In the part one, I talked about the ‘Ice’ portion of Fire and Ice: A Canadian Road Trip. Once we left the mountains, the weather changed, and we delved into the ‘Fire’ part of our journey. From Ice and snow to sand and badlands, this truly was a fire and ice road trip.
Canadian Road Trip
The prairies are not everyone’s favourite place, and Saskatchewan gets a lot of flak for being boring and flat. Well, I love Saskatchewan because it’s not flat, it’s not boring, and it’s the land of the living skies. In a word: gorgeous. When taking a Canadian road trip, do not miss Saskatchewan. Many parts of southern Alberta are also prairie land. There is a lot to discover in this part of Canada.
Dinosaur Provincial Park
Not to be confused with Drumheller, this UNESCO world heritage site is a natural preserve with abundant fossils and a chance to explore the Alberta Badlands. You can’t see the park from a distance because the landscape is flat. It is hidden from view until you drive around a corner and suddenly you can see everything.
At Dinosaur Provincial Park you can explore the fossils found here and explore the millions of years of history embedded in the rock. This was a great change after driving in the prairies all day.
Great Sand Hills
I am so glad I stopped here for my Canadian Road Trip. The Great Sand Hills Ecological Reserve is not a park, nor is it easily accessible. We had to drive 18km down a freshly gravelled road, drive over Texas Gates, and drive on a harder gravel road that suddenly turned onto a sand road! It was insane.
This place is not to be missed. Have you ever gone tobogganing on a sand dune? Well, why not try it here, the largest active sand dune area in Canada. This place feels so remote and silent, perfect for a summer’s day.
We were there right at sunset, and it was beautiful. I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.
Grasslands National Park
Grasslands National Park is the only park to represent the prairie region. It’s made up of two parts. The West Block, which is stunning desert-like grasslands, and the East Block, which features fossils and badlands. We visited the West Block and stayed overnight in the Dark Sky Preserve.
This national park is one of the reasons I fell in love with Saskatchewan. We hiked, geocached, camped, saw the stars, stared down some bison, watched the prairie dogs play, and more. If you’re up for it, take the day to find the five geocaches located in the West Block, you’ll be rewarded with great views and get a geocoin for your efforts.
After Saskatchewan, we left the fire and hooked back onto the TransCanada Highway. We motored through Manitoba and Northern Ontario, returning to the land of ice. Northern Ontario is a beautiful place, full of natural beauty. Lake Superior takes the cake though. I understand why the Group of Seven loved it up here.
As we started to head south again, the weather returned to what it should be for May: sunny and warm.
There are two ways to get from Northern Ontario to Southern Ontario. You can either drive south from Sudbury following Georgian Bay, or you can take the scenic route by jumping on the Chi-cheemaun. This “big canoe” takes vehicles and passengers from South Baymouth on Manitoulin Island to Tobermory.
We decided to drive through Manitoulin Island, one of the places I frequented as a child, and take the Chi-cheemaun back. That was a right call.
I was so happy to take yet another road trip across this beautiful country, and I’d be glad to do it again soon. Maybe next time will be to the Canadian Arctic or the Maritimes.
Q: Would you rather drive through or fly over the prairies?
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