Why should you embark on a winter adventure to Riding Mountain National Park? Winter is transformative – a blanket of snow can make a place look completely new, so if you think you know the park in spring and summer, it’s time for a fresh experience. Here are seven things you must try in winter in Riding Mountain National Park.
1. Set up camp
Don’t worry, winter camping doesn’t necessarily mean pitching a tent in a pile of snow. GLAMPING is much more appealing in the colder months, and easy to do in Riding Mountain National Park. Parks Canada oTENTiks provide comfort and cosiness in the park and come with electric heat, wood burning stoves, USB chargers (so essential!), nearby heated bathrooms/showers, and a fire-warmed cook shack. oTENTiks are also ideal for family outings, as they sleep six in three large bunks.
2. Stop into the Parks Canada Visitor Centre
Step into the giant log cabin and learn all about the history, Indigenous traditions, and wildlife of the region. Park interpreters are on hand to bring the heritage of the park to life, or you can browse the displays yourself and warm your toes by the roaring fire.
Note that the Visitor Centre has irregular hours in the winter, so check ahead.
3. Cross-country ski at sunset
Take in the sunset from a pair of cross-country skis as you make your way across the wintery landscape of the park. There are a variety of trails that cover all skill levels and distances, and offer excellent vantage points of the prairie sky. Skis and gear are available for rent from Elkhorn Resort, located on the outskirts of the park.
4. Go on a bison safari
The Lake Audy Bison Enclosure is a must-see during your winter visit. Here, 40 bison roam on the Fescue Grasslands, made possible by a project that intends to return bison to its natural prairie habitat. Drive slowly through the enclosure by car and you might just encounter a bison roadblock! There is also a look-out point where you can stretch your legs and see the bison from afar against the frozen landscape.
5. Explore by snowshoe
In the winter months, there’s no better way to explore the forests of the park than by snowshoe. Tromp your way across a myriad of frozen lakes and keep your eyes peeled for wildlife along the way – from boreal owls to white-tailed deer to moose. Lightweight snowshoes can be rented from the Friends of Riding Mountain National Park office located in the Wasagaming townsite.
6. Travel on a fat tire bike
If you want a speedier way to get through the park, head to Friends of Riding Mountain National Park and rent a fat tire bike. The large wheels allow you to navigate the trails around the Wasagaming townsite and campground, through snowy lanes and trees – but be warned, it is a workout!
7. Eat to your heart’s content
Comfort food is a staple of the winter season, and after burning all those calories biking, skiing, and snowshoeing, there’s no need to feel a shred of guilt as you eat to your heart’s content. The Lakehouse Boutique Hotel makes a dreamy prosciutto eggs benedict, beef chili, and homemade scones, while Elkhorn Resort offers a giant menu for every palette – from steaks to fish tacos to risotto balls.