Manitoba road trips: Riding High

Posted April 30, 2021

Travel from Canada’s National Ukrainian Capital to Manitoba’s only accessible national park for wildlife, camping and delicious dining. Located within Treaty 2 territory.

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 takes place on Treaty 2 territory, starting 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.

Fort Dauphin Museum

Surrounded by a wooden palisade, this quaint rural museum is suggestive of an 18th century fur trade post and features archaeological, fur trade and pioneer artifacts. A trapper's cabin, a trading post, a blacksmith's shop, a pioneer log house, a schoolhouse, a church, and the main log building are located inside palisade walls and the museum houses over 80,000 artifacts.

Old log cabin at Fort Dauphin Museum.

Dauphin Lake

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.

Amisk the Beaver

Nothing says Canadiana quite like a 16-foot-tall beaver. Located on the Main Street of Dauphin, the statue is a throwback to Canada's centennial and celebrates the beaver in the region and in the town's crest. The beaver's name, Amisk, is the Cree word for beaver.

Roadside attraction, Amisk the Beaver, in Dauphin.

Part two

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.

Wasagaming

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 the brand new Wok in the Park for something on the run, 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.

PART 3

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.)

The Ominnik Marsh

Take a walk along the paths that make up the marsh, located right outside the large parking lot in Wasagaming. A variety of fish, birds, floating island, cattails and other wildlife call this peaceful spot home. The marsh makes for a wonderful place to go for an evening stroll, especially while the sun sets. And we have it on good authority that you might even spot a moose while meandering along the floating boardwalk.


Sunset on the boardwalk at Ominik Marsh Trail
Sunset off the end of a dock at Deep Bay in Riding Mountain National Park.

Deep Bay

Deep Bay is just a short distance from downtown Wasagaming. In the height of summer, locals swarm to this hot spot on Clear Lake. As the name suggests, the water goes from a depth of 2 feet to 20 feet deep in just a few steps.

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.

Lake Audy Bison Enclosure

Did you know that the early morning or the hour before sunset is the best time to drive to the Lake Audy Bison Enclosure in Riding Mountain National Park? Make your way slowly through the enclosure as you might come up on an unusual roadblock: a herd of bison. The herd (which now numbers to approx. 40 bison) was reintroduced to the area as part of a conservation project. Watching bison roam peacefully across the plains against the backdrop of the setting sun is a quintessential Manitoban scene. Remember to always stay in your car and of course take plenty of photos!

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.

Elkhorn Resort

Four Seasons Of Outdoor Adventure

Elkhorn Resort is the perfect destination for families with its water slides, hot tub, separate chalets, riding stables, onsite dining and the Solstice Spa. Just five minutes from Wasagaming, it’s the ideal base for your Riding Mountain adventure.

oTENTik

Campers beware: once you try an oTENTik, you may never want to return to your old fashioned ways. This cozy structure requires no assembly and can sleep up to 6 with two large queens and a double on the upper bunk. The oTENTik comes complete with a space heater and a stove, along with conventional and USB plugs, which means if you like to take photos throughout the day, there's no need to bring an external phone battery pack on your weekend glamping getaway.

Wasagaming Camping