Manitoba may have two national parks, but only one of them is accessible all year round. With the fall colours beginning to make an appearance, transforming the landscape from lush greens to golden yellows, deep reds and rich, toasty orange hues, now is as good a time as any to find yourself in Riding Mountain National Park and get lost in one of Manitoba’s natural wonders. Here are five unforgettable experiences you should make a point of having while there.
Take a hike
Seriously, take a hike! Whether you’re an experienced hiker, or a newbie trekker, Riding Mountain National Park has a trail for that. Start slow and steady on the Onanole Trail which provides a scenic route with only minimal inclines. And keep your eyes peeled for wildlife and evidence of their presence. Once you’ve mastered the Onanole Trail, put your balance to the test on the boardwalks of Ominik Marsh, where the sounds nature come alive at dusk and the critters of the marsh come out for nighttime swims. Once you’ve mastered these two tests, you’ll be as ready as you’ll ever get for the Gorge Trail Creek. With views of Manitoba’s plains, Canadian Shield and boreal forests for miles, and diverse terrains along this two-plus hour trek, you’ll have to stop a few times to catch your breath as nature’s beauty is sure to take it away.
Have an authentically oTENTik experience
Forget the roughing-it style of camping. Riding Mountain National Park has taken the Manitoban camping way of life up a few notches with its oTENTiks. This new and improved form of camping offers the best of both worlds: tent camping without having to actually tote a tent. What’s even better, you get to sleep on a real mattress inside of your tent, switch on an electric heater when the chill starts getting too close for comfort to your bones, and hit that light switch when you’re ready to settle in for a cozy read of that paperback that you brought along. For good measure, there’s also a wood-burning stove if you prefer a traditional fire. Feel free to bring the entire family or a few friends along for this adventure as there’s lots of room for everyone.
When you’re not off hiking the trails, traversing the boardwalks, or cozying up in your oTENTik, the town of Wasagaming should definitely be on your list of places to wander. With views of the lake as your backdrop, adorable little shops stocked with useful keepsakes, flowers in bloom at the the town’s central point, reminiscent of a proper English town, and friendly people making small talk as you go by, you’ll be charmed right out of your pants by Wasagaming.
Visit the historic East Gate
Built in the 1930s, Riding Mountain National Park’s East Gate is one of the park’s pride and joys. It’s the only National Park gate that still stands today and attests to the architectural prowess of yesteryear. The gate’s design is typical of that rustic Canadian style where natural local materials such as logs and stone were sourced to create this masterpiece that has stood the test of time and the elements. The view of the open road just beyond the gate gives way to feelings of carefree abandon.
Have fun and laugh till your sides hurt
You don’t go to a place like Riding Mountain and take your troubles along with you. However long you decide to sojourn in this picturesque place, park your troubles aside and soak it all in. Laugh till you cry, or at least till your sides hurt and let the wonder of it all guide you.