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Driving between Saskatoon and Moose Jaw

Scunthorpe, United...
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Driving between Saskatoon and Moose Jaw

We are driving between Saskatoon and Moose Jaw in early June. We've all day and like to take our time to 'stand and stare' - stopping to look at small settlements - their buildings and architecture and taking chance to get out of the car and stretch our legs on some of the shorter trails.

We've discounted Highway 11 as being fast and probably not a lot to see on it. Is this a fair assessment?

Current thinking is drive to Outlook (Sky Trail) and then to Gardiner Dam. The jury is then out as to which side of the lake to go down:

EITHER down through Danielson and Douglas Provincial Parks through Bridgeford, Eyebrow to Tuxford

OR through Birsay to Lucky Lake, Riverhurst, Central Butte and then either across to Eyebrow or down to Chaplain and Highway 1.

Scenically which is the better and nicer route? Any advice about where to stop and what to do would be welcome.

Thanks

Eleanor

Saskatchewan
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1. Re: Driving between Saskatoon and Moose Jaw

It has been several years since I've driven that way, but here's my two cents worth:

1. Outlook has an old railway bridge over the South Saskathewan River that has been converted to a pedestrian bridge and is part of the trans-Canada trail network.

2. There is a visitor's centre at the Gardiner Dam and I think they give tours in the summer, although I'm not sure about early June.

3. Both Danielson and Douglas Provincial Parks have nice picnic areas along the lake.

4. Taking the Riverhurst ferry is an interesting experience. It has experienced several breakdowns in the past couple of years, so I'd advise phoning from the Gardiner Dam to ensure that it is running before driving down the west side of the lake.

5. If you like bird-watching, there are a couple of areas: the Lucky Lake marsh near Birsay and reed lake west of Chaplin. Chaplin also has a bird centre but I don't know if it will be open.

6. The town of Mortlach, halfway between Chaplin and Moose Jaw, is a charming prairie town. There are some interesting shops and a tea house.

Personally, I usually drive highway 11 from Saskatoon to Chamberlain then south on Highway 2 to Moose Jaw. That route is only about 2 1/2 hours of driving time. It is the main highway, but it parallels the Qu'Appelle Valley, so it isn't without scenery. If you choose to drive that way:

1. The ecocentre at Craik is a great stop of you are interested in the environment. The Solar Garden restaurant there has delicious food. www.craikecovillage.ca

2. Between Chamberlain and Moose Jaw you can detour a few kilometres east to Buffalo Pound Provincial Park. There are nice trails, a buffalo paddock and lakeside picnic area.

Whichever route you choose, you'll see mostly flat farmland, with few trees and the occassional valley. The towns are small and not what I would consider interesting architecture, but there are a few buildings with character. You will be able to see some of the traditional iconic grain elevators and barns. Be sure to look up too. Saskatchewan's most scenic feature is the big and ever-changing sky.

Scunthorpe, United...
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2. Re: Driving between Saskatoon and Moose Jaw

Maggie,

Thanks for all the information - especially the comment on the reliability of the Riverhurst ferry. I think that could be a determining factor and makes the route through Danielson and Douglas parks the more attractive. I was saving Buffalo Pound PP for a full day from Moose Jaw.

Since the original post I have been looking at the map again and am now wondering if another alternative could be Clavet, Colonsay, Watrous - (what is Manitou Lake like? Is it possible to get away from the Beach and spa area and away from the crowds?) and then Last Mountain Lake National Wildlife Area (driving tour and nature trails) and then down Highway 2 to Moose Jaw.

Do you - or any one else - have any advice or views on this as a route compared with Lake Diefenbaker?

Thanks Eleanor

Saskatchewan
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3. Re: Driving between Saskatoon and Moose Jaw

Eleanor,

I can't comment on the drive from Saskatoon to Watrous, but I have been to Manitou Beach recently. There's no need to worry about crowds. Aside from the novelty of a saltwater lake in the middle of the prairies, there's not much to Manitou Beach. Very few people go in the lake, even in summer. In early June, the water will be cold. The spa is OK, but the spa in Moose Jaw is much nicer.

I've walked the nature trails in the Last Mountain Lake wildlife area. It was pleasant, although we didn't see many birds. We were there in August, so you may see more in June.

In my opinion, I would choose your original route over Watrous.

Maggie

Scunthorpe, United...
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4. Re: Driving between Saskatoon and Moose Jaw

Maggie,

Thanks for the advice. I had seen pictures of the 'crowds' in the Watrous brochure. Doesn't sound as if it is worth a stop. I had wondered whether Last Mountain Lake might be scenically better than Douglas PP.

Regards

Eleanor

Scunthorpe, United...
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5. Re: Driving between Saskatoon and Moose Jaw

Maggie,

You might be interested in the following information about the Riverhurst ferry which I have got from Lake Diefenbaker Tourist Information:-

"A few years back there was extensive maintenance and renovation done to the Riverhurst Ferry, during this time, the reliability of the Ferry was not great, however, since this upgrade has been done, the Ferry is very reliable, and I believe had no trouble the past 2 summers. It would be a good idea to visit this site: …telenium.ca/…ferrys_and_ice_roads or call the highway hotline before venturing out that day to ensure that the ferry is operational, the toll-free number for the highway hotline is:

SaskTel Cellular Network: *ROAD

Saskatchewan toll-free: 1-888-335-7623*

Regina city and surrounding toll areas: 787-7623

Saskatoon city and surrounding toll areas: 933-8333"

This may be useful to others planning to use it.

Eleanor

6. Re: Driving between Saskatoon and Moose Jaw

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