What to do in Riding Mountain National Park
A weekend getaway in Riding Mountain National Park
Clear Lake and the national park it resides in has been an all-season destination for me since I was born. When I was little my grandparents had a super quaint little cabin in the old campground, I wish I could walk through that place again; a rust-orange reclininer, Sherlock Holmes books, crib board, a classic circle table patio set with tipsy metal chairs and an umbrella. We'd go to the playground and the beach and walk their husky past the green frog rock to the park and back.
In later years I went to summer camp and fell in love with Camp Wannakumbac, eventually becoming a counsellor. Now I take trips up every summer for Whitehouse cinnamon buns and stunning kayak rides, and also during the winter for a cozy, quiet, cabin stay and snowshoeing. This past weekend was especially great because I got to travel in a Ford EcoSport. This mini-SUV is everything I could ask for. It's sporty, has a great music system, a sunroof and is big enough to feel like a young professional boss babe but small enough to not feel like a soccer Mom.
If you're planning a weekend getaway and want to indulge in some of Manitoba's beauty I'd highlight recommend Clear Lake. I'm enlisting some expert from an Onanole local Megan Lane of Adventures Begin Now and we're breaking down what to do, where to eat and obviously..where to get the best Instagram pics.
Where to Eat/Drink in Riding Mountain National Park
- Whitehouse - like I said, cinnamon buns are a must. The Whitehouse make a towns best breakfast and the line you'll probably have to stand in is worth the wait!
- Fox Tail - the Fox Tail has two locations, one just outside the park and one near the main drag. Head here for pizza and cocktails, great appetizers and great soup.
- T.R. McKoys - This is where you're going for a fancy wine & dine experience. Main attractions are pizza, pasta and wine.
- Sportsmans Park - aka Sporty's has your burgers, chicken fingers, greasy pizza and ice cream. Just outside the park, a good quick stop.
- The Boardwalk - Burgers, fries, wraps, etc. including a veggie burger. Oh and they have a full hard and soft ice-cream bar
- The Chocolate Fox - Gelatoooooooo. Need I say more?
- Poor Michaels Cafe - Doubles as a jewllery, clothing and used book shop. It's outside of the park but for sure has the best coffee bar with tons of non-dairy and flavour options. Pretty much starbucks but way more hipster.
Where to stay in Riding Mountain National Park
- Check out Clear Lake Country for tons of accommodation options or rent a campsite through the parks canada website
What to do in Riding Mountain National Park
- Rent a kayak, canoe, pedal boat, or paddle board from the marina
- Rent a random bike - next to T.R. McKoys
- Swim at Deep Bay
- Play beach volleyball on the main beach
- Hike - as recommended by Megan "Brule trail is the best short one and Reeve's Ravine is a great more challenging trial and the best way to Bald Hill, be careful the signage sucks".
Photo Ops in Riding Mountain National Park
- Red chairs - there are 8 sets.
- The fairy garden and more creatively the bridge on the road that runs passed it (photo below). We didn't get here for sunset but it faces West and hosts some epic dusk photos
- The pier at the main beach
- The boat docks
- The canoe grave yard - at the end of Third Street North in the Old Campground. From the town walk up the path by the tennis courts and playground to get to the old campground.
My Dream Weekend in Riding Mountain National Park
Leave work after Friday and get to the park around 7:30. Set up camp and bbq chicken and veggie skewers for dinner. Play cards at a picnic table and sit around a fire (preferably with a guitar).
Dress for a hike but first stop is the Whitehouse for hash browns, a fruit cup and an iced latte. Take a cinnamon bun to go. Head out to Reeve's Ravine Trailhead and start the 9km time hike (I've yet to do this!!). Come back to town and hit the beach for a cooling dip and soak up the rays with a book or podcast for a few hours. Walk through the town and check out all the little shops, probably grab some gelato on the way. Back to the campsite for another grilled dinner.
Spend the evening enjoying some entertainment in the park like live music at the Lakehouse patio (Sundays), Karaoke night at the WigWam (Fridays), or a movie in the old theatre (k this isn't my dream because I hate movie theatres but I think lots of people would like it).
Sunday - start the day slow, make breakfast and a nice french pressed coffee over the fire. Go on a little photo taking adventure for content. Spend the afternoon on a floaty at Deep Bay.
Sunday evening: Pack up, and head back to reality.
Summer is nearing it's end but if you're craving a city escape or a camp vibes weekend load up your Ford Eco Sport with sleeping bags, a cooler and your camera and head out to Riding Mountain.