Local listeners were eager to share their favourite spots, but people that don’t live here can overlook Saskatchewan, travel writer Jenn Smith Nelson said.
“Sand dunes and desert landscapes, to grasslands and beyond,” she said. “There’s so much to uncover for those who aren’t familiar with our province.”
That’s one thing she hopes to change by co-authoring a new book, 110 Nature Hot Spots in Manitoba and Saskatchewan.
Doug O’Neill wrote the Manitoba section. Smith Nelson said the two provinces are a perfect pairing.
“We’re two of the most underrated provinces that have such diverse and rich areas,” she said. “We both have Canadian Shield boreal forest of course native grasslands.”
“I just think that people need to get out and discover their own backyard a little bit more.”
For places to visit, the Athabasca Sand Dunes were high on the list.
“They’re Canada’s largest set of active sand dunes. So it’s like a desert up there and it’s a really unique and a fragile environment but really wonderful,” she said.
As well, she has the Great Sand Hills in southwest Saskatchewan, Douglas Provincial Park, Saskatchewan Landing and Diefenbaker Lake.
“You go camping and it’s a great experience,” Smith Nelson said. “You can get away from it all.”
Smith Nelson is also a big birdwatcher.
“I love birds. I don’t know half of what I’m looking at but it’s a big deal here,” she said. “I think a lot of people don’t know how rich our bird life is.”
Birds are important in Saskatchewan because the province is a major flyover zone and a common nesting ground in the spring and summer, Smith Nelson said.
Smith Nelson has visited places around Saskatchewan before and said she knew there was a rich landscape and lots of wildlife, but some things surprised her.
“We have scorpions that have evolved to hibernate in the province. We have wolverines and flying squirrels. So these are things I didn’t know and it was great to learn about,” she said.
She hopes the book opens people up to the idea that there’s a lot to explore, she said.
“There’s a lot of wild and untouched areas.”
Listener’s Favourite Places
Listeners to CBC Saskatchewan’s The Morning Edition shared some of their favourite spots as well. People touted everywhere from White Bear Lake to Val Marie.
Barbara Levorson wrote that the Cypress Hills are great and one of her new favourite places is Mary’s Labyrinth.
The stone feature is advertised as Canada’s first legacy labyrinth and it is located about six kilometers south of the town of Val Marie in Southwest Saskatchewan.
Jennifer Howie suggests White Bear Lake. The lake is near the Southeast corner of the province, about two hours outside of Regina.
Close to her home, Lisa Mackie Koshinsky recommends a walk through the Northeast Swale in Saskatoon.
Crean Lake in Prince Albert National Park is the top pick for Mitchell McEachern.
“The water is a different shade of blue,” McEachern writes. “And has amazing beaches, fishing and back country campsites.”
And Douglas Stroud is passing his love of the outdoors to the next generation with paddling from Missinipe to Nistowiak Falls and on Namekus Lake.
“Looking forward to introducing our second little one Helena Stroud, 10 months old, to back country canoeing and camping,” he wrote.
For Smith Nelson, picking her favourite is like picking a favourite child, she said with a laugh.
“The southwest corner of the province with Grasslands Provincial Park and Cypress Hills and Chaplin because the birdwatching,” she said. “I like to hang out down south.”