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Why a Visit to the Canadian Prairies in Winter is Totally Worth it
The prairies stretch from Alberta all the way to Manitoba, an endless flat plain of brown soil and grassland. Everywhere, silver grain silos, red barns and farm houses rise out of the semi-arid landscape. Pump jacks dot the fields, their horse heads rising and falling in an eternal nodding gesture, pumping the valuable oil from the ground. The general consensus seems to be, that these thousands of kilometers of flat farmland are best visited in the summer months, when the canola fields are in full bloom, birds, bees and butterflies flutter through the tall grass and the delicious Saskatoon Berries are in season.
The summers are nice, yes. But winter in the prairies has it’s own special charm. The hay bales and fields are dusted in a layer of snow and the sun hangs low in the sky, casting a soft light on the landscape. The roads are empty and only very few visitors pass through, which makes for a more relaxing experience if you are like me and are trying to avoid the crowds. Peace, serenity and empty provincial parks await.
A Few Inspiring Destinations to Get the Planning Started
Drumheller: Dinosaurs? Check. Hoodoos? Check. Cool valley landscape? Check. Due to the many dinosaur fossils found in the area, people come here to visit the skeletons exhibited in the Royal Tyrrell Museum, but also to enjoy the incredible badlands landscape, which ranges from beautiful farmland to the layers upon layers of vibrant rock lining the Dinosaur Valley.
Dinosaur Provincial Park: More twisted rock formations and barren landscapes resembling some distant planet can be found further south in the Dinosaur Provincial Park. It’s another area where a mind boggling amount of dinosaur bones have been discovered.
Cypress Hills: The prairies are flat, but not completely so. The Cypress Hills rise about 600 meters out of the surrounding fields and are a mix of wetlands, forests and grasslands with a great wildlife and plant diversity. It’s also a Dark Sky Preserve, meaning you will see the stars shining brightly and will be able to admire a perfectly visible Milky Way. In winter, cross-country skiing and ice fishing are popular activities.
Winnipeg: There’s more to Winnipeg than finding out whether it actually deserves the name Winterpeg. The city has a lot to offer and especially the turn of the century architecture and the many museums and galleries are interesting.
Take the VIA Rail across the Prairies: There’s nothing like experiencing the endless plains of the prairies in style from within a comfortable train.