Manitoba road trips: Riding High
March 07, 2023
Travel from Canada’s National Ukrainian Capital to Manitoba’s only accessible national park for wildlife, camping and delicious dining.
This summer, we're featuring an amazing collection of road trips that will help you explore every corner of Manitoba. The Riding High road trip starts with exploring the history of Dauphin, continuing south through the wilderness of Riding Mountain National Park.
Part one - Dauphin
Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Resurrection
The Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Resurrection in Dauphin is an incredible and awe-inspiring example of cathedral-style churches popped up across the prairies during the Depression. While the church was designed by one of the most legendary church builders of Canada, Father Philip Ruh, the stunning interior was painted by Canadian iconographer Theodore Baran. You can dig further into the symbolism of the paintings on a tour, available upon request.
To experience more Ukrainian culture in Dauphin, plan your visit around Canada's National Ukrainian Festival.
Head to the western shore of Dauphin Lake and uncover a fine selection of sandy beaches. Take your pick from Rainbow Beach Provincial Park, Sifton Beach, Stony Point Beach and Ochre Beach and enjoy a day with your toes in the sand!
Vermillion Park Campground
Located in Dauphin, the hub of the Parkland region, this campground offers a great option for visitors looking to explore the nearby Riding Mountain National Park. The upgraded facilities include new showers and a covered picnic area, plus it offers easy access to explore Dauphin’s attractions, shopping and restaurants.
Riding Mountain National Park
Your journey along Highway 10 will take you across stunning prairie landscapes of vibrant yellow fields and endless blue skies. Stop in Riding Mountain National Park for an endless array of activities from hiking, camping, dining and outdoor adventure. Spend the night, or several of them, exploring everything Manitoba’s only accessible national park has to offer.
The town of Wasagaming has places from retro to woodsy to modern. Pick from luxury cabins, heritage cabins, motels, hotels, lodges, chalets or campsites. And they’re all within walking distance to beautiful Clear Lake and the main beach. There’s definitely a place to stay and eat that will float your boat.
Whether you’re on the go, settling in with your family, or looking for the ambiance of a nice sit-down restaurant, you’ll find what you’re looking for in Wasagaming.
Families love TR McKoys. If you’re not ordering their legendary pizza, try out their penne pasta with sausage and chicken, which boasts a curried sweet chili cream sauce that might spark a tradition. TR McKoys is a great pick for a full wine/cocktail/appetizer/main course combo, and it's quiet, dimly lit vibe makes it easy to forget that you’re actually in cabin country. While the list of restaurants goes on and on, a couple quick-hits include Canoe Taphouse for wood-fired pizza and tons of appetizers, a patio session with fantastic food and drinks at Lakehouse, and one of the best burgers you can find at the newly renovated Sporty’s at Sportsman’s Park. For something more casual, grab a Beach Bun at the Clear Lake Trading Post or buy some treats at Whitehouse Bakery.
Once you’ve had your fill, get some retail therapy and roam the town for gifts, goods, and Clear Lake merch, with bottles of hand sanitizer waiting for you at the entrance of the stores. If you’re looking for Clear Lake specific clothing, check out The Chocolate Fox, the Clear Lake Trading Post, and Friends of Riding Mountain National Park, who have all sorts of great gear to keep you in the Clear Lake mood all year long.
Don’t miss Poor Michael’s Emporium, which is floor to ceiling full of books, records, local art, and much more, not to mention a cafe with delicious lattes. And for something new, check out Mainly Manitoba which sells just that: Manitoba made art, treats, drinks, jewelry, and more.
An evening stroll in Clear Lake Country is only complete with ice cream. After dinner, walk through the town and grab some ice cream at The Boardwalk or Lakehouse, or gelato at The Chocolate Fox, and you’ll suddenly realize you’ve joined just about every family in the park participating in what is an essential Clear Lake tradition.
Riding Mountain National Park
With nearly 370km of hiking trails in Riding Mountain National Park, there is so much for the most adventurous version of yourself to explore. The park is a mountain biker’s paradise. If you don’t want to bring your own, there are various bike rentals available, including fat tire bikes at Friends of Riding Mountain National Park, where they’ll also provide a map with some trail recommendations.
If you want to spend the whole day hiking something long but rewarding, then look no further than Bald Hill. This 8.8 km trail is one of the most difficult to hike in the park and park staff say that many never even find it’s peak, as it is unmarked. But, here’s our insider tip on reaching this breathtaking view: as you’re hiking the trail, about 4 kms in you will see a sign pointing to Bald Hill Trail in one direction and Reeve’s Ravine in the other. Behind the sign is actually your destination, where you’ll see a visible path leading into the forest. Follow this for about 10 minutes and emerge to the glorious view. (Luckily Parks Canada also offers this handy map, to help guide your way.)
Clear Lake Golf Course
This safe ball-retrieval is another way in which Clear Lake Golf Course goes above and beyond to make for one of the best golfing experiences in Manitoba. With beautiful greens and fairways, elevation changes, challenging obstacles, and a blind 9th hole tee-shot into a valley right in front of the boat launch (the most enjoyable tee-shot in Manitoba), the Clear Lake Golf course remains a must-play for golfers of all skill levels.
And if your “skill level” is “wait...skill?” the great news is there’s three mini-golf courses in the area to help you pretend to be the golfer you never knew you were. Try out Adventure Mini Golf just next to the main boardwalk, but you could also visit the course at Sporty’s just outside of the park.
Where to Stay
The town of Wasagaming has places to stay that range from retro to woodsy to modern. Pick from luxury cabins, heritage cabins, motels, hotels, lodges, chalets or campsites. And they’re all within walking distance to beautiful Clear Lake and the main beach. In the area, including the next-door town of Onanole, you’ll find other rental options that keep you close to the action.
You can also plan to camp in Riding Mountain’s campgrounds. There are four other front country campsites in addition to the main campground at Wasagaming. You can also make a reservation for one of the park’s 19 backcountry campsites.