Saskatchewan is an underrated destination for photography but it has a lot to offer, especially if you’re into rural scenes. Of course it has the pristine forests and lakes in the north, offering excellent fishing, hiking, and camping opportunities. But I was more interested in the small towns and rural scenes that can be found in the south. I was particularly on the hunt for ghost towns, abandoned barns/houses/cars/churches, and old grain elevators. It can also be fun to search out the large statues that various towns have created along the roadsides.
I stopped in Saskatoon which is a really attractive city and is one of the fastest growing cities in Canada. About an hour north of Saskatoon there is the “Crooked Bush” which is a patch of trees that have grown in many different directions, while being surrounded by their straight growing siblings. In the other direction, I stopped in the far south of the province to visit Grasslands National Park. This is an excellent park with a high chance of seeing wildlife, such as antelopes, hawks, owls, bison, and snakes. It also has the largest prairie dog colony in Canada. In addition, it has a dark sky preserve, if you’re interested in doing some photography of the night sky.
Some shots from Grasslands National Park:
Even though much of the land is flat and the pace of life seems slow and uneventful, surprises can still pop up during a road trip. While I was searching for a ghost town I got stuck in some mud while driving down what I thought was a dry mud road. I had to get CAA to tow me out (they wouldn’t accept GPS coordinates; I was shocked. If I had to guess a company that would use GPS coordinates, they would have been my first guess). While I was waiting I watched the best sunrise I’ve seen in years come and go, when I was supposed to be getting photos at the ghost town. Luckily the next day’s sunset, when I was actually at the ghost town, wasn’t too bad.
Another surprise was the St. Victor Petroglyphs. This included a short but nice hike to an excellent viewpoint of the surrounding landscape, all as a bonus to the ancient first nations rock carvings in the area. I also found a field filled with about thirty cars that were about a hundred years old, rusting away. Many still had their wheels with wooden spokes. Add the Crooked Bush to all that and I had a lot of surprises.
Some shots of the Crooked Bush:
If you’re thinking of taking a trip here keep some safety precautions in mind. Remember that tornadoes can sometimes make appearances in the southern areas. Also, if you’re going to explore abandoned places, be careful of falling through old wooden floors in abandoned buildings, or stepping on a board with a nail sticking up out of it that might be hidden by tall grass. If these things happen you may be far from assistance. Make sure you have your phone with you (although you may not always have reception) and make sure you let someone at home know your route and when you will be checking in. If you want to be extra safe, outdoor activity stores often sell one time use emergency beacons that you can carry with you and will work regardless of cellular reception; they send an alert to the nearest emergency services. Also, carry some extra water and snacks in the car with you.
If you’re looking for an excellent road trip destination, I would highly recommend considering Saskatchewan. Or if you’re driving across the country between two destinations you should explore Saskatchewan for a few extra days.
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