The Saskatchewan side of Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park is a favorite spot for family vacations, romantic retreats, and outdoor enthusiasts alike. This portion of the park has enough amenities to make it easy and convenient to stay in while maintaining its stunning scenery and natural appeal.
In the 20-minute drive from Maple Creek, Saskatchewan to the Cypress Hills, you can feel your ears pop from the sudden 600-Meter rise in elevation. The amazing scenery begins at the top of ‘park hill’ before you even get into the official park boundary. The narrow road winds peacefully through the trees past a farmyard and quaint acreage (watch for the family of wild turkeys that live near the road just past the bridge). After going past the marsh full of cattails, you reach the park gate where you can pay for your passes and collect valuable information about the area from the knowledgeable and experienced staff.
The first building on the right is the park office and should be your first stop when you enter the park. The antique jailhouse door out front is great for pictures, and inside, there is a variety of animal bones and plants as well as tons of interesting stories about the area and its residents. The small general store sells all of the necessities as well as all kinds of souvenirs, summer toys, and camping supply. Next door, the fast food shop (currently called Dar’s Little Dipper) is a favorite spot for the locals as well as visitors to the area. The delightful café situated in front of the lake is a great place to enjoy a light meal.
When it comes to places to stay in the Cypress Hills, there is a wide variety of camping. There are group sites, full electrical sites, tenting spots hidden in the trees, and pair camping sites. If you prefer the comforts of a warm room and a soft bed, head deeper into the trees to the Cypress Hills Resort. Here, visitors have their stay of hotel rooms, cabins, or luxurious condominiums. You can eat in the delicious restaurant, have cocktails in the lounge, or grab a bag of marshmallows and a package of hotdogs for a weenie roast and an evening by the fire.
The Park is certainly not lacking for things to do. The lake is stocked with rainbow trout, there are a variety of boats and bikes to rent, and a walking path heads around the entire lake and throughout the park. A golf course and a mini golf course are also located in the park.
What the park is truly famous for is its trail, vegetation, and wildlife. One of the best ways to see the area at its best is to take one of many self-guided walking trails. The easy to walk trails show you habitat and give information on the area’s animals and vegetation. Some of the things you can see include animals such as beavers, moose, elk, and white tail deer and plants such as orchids and the famous Lodge Pole Pine that can’t be found anywhere else except in the mountains. Cougars have also been sighted in the park, however, the chances of seeing one are pretty slim.
Winter brings with it entirely new experiences. Camping might not be too pleasant, but the resort is open all year round. The cross-country skiing is some of the best in Canada. Why? It is quiet, peaceful, and the terrain ranges from easy to difficult. Snowmobiling, skating on the lake, and tobogganing are favorite activities in the winter sunshine.
Unlike typical forests with heavy underbrush, the pine trees stand tall, straight, and have branches only on the top half of the trees allowing you to see farther into the wilderness. Other trees and bushes mix into the pines heavier in some spots, but perhaps what is most interesting is the mix of prairie grasses and grassland that meet up with the forest. It is amazing to see how the three ecosystems collide.
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