Seeking the Beauty of Fall? Spend the Weekend in Riding Mountain National Park
September 12, 2023
| Author Breanne Sewards
Fall comes but once a year, and one of the best places to experience it is in Riding Mountain National Park.
For a time when much of nature is slowing down and getting ready for the long winter ahead, fall can sure feel busy. Luckily, there's a place right here in Manitoba where you can truly take the time to savour all of autumn's beauty.
Spending a weekend in Riding Mountain National Park has become an annual tradition for my family, and maybe it should be for yours, too.
Start with a cozy stay
This year's adventure had us stationed at Elkhorn Resort Spa & Conference Centre. The resort is located right on the edge of Riding Mountain National Park but still within walking distance to the park's quaint townsite, Wasagaming.
The hotel rooms are clean, comfortable and cozy -- with many featuring fireplaces that will keep you warm through the chilly fall evenings. From our room's patio balcony, we discovered the perfect way to start a fall day is with a coffee in hand, watching the orange and yellow leaves falling gently off the trees. But aside from enjoying the autumnal views, there's plenty to do at the resort that could easily fill a weekend.
On the grounds, visit horses at the next door stable, or rent a designated fire pit for nighttime storytelling and s'mores roasting under the stars.
The gorgeous indoor waterpark area boasts a pool, waterslide and an indoor and outdoor hot tub; with adults-only swim from 10:30 p.m. to midnight. For even more rest and relaxation, book a massage treatment at the Solstice Spa (treat yourself).
The hotel is also home to an on-site restaurant, The Buffalo Bar, which on top of being downright convenient, features a ton of great dishes and cocktails. With plenty to do, we found the breakfast and lunch buffet to be a great option to quickly refuel before heading out for more adventures. In the evening, the restaurant opens for dinner service with an excellent menu featuring a number of unique appetizer and main dishes.
During our stay, we tried the wonton nachos (you won't have something like this anywhere else), the sommelier salad (sweet and light) and the original burger (made with a hand-formed patty). On our second night, we treated ourselves to some take-out veggie pizza, which was enjoyed against the view of the fireplace during a cozy night in.
Go hiking and biking
If there's anything that will draw you out into the park, it's the many hiking and biking options on offer. Luckily, Elkhorn Resort can help facilitate that too! New on-site is Rizing Mountain Adventures, which rents out e-bikes by the hour; allowing you to zip around the park and townsite with ease. All bikes come equipped with locks, so don't be afraid to park and explore the sites and shops.
There are countless hikes to choose from, but this time around the Brûlé Trail was calling our name, ticking the right boxes for preferred length (4.2 km loop) and difficulty level (medium). The hike was pleasant and easy -- getting its medium rating from the few spots of inclines and root growth along the trail.
The trail also crosses over a photogenic boardwalk, which leads to the dock at the shimmering Kinosao Lake. Plan to stay awhile as there's a canoe, paddles and life jackets at the dock which are free for anyone to take for a spin on the water.
Watch for wildlife
Fall is a great time to see wildlife in the park; with elk rutting season underway and overall increased activity due to cooler temperatures. Opt for an early morning drive through the park for a chance to see mammals such as elk, moose and deer; or head to the Lake Audy Bison Enclosure to visit the captive herd of bison which are most active at dusk and dawn.
*Note please use the Eastern portion of Lake Audy Road off Highway 10 (within the park) for access to the Bison Enclosure.
While previous year's visits have always called for a trip to Lake Audy, this year we wanted to watch the sunset at a different spot -- Ominik Marsh. Luckily, we didn't have to give up a wildlife experience, either!
As we approached the trail, we heard some movement from the bushes and watched as a busy beaver dragged a bundle of sticks across the walking path. We followed quietly as the beaver swam through the marsh - twigs still in tow - towards its dam at the entrance of the boardwalk. We watched as a family of beavers (and baby beavers - also known as kits) prepared the dam, swam through the marsh and chewed on a variety of leaves and sticks. Such a great way to end the day!
The best thing about a trip to Riding Mountain National Park in the fall is also the simplest -- the crisp air, the big blue skies and the brilliant hues of fall foliage. In autumn, the sunsets seem more vivid, the stars brighter and a simple stroll is a more than worthy way to spend the afternoon.
See the beauty of fall from the lakeside trails in town and admire all the cute cottages along the way. There's always a bench to rest on, or a quiet spot to sit and contemplate as the season comes to an end.
Travel Manitoba staff was hosted by Elkhorn Resort, who did not review nor approve this story.
About The Author
Hey! I'm Breanne, Editorial Content Specialist for Travel Manitoba. First to jump in the lake and last to make it down the River Trail. Lover of croissants, cats, and croissant-shaped cats. Got a story idea? Email me at email@example.com.