A Road Trip to Discover Southeast Saskatchewan’s Unique Landscapes
In southeast Saskatchewan, beautiful forests and lakes, endless open skies, and unique sandstone and clay terrain are hidden beyond the flat landscape that surrounds the commonly driven Trans-Canada Highway 1. While this area boasts some of the most varied landscapes, 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.
Our family has enjoyed exploring southeast Saskatchewan on day trips as well as longer road trips. We have created the ideal southeast road trip to discover Saskatchewan’s diverse landscapes.
Claybank Brick Plant and the Massold Clay Canyons
Claybank Brick Plant National Historic Site and the Massold Clay Canyons are a 13-minute drive from Avonlea. Since the last ice age retreated 10,000 years ago, the landscape around the Massold Clay Canyons has remained undisturbed. It is easy to imagine woolly mammoths, woolly rhinos and giant bison wandering the area. Kids and adults 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.
Visitor parking is located behind the Bunkhouse Café and Gift Shop. There is a fee to explore the clay canyons. Tours of the brick plant are available at a cost. All passes can be purchased in the gift shop. Opening and closing dates vary from year to year, so check the website before you visit. Off-season access is available by purchasing a membership.
Ogema and Bengough
Ogema is a one-hour drive from the Massold Clay Canyons and on the way to visit the famous Castle Butte. Once there, look for the train station where kids can 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 excursions. For something extra special, stop at the Solo Italia Fine Pasta for lunch.
The outdoor coal mine park, part of the Bengough & District Museum, is another interesting stop along the route. Showcasing a mock mine within a small hill and a minecart filled with coal, the experience is both interactive and educational. The location, a wide-open field off of Highway 34, makes it an ideal place for a family picnic.
Castle Butte, or fittingly nicknamed Castle Beauty by my six-year-old, is a sight 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 Indigenous people, the North West Mounted Police and early Canadian settlers. Castle Butte is on private land. Visitors are welcome to visit between June 1 and November 1 of each year. The climb is steep and slippery – explore at your own risk.
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. The next day, pack a lunch and make the short trip to Roche Percee. The site can be difficult to locate as there are no signs leading up to the area. Drive 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 one-kilometre trail alongside the sandstone structures and notice the series of caves. Our kids started imagining a house with rooms and asked if we could live inside them.
Moose Mountain Provincial Park
End the road trip by driving from Roche Percee to Moose Mountain Provincial Park, just over an hour away. Forests of aspen, white birch, balsam poplar and green ash trees surround more than 65 lakes scattered throughout the park. The two main lakes, Kenosee and Little Kenosee, are Ideal for swimming and building sandcastles. Kenosee Lake allows motorized craft. They are prohibited on Little Kenosee Lake, making it perfect for kayaking and canoeing.
Visitors can stay steps from the main beach at Kenosee Inn and Cabins, or in one of the nearby campgrounds. There is no shortage of activities in the area. Spending a few days or more enjoying hiking, horse back riding, mini golf and other activities 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 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.