Northern Manitoba is a vast area that is mostly still wild, which is what makes this trip so interesting.
This summer, we're featuring an amazing collection of road trips that will help you explore every corner of Manitoba. Discover Northern Manitoba's true natural beauty along with its true hospitality in the places you visit along the way as you listen to the call of the North. Northern Manitoba is located on Treaty 5 territory.
Discover the Northern Jewel
Make your way north on Hwy 10 to The Pas and Opaskwayak Cree Nation, its neighbour across the Saskatchewan River. Start your exploration in the heart of the town – the former courthouse and current Sam Waller Museum. The oldest brick building in Manitoba now houses an amazingly eclectic collection of artifacts and exhibits. See the dressed fleas, the Cree syllabic typewriter and the two-headed calf – part of Sam Waller’s collection, as well as artifacts detailing the Indigenous history of the area. Christ Church, The Pas’s second oldest building proudly displays the 10 Commandments in Cree. The church’s pews were hand-hewn and carved by a group of rescuers who spent the winter in The Pas in 1847 during their search for Sir John Franklin. Check out the Aseneskak Casino, known as the “best little casino in Canada”.
Clearwater Lake Provincial Park
The jewel of the North is Clearwater Lake, the dazzling focal point of Clearwater Lake Provincial Park, less than 30 minutes from The Pas. The spring-fed Clearwater Lake is crystal clear – just like its name implies – and its beautiful turquoise colour is beyond impressive. The giant lake takes up almost half of the park with access from sandy beaches as well as public boat launches. Fishing excursions – either on your own or guided with an operator – will likely see you set up near an underwater shelf where large lake trout like to gather. Clearwater Lake is a top choice for fishing year-round, with late fall fishing and ice fishing in the winter becoming more popular.
Another of the park’s unique features are a collection of deep crevices, where rocks split from the cliffs along the shoreline, known as the “caves”. Follow a short self-guided hiking trail on the lake’s south shore and explore the caves from the trail, viewing platform and stairways.
There are hotels in The Pas as well as the Kikiwak Inn in OCN. Rent accommodations at one of lodges in Clearwater Lake Provincial Park, stay in one of the park’s campgrounds or opt for one of the yurts (wheelchair accessible options are available). Thirty minutes north from The Pas on Highway 10 is Rocky Lake, another favourite for water recreation with two resorts offering a range of accommodation options, from cabins to seasonal and transient campsites.
Fall for Wekusko Falls
About two hours northeast of The Pas is the town of Snow Lake, located on the shores of its namesake, which makes for a lovely setting. The town is surrounded by many more beautiful lakes, like Herb, Kormans, Tramping and Osborn Lakes.
Learn about the history of this mining town at the Snow Lake Mining Museum. See exhibits of authentic mining equipment, including mock-ups of mining drifts and a mine rescue centre. Relax in the cutest community space, the Ladybug Garden before checking out the Sweet Nothings, where exhibits and creations from local artists are on display.
Snow Lake is also just 15 minutes away from a massive body of water at Wekusko Falls Provincial Park. The park has camping, beaches, hiking, fishing and scenic views from the suspension bridges of the Grass River as it tumbles down 12 metres – the impressive Wekusko Falls. There are even walk-in campsites with incredible views of the falls. Across the highway is a full service lodge, a perfect spot for a fishing trip to catch monster northern pike, walleye and lake trout – in both summer and winter.
A boat or canoe ride on Tramping Lake just upstream from Wekusko Falls also becomes a visit to an ancient outdoor art gallery. On the rock face above the water line are images of people, animals and traditional objects painted in red ochre. While there is some debate over how old these images are, seeing them up close conjures clear visions of the artists seated in canoes.
Snow Lake offers hotels, two bed and breakfasts and there are several lodges in the area in addition to camping at Wekusko Falls Provincial Park.
Follow the Grass River
Head back east along highway 39, this time stopping at Grass River Provincial Park. A top paddling destination, the river also connects First, Second and Third Cranberry Lakes with the park’s large Reed Lake. There are designated backcountry campsites along the routes, but the park also has three campgrounds and lodge options. Check out the 3.2-km Karst Spring Trail, a lovely loop that features a spring gushing from the sedimentary rock cliff.
Then continue west toward Cranberry Portage. Going back 2,000 years, this was an important portage route connecting the Grass and Saskatchewan River systems. Learn about the area’s history at the carefully restored rail station, home to the Cranberry Portage Museum. Stop by the Irvin Head Gallery showcasing Indigenous carvings and paintings by local artists.
In addition to the campgrounds at Grass River Provincial Park, there are a handful of fishing lodges in the area or you can continue on to Bakers Narrow Provincial Park or to a hotel in Flin Flon.
The water and the wild
Bakers Narrows Provincial Park is centred around Lake Athapapuskow,. Cree for “rocks all around”, this clear blue lake is known for giant lake trout and walleye all year-round, with growing demand for fall and winter fishing experiences. A boat launch in the park provides easy access to the lake, or you can rent a canoe or kayak from Bakers Narrows Lodge. While in the park, keep an eye out for wildlife, like moose, beaver or great blue herons and double-breasted cormorants. Enjoy the view of the mixed forests of the Canadian Shield from the top of the scenic tower. The park offers camping, including the options to say in a waterfront yurt.
Twenty minutes northwest of Bakers Narrows Provincial Park is Flin Flon, a charming city built atop volcanic rocks on the Saskatchewan border. Begin your exploration at the statue of Flin Flon’s namesake – the fictional Flintabbatey Flonatin from the science fiction novel The Sunless City. Follow Flinty’s Boardwalk along Ross Lake, an accessible 2.2 km path. Flinty's Trail begins where the boardwalk ends – adding another two kilometres along with some amazing views of Flin Flon Be sure to take the Hundred Stairs – a shortcut to reach downtown from Third Avenue. The stairs are constructed on a cliff formed by ancient volcanic activity.
Stop into the Flin Flon Station Museum, a former CN Rail station that features artifacts from the city’s mining and pioneering history. Flin Flon is known for its active arts community. Visit the NorVA Centre – an artist-run studio and gallery cooperative. See local and travelling exhibits and purchase some original art. Check out what’s playing at the Big Island Drive In for a retro night under the stars.
In addition to accommodation options at Bakers Narrows Provincial Park and lodges nearby, there is a campground just off highway 10 as you enter town. Flin Flon also has a number of hotel and motel options.