Canadian Geographic - - CANADA'S BEST WINTER DRIVES - —Jenn Smith-nel­son

YOU AREN’T ALONE if you think the snow-dusted hay bales found along the wide-open Saskatchewan prairie in win­ter re­sem­ble gi­ant Frosted Mini-wheats. But these break­fast-ce­real-con­fec­tion look-alikes are just part of the ap­peal of driv­ing a route that of­fers a glimpse of First Na­tions and Métis his­tory, Fran­co­phone farm­ing com­mu­ni­ties and a na­tional park, not to men­tion the ex­pe­ri­ence of see­ing the seem­ingly end­less prairi­escape meta­mor­phose into an en­tic­ing play­ground of snow-laden grass­lands, rolling aspen park­land and bo­real for­est dot­ted with frozen lakes. Start your jour­ney just out­side Saska­toon at Wanuskewin Her­itage Park, a meet­ing place for First Na­tions peo­ple for more than 6,000 years. The park’s en­rich­ing pro­gram­ming in­cludes tra­di­tional Indige­nous games, arts and crafts, ex­hi­bi­tions and tipi con­struc­tion. Con­tin­u­ing north on High­way 11, a.k.a. the Louis Riel Trail, de­tour east onto High­way 312 at Ros­th­ern and cross the Gabriel Du­mont Bridge, which spans the South Saskatchewan River, and en­ter the Ba­toche re­gion. High­way 225 will lead you north to Ba­toche Na­tional His­toric Site, where a small force un­der the com­mand of Métis lead­ers Riel and Du­mont lost the Bat­tle of Ba­toche in 1885.

When High­way 225 meets High­way 782, head east along the for­mer route, mak­ing for the Fran­co­phone farm­ing com­mu­nity of St. Isi­dore-de-belle­vue, where you can sam­ple a tra­di­tional meat pie at the TLC Cafe. From there, it’s north on High­way 2 to the city of Prince Al­bert, the gate­way to Prince Al­bert Na­tional Park. Once in­side the park, watch for wildlife (Nar­rows Road, on the west­ern side of Waske­siu Lake, is a prime spot for sight­ings) such as elk, fox and ot­ters. You might also see wildlife while snow­shoe­ing around the ham­let of Waske­siu Lake’s beach area or cross-coun­try ski­ing the groomed path­ways along Fisher Trail (loops of 7.2 and 8.4 kilo­me­tres) or Crean Lake (19 kilo­me­tres re­turn). If this all sounds a tad too placid for you, then get a ma­jor adren­a­line boost kite ski­ing or kite board­ing on Waske­siu Lake, where Saskatchewan’s no­to­ri­ously fierce winds will see you catch some se­ri­ous air. Be­fore re­turn­ing to Saska­toon, stop at the Elk Ridge Re­sort (off High­way 264 and just out­side the park’s bound­ary) for din­ner at the Fire­side Din­ing Room and Ter­race, where the elk fea­ture of the day will give you all the fuel you need for the gor­geous drive ahead.

Cross-coun­try ski­ing at Elk Ridge Re­sort out­side Prince Al­bert Na­tional Park.

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