Couples RV Road Trip through Manitoba
Our guest post comes from Bill & Bonnie Neely of: Real Travel Adventures Ezine – Your free online monthly travel magazine with hundreds of features and photos on travel to anywhere.
Driving our RV across Manitoba, we scouted the highways north to south and east to west and saw pretty countryside changing to prairie and farmland with huge sky beautifully reflected in all the many lakes.
It’s a picturesque drive and almost totally flat, not unlike Kansas but with more trees and lakes. We often put in a long day because it isn’t dark in summer until nearly midnight in the upper regions of the province.
Our first destination was Winnipeg, the bustling capital city. On our first morning there we selected Assiniboinne Park, a picturesque park designed by the architect who laid out New York Central Park. It was fun watching moms with strollers, joggers, and many school groups visiting the wonderful Winnipeg Zoo.
We strolled along cobblestone and natural bark pathways of the colorful formal English Garden, exquisite each season of the year beneath huge trees. We also enjoyed the large Sculpture Garden and the Wol Sculpture Center. People were feeding the ducks in the clean and peaceful pond. We passed the Lyric Band Shell and Theater. The park is over 100 years old and the original Pavilion is beautifully restored. We enjoyed two floors of incredible Canadian art in the free galleries upstairs.
Winnipeg claims to have so many restaurants that you could eat in a different one three meals a day for two years and never try them all. Is it true? Who knows! But we chose what surely must be the very best: Tavern in the Park, where we dined in the all-glass sun room overlooking the park. Our food was excellent and as pretty as it was delicious.
Next we moved downtown to spend some delightful hours at the Manitoba Art Museum. For the evening we moved to the vast center of evening events at The Forks, where the Red River and the Assiniboinne Rivers meet. What a well-planned place for all the after-work sports fun. It seemed the whole city had turned out on bicycles, skates, or with jogging shoes or balls to play for free family fun.
We had expected the Aboriginal Celebration there to be an Indian Powwow, as we had seen in Oklahoma, but instead it was a pop band concert with all modern native families in jeans and tee shirts listening to the music in the band shell while lounging on blankets and sharing picnics. The handmade items and other trinkets for sale in the stalls were varied.
We drove around the St. Boniface area, which is the old French Quarter and now has many eclectic restaurants, shops, and galleries.
We next headed up Highway 8 stopping at Riverton, a small community started by Icelandic and Ukrainian settlers. We drove all afternoon beside Lake Winnipeg, the 10th largest fresh water lake in the world. It was a gorgeous drive with swamps of tall grass, hundreds of birds, ducks, and geese. The fins, which are like many smaller lakes were all around us and everywhere the brilliant blue sky was reflected in all the waters, making a big sky appear even larger!
We stopped at Hecla Provincial Park, and the lovely lighthouse over 100 years old. We took photos and had dessert in the little bar of the old Inn. The rentals in this area are perfect for people who want to stay on the water. We drove westward on Highway 68 where we stopped for the night at Ste. Rose du Lac, a tiny town with a free RV park. The river that runs behind it is good for fishing.
Next we drove to Riding Mountain National Park and Biosphere and checked into the pretty Wasagaming Campground. There are many large trees in the grassy, wide sites with full plug-ins. There are many different terrains of campgrounds there from which to choose, and you can get permits for wilderness camping. Because it is a protected biosphere the land remains natural with animals protected and no spraying for insects. For this reason we selected a campsite away from the underbrush’s areas.
Each of the major National Parks in Canada has a small village in the center, with restaurants, gift shops, groceries, gas, etc., and rental properties for sleeping overnight or longer stays. There in the town of Clear Lake, where the Visitor Center is located, we loved walking the paved pathways along the lake beneath tall trees. There were plenty of benches to sit and enjoy watching the boats and people on the lake. It is a really gorgeous resort area, built by the Workers’ Relief Program in 1930′s.
At the excellent Visitor Center a natural history museum shows many of the wild animals indigenous to Manitoba. The park has some of the largest black bears and moose in Canada. We watched a fascinating film about black bears.
Black bears usually don’t bother people, but we were reminded that they are still wild and not to be approached or trusted. We saw a gray fox along the road and then drove to see the wild bison herd, a grand adventure for a rainy day.
We were amazed to watch a great gray owl fly in front of us several times, with a wingspan of over 3 feet. We tried a hike but the mosquitoes in the swampy area we had inadvertently selected were terrible, so we abandoned it.
We had a long drive to the east end of the park where there is a large escarpment cliff of shale, which creates some challenging hikes from top or bottom. We had intended to take the shortest hike, about 6 km. However, when we started out we realized after 30 minutes of hiking, that it was straight up and only slippery mud because of the wet season just ending. We abandoned this hike after an hour. We drove to the suggested easy hike called Burls and Bittersweet Trail.
It was an easy 2 km with a little guide to look for things in nature and to create interest in an otherwise rather boring trail. We made the loop but the mosquitoes and mud were terrible. While driving back we saw a mother bear and two cubs crossing the road. We returned to wander around the pretty town with interesting shops and to reflect on such a beautiful road trip.