Hitting the Slopes in Saskatchewan
This article originally appeared on The Lost Girl’s Guide to Finding the World.
Saskatchewan isn’t as flat as people think. The land of living skies holds its own on the slopes of our river valleys with all the trimmings of family-friendly ‘alpine’ adventure. From night runs under the stars in the scenic Qu’Appelle Valley at Mission Ridge to Saskatoon’s newly opened and affordable Optimist Hill, there’s a ski hill for every type of downhill enthusiast.
We may not have mountains, but we still take snow sports seriously here in Saskatchewan. Known as the home hill of Regina-born professional snowboarder Mark McMorris, Mission Ridge Winter Park is set in the scenic Qu’Appelle Valley less than an hour northeast of Regina. Not only does it have a tubing park, but there are three lifts and 14 marked runs with a vertical drop of over 100 m. It also offers night skiing, so you can head out (at a discount) and catch a few runs under the stars.
The province’s newest winter leisure destination can be found in Saskatoon. The hill, located in Diefenbaker Park, has two lifts, a terrain park and five tubing lanes. There’s an onsite chalet for warming up and a snack shack that serves quick bites and warm food. Optimist Hill also has rentals available and offers ski and snowboard lessons. It’s affordable and the perfect location for the whole family.
In the hilly terrain of the Manitoba escarpment, Duck Mountain Ski Area is a gem tucked into the valley on the border of Manitoba and Saskatchewan. The hill has 22 runs ranging from beginner to expert that boasts all-natural, knee-deep powder. The longest run is 1,600 m and offers breathtaking views of the boreal forest. It’s not uncommon for the resort to receive 60 cm or more of snow a season, which makes it a great hill to play in the powder. The park also recently opened a tubing hill and has a two-storey chalet with ample space to warm up and grab a hot meal in between runs.
Ski Timber Ridge, near Big River
Ski Timber Ridge is the ski hill that all of the locals know about and with good reason – it’s community run. Located 1.5 hours northwest of Prince Albert near the town of Big River, the hill has six runs accessible with a T-bar and rope tow. The runs range from 400 to 800 m with a variety of terrain to navigate for both beginners and experts. At the base of a hill is a newly completed lodge perfect for grabbing a bite and warming up.
Table Mountain Ski Resort offers winter activities for snow enthusiasts of all ages. It’s been an institution in the province, having been in operation for more than 50 years. Located only a 15-minute drive west of The Battlefords, this prairie alpine resort has 11 groomed slopes, 100 m of vertical drop and 10 km of trails. There are two high-speed quad chairs and two magic carpets that provide access to both the main hill and bunny hill. There’s a terrain park, tubing park, as well as rentals and lessons available for skiers and snowboarders of all levels. It also offers night skiing on most Friday evenings.
Wapiti Valley Ski Hill has it all, which is why it’s considered one of the top ski resorts in the province. Located in the Wapiti Valley with views over the North Saskatchewan River, it’s close to a number of towns in the region, including Melfort and Nipawin. The resort has 15 runs with a quad chair lift. It often sees more than 30,000 skiers and snowboarders throughout the season. There’s also a terrain park, night skiing and the log chalet has a pro-shop, cafeteria and licensed lounge.
Just outside of the city of Prince Albert is the Kinsmen Ski and Snowboard Centre in Little Red River Park. There are three downhill runs (two beginner and one intermediate), two rope tow lifts and a very popular terrain park. The centre offers both rentals and lessons and is a great family-friendly hill to learn to ski or snowboard.
Share your experience in Saskatchewan on Instagram using the hashtag #ExploreSask!
Author & photographer: Ashlyn George
Ashlyn George is an adventure travel writer and social media influencer based in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. By 30, she visited more than 60 countries and all 7 continents, while documenting it on her blog The Lost Girl’s Guide to Finding the World. Today, George creates content in partnership with world-renowned brands like NFL Canada, McDonald’s and CLIF Bar and has been featured in the New York Times and listed by Kayak as a Top 10 Travel Hacker. Find her online at @thelostgirlsguide or www.thelostgirlsguide.com.