Riding Mountain National Park is one of the major recreation parks located in the province of Manitoba, Canada. The park was first established in 1933 making it Manitoba's first national park. However, the park was declared a forest reserve as far back as 1895.
Riding Mountain National Park is located on the western side of Manitoba, Canada in the Parkland Region. The wilderness park is situated just south of the community of Dauphin and north of the community of Neepawa. To the east is Lake Manitoba.
Riding Mountain National Park measures over 3078 square kilometres. The east gate which welcomes people into the park is a National Historic Site built in the 1930s. It is the last national park log entrance still operating in Canada.
Once in the park there are many different eco systems at play. There are boreal forests, wildflower meadows, aspen parklands, prairie grasslands, deciduous forests and wetlands, lakes and marshes.
The national park is a prime wildlife viewing destination with over 400 kilometres of recreation trails and scenic roads. There are over 260 bird species in the park, as well as, sightings of deer, elk, moose, beaver, black bear, wolf, coyote and buffalo.
On the south end of the park, near Lake Audy, is a wildlife sanctuary housing a heard of Plains Bison. The buffalo are protected in a closed environment measuring 15 square kilometres. There are viewing areas with exhibits detailing the bison and the history of the prairie grasslands.
The park is a major year round destination for activity and adventure. During the summer months the park is popular for hiking, backpacking, wilderness camping, drive-in camping, mountain biking, cycling. fishing, boating, water skiing, kayaking, canoeing, swimming, picnicking, windsurfing, horseback riding and birdwatching.
The most popular paddle routes for canoeing lakes in the park are the Clear, Katherine, Whirlpool and Bob Hill Lakes. The most popular fishing lakes include Clear, Whirlpool, Grayling, Moon and Audy Lakes. The fishing is for lake trout, northern pike, perch, walleye and whitefish.
There are over 400 kilometres (250 mi.) of summer recreation trails in the Riding Mountain National Park. There are day trails and there are long haul backpacking, horseback riding trails.
Some of the day trails to consider include the Gorge Creek (6.4 km one-way); Arrowhead (3.4 km return); Bead Lakes (4 km return); Moon Lake (9.2 km return); Beach Ridges (3.5 return) and the Grey Owl Trail (8.9 km one-way). Grey Owl hikes to a cabin where the famous naturalist lived for 6 months in 1931.
If you like to backpack and horseback ride deep into the wilderness and enjoy camping in a rustic wilderness campsite in the bush then the Riding Mountain National Park is your ticket because there are over 19 wilderness campsites in the park. Most of the trails are shared trails for backpacking and horseback riding.
Some of the more popular long haul wilderness routes include the Birdtail (11.4 km one-way); Grasshopper Valley (21 km one-way); Strathclair (23 km one-way); Tilson Lake (38.6 km one-way); North Escarpment (8.5 km one-way); Orche River (25 km one-way) and the South Escarpment Trail (32 km one-way).
After the snow falls and the lakes freeze over the Riding Mountain National Park is a winter adventure destination for snow activities like cross country skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing and ice fishing.
There are over 400 kilometres (250 mi.) of summer recreation trails, over 260 kilometres (163 mi.) of xc ski trails and over 50 kilometres of snowshoe trails in the park. Along the winter trails are warming huts. Some of the best xc ski trails are the Oak Ridge and Scott Creek Trails located on the eastern side of the park... and the Moose Lake Trail in the southwest corner of the park.
Wasagaming is the village in the Riding Mountain National Park located on the south side of Clear Lake. Take some time to get to know the village by exploring the 1 kilometre one-way trail on the shore of Clear Lake.
Wasagaming village enjoys many services including accommodations, campground, restaurants, guided tours (hiking, horseback riding and wagon tours), ice cream stand, museum, theatre, coffee houses, bakery, gas station, grocery store, gift shops, laundromat, park office, ATM and golf course.