A Road Trip to Discover Southeast Saskatchewan’s Unique Landscapes
In Southeast Saskatchewan, hidden beyond the flat landscape that surrounds the commonly driven Highway 1, are beautiful forests and lakes, endless open skies, and unique terrain made of sandstone and clay. While this area of the province boasts some of the most varied landscape, it is often overlooked by tourists and locals alike. But it shouldn’t be. The scenery provides some of the best Instagram worthy photos and the landscape is a natural playground for kids and adults to explore.
Spending more time discovering the area is ideal but a day trip from surrounding areas in Saskatchewan is possible. Our family is from Regina, Saskatchewan and we have enjoyed both discovering Southeast Saskatchewan on a day trip as well as on longer road trips. After exploring the area on multiple adventures, we have created an ideal Southeast Saskatchewan road trip to discover Saskatchewan’s diverse landscapes.
Located 13 minutes outside of Avonlea, Saskatchewan is the Claybank Brick Plant National Historic Site and the Massold Clay Canyons. Since the last ice age, named the Wisconsin, retreated roughly 10,000 years ago, the landscape around the Massold Clay Canyons has not been altered by farming. It is easy to imagine woolly mammoths, woolly rhinos, and giant bison wandering the area. Kids and adults alike will enjoy the free roaming environment that lets you explore off the trail. Each clay pit is unique, and families can spend hours climbing and exploring the area.
Parking is located behind the Bunkhouse Cafe and Gift Shop in the visitor parking lot. There is a fee to explore the clay canyons and tours of the brick plant are also available at a cost. All passes can be purchased in the gift shop. Opening dates and closing dates vary from year to year so make sure to check their site. Off-season access is available through a year-pass.
From the Massold Clay Canyons, and on the way to visit the famous Castle Butte, visit the town of Ogema, Saskatchewan located one hour away to stretch the legs. Once in Ogema, find the train station to let the kids play on the small wooden train structure. If you are making your trip on the weekend, consider booking one of the Southern Prairie Railway passenger train rides. For something extra special for lunch, stop at the Solo Italia Fine Pasta, a short walk from the train station, for pizza.
The outdoor coal museum in Bengough, Saskatchewan is another interesting stop along the route and located 20 minutes away from Castle Butte. Showcasing a mock coal mine within a small hill and a minecart filled with coal, the museum is an interactive and educational experience. The location, a wide-open field off highway 34, makes the outdoor museum an ideal place for a family picnic.
Castle Butte, or fittingly nicknamed Castle Beauty by my six-year-old, is a site to behold. The 60-metre-tall ice age relic is comprised of sandstone and holds a majestic presence separating itself from the surrounding badlands. It is clear to see why it once was a landmark to the Indigenous people, the North West Mounted Police, and early Canadian settlers. Located on private land, Castle Butte is free to visit throughout the year except for when it is closed in April and May for calving season. Visitors are allowed to explore the structure at their own risk and should know that the climb is quick, steep, and slippery.
The longest drive on the Southeast Saskatchewan Road trip is from Castle Butte to Roche Percee Provincial Historic Site. To break up the trip, stay the night in Estevan, Saskatchewan two and half hours from Castle Butte. The following day, pack a lunch and make the trip to Roche Percee only 20 minutes from Estevan. The site can be difficult to locate as there are no signs leading up to the area but is located past the playground on the main paved road and up the hill in front of the white obelisk.
After walking only a few steps, the unique rock formations, created by wind and water, will come into view. Take time to explore the 1 km trail alongside the sandstone structures and notice the series of caves that can be explored. When we visited, I was happy to have some snacks to extend our stay. Our kids started imagining a house with rooms out of a series of caves we found and soon they were asking if we could live inside them.
After experiencing some of the unique land formations the province has to offer in the Southeast of the province, end the road trip by driving an hour and 20 minutes from Roche Percee to Moose Mountain Provincial Park. The forests of aspen, white birch, balsam poplar, and green ash trees are abundant and surround over 65 lakes that are scattered throughout the park. There are two main lakes in the park, Kenosee and Little Kenosee. Ideal for swimming and building sandcastles, Kenosee lake also allows motorized vehicles. Motorized vehicles are not allowed on Little Kenosee making it a perfect lake for kayaking and canoeing.
Visitors can stay steps from the main beach at the Kenosee Inn and Cabins, or camp in one of the nearby campgrounds. There is no shortage of activities in the area and spending a few days or more enjoying the hiking, horse back riding, mini golf and the Kenosee Superslides will connect the family through outdoor experiences. On Sundays during the summer, The Red Market Barn is worth a visit to browse local venders, enjoy some outdoor music, and have a bite to eat.
Author and Photographer: Annika Mang
Annika Mang is a writer and photographer based in Regina, Saskatchewan with a focus on family adventure.