9 Prairie Waterbodies That You Must Visit This Summer

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When you think about the Canadian prairie provinces, beaches and swimming are probably not the first things that come to mind. But Saskatchewan, Alberta and Manitoba do, in fact, have some amazing waterbodies that you will want to be enjoying on your unicorn floaty. Keep reading to learn about nine prairie beaches you’ll want to be planning a trip to this summer!

 

Alberta

Aspen Beach on Gull Lake

Image from Swim Guide.

This day-tripping hotspot is an hour and a half south of Edmonton and two hours north of Calgary.  It’s located in Alberta’s first provincial park, Aspen Provincial Park. The sandy, flat, and shallow beach is ideal for swimming and is easily accessible from the main parking lot. Unfortunately, Fido has to stay at home as no dogs are allowed at this beach. Behind the beach area, there is a well-maintained playground as well as a concession that serves your typical beach fare, such as burgers and ice cream. If you’re looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life, this beach would be the perfect day trip from any of Alberta’s major cities.

Pro tip: Would recommend bringing a beach umbrella as shaded areas are minimal.

 

Kinbrook Island Beach

Image from Swim Guide.

This provincial park beach is just over two hours southeast of Calgary and has more than one public beach, multiple walking trails, and lots of wildlife to spot. There are a few clean and shallow beaches to choose from that are all within walking distance from the campsite and main parking lot. Your dog can come on this day trip, as the main beach has a dog-friendly area! For a mid-day treat there is usually an ice cream truck on site and a concession serving burgers, fries, and other snacks. There is also a marsh area nearby with a boardwalk where you can often spot a few pelicans or cormorants!

Pro tip: The bottom of some of the public beaches are a little rocky, so I’d recommend bringing water shoes.

Pro tip 2: The park store has a free air compressor for use to blow up your (probably unicorn) floaty!

 

Cascade Ponds Beach in Banff

Image from Swim Guide.

No list of must-visit beaches would be complete without one located in the beautiful Rocky Mountains of Alberta. This location is a 10 minute drive from the Banff townsite, and looks like a painting with its clear shallow waters and mountain backdrop. At the rest stop that leads down to the beach, there are public washrooms and a small picnic area that many people use for packed lunches. 

Pro tip: Choose a sunny day for this swim since the water can be very chilly, as is the case for many mountain lakes or streams. 

 

Saskatchewan

Good Spirit Lake Provincial Park 

This beach was named by Maclean’s as one of the top 10 beaches in Canada, and they made no mistake. The provincial park is located 30 minute northwest of Yorkton and is known for its sandy beaches and warm water. One of its key highlights is rolling sand dunes that are accessible nearby via walking or motoring trails. On-site there is fun for the whole family with a mini-golf course, volleyball and basketball courts, and a food concession equipped with ice cream.

Pro tip: This area has been under a boil water advisory since 2017, so pack as much drinking/cooking water as you’ll need for your trip.

 

Regina Beach on Last Mountain Lake

Image from Swim Guide.

This beach has golden sand with some small rocks, and the water is clear with little to no weeds. There is a long public beach for you and your family to lounge at, but this beach is not pet friendly. If boating is more your thing, a marina and public boat launch are accessible. This beach is a 45 minute drive northwest of Regina, and the main parking lot is a short walk to the beach area. There is also a beach volleyball court, a playground, and picnic tables for use, all with trees throughout this area for you to catch some shade.

Pro tip: There are tons of restaurants close to the beach, and many people agree that the fish and chips are a must-try from Blue Bird Cafe!

Pro tip 2: Go early, as this beach fills up fast on sunny weekends when people are trying to get out of Regina. 

 

Danielson’s Visitor Center Beach on Lake Diefenbaker

Image from Swim Guide.

This beach and lake were formed as the result of the damming of the South Saskatchewan River. Lake Diefenbaker has cold and clear waters, and three Saskatchewan provincial parks on its shorelines. At this site the beach is several kilometers long, and mostly sandy. Potash and other minerals are common here, so within the sand you can often see different colours caused by the sparkling minerals. As you get deeper into the water it can get quite rocky, so I’d recommend swimming shoes. Behind the beach is a grassy park and small playground to keep your young ones entertained. There are also washrooms, a concession, and a day use area open to the public! 

Pro Tip: there is next to no shady spots, so be sure to bring sunscreen and a beach umbrella!

 

Manitoba

Gimli

Image from Swim Guide.

Ever since visiting Gimli a few summers ago, I have shared this quaint yet exciting beach town with many of my friends and family. Gimli Beach is a long freshwater beach just over an hour drive north from Winnipeg and is one of many beaches on Lake Winnipeg. There are public washrooms, picnic tables, a playground, and many food options near this beach. A must-see is the pier near the marina, where local artists have painted beautiful art pieces along the pier. 

Pro tip: There is commercial fishing out of a local marina and the fresh fish is available in many restaurants in Gimli, so stop in for some fish and chips anywhere!

 

Grand Beach West 

Image from Swim Guide.

This beach is also located on Lake Winnipeg, and on a sunny summer day there can be up to a thousand visitors. The beach is three kilometers long, providing lots of room to find a spot for your family and friends and spread out with your umbrellas, blankets, and coolers. There are small shops, public washrooms,  food concessions, beach volleyball courts, and lifeguards on site. If you are up for a bit of exploring there are trails leading off the beach that showcase some of Manitoba’s rolling sand dunes. 

Pro tip: This beach has many cute local vendors selling beach cover-ups and hats in case you forget anything at home. 

 

Brereton Lake Beach

Image from Swim Guide.

This clear water and sandy beach is located in Whiteshell Provincial Park, which is just under two hours east of Winnipeg. There is great swimming, fishing, canoeing, and hiking located on and around this lake. There is a 5.5 kilometer hiking trail north of the lake named Amisk Loop trail that most visitors recommend. The trail takes you through a scenic forest and over to a rocky edge of the Rennie River. Also close to this beach is the Alfred Hole Goose sanctuary where you can see goslings from spring through fall, and visit their interpretive center!

Pro tip: This location is much quieter than many other Manitoba beaches, so you won’t have to scramble to find a spot on the sand!

 

I hope you make out to any of these or other prairie beaches this summer, and share your beach adventures through our social channels: Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. If you’re ever curious about the water quality of a waterbody, don’t forget to check out the Swim Guide app or website for the latest water quality monitoring updates across the prairies, Canada, and 7 other countries. And finally, if you happen to see pollution on any waterbodies that you’re visiting, please report it here to contribute to an important citizen science initiative.

 

Sources:

https://www.theswimguide.org/beach/330

https://www.theswimguide.org/beach/1132

https://www.theswimguide.org/beach/1154

https://www.tourismsaskatchewan.com/provincialpark/1811/good-spirit-lake-provincial-park

https://www.theswimguide.org/report/

https://www.theswimguide.org/beach/2591?set_language=en

https://www.theswimguide.org/beach/2406

https://www.theswimguide.org/beach/5590?set_language=en

https://www.theswimguide.org/beach/5606?set_language=en

https://www.theswimguide.org/beach/5674

https://www.tripadvisor.ca/Attraction_Review-g815510-d8774082-Reviews-Lake_Diefenbaker_Tourism-Outlook_Saskatchewan.html

https://www.tripadvisor.ca/Attraction_Review-g2155130-d287945-Reviews-Grand_Beach_Provincial_Park-Grand_Marais_Manitoba.html

https://www.tripadvisor.ca/Attraction_Review-g4604593-d12689721-Reviews-Regina_Beach_Recreation_Site-Regina_Beach_Saskatchewan.html

https://www.tripadvisor.ca/Attraction_Review-g154911-d186990-Reviews-Cascade_Ponds-Banff_Banff_National_Park_Alberta.html

Cover Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

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