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If you’re looking for big skies and wide open spaces, you’ll find them in Western Canada’s prairie province. Bordering the US states of Montana and North Dakota, and the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Manitoba, Saskatchewan takes its name from the Cree word, Kisiskatchewanisipi, for the Saskatchewan River. Check out what’s happening in the cities of Saskatoon and Regina, hike through the northern boreal forests of Prince Albert National Park, explore the prairie terrain in Grasslands National Park, or get outdoors in the 35 provincial parks.
In Saskatoon, Saskatchewan’s largest city, wander through its quirky urban districts: don’t miss the Remai Modern Art Museum, and visit Wanuskewin Heritage Park to learn more about the region’s Indigenous history. Tour the stately Legislative Assembly in Regina, the provincial capital, or learn the story of the country’s Royal Canadian Mounted Police at the RCMP Heritage Centre. But make sure you get outdoors, too. There’s plenty of room for adventure here.
You can fly into either of Saskatchewan’s two major cities. Saskatoon John G. Diefenbaker Regional Airport (YXE) is 15 minutes by car from the city center, and Saskatoon Transit runs a public bus between the airport and downtown. Regina International Airport (YQR) is only 10 minutes from that city’s downtown area. Saskatoon is a stop for VIA Rail’s cross-Canada train, the Canadian, which travels between Vancouver and Toronto, and long-distance buses serve both Saskatoon and Regina. The major roads across the province are the Trans-Canada Highway (Highway 1) and the Yellowhead Highway (Highway 16). Both Saskatoon and Regina have public bus systems that can take you to their attractions, but outside the cities, it’s easiest to get around by car.
Summer may be Saskatchewan’s peak mosquito season, but it’s also when the province is liveliest, from the music and cultural festivals in the cities to the hot, dry days for tromping through its parks. While Saskatchewan claims the most sunshine of all the Canadian provinces, remember that summer thunderstorms can sweep across the prairies. In the cold and snowy winters, there are no bugs, and you can go ice-skating, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. The more temperate months of April to May or September to October can be good alternatives for visiting the area. Whenever you arrive, prepare for weather that can change rapidly. Layers are your friends.
Saskatoon’s modern art museum overlooking the South Saskatchewan River put the city on the cultural map when it opened in 2017. Designed by Canadian architect Bruce Kuwabara, whose other notable projects include the TIFF Bell Lightbox (home to the Toronto International Film Festival) and Ottawa’s Canadian Museum of Nature, the Remai Modern exhibits contemporary works by Canadian and regional artists.
While most people envision Saskatchewan as a land of prairies, nearly half the province is forested, and if you travel to Prince Albert National Park, 2.5 hours north of Saskatoon, you can hike, canoe, and cycle though parklands that span grasslands and woods. You can also trek to the cabin where “Grey Owl,” the British-born Archibald Stansfeld Belaney, lived with his Ojibway wife, Angele Egwuna, and wrote extensively about conservation in the early 20th century.
Drive the scenic parkways in Saskatchewan’s other national park to take in the prairie landscape, where bison roam. In Grasslands National Park, near the Montana border in southwestern Saskatchewan, you can hike through the wildflowers or hunt for dinosaur fossils. The park is a Dark Sky Preserve as well, with excellent star gazing.