3 Reasons to Visit the Qu’Appelle Valley in Winter
The rolling hills in the Qu’Appelle Valley seem to appear out of nowhere. Its as if entering a magical realm. Year round, the valley is a prime spot for locals and travellers to explore. Here’s why it’s become the epicentre of winter adventures for families in southern Saskatchewan.
Snowboarding, skiing and tubing at Mission Ridge Winter Park
When our family moved back to Saskatchewan, the Qu’Appelle Valley was one of the first places we explored. We immediately signed up for a season pass at Mission Ridge Winter Park. The resort has provided ample opportunities for our girls to hone their snowboarding skills. The small but mighty hill boasts a chairlift and two magic carpets that provide access. Advanced skiers and snowboarders can excel in their specific area with rails and jumps of varying difficulty. Fun fact: Legendary snowboarder and Olympic medalist Marc McMorris first learned to snowboard at Mission Ridge – proof that great winter athletes can emerge from Saskatchewan.
Mission Ridge Winter Park is not just for skiers and snowboarders. The far left of the hill is reserved for tubing and fun activities for kids. Bubba’s @Mission offers delicious eats, ranging from pizza to calzones and subs. My husband and I recently enjoyed an impromptu date with drinks in the bar area, while the kids enjoyed activities with the snowboarding club.
Skating, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in Echo Valley Provincial Park
Across the highway from the entrance to Echo Valley Provincial Park is access to over 10 km of cross-country ski trails. After a heavy snowfall, the trails turn into a winter wonderland. Our favourite activity with the kids is skiing 2 km to the warmup hut to enjoy some hot chocolate and snacks before returning to the parking lot.
Echo Valley Provincial Park has six designated snowshoeing trails. Exploring off the trails, through the trees and within the closed campgrounds is also fun. I took my six-year-old for an outdoor date in the park and was surprised to learn that its visitor centre offers rentals for younger kids. We didn’t make it far but enjoyed walking in the deep snow amongst the trees for a couple hours.
In recent years, Echo Valley Provincial Park has added a skating rink that weaves through the trees in the Aspen Campground. It winds past multiple campsites where you can catch a break. Free firewood makes roasting hot dogs and toasting s’mores an easy lunch.
Ice Fishing on Echo LakeIce fishing is a popular activity in Saskatchewan that can also provide a tasty dinner. Fishing shacks appear almost overnight as soon as Echo Lake freezes and is safe for vehicles. Our family enjoys counting the number of ice fishing shacks on the lake from atop Mission Ridge. A fishing licence is needed to catch the northern pike, walleye, and yellow perch that swim beneath the surface.
Where to stay
Braeburn Inn, in Fort Qu’Appelle, provides easy access to all of these activities. Themed rooms give it character. A few of my favourites include The Old West, The Lodge, and The New Amsterdam. The rooms feature kitchenettes, free wifi and access to an outdoor barbecue. Its the perfect home base for your winter adventure!
Author and Photographer: Annika Mang
Annika Mang is a writer and photographer based in Regina, Saskatchewan with a focus on family adventure.