Another Bucket list Item
For a number of years I have wanted to go to the Saskatchewan Sand Hills. These are not the ones up north that you need to fly into but they are the ones in southern Saskatchewan. I had read up on them, researched how to get there and was ready to go a couple years ago.
My problem was that I wanted to stay there overnight and having a RV was a sure way to attack attention, or so I thought, as there is no camping in the area. So now that I have the van set-up and with our former neighbors living out that way, off it was last week. The drive was a little mixed up as I went from Lethbridge to Medicine Hat, then to Eston then back down to the sand hills. My trip was a little longer than it should have been but it did allow me to see some friends and to cross on the ferry – three times!
So the travel – from Lethbridge you head to Medicine Hat. Fill up EVERYTHING at the hat as after the hat the towns get smaller and smaller. From Medicine Hat take the Buffalo Trail (Highway 41) to Highway 545, then travel east on 545 to Highway 21. Then head north to Leader Saskatchewan then head back east traveling to Sceptre, Saskatchewan on Highway 32.
You are getting there!!!!
Okay if you made it this far you are doing good but from here it is not easy to find the sand hills. It is like nobody wants you to find them and when you Google it you are told to go to the Sand Hill Museum in Sceptre, I think this is a way to get visitors to the museum but it is annoying. From Sceptre you travel east one grid road, then turn south, continue to travel south till you see a curved intersection and take the turn. Continue one road west and then turn south again. Travel till you hit the sand hills. Here is a Google map link but not sure how long this will be active.
Now you may ask, can we not follow the signs? Well if there were signs it would sure help!! When you turn south on the gravel road at Sceptre you will see signs for bird viewing but not for the sand hills, these bird viewing signs will take you in the right direction. When you get past the curved intersection you will see a sign that says sand hills and that will start to point you in the right direction.
There are other ways to get there but everyone I talked to said BAD idea as the other roads are worse. Lots of back roads and sandy driving.
Once you get there, and maybe I should have mentioned this more before, there is NOTHING!!!! No shelter, No toilets, No water. If it is in the summer you are going to want to have a lot of water. The days that I was there it was 32C the first day at 3pm and 8 that night. It was actually cold by 10pm as the temperature dropped so fast. The following day it was up to 28C by 10am. It is DRY as well!!!!! There is limited cell phone service for emergencies. Also there is no camping in the area.
Sand Hills First Impressions
Now about the sand hills. If you are expecting dune after dune of sand you will be disappointed. There are several dunes that are active over a great distance. But on good years when there is moisture plants start to cover the dunes. The only dune at the parking lot is slightly north west of the parking lot and it is not huge. There are other dunes but they are spread out and require hikes to get to. Again if you are hiking TAKE WATER!!!! It is hot and dry!!!!
I was disappointed when I pulled up seeing only the one dune but knowing that most times it is only by exploring that you will see the cool things I headed out to explore. The animal and bird life in the area and the texture of the sand drifts was amazing. After being there a few minutes I had a chat with a guy that works in the area, and then another guy from Vancouver explaining the area so that was cool. Then a couple from France showed up and we tried communicating with my limited French and their limited English. It was interesting!