Provincial Parks 2020 fall tour

Echo Valley Provincial Park

The virus created quite a different year for many as well as us, possibly the first summer we have spent so much time around the cabin. After our June trip north we decided to stay put for July and August as we were not allowed into northern Manitoba, our go to place to escape the crowds during those months. I agree with the government of Manitoba to close the borders to the north during this time to limit spread. We opted to stay put as many who had nothing else to do headed to the parks to try their hand a camping.

We live at Pike Lake in our little cabin located just outside the park and did some neglected yard work and just enjoyed our lake cabin. We’re thankful we are outside the park as it too was busier than we had ever seen it.  Although we have canoed the lake 100s of times we did that again waiting for fall to come and the crowds to slow down.

ECHO VALLEY PROVINCIAL PARK

September rolled around and we felt the need to roam. We loaded the camper and decided we would visit some provincial campgrounds we would never go to when they were busy. One reason being the on-line booking.  All spots are booked for the weekends over the summer even if they are not used, so extending our stay, if we wished, at these parks is impossible. It’s get out Thursday in most of them.  We have proven over and over again this is the case so we avoid the on-line booking parks like the plague. If there is a site available it’s the one in the bog or on a 45 degree angle.

We found Saskatchewan has some excellent campgrounds and in September we did not have to settle for the campsite in the bog. Our first stop was Echo Valley Provincial Park located in the Qu’Appelle Valley just west of the town of Fort Qu’Appelle, in between Echo and Pasqua Lakes. The community of Fort Qu’Appelle was established in 1864 as a Hudson Bay Trading post.

Echo Valley Provincial Park

The fall colours in the valley were awesome with many of the reds not common in other areas. The park was excellent with two large lakes to choose from and miles of hiking trails in the hills. I can see why this spot would be so popular in the summer as it is only 70 kms  northeast of Regina. The campgrounds were well groomed and lots of sites. Even the overflow had great views and sites that were great if you could dry camp. We are totally self –contained so usually look for spots without services, cheaper and usually less crowded. Although the weather was cooler and damp we enjoyed our brief stay.

Echo Valley Provincial Park
Coffee and breakfast at one of the campsites in the overflow area of the Park.
Echo Valley Provincial Park
Campsite was large and well-treed.

The forecast said rain was on its way, we decided to move on.  Duck Mountain Provincial Park would be our next stop.

DUCK MOUNTAIN PROVINCIAL PARK

Duck Mountain Provincial Park

Duck Mountain Provincial Park is located 25 kms east of Kamsack, Saskatchewan, set in rolling hills and boreal forest. The campsites range from wilderness to electric with no full service sites. Good fishing, hiking and bike trails ran throughout the Park. Again the fall weather was cool and damp but the fall colours were beautiful.  We did not spend much time on the beautiful sand beach, we found the Park was immaculately groomed even at that time of year.

During our travels mid to late September most of the campsites were closed with only a few being offered. The ones we checked out looked great, some were surrounding the lake and others secluded in the woods. The hiking trails were excellent so we did a little hiking and then explored what we could of the park and would highly recommend it to anyone not wanting full hook up. Electrical sites only but access to water and sanitation dumps. Once again the rain appeared to be following us so we decided to drive in the rain and head to Greenwater Provincial Park.

GREENWATER PROVINCIAL PARK

Greenwater Provincial Park

We drove out of the rain shortly after leaving Duck Mountain and arrived at Greenwater Provincial Park. The Park is located 16 kms south of Chelan, 38 kms north of Kelvington on Hwy. 38 in Saskatchewan.  Having never been to this park, even at this time in late fall, I can see why this was one of my late brother’s favourite go-to-park. I am told fishing is great and for boating an excellent marina and boat launch in a quiet channel of the lake, featuring hiking and bike trails, boat and canoe rentals, concessions and a large beach area. We walked for miles exploring the campsites and attractions and the weather even co-operated. This was the first opportunity to photograph and observe the beautiful swans on the lake. I could spend hours watching as they feed in the bay. For bird lovers this park is a must with more than 200 species, that’s their information as I did not do a count. The campsite, a fall site we stayed in, was very private with trees on every side. Other sites not open at that time also appeared well spaced with lots of privacy and able to handle small and larger rigs. A few of the fall sites were suited to billy goats and not sure other than a tent would work, although these were few.

When we were at Greenwater we found most our RV neighbours were either retired people like ourselves, or hunters that made up the majority. This on line booking deal they have going on in our Provincial Parks is interesting and I will endeavour to cover that in another article. But come Thursday the park began to empty. Upon speaking with many of those leaving they told us their sites were booked for the weekend, actually the entire park was so they could not even re-locate even if they wanted to stay longer. (Just to be politically correct as they say in the media, of course self-distanced when speaking to our fellow campers). We had been lucky and had booked as many days as we could getting four days, so we were there when the weekend arrived and guess what, of the 12 or so people who had to leave only two of those sites ended up having people use them. This is a shame!

Our time was up and it was time to head somewhere. Charlotte and I have a provincial map and we have marked every highway we have travelled in the province and it was tough to find one that we had not travelled to start our journey home. The weather was decent so we decided to head north to our favourite fall campground the Narrows in Prince Albert National Park, at this time of year…no services except pit toilets.

Three great Parks we had never been to and anyone of them I would highly recommend and would return to any one of them. A must for us is Echo Valley in the fall if the weather is right camped on the hill in the overflow. The colours and view will be spectacular.

Next week: The Narrows and photographs in and around the beautiful National Park. Please subscribe for future automatic notifications of new posts. If you know people who might be interested in the photographs and our travels please share this with them. We would consider this a great compliment, and give me a reason to keep taking photographs and being able to share them. Any questions email me at gerry@studiowest.ca no hard questions and only good comments please….I’m fragile.

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