Free admission to Provincial Parks this weekend!

Over the September long weekend (Sept 1-4, 2017), you don’t need a park pass to visit any of the provincial parks in Manitoba. In addition to that, because of Canada 150, you also don’t require a National Parks pass this year to visit any of the National Parks in our Province (which consist of Riding Mountain National Park and Wapusk National Park).

This weekend will be a great weekend to get out and explore some of the beautiful parks and areas in Manitoba! Other than the slight possibility of a thunderstorm and showers Friday night, it looks like the weather forecast (for now anyway – we know how quickly those can change! haha) is fantastic for the weekend! We hope that you all have a safe and fun Sept long!

Click here for a listing of Provincial parks in the Western Region (with map)

Click here for a listing of Provincial parks in the Eastern Region (with map)

Click here for a listing of Provincial parks in the Central Region (with map)

Click here for a listing of Provincial parks in the Northwest Region (with map)

Click here for a listing of Provincial parks in the Northeast Region (with map)

Here’s a list of different areas that we have blogged about so far this year. Some are parks, some are not:

We have a few more that we may be adding before the weekend, or over the early part of the weekend as well, before we head out exploring some new spots too!

We have one simple request if you are out enjoying the beautiful sights and places that Manitoba has to offer – PLEASE do not litter. Please pack out what you pack in, and for extra bonus “You’re totally awesome!!” points, carry out some extra garbage that you may see on your adventures. Thank you!

 

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Explore: Nutimik Lake

The drive alone to Nutimik Lake is worth the trip. Beautiful scenery, winding roads, lakeside access spots and plenty of beaches, rest areas and fun shops and stops along the way.


Located about an hour and 40 minutes from downtown Winnipeg, you’re going to go through Beausejour and Seven Sisters (Jennifer’s Picnic may be open depending on what time of year you make the trip – stop in for frog legs or a camel kebab!) on the trip. Alternatively you can take Hwy 15 straight out to Elma, cut up to hwy 44 in Whitemouth and out to Brereton Lake on 307 and up to Nutimik that way – it’s a little longer but also very scenic.
Nutimik map

If you’re planning on spending a weekend in the area, or even making it an overnight trip, there are plenty of places to camp at or places to stay in the area:

And many more!

One of the main attractions for hiking at Nutimik is the suspension bridge. It’s large and it’s sturdy and finding it is easy thanks to lots of signage. Follow the signs to Nutimik Lake campground. When you reach the campground office, you will see a sign for the bridge straight ahead, and another one at the entrance to the trail.


The trail is well maintained, wide and easy to walk, hike, or bike on (we even saw a person with a baby stroller). Once you cross over the bridge, you have your choice of heading left to Sturgeon Falls (1.9km), or right to Pine Point Trailhead (8.7km)

Sturgeon Falls are low lying rapids, and were a lot wider than we were expecting. We saw lots of kayaks, hikers and people fishing in the area.


Once you have completed your hike here and are back at your vehicle, continue heading through the campground to the public beach/ boating access area. Here you will find a wonderful beach area and another hiking trail that leads up to some large rocks that people jump from into the water. This trail is a lot narrower and we definitely would not recommend trying to push a baby stroller on it! The view from the top of the rocky area is beautiful though.


Campsites near the beach area:

Also located close by are the Bannock Point Petroforms and the Pine Point Self-Guiding Trail.

If you visit this location or any of the locations we write about on our blog, please practice “leave no trace” and carry out what you carry in. For extra “You are totally amazing and awesome” bonus points, pack out some other garbage that you may find along the trail. Happy exploring!

Bannock Point Petroforms

Whiteshell Provincial Park


A spiritual, educational, and beautiful place. The Bannock Point Petroforms are located just off Provincial Rd 307. A 1 hour and 40-minute drive from the heart of Winnipeg, Manitoba. (See address below)

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What is a Petroform you ask?

Petroforms are “forms” made from Indigenous people, by the placement of rocks and boulders. Such forms most often resembe the shapes of humans, snakes, turtles, horses, etc. For the purpose of passing along knowledge, wisdom and to remember stories and legends. The larger the rock, the more important the lesson/story is.

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The “trail” is mostly an open rocky area, with some tree and shrubbery. The walk is roughly 2 km. Remember when visiting, that this is an sacred area. Please do not touch or move any of the rock formations.

When visiting it is recommended you bring an offering, usually consisting of tobacco or cloth. The tobacco can be left on the ground around or on top of a Petroform, and the cloth can be tied up in a surrounding tree.

As you head into the site there will be two essential areas, the first entry area is a large rock bottom and looks quite empty, there will be a large rock with offerings placed on the top. You may place your offerings here if you wish, or if you’d like to hold on there is another spot further into the hike (this tends to be the more popular one). To reach the send/main area keep walking about 2 minutes. You will start to notice the rocks laid out, and meticulously placed to form all kinds of different animals and figures! A light moss has grown over top most of the forms, preserving them in their places. Many First Nations people strongly believe that the forms were placed to provide emotional, physical and spiritual healing and education to all who visit the site.

 

Guided tours of the Bannock Point Petroforms are available and will offer insight and knowledge of the Petroforms and their importance.  Tours are 1.5 hours long and free of charge.  For more information please contact: Whiteshell Park Interpreter: 204-369-3157

This spot is all ages friendly!

Address:

Bannock Point Petroforms

MB-307

Division No. 1

Unorganized, MB

 

*Please respect this place as you would your church, synagogue, mosque or other place of worship.

 

Written by: Nicole Presley

Play: Go Fishing at the Lac du Bonnet ponds

Located on PTH 11, 1 mile North of the junction of PR 313 in Lac du Bonnet, the Lac du Bonnet Wildlife Association Ponds are beautiful ponds that are perfect for spending a morning or afternoon fishing at.

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Stocked with brown trout, tiger trout and rainbow trout, “catch and release” is fully encouraged at this location. (Also, please do not leave garbage – we encourage practicing “leave no trace” – pack out what you pack in and for extra bonus “You’re super awesome and amazing!” points, pack out some extra garbage too)



There is a large parking lot, several docks, and nice little areas nestled in among the bulrushes that are perfect for fishing and also provide some privacy.

If you continue along the trail to the right of the parking lot, it will take you on a little 1.2 km nature walk where you may see deer, otter, birds, etc. Keep following it around until you get to the large flat rocks – perfect for suntanning or picnicking. The flat rocks that you are standing on there are actually Precambrian shield rock more than 2 billion years old, some of the oldest rock on the planet.


Looking for other things to do in the Lac du Bonnet area?

  • Go for a hike at Blueberry Rock
  • Hike a section of the Trans-Canada Trail
  • Go for a swim at the Town of Lac du Bonnet beach/public dock
  • Take a drive to Old Pinawa Dam (actually located in the RM of Lac du Bonnet, half way to Pinawa on Provincial Rd 520)
  • Go tubing in Pinawa
  • Go golfing at Granite Hills Golf Course or the Pinawa Golf Course 
  • Go for ice cream at DE’s family grill and dairy bar (formerly known as Christy’s)
  • Check out some of the local stores and restaurants that Lac du Bonnet has to offer, and enjoy your time visiting this beautiful little area of Manitoba!

Explore: Russell

We have really been finding a lot of fun in exploring some of the smaller towns in Manitoba. Russell was a great one to stay in and explore, while we also explored some of the surrounding areas!

Located on the Yellowhead Hwy (Hwy 16), approximately 352 km from downtown Winnipeg, this is a good overnight trip. With so much to see and do in the surrounding area it is well worth it!

maptorussell

Russell is located within close driving distance to Asessippi Provincial Park (24 mins), Asessippi Ski Area and Resort (19 mins), and is about an hour and 20 mins from Riding Mountain National Park.


Things to do in Russell:

  • visit the Arthur the Bull statue
  • Go to Connie’s Drive Inn for awesome ice cream
  • Have some fun at the Beef & Barley Festival if you happen to be there for Thanksgiving Weekend
  • Go for coffee (Bin 22 and The Tin House coffee shops)
  • Visit the War Memorial Cenotaph (constructed in 1922, this sits right in the middle of Memorial Avenue North, and we mean right in the middle )
  • Print out this Asessippi-Parkland driving tour guide and check out some really neat historical sites in the area!


Located in Inglis, just a short road trip (18 mins) from Russell, are the “Five Prairie Giants” – the Grain Elevators National Historic Site. If you have ever been at all curious about the inner workings of a Grain Elevator, we highly recommend a visit here! It’s very informative and actually pretty cool to visit. You can opt for a guided or self-guided tour.


If you haven’t been to Russell in a few years, you may notice something missing – the iconic arches that used to grace the main street. These were taken down last year, but we did hear that they are planning on replacing them! We’re excited to see what the new versions will look like!

BONUS trip (this one takes you out of province to…Saskatchewan (SORRY!!!)… but it’s pretty neat-o)

In Langenburg Saskatchewan, which is located 32 km (20 mins) West of Russell on hwy 16, you will find Goliath – the World’s Largest Swing. Goliath stands over 33 feet 1 inch tall and 25 feet wide at the base. Over two tons of steel went into the construction of Goliath. The swing pivots are 2 Chevy car differentials, the seats are from old horse drawn farm equipment and Goliath can rise to 25 feet tall (which sadly we were unable to do because it is currently bolted together to prevent swinging on it. You CAN sit on it though, and use your imagination. Also, there is a really cute little painted volkswagon bug next to it full of flowers.

 

Explore: Beausejour

Beausejour, a small town located an hour North East of Winnipeg, MB. Although it is small, it does have quite a bit to offer! If you’re on way to Lac Du Bonnet, or Pinawa make sure to stop in!btown.PNG

There’s a wide variety of restaurants you can choose from to grab some grub..

  • Fanny’s Chinese Garden (Chinese)
  • Howland Hotel (Pizza, etc.)
  • Airliner Drive-In (unique burgers, wraps, and more)
  • Big Fella’s (Chili, Burgers, fries and more)
  • Tim Hortons (Coffee, Donuts, and more)
  • Dairy Bar (Food and Ice cream – Seasonal)
  • La Beau Café (Fudge, and homemade warm ups)
  • Sizzling Pot (Wide variety of made from scratch foods)
  • Vickies Snack Bar (Burgers, homemade fries and more)
  • Chicken Delight (Chicken, Pizza, etc.)
  • Lee’s Village (Chinese Buffet)

If you were lucky enough to visit during the summer of 2017 for Canada 150 the town put up 128 flags of remembrance. 1 flag for every 1,000 people whom we have lost while fighting for our country. Each flag pole had a maple leaf attached containing a personalized note to thank a specific person or group of people, or a quote for those we are remembering. The flags stood tall and proud. It was quite a sight to see.

 

Beausejour’s Daylily garden’s is a very large garden consisting of many different style/color lily’s, and various styles and types of flowers! The garden is in full bloom right now, and is more beautiful than ever. See pictures below..

 

Brokenhead river is amazing for floating down and fishing off. Average float time is around two hours: drop your car off at Great woods camp ground and start at the bridge off HWY  44 East. The river is a class 5,  therefore is calm, and smaller in size; making it good for younger children (under supervision). Grab that tube and enjoy a relaxing day on the water. Please respect the private property located along the river and please note that the golf course no longer allows people to use their property for parking/exiting/entering the river and now have a dangerous area for tubers at their location on the river.

Into history? Then you NEED to visit the locations below…

Manitoba Glass works: The first glass container factory in Western Canada. Opened in 1906, and closed in 1914 due to not being able to keep up with fully automated manufactures. Concrete walls, and foundations can still be found.  Ink bottles, glass pieces and tools have been found to this day.
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Pioneer Museum:  Located off the main drag of Beausejour, the Pioneer Museum if one of a kind. A recreation of a small pioneer village, it contains things like: the home of Edward Schreyer (Canada’s 22nd Governor General, whom grew up in Beausejour, MB.), a pioneer barbershop, blacksmith shop, railway station, and school. See http://www.pioneervillagemuseum.ca/  for more information.
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St Mary’s Catholic Church: Take a moment to admire the beautiful paintings that were done by Leo Mol in 1951. The painting mainly consists of the Holy Trinity, and Heavenly Father accepting the sacrifices of Christ; with dove above them in the image representing the Holy Spirit.
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Written by: Nicole Presley

Explore: Gimli via Hwy 9

Gimli is a pretty fun destination itself, but we thought it would be a bit more fun if we timed our visit there to coincide with their annual Icelandic Festival, and took the scenic route (via Selkirk, Hwy 9 and Hwy 232) to get there.

First stop – Roxi’s by the Red in Selkirk for breakfast! Roxi’s is located at 219 Manitoba Avenue in Selkirk and we had great service and really good food. Our delicious breakfast food recommendation: Flapper Toast, which is cinnamon french toast dipped in pancake batter, fried golden brown and then covered in chunky strawberry sauce and whipped cream (because you’re going to need sustenance to carry you through this day’s busy activities 😉)

Head north out of Selkirk on 9A, which turns into Hwy 9. After about 25 minutes, you’ll see signs to Matlock. Turn off and take a look at this cute little area while you head towards the water and hwy 232, which will take you all the way to Winnipeg Beach. It’s a really scenic drive and there are lots of pretty little areas to stop and stretch your legs if you like.

When you arrive in Winnipeg Beach, we definitely recommend getting out and stretching your legs and going for a walk along the beach or along the streets to check out the shops & restaurants. It’s easy to hop right back onto Hwy 9 after you’re done, and from there it’s only 15 mins to Gimli.


There are lots of things to do and see in Gimli, including:

  • the Lake Winnipeg Visitor Centre
  • the New Iceland Heritage Museum
  • Visit the racetrack
  • the Gimli Seawall Gallery (murals painted along the seawall)
  • walk the seawall
  • walk along the beach
  • drink from the Famous Gimli Pure Artesian water well
  • get your picture taken with a giant viking statue
  • eat fish and chips (or burgers or….? There are lots of really great restaurants there!)
  • Time your trip to coincide with the August long weekend and you’ll get an extra special treat – the Icelandic Festival!

 


Whether Gimli is your day’s destination, or a stop on the way to Hecla Island, it won’t disappoint!

Bonus info! “Did you know?”

On July 23, 1983, Air Canada Flight 143 ran out of fuel en route to Edmonton and made an emergency landing in Gimli, becoming known as the Gimli Glider. You can read all about this incredible story here: https://www.damninteresting.com/the-gimli-glider/

 

Explore: Steep Rock

Have you ever arrived at a new place and noticed something right away that makes you think “Wow, this place is going to be pretty darn cool!” and then the rest of the time there really exceeds all of your expectations? That is how we felt at Steep Rock.


Steep Rock is located 235km North of Winnipeg on hwy MB-6 N. It is located on the Eastern shore of Lake Manitoba. You’re going to drive past Woodlands, Warren, Lundar and Ashern to get there. You’re also going to travel past a few really big birds on the drive, so get your cameras ready if taking pics with statues of giant animals is your thing (it’s totally our thing!).


If you own a kayak or canoe or paddleboard, TAKE IT WITH YOU for this trip! If you don’t, there is a cool little place that rents them and paddleboats out, but you are forewarned that it is first come first serve there and they do not take reservations and it is also cash only.

Other things to take for your trip to Steep Rock:

  • water bottle
  • shoes you can walk in water with as it is very rocky
  • swimming suit, towel, hat etc
  • goat food

We’re semi kidding about bringing the goat food – you can buy that there from the place that you can rent kayaks and canoes from. Goat food is needed though if you go over to the island because there are goats living on the island. YES, there are GOATS living on the island AND THEY LOVE TO BE FED. We weren’t sure how you call a goat, so we had to circle around the island in our kayak to find them. We recommend doing this rather than walking around the island looking for them because in addition to the goats, there is also a lot of poison ivy.


Visiting goats on an island was a fun reason to visit Steep Rock, but the rock formations along the shore lines were an added bonus. If you go there on a beautiful sunny day (and we get lots of those in Manitoba! How lucky are we?!) it will feel like you are somewhere tropical. It’s incredible actually, we lost track of how many times we said “Wow!” and “It’s so beautiful here!”


We rented our kayak for 1/2 a day ($45). It took about an hour to get over to the island, paddle all around it, get out and explore a bit, get out again and feed the goats, and paddle back. Then we had a picnic lunch, swam a bit and set out in the kayak again to explore the shoreline. In our opinion, it was absolutely, definitely, 100% worth doing this. There are little alcoves that you can paddle up to, there are things that you can see from the water that you wouldn’t be able to see from shore and it just makes for a really great experience.


After we returned our kayak, we set out on a hike along the shoreline. The trail is well used and easy to follow. There are lots of very scenic little lookouts and lots of benches to sit on to rest or just relax and take in the views.


We did this as a day trip, but we noticed that there were cabin rentals there and also a campground that we didn’t see, but were told is located a few miles north.

We hope you have as much fun exploring Steep Rock as we did!

Explore: Asessippi Provincial Park

This 4 hour drive west of Winnipeg is sure to be one of your favorite new weekend spots. Asessippi offers a wide variety of seasonal activates for both summer and winter! Keep reading for a list of summer highlights.. (winter post will follow)

About the park: 

Asessippi is 23.2 km in size, and mainly consists of two ancient rivers and their valleys. The park is lush with Crocuses, Wild Rose, Wolf Willow, Saskatoon, and Snowberry’s.

How to get there:

Approximately 370 km northwest of Winnipeg and only 16 km west of Riding Mountain National Park. The ride there is a straight shot west of Winnipeg up Highway 1 and 16. Four hours may seem long to some but with many places to stop on your way there, as well as never ending lakes and creeks, it goes by quickly.

assespippi pp

Places to stop on the way:

Portage La Prairie – Visit Splash Island Water Park for a break with the kids, or visit the world’s largest Coca Cola can just off Saskatchewan Ave W!img_9610

Gladstone – Say “Hello” to Happy Rock for prime photography opportunities!

 

Neepawa – Into history and Manitoba heritage? Visit Internationally acclaimed Margaret Laurence’s house.

 

 

 

Things to see/do while in Asessippi:

 Ancient Valley Self-guiding Trail: This trail consists of ancient 8500 year old glacial features that were created as result of erosion. One of my favorite parts of this trail is the lush wild flower that lines the path, and the high peaks that overlook the valley. Please be weary of Poison Ivy. The trails return distance is 3 km.

Swimming: There are many spots lining the valley, but if you prefer a beach there is one location right next to the Pavilion. Please note this beach is unsupervised.

Fishing: Lake of the Prairies is a man-made lake that holds mainly Perch, Northern pike, and Walleye. Go off shore, or in a boat! *Boat rentals available

Camping/Cabin/Yurt rentals: Camping Fees

  • Electrical campsite: $35/Night
  • Non-Electrical campsite: $25/Night
  • Yurt rentals: $50/night for two people, plus $5 for each additional person
  • Cabin rentals: $50-$70/night, plus $5 for each additional person

 

Snack Bar/Concession Stand: Situated in the middle of the park, the snack bar is the only spot to go for food. They offer a wide variety, from your basic concession favorites like fries and burgers to shrimp tacos! Open: 9-7 most weekdays, and 9-9 on the weekends. Contact: (204) 564-2520 if you need help with directions!

Mini Golf:  Located near the Snack Bar. Open 7 days a week, contact the Snack Bar/Concession stand for more information!

Facilities 

  • Men’s and ladies washrooms and showers
  • Picnic tables
  • Baseball diamonds
  • Horseshoe pits
  • Firepits
  • Volleyball court
  • Pool
  • Playground
  • River tubing along the Shell River (blog post to follow)
  • Snack Bar
  • Yurt/Camping/Cabin Rental
  • Boat Rentals

* Pets are permitted they must be kept leashed.

If you choose to visit, share your photos and stories with us on Facebook and Instagram! #Explorethe204

Love it so much that you want to have your wedding here? THAT’S AVAILABLE!! Please visit: https://asessippi.com/weddings-functions/weddings-at-asessippi/

For more information and bookings please visit: http://www.asessippibeach.com/

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Written by: Nicole Presley

 

Explore: International Peace Gardens

The International Peace Garden has helped to celebrate the peace and friendship between the people of Canada and the United States of America for more than 80 years and it is located right by the Canada/US border crossing on the #10 hwy (south of Brandon, or 3 hours from Winnipeg).

Int Peace Gardens

Let’s just start off by saying that this place is huge. Enormous. There are 2,339 acres to explore. There are ponds and gardens and an interpretive centre and a 911 Memorial. There is a bell tower that plays the Westminster Chimes every 15 minutes 😘, a peace chapel, a LOT of flowers and there are 6,000 or so cactuses in their interpretive centre! (Yes, we know that the plural of cactus is cacti but this is our blog and we like to say cactuses because it sounds funny and we like to laugh. We would also like to encourage anyone who goes there after reading this post to walk around commenting on how many “cactuses” there are.)

What you need to know before visiting this beautiful place:

  • Take a passport. You may turn the wrong way when you’re leaving and need a passport to get back into Canada, OR you may read to the verrryyyy bottom of this post and see a BONUS adventure suggestion that requires your passport!
  • There is an admission fee of $20/vehicle. This means that it’s cheaper for us Canadians to get in, but we are Canadians so we don’t brag about things like that.
  • Pack a lunch. There are lots of pretty little picnic areas. Alternatively, you could also visit their restaurant, or you could skip eating there all together.
  • Take your camera. Or take that thing that makes a funny ring tone sometimes and use IT to take pictures.

 

 

Bell Tower
911 Memorial

BONUS ADVENTURE time!

We can’t make a separate post for this one because it’s not in the 204, but we went on a fun little adventure after visiting the Peace Gardens, and that adventure took us down into the States. If you are like us, and enjoy finding giant statues and weird things and mystical places, then this is a trip for you. If you want to go shopping then you’ll have to plan your own trip out 🙂

Turn right when you leave the International Peace Gardens, cross the border and continue to Dunseith (about 15 minutes) to see a “Wheely” big turtle


From there continue south, crossing over onto the #3 to head to Rugby ND (less than an hour from the border). Here you will see a Northern Lights tower, a bell tower, the Geographical centre of North America monument and a cute little prairie village museum. There is also a restaurant called Rockin’ Relics that has an authentic 1940’s soda fountain, but they close at 5pm.


From Rugby, head back north to Dunseith but then then head West on #5, just past Bottineau and turn right (north) on #14. Turn right (East) on scenic byway 43. This is a really pretty route back to the 281 that will take you back to the border. About a mile into the 43, you will see a sign for Mystical Horizons. This is a really neat 21st century version of Stonehenge. Who knew that a mini Stonehenge was so close to the Manitoba border? The rest of the scenic bypass back to 281 is very… scenic. You may want to stop at some of the ponds and lakes to explore some more. Have fun!