Saskatchewan, Travel

Sandhills & Cypress Hills

I already talked about our adventure ziplining in Cypress Hills, but now it’s time to talk about the part of the trip that leads up to that. When we decided to head South West I started doing research about that area of Saskatchewan. I knew there would be tons of interesting things to see, and boy, was I right!

Sand Hills

Did you know that Saskatchewan has an area that is 1900 sq km of sand? The Great Sandhills are one of the largest active sand dunes in Canada and are located near Sceptre, Saskatchewan. Obviously, we had to check the area out!

We climbed to the top of the biggest sandhill, and it was a bit of a workout! You can see Ian at the top of the hill in the picture below, that’s how tall it was!

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It was quite a steep and sudden drop off the one edge!

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A majority of the area has a lot of growth on it, but there was one hill that was still just sand, as seen above. It was a lot of fun to trek through the area and see all the different views. The area is constantly changing and evolving because of the wind blowing the sand around.

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Mule deer and antelope are quite common in this area, but I was disappointed to not see any wildlife. There were definitely a lot of birds and cows though!

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Every once in awhile I would see a picture pop up online of a bunch of cowboy boots hanging on some posts. I was thrilled to find out that this was from the Sandhills! I was always intrigued by the look of it, and I find it even neater now that I know the history behind it.

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Cypress Hills

Cypress Hills is an Interprovincial Park that stretches across the South East corner of Alberta and the South West corner of Saskatchewan. Ian and I spent time at Center Block, which is just south of Maple Creek.

This is the highest point of land within Saskatchewan and one of the largest dark sky preserves in North America. How neat is that? For anyone who thinks that Saskatchewan is just flat, you need to make your way to Cypress Hills!

We paid $7 to get into the park, which gave us until 2pm the next day. The first thing we did was get a campsite. We paid $17 for one night, which was our cheapest stay. They put us in Deer Hollow, which we were told was one of the nicest areas for tents. We were put into spot one, which was definitely nice. It seemed to be the most separate from everyone, but also close to the road and some walkways.

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We got everything set up and then set out to take a look around. One of the first stops we made were the bathrooms, and I was impressed! They were clean, had electric lights, paper towel and toilet paper was stocked, and they had soap and water! These were by far the nicest bathrooms during our trip. We found out later that we had some bathrooms closer to our campsite, but I didn’t like that one as much. I think there was a solar light, but I went into there at a time that it wasn’t dark enough for it to be on (or maybe it just wasn’t working) but dark enough that I would have liked a light. The hot water tap also didn’t work. It was still clean though and didn’t sketch me out at all. So that was nice!

Right near the bathrooms, there was a food stand and a mini-golf course. There were also numerous different campsites, all of which were fairly separate from the main roads. It was nice to see that while things were close together, it also seemed and felt private.

We kept walking and came across the main area. There was a general store, some more food stands, restaurant and a museum type thing. There was also a really nice looking swimming pool right next to the lake! This was definitely the busiest area. There were a lot of people getting food, relaxing in and by the pool, and doing activities in the lake. There were paddle boats available, people were paddle boarding, canoeing, all sorts of activities!

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We did a whole bunch of exploring and followed Moose Trail for some time. We did have one startling moment when all of a sudden a deer sprung out about three feet away from us! I think it was just as started as we were, and it ran off in the other direction.

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We went back to the campsite to do some relaxing and eat burgers. After supper, we took a drive up to a lookout point. There were two different areas, both of which offered an amazing view of all the hills.

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After some exploring, we settled in at the campsite for a fire and then off to bed for our first night in the tent! The only downside to this day was that close to bedtime a whole bunch of vehicles drove into the area and started setting up their tents in the area across from us. These people were extremely loud which was frustrating. We think someone eventually talked to them because they finally became quieter.

We got up in the morning and got packed up. We had some time before going on the zip line, so we decided to see if the restaurant was open. We got there at 8 and while they were open, their breakfast didn’t start being served until 8:30. Regardless of that, we were still able to order and got our food quite quick! The breakfast was a great price, and super delicious.

After breakfast, we went to the zip lining, which you can read more about here.

Our time at Cypress Hills was a great experience! While we didn’t spend too much time there, I definitely fell in love with them. Everyone who worked there was extremely friendly and made it feel like a small town. Between the three different areas, they have something for everyone. There is hiking, fishing, equestrian related things, history, and so much more. I can see how it would be easy to spend a lot of time there!

We definitely plan on going back and seeing more of Cypress Hills, including the Alberta side, and the West Block on the Saskatchewan side. Can’t forget about Fort Walsh too! If we don’t make it back this year, I’m going to make sure that we do next year. You will definitely be hearing more about Cypress Hills from me!

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