When most people think of the Prairies, the first two words that come to mind are usually: flat and cold. While that may be true for half the year, that doesn’t mean there aren’t amazing things to do outdoors all year round (yes, even in -40ºF!). Saskatoon offers a plethora of outdoor activities any nature-loving person would appreciate.
Parks, parks, parks!
One of the most surprising stats about Saskatoon is that it has a whopping 200 parks. All of the city’s parks are all open to the public between the hours of 5 am and midnight, with the exception of the riverbank parks which are open 24 hours. Of particular note is the Saskatoon Forestry Farm Park, a national historic site that was once home to nearly 147 million trees that were used for shelterbelts in western Canada in the early-to-mid 1900s. You’ll also find the Saskatoon Zoo here, which has free admission during the winter months. So pack a picnic, grab a blanket, and head out on a park tour – it’s one of the best ways to experience the essence of the city.
The Saskatchewan River
The Saskatchewan River is the heart of Saskatoon for reasons beyond the geographical. The stunning 340-mile body of water offers endless options for any outdoor activity lover. Is hiking your thing? Take a trek through the numerous trails that line the banks. The Meewasin Valley Trail is perfect for Saskatoon newbies and the paved paths make it an ideal route for families and cyclists. What about water sports? Kayakers, paddle boarders, jet-ski riders, and even power boats are all welcome to share the river’s water space. And for those who are more passive admirers of the outdoors, sightseeing tours on the Prairie Lily Riverboat are available during the summer months.
When the mercury drops, a whole new kind of athletic entertainment kicks off. The frozen Saskatchewan River is just one of more than 50 outdoor skating rinks that pop up during the winter season, many of which are totally free to use and are often occupied by locals partaking in a casual game of shinny (aka pond hockey). And you can get the true Saskatoon winter experience by hopping on a fat bike (no, really, that’s what they’re called – the tires are much bigger than your standard option) and attempt some rather chilly cycling through the icy and snowy city.