August 23rd, 2017

Your Travels: Saskatchewan’s Great Sandhills


By Medicine Hat News on June 17, 2017.

Submitted Photo Leslie Maltin Beautiful scenery abounds in the sandhills of Saskatchewan. This is the photographer's first sighting of the sandhills from the road.

Leslie Martin

For a quick, exciting, informative getaway for the whole family take a quick trip north on Highway 21 to Sceptre’s Great Sandhills Museum then south 10 km to the Great Sandhills of Saskatchewan.

The museum was an incredible surprise, considering the population of Sceptre is under 100 people!

Sceptre is also known for being the birth place of five-time Stanley Cup winner Bert Olmstead.

Keeping in mind that the museum is only open May 15 to Aug. 31, it’s best to call ahead (306-623-4345) to confirm days and hours of operation to avoid disappointment.

Our next stop was the largest remaining contiguous native prairie area in Saskatchewan, the Great Sandhills of Saskatchewan.

This is an area of about 1,900-sq-kilometres (750-sq-miles) of sand dunes, rolling grasslands, saline lakes, cottonwood groves and aspen bluffs. Individual sand dunes rise more than 15 metres (50 feet) above the surrounding prairie, and is recorded as the largest collection of sand dunes in Canada.

There is a walking trail that’s about a 1km loop ranging from beginner to intermediate level. Some of the wildlife viewed in the reserve include pronghorn antelope, white-tailed deer, mule deer, coyote, porcupine, badger, weasel and fox.

Birding in the protected Great Sandhills Ecological Reserve is a popular activity. There are local and migrating birds visiting in the region. Some of the birds viewed include the white pelican, sharp-tailed grouse, golden eagle, peregrine falcon, sandhill crane, burrowing owl and short-eared owl.

The other dominant feature in the reserve is the mighty South Saskatchewan River. The river travels through the reserve and provides the nutrients for much of the flora and fauna like sagebrush and chokecherry bushes. Besides the sand dunes and river the landscape is decorated with wetlands, lakes, coulees, prairie grasslands and groves of aspen, birch and cottonwood trees.

The sandhills attract people who enjoy activities like hiking, photography, birding and wildlife.

Be prepared to have a ton of fun by bringing the whole family, lots of water, snacks, appropriate clothing and footwear; after all you are going to the desert!


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