5 Unique Experiences In Cypress Hills Destination Area
Like many Saskatonians I typically head north for my summertime lake-in-the-woods fix. This June, however, Southwestern Saskatchewan made for a welcome change of scenery. The rolling hills and towering pines far exceeded my expectations. If you’re looking for a weekend getaway, here are some unique experiences to consider just over a 4 hour drive from The Bridge City.
1. Sleep in a converted wagon at Ghostown Blues
Ghostown Blues Bed and Breakfast is located minutes from the town of Maple Creek. It brings you back in time to a Wild West main street with unique accommodation options like renovated sheep wagons, grain trucks, and idyllic cabins. They are all finished with immaculate craftsmanship and picture perfect décor. Each space can be booked individually or you can take over the whole town for a family reunion, wedding, or corporate retreat. Though there are no bathrooms in any of the housings, the town hall includes two modern washrooms with showers and there are outhouse with flush toilets throughout the property. This town hall space also makes for a great music venue, home to multiple concerts a year, and is where you’ll enjoy a hearty breakfast each morning. Outside, there’s a covered cooking area with a barbecue as well as a bonfire pit for guests to enjoy. They’ve really thought of everything you’ll need to keep comfortable during your memorable stay.
2. Hike through forested hills to find the hidden conglomerate cliffs
There are two sets of conglomerate cliffs in the Cypress Hills – the first are accessible by car while the second, more impressive set requires a 3km hike on the High Vista Trail in the park’s West Block, which is also part of The Great Trail (or Trans Canada Trail). Though the hike contains more incline than one might be used to in Saskatchewan, the trail is well maintained and simple to navigate. The cliffs boast endless views of the forest and make for the perfect pit stop on the through hike or a good turnaround point if you’re returning back to your vehicle the way you came.
3. Explore the countryside on horseback
Hidden in the hills just north of the Interprovincial Park’s West Block and hugging the Alberta boarder is the Historic Reesor Ranch. Complete with a variety of lodging options, meeting spaces, a rec room, dining hall, ATV tours, and even some evening entertainment in the form of cowboy poetry, this ranch offers much more than just tours on horseback. That being said, it’s the horseback ride that you’ve got to come for. The ranch’s well trained and super friendly wranglers will introduce you to your horse and teach you everything you need to know to get him or her ready for your ride. After you’re set up and feeling comfortable they’ll lead you into the hillside to marvel at the untouched landscape. Crossing streams, meandering around bushes, and trotting through pastures, the tours are perfect for riders of any level.
4. Face your fears at Treeosix Adventure Park
When you see or hear of Treeosix, most people think zip lines. While this is accurate and awesome, the adventure parks in Cypress Hills and Elk Ridge Resorts consist of so much more. The high ropes course in Cypress Hills takes all the fun of a jungle gym and raises it up a notch by suspending it 20-30 feet in the air. This activity will turn any teenager or adult into a kid again, climbing along nets and running across logs. And if that doesn’t get your heart racing, you can try the tree-top drop – a 45 foot parachute simulator that requires a pretty big leap of faith as you step off the canopy-level platform and fall (safely) to the ground. To continue the fun their base camp is complete with rock climbing, axe throwing, slack lines, and a disc golf course.
5. Enjoy an evening paddle on Loch Leven Lake
This picturesque lake in the heart of the Centre Block town site is the perfect place to wind down after a day full of adventures. Here you can rent canoes, kayaks, and stand up paddleboards to help you take in the sunset from a new perspective. As a plus, no motors are allowed on the water, so you don’t need to worry about avoiding big boats and their wakes.
Bonus: Pay a visit to the desert exploring The Great Sand Hills
If you’re visiting from Saskatoon, it’s worth the detour south of Kindersley to visit the Great Sand Hills. These active dunes are some of the most northern in the world and consist of views you won’t see anywhere else in the province. Follow directions on google to the Great Sand Hills Parking Area and you’ll spot the trail to the closest, smaller dune. If you’ve got the time, hike southwest for the bigger, sandier dunes.
Double Bonus: Film scans from my visit
I brought my 135mm Olympus OM10 camera along for the ride on my trip to Cypress Hills and wanted to share a few of my favourite scans. I love photographing on film while traveling and seeing the contrast in look and feel from the way I shoot and edit in digital. Take a peek: