Winter Camping in Saskatchewan has plenty of great options, including here in the southwest.
For the uninitiated, campsites across Saskatchewan are open during the winter season. For those that partake, it's a wonderful experience, enjoying the quiet stillness of the great outdoors as the snow insulates the regular sounds of the wild.
Plenty of parks have options for campers looking to spend a night out this winter, including Cypress Hills. Minh Truong, director of park experiences with Sask Parks, encourages people to try out an easier option available at Cypress Hills if they have never tried winter camping before.
"One of our first ones for those who want to just dip their toes into winter camping is our 'camp easies'," said Truong. "Some of our best camp easies in the province are in Cypress."
The term 'camp easy' refers to yurts or tents that come pre-equipped with a propane stove, a queen bed, up to four bunks, and an electric heater. These ready-to-habitat units offer beginners a chance to experience winter camping without having to invest in their own gear and shelter, outside of the clothes and outdoor accessories.
They can cost up to $85 dollars a night, with booking available over the phone at your preferred park.
Another option for the more grizzled camper is to set up in a plain old campsite. This option means that folks will need to provide their own shelter, be that a winter-ready tent or possibly a winter-kitted camper.
"Those are definitely for those who've already gone winter camping," cautioned Truong. "Who have the right winter clothing and gear. It's a really memorable experience when you do it that way."
Lots for anyone seeking that experience cost between $16 and $20 a night. While that is certainly cheaper than in the summer, it is also a reflection of the diminished services included due to the cold conditions.
For anyone thinking about giving the true icey blue version of winter camping a go, it is recommended that they buy a sleeping bag rated for the cold, and a tent or shelter capable of standing up to winter weather. It's not only the cold you have to worry about, but wind pushing in snow drifts, and possible heavy snowfall.
"You definitely want to make sure that you check the forecast," said Truong. "You need to have gear that's rated for the forecast."
Clothing and outdoor wear must be rated for the conditions you plan to stay in. Not all winter jackets and toques are made equal, with some being able to offer more protection from the cold. Various outdoor outfitters will be able to help the camping inclined to find boots and ski pants warm enough, and jackets capable of holding in precious body heat.
"You want to make sure that you are as well prepared as possible," said Truong. "Make sure you have emergency contacts, and that friends or family know where you are camping."
High-energy foods will also be important. Making sure you pack enough food or are capable of procuring it is key. Preparing food can be done on portable stoves, or it can be prepared beforehand, packed away in ready-to-eat portions.
Booking a campsite can be done on the Sask Parks website. There, you can look through various different parks, campsites, and programming being featured this winter season.
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