DescriptionAccessible from the north and south via scenic Hwy. 10, or from the east via Hwy. 19, Riding Mountain National Park lies on the plateau of the Manitoba escarpment, 197 kilometres (123 mi.) north of the U.S. border and 259 kilometres (162 mi.) northwest of Winnipeg. The park also encompasses the historic resort town of Wasagaming on Clear Lake, which offers the amenities of a resort destination. The park's 2,978-square-kilometre (1,150-sq.-mi.) area is blanketed with forests, lakes and meadows. It was officially dedicated in 1933 and is home to elk, moose, deer, bears and a wide variety of birds and vegetation. Waterfowl and beavers populate the waterways, and a herd of bison grazes in a large enclosure near Lake Audy. Driving hwys. 10 and 19 as well as Lake Audy Road offer scenic views and opportunities to spot wildlife. Self-guiding bison tour brochures are available at various park facilities.
During the Depression of the 1930s, the Depression Relief Program created jobs for the unemployed, 1,200 of whom were put to work constructing buildings for the park 1934-35. As is the case with much of the architecture found in the country's national parks, the style widely used was a rustic design that incorporated local materials. Perhaps the most eye-catching of their projects here is the East Gate Complex on Hwy. 19, which includes a registration building, two staff buildings and an overhead entrance sign. (Northern and southern complexes had been built but no longer exist.)
Another major international event the following decade further influenced the site's development, when World War II changed the site's focus from recreation to a source of attaining fuelwood. During the war the park was used as a minimum security POW camp, housing German prisoners from North Africa to cut cordwood. When the prisoners were released in late 1945, the function of the park turned once again to recreation.
General InformationAlthough the park is open year-round, complete facilities are available only from mid-May to mid-October. Recreational activities available within the park include bicycling, boating, camping, tennis, golfing, lawn bowling, swimming, hiking, fishing, canoeing, sailing, horseback riding, swimming, skateboarding, ice-skating, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Snowmobiling is permitted on Clear Lake and around the park's perimeter. Clear Lake has a beach and boat launches, and scuba diving is possible; divers must register with the park. More than 400 kilometres (250 mi.) of hiking, bicycling and horseback trails lead to lakes, meadows and evergreen forests. Bicycle and boat rentals are available. The park has more than a dozen picnic sites.
Note: Except for in Wasagaming, water must be boiled for all uses. Swimming areas are unsupervised; lifeguards are not available. Due to the presence of a parasite in most of the bodies of water in the park, developing swimmer's itch is a concern; take proper precautions. Camping permits and fishing licenses are required.
Several forms of recreation can be pursued nearby. Guides and outfitters offer horseback riding and wagon excursions along with other wilderness activities.
ADMISSIONADMISSION is free in 2017 to celebrate Canada's 150th anniversary of Confederation. Otherwise admission is $7.43; $6.24 (ages 65+); $3.71 (ages 6-16); free (ages 0-5); $18.67 (family, up to seven people). An annual pass is available.
PETSPETS are allowed in the park. Dogs must be leashed at all times.
ADDRESSADDRESS inquiries to Visitor Information, Riding Mountain National Park, Wasagaming, MB, Canada R0J 2H0; phone (204) 848-7275 or (204) 848-7272.
Things to SeeVisitor Information Centre of Wasagaming
The park's meadows, forests and lakes are home to a diverse population that includes elk, bears, moose and bison.