickets are available too, while annual passes are a good option for those planning on making multiple trips to the park during a year.
Both group tickets and annual passes offer good discounts.
The geology of the park was shaped over the course of thousands of years by sliding ice sheets, the legacy of the Pleistocene period.
Following the end of the ice age and the warming of the climate, vast forests began springing up over the land that would one day become the park. The temperate, moist climate means that the area is perfect for plants to thrive, contributing to the formation of healthy, dense forests.
Over the centuries, the land here has remained largely untouched. The mixed forests are old and venerable, playing host to all kinds of flora and fauna. There are 669 species of plants in the park and plenty of rare animals.
Getting to Riding Mountain National Park
Despite its somewhat isolated location, Riding Mountain isn't all that hard to get to.
The park has several different entrances, so plan ahead to work out which entrance is best for you.
There are easy road links, with easy access from the Trans-Canada highway. Links to nearby airports mean the park is easy to access from further afield too.
How Far Is Riding Mountain National Park from Winnipeg?
It takes just over three hours to drive from central Winnipeg to Riding Mountain.
Although it's a relatively lengthy drive, the result is worth the journey. And the views on the way are good too, with some true Manitoba beauty to be seen at the side of the main roads.
Getting Around Riding Mountain National Park
Since the park is fairly large, if you want to move around inside its boundaries, you might need to think of a mode of internal transport.
There are over 400 miles of trails winding around the park. Whether you prefer walking, cycling, or horse-riding, these paths present the perfect opportunity for visitors to travel from point to point, having fun on the way!
If you're visiting the park in the winter months, the paths are perfect for cross-country skiing or snowshoeing.
What to Do in Riding Mountain National Park
Whatever you like to do for fun, Riding Mountain can help you. There are facilities for all kinds of fun activities around the park. There's so much to do that you couldn't possibly squeeze in everything you want to do in a single visit.
Be sure to plan ahead and think carefully about what you'd most like to do while visiting the park.
Clear Lake is the biggest lake in the park and offers plenty of recreation opportunities, as well as observing some of the natural wonders of the park.
Popular activities include boating, fishing, and swimming. It's also an ideal place for bird enthusiasts, with 233 different species seen around the lake. Please be aware that the lake is a sacred site to the Anishinabe people, so enjoy the site respectfully.
The lake is notable as being fed by underground springs, rather than streams. The underground source of the water only contributes to the clean, clear water.
There are few sights more beautiful than the famous Aurora Borealis. And if you're looking to observe the Northern Lights, this park is the place for you.
With clear skies free of light pollution and a landscape free of hills, you'll enjoy the chance to see the lights for yourself. You might have seen pictures of videos before but nothing compares to seeing them in person.
Visit between January and March for best results.
Trans Canada Trail
The Trans Canada Trail runs just a few miles from the park, so it's another great outdoor attraction you can enjoy while you're in the area. Comprised of unspoiled natural spaces, the trail is a must-see for nature lovers.
Find the entrance just a few kilometres south of the visitor centre, near the town of Onanole. Take a stroll on one of the many routes provided by the trail before heading home for the night.
Keen to do a little hiking? Arrowhead Trail is perfect for hikers of all abilities, offering a relatively easy hike that showcases some of the best scenery in the park.
Go a little way along the trail and admire the scenery. You'll quickly understand why this is one of the most popular hiking routes in the entire prairie region.
Running for just over 3km, it's surrounded by verdant vegetation, and you can see hidden lakes and clearings along the way. If you're lucky, you might even spot some of the local wildlife moving close to the trail, including white-tailed deer.
Boating and Paddling
If you're visiting the park during the warmer months, you're going to want to get out on the water. There are so many different lakes in the park that you'll be spoiled for choice!
Clear Lake and Lake Audy are the best boating lakes in the park. Both are open to motorized boats and feature boat launches. If you're looking for a more peaceful experience on the water, visit Lake Catherine, Moon Lake, or Deep Lake, all of which are open to non-motorized craft only.
Please note that a permit is required for boating and paddling and watercraft are subject to inspections to ensure the protection of the park's waters.
Camping Experiences in Riding Mountain National Park
For visitors looking to extend their trip in the park over several days, what could be better than camping out? Spending time under the stars with friends or family is just so relaxing and allows you to enjoy a deeper connection with the land.
This conveniently located campground is ideal for families. Sitting just minutes away from the visitor centre, sports facilities, hiking trails, shopping, and restaurants.
Each site has a fire pit and picnic table. There are also washrooms with showers, kitchen shelters, and a dump station.
With all these convenient amenities, this is an ideal site for a young family's first campout together. Many of the other sites in the park lack shower facilities and potable water, so might not be suitable for those with additional needs.
Love spending time by the water? Moon Lake campground might be the place for you! Sitting right by the water, this pleasant campground offers 25 individual sites.
Campers here can walk to a boat launch within minutes, so it's the perfect spot for those looking to spend as much time as possible out on the water.
Lake Audy Campground
Another great lakeside spot, Lake Audy Campground is home to 19 separate sites. With easy access to nearby recreation facilities, it's one of the most convenient camping areas in the park.
Where to Stay in Riding Mountain National Park (If Camping Is Not Your Thing)
Not everyone likes camping. Some people prefer a little extra luxury on their vacations. If you're in that category, don't worry! There are plenty of non-camping accommodation options for those visiting Riding Mountain.
If you want to enjoy luxury within the boundaries of the park, look no further than Lakehouse. Guests can choose between 15 cabin-themed rooms, enjoying modern facilities and world-class service.
The staff here pride themselves on maintaining one of the best hotels in the area. They'll pull out all the stops to ensure you have a great visit.
Lakehouse is also a great place to eat, whether you're staying there or elsewhere. Their restaurant is open daily, offering dine-in or take-out options to suit your needs. Or if you're looking for something lighter, enjoy a light bite in the café.
This resort has been serving visitors to Riding Mountain for almost 60 years. Stay here and it won't be long before you see why guests come back to Mooswa Resort time after time.
Choose from a variety of rooms, including chalets, suites, and cottages. Whichever kind of room takes your fancy, you'll enjoy unparalleled luxury and easy access to everything the park has to offer.
Whatever facilities you're looking for, you'll find them here. Dive in and enjoy the extra-comfy beds, kitchen facilities, climate control systems, and pool access.
Crooked Mountain Cabins
Some visitors want to enjoy a rustic, outdoorsy experience that offers a little more luxury than camping but isn't quite as luxurious as a hotel or resort.
For the perfect balance, what could be better than a cabin? Crooked Mountain Cabins are an excellent option for visitors to the park. Each one is located right in the wilderness, with a manicured trail winding through the woods and leading right up to the door. The cabins have the aesthetic of being "crooked" woodsy lodgings. They look like a fairytale cottage!
Enjoy all the comfort of a kitchenette, well-appointed bedroom, and free WiFi. Then in the evening, sit out on the deck and listen to the soothing sounds of the forest, or take a stroll across the wildflower meadow and breathe in the sweet scents of nature.
When Is the Best Time to Go to Riding Mountain National Park?
The park is open all year-round and offers different activities and attractions whichever time of year you choose to visit. The park is busiest during the summer when visitors can make the best use of the many lakes in the park
February and March are also excellent times to visit. The weather is just beginning to warm up after the long, hard winter, and with a little luck, you'll begin to see the first tentative signs of spring's arrival across the park. It's also the ideal time to observe the majesty of the Aurora Borealis.
Pack Your Bags and Get Road Tripping Today
There's no time like the present! Riding Mountain National Park is waiting for you to visit, so book a trip today.
It's always a good idea to invest in some added insurance. It will give you peace of mind on your trip and help you out if the worst happens. Contact Insurdinary today and get a quote for all of your insurance needs.