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Prince Albert National park

Winter Activities

Family skiing on trails in Prince Albert National Park

Prince Albert National Park is open year-round and winter is an excellent time to explore the park without the crowds. Explore a million acres of snow-covered wilderness. Cruise down a cross-country ski trail, float across the snow on a pair of snowshoes, relax by the campfire with friends and family, or listen to the call of the wolves in the distance. The winter park awaits and warmly welcomes you!


Snowmobiles are not permitted in Prince Albert National Park but there are hundreds of kilometers of excellent, groomed trails outside the park. For more information, check out www.waskesiuwildernessregion.com and www.sasksnowmobiling.sk.ca.


Cross-country Skiing

Snow angel Child playing in the snow
© Parks Canada

Visitors will be able to enjoy several groomed ski trails this winter, thanks to volunteers of the Waskesiu Lake Ski Club Inc.. The remaining trails are not groomed or cleared of fallen trees and are tracked by users. You can borrow skiis, snowshoes and childrens chariots with cross country ski kits from the Hawood Inn in Waskesiu.

The Red Deer and Fisher are popular trails which start in Waskesiu townsite. For more adventure, try skiing to Crean Lake or leave your vehicle at one of the trailhead parking lots and tour the backcountry. Pack a lunch, remember your safety equipment and make a day of it!

Please keep dogs on a leash.

For information on safety

Stay safe and enjoy your outing!


Snowshoeing

Enjoy one of the oldest forms of winter transportation. Grab your snowshoes and blaze a trail through the forest. Snowshoe games like Disc Golf are a fun way to spend some time outdoors before heading inside the warming shelter in Waskesiu to make hot chocolate over a wood fire. The beach area in Waskesiu is a great place to take in the stunning lake view. Kinowa, Kingsmere River and Elk trails are also interesting routes. You can borrow skiis and snowshoes from the Hawood Inn in Waskesiu.
Please respect skiers and by not snowshoeing on designated ski trails. Visitors are welcome to use snowshoe trails for walking and back-country skiing. Snowshoe trails are not groomed or cleared of fallen trees.


Wildlife Viewing and Photography

Winter is a great time of year to view wildlife. For your own safety, please keep your distance and do not feed any wild animals, large or small. Elk, white-tailed deer and red fox are some of the large mammals you may see. Watch for otter, snowshoe hare or weasel. You may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of a wolf.

Being a nature detective and following wildlife tracks in the snow can be just as exciting as seeing the animals themselves. The winter snow records the comings and goings of animals. Follow the tracks and snow holes of a vole. See if you can find the place it popped out of the snow and ran across the surface again.

Over 20 species of birds make Prince Albert National Park their winter home. It's easier to identify birds in winter when there are no leaves on the trees. Watch for Black-capped Chickadees and woodpeckers looking for a meal under tree bark. On the other hand, Gray Jays are usually watching you, especially if you have food.

Wildlife watching opportunities:

Check the roadsides for elk, deer, wolf and fox tracks.

Scan the frozen lakes for wolves.

Drive to the Narrows of Waskesiu Lake where otters often play in the open waters. If you're lucky, you may hear them under the marina's boat docks.

Squirrels scamper up and down tree trunks during warm afternoons in late winter and snack on their winter caches of seeds.


Winter camping at night in Prince Albert National Park
© Parks Canada

Scenic Driving

Winter is a great time for sightseeing! Pick up a Heritage Driving Tour brochure at the Visitor Centre and spend a few hours enjoying the scenery and wildlife on Highway 264, Highway 263, the Narrows road or the Kingsmere road. This is a great way to view and photograph wildlife which is often easy to spot after the trees have lost their leaves. If you don't see any wildlife, you're still likely to see the tracks they have left in the snow.


Picnicking

Why does food seem to taste better after spending some time outside? Pack a picnic and blankets then find your favourite spot in the park to sip tea from your thermos. Keep your camera handy! While you munch on a sandwich, Gray Jays, foxes and deer might wander by for a closer look. Help ensure animals stay wild. Take a photo for a memory and take all of your leftover food home again. Animals need to eat a natural diet and rely on their hunting and foraging skills long after you've gone home.

Need somewhere to warm up? Light a fire and make a bite to eat at the warming shelter in Waskesiu, across the street from the Visitor Centre. Wood is supplied. Heated washrooms with running water are available in the Visitor Centre 24 hours a day, year-round.

Why not get out of town and enjoy the quiet and solitude of the backcountry? Take your lunch to Kingsmere. The parking lot is ploughed and outdoor pit privies are maintained.


Skating

Take advantage of Waskesiu's indoor skating rink! Located at the east end of Montreal Drive, the Paul G. Horne Memorial Arena is open around the clock, seven days a week for public use. It's open between mid-December and mid-March. A warm up area and washroom are available. Please leave a donation of $5 per person or $10 per family in the honor box. Donations are used to maintain the arena.


Geocaching

This is a self-guided technology-led game of treasure hunt that takes you to geocaches hidden in Prince Albert National Park. There are several traditional geocaches and one fascinating Earthcache. Go to www.geocaching.com to find the coordinates for the caches in the Park. Don't have a GPS unit? You can borrow one during Visitor Center hours.


Winter Camping

Why not spend the night? The northern sky and solitude make winter camping unforgettable. Although the park campgrounds are closed in winter, you may camp anywhere in the park that is more than 2 km from public roads and campgrounds.

  • You must register and complete a park use permit before camping in the backcountry overnight. Either:
  • Stop by the Visitor Centre during office hours.
  • Phone the Visitor Centre: (306) 663-4522.
  • Stop by the South Gate or the Visitor Centre entrance after office hours to self register and obtain a Park Use Permit before your departure.

De-registration upon return is voluntary. If you choose to de-register, contact us in person at the Visitor Centre, or by phone during office hours.

Park use fees apply, however, there is no charge for winter camping.

Heated washrooms with running water are available in the Visitor Centre 24 hours a day, in Waskesiu town site.

Stay safe and enjoy your outing!


Ice Fishing

If you need to scratch that fishing itch, ice fishing season on Waskesiu Lake is open until March 31. Ice shacks are permitted and must be removed each night. You can walk on the lake with your equipment, as vehicles are not allowed on the ice.

You are responsible for your own safety, so use caution and common sense, and have a safe and enjoyable outing.

  • Always tell someone where you will be fishing and when you plan to return.
  • Wear appropriate winter clothes in layers to stay warm.
  • Take safety equipment such as flares, throw rope, ice picks, life jackets and cell phone.
  • Be extra careful in checking the ice depth during late winter and early spring, when it starts to become thinner. Ice is also thinner in areas where there is a current.
  • You must have a valid Prince Albert National Park fishing permit. You can buy one at :
  • Park Visitor Centre - 306-663-4522. Hours of operation
  • The Hawood Inn – Waskesiu / 306-663-5911
  • CL Gas - Christopher Lake / 306-982-4494
  • Prince Albert Tourism Office - Prince Albert / 1-877-868-7470

Kite Skiing/Boarding

Kiteskiers and kiteboarders have discovered the park in recent years. Waskesiu Lake is wide open and often gets a fierce west wind. Bring your gear and head out for an exhilarating day!


Weather and Road Conditions

It's even more important to be aware of the weather forecast in winter, as temperatures can be extremely cold. Check weather conditions.
Before you drive to the park, check the highway conditions at 1-888-335-7623 or http://roadinfo.telenium.ca/. All major roads in the park are plowed.


Winter Safety

You are responsible for your own safety, so use caution and enjoy your outing.

  • Water currents can cause thin ice at creek and river crossings. Ice thickness can vary on
    the lakes.
  • Watch for deadfall. Use caution on boardwalks and stairs.
  • Trails are not patrolled. Please ensure you are self-reliant.
  • Do not rely on your cell/satellite phone to get you out of trouble. Reception outside Waskesiu townsite is not reliable. Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return.

Safety and Wildlife

Please do not feed, disturb or otherwise harass wildlife, big or small. Wildlife have a greater chance of survival and are healthier when they feed on natural food. Pack out all food scraps from your backcountry lunch.
Keep your distance from wildlife. Stay at least three bus lengths (30 meters/100 ft) away from deer, elk, moose and bison for your safety and theirs.
If you are planning to take your dog out on the trail, you must keep it on a leash at all times.


Safety and Trip Preparation

  1. Obtain trail brochures and maps on-line or at the Visitor Centre, and ask Parks Canada staff for advice.
  2. Check the weather and road conditions.
  3. Tell someone where you plan to travel and when you expect to return.
  4. Always plan for the unexpected by taking a first aid kit, extra warm clothing, and enough food and water to spend 48 hours in the wilderness.
  5. Take a map and a compass and know how to use them. A GPS is a great tool but can be unreliable in thick forest and during poor weather.
  6. Make sure your vehicle has enough gas as there are no gas stations in the park in winter. Always pack emergency equipment in your vehicle including a flashlight, extra blankets, gas-line anti-freeze and jumper cables.
  7. Travel with others when possible.

Winter Services


Accommodations and Dining

Accommodations ranging from hotel lodging to rental cabins and suites, and dining are available in Waskesiu townsite and Elk Ridge Resort.


Gas Station

During the winter months, the nearest gas station is LT's Food & Fuel, located at the junction of highways 2 and 264.

For more information about commercial services: www.waskesiuwildernessregion.com and www.waskesiulake.ca.