Manitoba is known for its golden prairies, magic skies, and hundreds of thousands of lakes, the province has so much to offer. According to Jon, Asessippi Provincial Park is a must-see when it comes to visiting the Prairies, and it’s a destination that holds a place close to his heart for many reasons. Not only was he born and raised in the close-by town of Russell, Manitoba, Jon has some of his fondest memories working and recreating at Asessippi in his younger years with his friends and family. Asessippi Provincial Park offers camping facilities, trails for hiking and snowmobiling, boating, swimming and water sports on the lake, and not to mention some of the best walleye fishing in the province, all accompanied by breathtaking views. In the winter time the best downhill skiing between Thunder Bay and the Rockies can be found at Asessippi Ski Hill in the same Valley as Lake of the Prairies.
*Photos Courtesy of Travel Manitoba
Jon describes Winnipeg as the Manitoban capitol you never knew you needed, offering the best of big city amenities with community and kindness of a small Prairie town. A city well known for its art scene, museums, shopping and diverse restaurants, Winnipeg is a pleasant surprise to those who travel there. In the span of a day you can soak in nature at one of many lakes, like Falcon Lake, Caddy Lake, Rainbow Falls or Tulabi Falls and take in popular city attractions including The Winnipeg Art Gallery, The Manitoba Museum, The Churchill Assiniboine Zoo, The Canadian Museum of Human Rights. For dining, you can’t miss The Forks, a once abandoned rail yard turned into an open dining hall filled with shops and retail that stretches across 50 acres, and in the wintertime, it’s illuminated with lights and 150 ice-skating trails. If you’re looking for something a little more upscale, check out 529 Wellington, not only is it home to one of Manitoba’s largest wine cellars, 529 offers an extensive seafood menu and some of the country’s best selections of Canadian prime grade beef.
Clear Lake & Riding Mountain National Park
Located 250 km from Winnipeg is the tourist hot spot, Riding Mountain National Park. Many people know Riding Mountain Park for its great camping, gorgeous hikes, stunning lakes, watchable wildlife and breathtaking views, but we recommend looking up locally known adventures to get the full experience of this Prairie wonder. To start your adventure, swallow the sunset at Deep Bay, a hot spot known by locals at Clear Lake where the water drops from 2 ft to 200 ft in just a few steps. If seeing the northern lights dance is on your bucket list, head to Clear Lake Boat Cove a few hours after sunset and you’ll be able to see the aurora borealis in full effect on clear nights. Aside from this, Clear Lake offers picturesque golf courses, boat cruises, bike rentals, and hikes a plenty. If you’re up for a challenge, then head to Bald Hill, an 8.8km trail that many have never been able to find its peak. Just south of Riding Mountain National Park and near Clear Lake you can find Onanole RV Park to enjoy your stay.
Spend a day touring Jon’s hometown of Russell, Manitoba. There’s more to this small town than Arthur, the 8 foot tall bull statue (although he does make for a hilarious photo). Walk beneath the arches that line the street of Russell and head to Bin 22 Coffee Company, the town’s beloved coffee shop that serves all the usual suspects along with some unique signature blended drinks. If you prefer to shop while sipping a warm beverage, try TinHouse Designs & Coffee Co. where you can find unique pieces of art by designer Tyler Kilkenny. You will also want to spend some time getting to know the history of the town through a self-guided walking tour.
Lake of the Prairies
The Lake of the Prairies is a man-made lake that stretches 35 miles across Assiniboine River Valley, and is a short 20 minute drive away from Jon’s hometown of Russell. To give you a little history 101, Lake of The Prairies was formed back in 1967 during the building of the Shellmouth Dam, in an effort to control flooding along the Assiniboine river through to Winnipeg. Thanks to the construction, the reservoir was later named “The Lake of the Prairies’ and is now home to some of the best fly fishing in Canada and is considered one of the top walleye fisheries in Canada. For ice fishing enthusiasts, it’s all systems go at the Lake of the Prairies in the wintertime. World fishing events and attractions include the [Lions Prairies Classic, and the annual Lake of the Prairies Ice fishing Derby. As for campsites, you can book at Pyott’s West Campground with plenty of campsites located lakeshore.
Asessippi Ski Area & Resort
Jon recommends visiting Asessippi Ski Area & Resort. Nestled deep in the Shell River Valley near Inglis, offers 25 runs for downhill skiing and snowboarding, with half-pipe and two terrain parks. There are three chair lifts, one quad, two triple lifts, three surface tows and one snow carpet. The winter park offers three downhill snow tubing runs (ride up and slide down—no effort required!). With its charming winter village, the resort was the recipient of the Best New Attraction 2000 by Attractions Canada. Annual events include the Christmas Kids Day (December), Asessippi Family New Year’s Eve (December 31) , Asessippi Homecoming Weekend (February), the Slush Cup / Close of Season (late March/early April), and a variety of races during the season. In the summer months, enjoy downhill mountain biking available for every skill level, riders can find low-speed skill-building areas, hand-made technical trails with skill testing features, and of course, high-speed high-intensity downhill flow trails!