Road Tripping to Nipawin and Tobin Lake
As you drive through Saskatchewan on the Number One highway, the geography appears to be flat, with wheat fields as far as you can see. But the beauty of this wonderful province that spans more than 650,000 square kilometers, is that you can drive for a few hours and the landscape looks completely different.
It’s definitely flat near Regina—although I think there is a simple beauty that comes with bright blue skies against a sunny yellow canola crop, miles of wheat flowing in the breeze, and acres of pretty blue flax fields that look like a picture. But I also enjoy going up north to where evergreens grow wild and the northern lights dance in the sky.
So Dave and I headed north to Nipawin a few weeks ago. We drove basically straight up from Fort Qu’Appelle for about 3.5 hours, until we reached Nipawin. Our ultimate destination was the Nipawin Regional Park, but we did a bit of wandering through Nipawin first.
Nipawin has a population of about 4400 people. It’s a typical Saskatchewan town, with wide streets and polite drivers that never honked at us who were too busy gawking to pay much attention to the road. Nipawin is located between Codette Lake and Tobin Lake, on the banks of the Saskatchewan River. With multiple grocery stores, restaurants, shopping, and even a Tim Horton’s, residents can do everything they need to do in this well-equipped town.
Nipawin Regional Park
When I think of regional parks, I think of small parks with a couple of camping spots and a battered playground for kids—and that may be nothing close to the truth! But the Nipawin Regional Park has amazing camping spots, including some seasonal sites, excellent playgrounds for kids, a marina, and some amazing hiking trails.
There are several trails that wind through the park. Dave and I went on a hike on what I think was Walleye Trail. There’s a new bridge that crosses over a creek, but the view seemed better from the rickety old bridge below, so we headed down. Fallen trees created a tiny waterfall and the sound of the water was instantly relaxing. It was a great workout climbing the stairs to get to the top, where we were surrounded by tall trees. We could see the river peeking through the trees and we were drawn to the water, our path naturally following the route to the river. As we hiked down more steps, we realized we were at the Twin Marina, which is located right on the Saskatchewan River.
We stayed in Nipawin on a houseboat! Aurora Houseboats were our hosts, and it was five star! Our home for the night was a 12 sleeper houseboat, complete with 4 bedrooms, a full kitchen (with coffee pot!), hot tub, and GPS so novice houseboaters don’t get hung up on a sandbar. If you’ve never houseboated, I highly recommend it! The sound of the water lapping at the side of the boat might be the most relaxing sound you can fall asleep to. And waking up and enjoying a cup of coffee on the top of the houseboat is paradise.
Much to Dave’s dismay, we didn’t have time to fish, but if you are an angler, Tobin Lake has some of Saskatchewan’s best fishing. The provincial world record walleye was caught in Tobin Lake, and at over 18 lbs, it must have taken forever to reel it in! With several big fishing tournaments as well as other fishing events throughout the year, Tobin Lake is one of the best places to fish in Saskatchewan. I’ve promised Dave we will go back to do some fishing, so don’t worry about him!
The drive from Nipawin to Tobin Lake is bumpy at best, with bone rattling roads making me glad my coffee cup was almost empty. But the sight of the huge lake once you arrive is worth the drive. The resort village is small, but there are restaurants and a few other services inside the village. It was raining when we got there so we missed much of Tobin Lake, but we will definitely check it out when we go back.
Of course, one of my favourite things about any place I visit is the scenery, and the Nipawin/Tobin Lake area has that in spades! Large bridges span the river, creating beautiful profiles that I couldn’t help but photograph. Both cars and trains have to cross the river and the bridges are amazing to look at.
The same bridge but from a different view
The views as we drove up to Nipawin were fantastic, with bridges, old churches, and fields all competing for our attention. We found an old Depression era bridge just off of the highway, and upon exploring it, found that it led to exactly nowhere. It must have been replaced by the highway that ran parallel to it.
We also saw this old church in Fosston that was obviously no longer saving souls.
We stopped at this bridge that spans the Barrier River on highway 35, Apparently a fishing spot, we could see fishing line and lures wrapped around the power lines way above us. I’m not familiar with fishing, but that seems like a really bad cast.
Have you ever been north to Tobin Lake and Nipawin area? What were your favourite things about it?
Want some ideas for other Saskatchewan road trips?