How to go Winter Camping in Saskatchewan: Part 3 - Choosing a Location
If you have read part 1 and part 2 of this miniseries designed to help you winter camp in Saskatchewan you are well on your way. You've got your gear, you understand the problems you need to conquer; now you just need to choose a location. But where do you go?
Well, the good news is that the options are pretty much endless! Saskatchewan is full of places you can spend the night in the deep dark cold. There are two types of winter camping, there is your traditional car camping style where you visit a provincial park and there is back country where you either head out on an established trail in a national park or utilize our millions of acres of crown land.
All have their pros and cons and depend heavily on your skill and comfort level. Here are some quick tips when it comes to choosing a location to winter camp in Saskatchewan.
There are 35 provincial parks throughout Saskatchewan, however not all of them are open to winter camping.
I reached out to SaskParks and they mentioned to me that most of the campsites are open but some aren't because of things like road access, parks offering pits toilets, etc.
The best thing to do before heading out is to call the park you want to visit and see what they have available. Park Supervisors will be more than willing to help out. They will let you know the best places to camp, where to get firewood and other helpful information.
The best part about visiting provincial parks in the winter? They are FREE! From September Long to May Long weekend all winter camping is free in provincial parks that allow it.
I recommend using the Provincial Parks system if it is your first time winter camping. There will be enough services to keep you safe and you will have easy access to your vehicle should you need it.
To see which parks are open for winter camping click here. Anything that is labeled "Open Year Round" in the third column called "Open Until Noon" has winter camping available.
When it comes to winter camping in the National Parks (Prince Albert and Grasslands) the rules are a bit different.
The park campgrounds are closed in the winter, however you may camp anywhere in the park that is more than 2 kilometers from public roads and campgrounds. You must register and get a park use permit before camping in the back country. To get a permit give whatever park you are visiting a call and arrange for one, or stop by their Visitor Centre during office hours. There are no camping fees for winter camping, only park fees.
My recommendation is to visit Prince Albert National Park for winter camping. Grasslands is a very tough place to back country camp even in the summer. Prince Albert National Park has more amenities and trails to choose from. Two very good back country trails are Grey Owl's Cabin and Elk Trail.
Crown land is any land in the province that is owned by the government. There are over 37 million hectares to choose from in Saskatchewan, so the possibilities are endless.
The best part? It is FREE to use! The only stipulation is that you can't build any permanent structures. So popping down a tent for a day or two is no problem.
There is crown land everywhere but it is hard to find good maps. Most of northern Saskatchewan's forests are crown land and most of the sections along the South and North Saskatchewan River are as well.
Leave no Trace
Like any time you head out for some camping, make sure you practice leave no trace principles. Pack out everything you bring in and try and leave as little damage to the land as possible. If you need to harvest trees for firewood, find dead and fallen trees. Try and start fires in places where you will limit your damage potential.
It is important to follow these principles so we can all enjoy winter camping for years to come!
What is your favourite place to winter camp in Saskatchewan? Let people know in the comments!