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Our Canadian Adventure: the Saskatchewan Grasslands National Park Camping

Camping the Grasslands of Saskatchewan and falling alseep under the most beautiful night sky I've ever seen.

Grasslands National Park Camping

Most of the heart of North American is comprised of prairie like Little House on the Prairie style. The plains are temperate, covered by grass, and flat as far as the eye can see. Prairie is French for meadow and the Canadian Prairies look like endless meadow after endless meadow with tall grass waving in the wind.

Grasslands National Park Camping

Grasslands National Park Camping

We got our first glimpse of the Canadian Prairies in Alberta, but since we visited the Badlands, we didn’t really experience the great expanse of grass typically associated with the grasslands. So I was excited and a little apprehensive when we drove into Saskatchewan. After the Badlands, I was a little bit traumatized – were crazy mosquitos a thing everywhere in Canada? We had planned on camping in the Grasslands of Saskatchewan but I kept flip-flopping back and forth. Should we camp? Should we stay at a hotel? I was worried. One, because Mike said that there are lots of mosquitos on the prairies, and two, because Mike did not vet the place before I spontaneously booked it.

I booked Grasslands National Park on a whim because I wanted to see the sun set on the grasslands and because I heard that the stars are amazing in the prairies. Grasslands National Park is a Dark Sky Preserve, one of the largest and darkest. Mike and I are little bit obsessed with the night sky, so it seemed like a perfect choice.

Grasslands National Park Camping

Grasslands National Park Camping

In the end we camped, mostly because Mike convinced me that sometimes you have to suffer a little bit to experience the good stuff. So after a trip to the store to buy some hardcore bug spray and pants that would hopefully protect me from more bites, we set out to the park and I was glad we did! The drive in was gorgeously promising: endless fields of yellow and green long grass, gently waving in the wind with an expanse of blue sky as far as the eye could see. Mike and I kept joking to each other that we were in that old school windows background – the grassy green one with the most perfect blue sky and fluffy white clouds.

Grasslands National Park Camping

Grasslands National Park Camping

Driving through the Grasslands to get to the campsite was basically through a huge plain along a windy gravel road. You feel like you’re the only people on the planet – with the occasional bison and ten thousand prairie dogs to keep you company. We were hoping to see bison and we weren’t disappointed! Just after we drove through the gates, there were several just lounging around waiting to have their photos taken. They were huge and fluffy and seriously cute. Also seriously cute were the prairie dogs that were everywhere playing with each other, eating grass, and generally being chill. They were even at the campsite popping out their heads: curious, friendly, and polite, just the way you want your neighbors to be.

Grasslands National Park Camping

Grasslands National Park Camping

Grasslands National Park Camping

Grasslands National Park Camping

Speaking of the campsite, it was the complete opposite of what we usually go for. Typically we like trees for shade and for privacy, but if there’s one thing the Grasslands does not have, it’s trees. Happily it turned out to be our favorite campsite of our Canada trip  – the sites were spaciously wide open and the very epitome of camping in the prairies. Our tiny tent next to the endless sky and grass was just what I pictured when I dreamed about camping in the Grasslands. Bonus: there were no mosquitoes! It was just windy enough to blow all the bugs away and I was literally a happy camper.

Grasslands National Park Camping

Grasslands National Park Camping

Grasslands National Park Camping

Grasslands National Park Camping

We set up camp quickly – with the prairie dogs watching – then did a very quick hike to the ridge to watch the sunset. It got cold as soon as the sun dipped down below the horizon so it was time for a blazing fire and a side of patience. The light from sunset lingers for a long time in the prairies, which isn’t the best for stargazing – I actually ended up taking a quick nap while I was “waiting.” While I was busy sleeping, Mike was watching the stars twinkle into existence. I must’ve sensed the sky getting darker and darker because I woke with a start. I crawled out of the tent, my eyes bleary with sleep, to the most amazing night sky I’ve ever seen in my life.

Grasslands National Park Camping

If you ever want to see the Milky Way with your bare eyes, this is the place to do it. I felt so very tiny under a literal blanket of stars. We froze out butts off for way too long, hand-in-hard, staring at the sky. I’m so happy Mike was convinced that we should go. It was the perfect little camp trip and we’re already talking about when we’re going back.

Grasslands National Park Camping

Grasslands National Park Camping

 

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6 Comments

  1. Kelsey says:

    Amazingly gorgeous! Not sure why this post struck me so deeply…but it did! Thanks for sharing!

  2. STEPHANIE. You know how I love your pictures of the night sky—I share that deep space fascination and admiration, and am so moved by the beauty you’ve captured. Thank you. I miss you!

  3. Marie Lamensch says:

    Such gorgeous pictures! Whether you are looking at the land that goes on forever or at the sky, you do feel very tiny. It’s a good reminder that, as humans, we are part of something so much bigger.

  4. Ann says:

    Great blog entry and wonderful pictures. Any pointers on taking pictures of the night sky?

  5. Earth is a beautiful place to live. I always hope that we will not realize it too late.

  6. Leslie R. says:

    This looks amazing! My husband is from SK and has been begging me to visit.. I think I might!