The winters may be long and brutal, but Manitoba is full of amazing parks and quirky locales. When spring comes, it’s the perfect time to get out of the house and explore the province’s hidden gems and we’ve put together a list of some of our favourite road trip destinations. Map out your route, cue the driving music and hit the highway for a fun day trip!
Here’s the hot spots we think are worth driving out to:
- Narcisse Snake Dens (North)
- Whiteshell Provincial Park (East)
- Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre (South)
- Spruce Woods Provincial Park (West)
- Check out our Winnipeg day trips blog post for trips only a short drive from the capital.
- Make sure you have a reliable vehicle for your journey!
Narcisse Snake Dens (North)
Each spring tens of thousands of red-sided garter snakes wriggle out of their winter dens to begin their annual mating ritual in the Narcisse Snake Dens. During this event you can see more snakes at once than anywhere else in the world! The dens are located about an hour and a half north of Winnipeg off Highway 17.
Depending on the weather, the best time to go is from late April to mid-May (keep an eye on the province’s website for activity updates). Pick a sunny day and plan to arrive around noon for the best snake viewing.
The park includes an accessible three-kilometre walking trail, interpretive signs, washrooms and a picnic area. There are no food vendors in the park, but you can grab lunch in the nearby towns of Inwood or Teulon.
Don’t forget to bring your camera — garter snakes are harmless to humans and visitors are welcome to pick up any of the slithery reptiles that may cross their path. If getting up close and personal with snakes isn’t your style, you can check out the dens from raised platforms along the trail.
Whiteshell Provincial Park (East)
Head west on the Trans-Canada Highway and you’ll find yourself in Manitoba’s Whiteshell Provincial Park. Even though the park is close enough for a day trip from Winnipeg, you may find yourself wishing for a few extra days once you arrive. With kilometres of hiking and biking trails, lakes, waterfalls, wildlife sanctuaries and campgrounds, you could easily spend a whole season exploring the diverse landscape.
For hikers, there’s a variety of self-guided trails for every experience level. For nature enthusiasts, there’s the Alf Hole Goose Sanctuary and the Fish Hatchery Interpretive Centre. The goose sanctuary was established in 1939 when four orphaned goslings made their way into Alf Hole’s life. Learn out the history and biology of geese and get up-close with the feathered Canadian icons in the sanctuary’s visitor centre.
The Bannock Point Petroforms are also a big draw for visitors looking to learn more about the Indigenous history of the area — however, keep in mind, the petroforms are a sacred place and it’s important not to touch the rock alignments.
Located within the park, the Falcon Lake Townsite has a full suite of amenities, including restaurants, a golf course, mini golf, tennis, horseshoes and a riding stable. Whether you’re into backcountry exploration or a more civilized day trip — the Whiteshell allows visitors to choose their own adventure.
Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre (South)
Morden may not be top of mind when it comes to exciting destinations, but the the small southern Manitoba town boasts the largest collection of marine reptile fossils in Canada. Drive down Highway 3 for about an hour and a half and you’ll find yourself at the Canadian Fossil Discovery Centre.
The centre is great for dino-loving little ones and curious adults alike. The huge fossil collection includes an impressive 80-million-year-old specimen named “Bruce,” which is largest mosasaur to be discovered in Canada. You can also arrange a guided tour of the museum or book a session in the centre’s Cretaceous Park Escape Room.
If you’re looking for a more hands-on experience, you can pretend to be a paleontologist for a day by signing up for a Fossil Dig Adventure Tour. You can join the centre’s excavation team in the Pembina Hills for a full or half-day dig northwest of Morden.
Spruce Woods Provincial Park (West)
Did you know that Manitoba has a desert? While it’s technically the largest stretch of sand dunes in Canada, the Spirit Sands in Spruce Woods Provincial Park has all the trappings of a true desert. Located in the southwest corner of the province, Spirit Sands is a four-square-kilometre area of sand dunes leftover from an ancient river delta.
Take a self-guided hike through the sandhills and you will likely spot some desert-dwelling flora and fauna, like cacti and hognose snakes. A few tips for hikers: stay on the designated trails to protect the fragile plants and animals, wear proper hiking shoes, bring water and watch out for poison ivy. Spring is a great time to visit Spirit Sands because it can get pretty hot in the dunes during the summer.
At the end of the trail, you’ll find the Devil’s Punch Bowl — a strange depression in the sand filled with an ever-moving pool of blueish-green water. There’s plenty of great lookout spots throughout the dunes, so make sure you bring a camera.
Road Trip Checklist
- DIY Car Sickness Kit
- Pre pick podcasts audiobooks
- Phone Chargers
- Car Insurance paid and valid
- Check weather of destination
- Check car oil/fluids/tire pressure
- Pre plan dinners
- Pre plan activities
- Tell friends or family where you’re going
- Check spare tire
- First aid kit
- Travel Mug
- Roadside emergency kit
- Garbage bags
Need a reliable vehicle for your road trip? Get in touch with our friendly in-house financing experts at Birchwood Credit Solutions today to find out how easy it is to get auto financing for your dream set of wheels.