*Bonus points if you can come up with a catchy tour name*
One of the best things about getting involved in tourism in Southwest Saskatchewan is building relationships, networking, and seeing tourism businesses work together to create new experiences.
This past weekend, I joined Cypress Hills-Grasslands Destination Area, Carefree Adventures, The Crossing, Mary’s Labyrinth, Yoga with Norine, and Cypress Hills Winery on an adventure in the west block of Grasslands National Park.
When I travel, I like a balance of free time and guided tours. Jumping on an organized tour takes the logistics and planning out of the picture. Some people thrive off of organizing and day planning, but I am definitely not one of those people. Grace and I spent 2 nights in Grasslands, allowing for some free exploration, as well as a day of guided adventuring.
We started the day at The Crossing, a unique accommodation just outside of Val Marie. They have a beautiful yard with views of 70 Mile Butte and offer two one roomed suites and one with two bedrooms.
We then jumped in The Prairie Dog tour bus that was pulling a trailer full of Kayaks and took a scenic drive into Grasslands National Park. Carefree Adventures is a kayak tour company. They bring everything you need for a paddle: kayaks, life jackets, safety gear, paddles, and knowledge of the Frenchman River. As much as I would love my own kayak, the thought of hauling it around and cleaning it for inspection makes me happy to just use Carefree’s equipment. It’s also nice to have a guide that is familiar with the river and the plants and animals found in it. An added bonus for me was that I got to bring my step daughter. I loved seeing her enjoy kayaking as much as I do. She was a natural!
After a great paddle, we headed to a scenic lookout in the park for a snack and yoga. We wanted to incorporate a First Nations and Metis theme, so blueberry pemmican, bison tongue, and bread with berries it was. I’m not sure if that will be part of the actual tour, but if you know me, trying new food on my travels is something I love to do. A couple of us were a bit squeamish as we tried the bison tongue, but it was actually not too bad….with salt.
Norine Leibel is a yoga instructor out of Val Marie. She led us through a yoga routine that was perfect for our post kayaking bodies. It was so relaxing to stretch out while listening to her calming voice and staring out over a breathtaking lookout.
Next, we travelled back to The Crossing to experience Mary’s Labyrinth. This was new for me! Susan, the co-owner, told us that labyrinths have been found all over the world. They aren’t like a maze, where you can get lost and hit dead ends, but rather a pathway to follow while you meditate, reflect, or pray. This one was set up in a spiral with paths made buy cut grass. As I walked through, I reflected on the past year and all of the changes since quitting my full time job. I used the time to think about the gratitude I have and to repeat affirmations to myself to keep me on track.
What better way to end a great day than with wine and food? I brought out the bannock that I had narrowly saved from an oven fire the morning prior and the others brought out chilli, pie, and fruit. We sat, sipping wine from Cypress Hills Winery and chatting about all of the fun that was had.
There is so much potential for greatness when businesses work together. I have had the opportunity to join a similar tour offered by many of the same partners, and I look forward to seeing what new adventures we can create, together. There is so much to see and do in the Cypress Hills-Grasslands Destination Area and Southwest Saskatchewan.
Jumping on a tour is really a stress free way to travel and experience the most that an area has to offer. If you have thoughts about what you’d like to see included in a package, reach out. We all love to hear new ideas!
Here are some photos of what Grace and I saw on our free time in the park.