Saskatchewan is a prairie province, known for its beautiful open skies and acres of pretty farmland. Think: Miles of neon-yellow mustard fields, orange sunflowers, and golden wheat swaying in the breeze. It's also home to 100,000 beautiful, clean fresh water lakes with big sandy beaches, making this province the place for R&R by the shore. Plus, you know there will be plenty of spots for boating, swimming, windsurfing, paddling, and fishing, too.
In fact, the fresh water angling is some of the best in the world, and you might just hook the big one. Saskatchewan lakes have yielded three world-record-sized fish, including a 25.1-lb burbot, 48-lb rainbow trout, and 18.3-lb walleye. You can ice fish, snowmobile, and cross-country ski on the lakes in winter, and play in, on, and around them in summer. The easy going locals are known for being super friendly and unpretentious, and warm, sunny summers are nothing short of glorious. Here are Saskatchewan's 10 most amazing lakes, ready for exploring.
1. Little Manitou Lake
Southeast of Saskatoon, Little Manitou Lake is unique to the western hemisphere. It's salty -- with three times the mineral density as the ocean -- allowing swimmers to float easily, like in the Dead Sea. Many say the waters are therapeutic for the skin and body, too. Go in summer and stay at Manitou Springs Resort.
2. Reindeer Lake
Fly-in fishing is a big draw for Reindeer Lake in northeast Saskatchewan near the Manitoba border. Expect to haul in big walleye, grayling, whitefish, lakers, and northerns from the province's second-largest lake while savoring a break from civilization at a wonderfully remote five-star lodge. It's also the deepest lake in the province at 710 feet down, carved by a meteorite 140 million years ago.
3. Good Spirit Lake
Follow a trail through dense forest and it opens up to reveal Good Spirit Lake's top-rated main beach, an exceptional strip of sandy, shallow shoreline, which also boasts warm waters, miles of sand dunes, and great swimming holes. Campsites and cabins scattered throughout the pines and aspens benefit from refreshing lake breezes. Hiking options abound in this southeastern provincial park and wildlife viewing opportunities are plenty. Locals rave about this place, ideal for a classic, old-style lakeside vacation.
4. Lake Athabasca
Lake Athabasca is Saskatchewan's very deepest and largest lake, covering a whopping 3,064 square miles. Just south of the Northwest Territories, it's a place of pristine natural beauty, a unique ecosystem of rare plants, and the famed vast stretch of sand dunes. And of course, incredible lake trout and northern pike fishing thanks to the cold waters.
5. Candle Lake
Beach vacation on your mind? It has to be centrally located Candle Lake, best for clear water and sandy beaches surrounded by pine and aspen forest. Camping is big, as is sunbathing, and golf nearby in the resort village. The lake's Sandy Bay, Waskateena, and Minowukaw are some of the top lake beaches in the country. Add canoeing, cycling, and sailing to the activities list, if you want a more active vacation.
6. Lake Diefenbaker
Dubbed Canada's Great Lake, manmade Lake Diefenbaker in southern Saskatchewan is where you want to go for boating, golf, and some of the best walleye angling around -- this is the lake that produces record-breakers. You'll also want to play in the seven parks, watch a movie at an old-style at the drive-in, camp, bird watch, and take advantage of the 500 miles of sandy-beach shoreline.
7. Lac La Ronge
Canoeing is the thing at Lac La Ronge, in the boreal forest of central Saskatchewan. The provincial park is globally renowned as wilderness canoe heaven. Follow one of 30 paddling routes along the Churchill River system inside the rocky outcroppings of the Canadian Shield, just like fur-trading voyageurs once did en route to Hudson Bay. Or fish in the lake, looking out for beaver, bald eagles, and muskrat.
8. Waskesiu Lake
If you like quiet, choose tranquil Trippes Beach on Waskesiu Lake's sleepy southwest side. It's also set in central Prince Albert National Park, one of the province's most scenic. Pack a picnic and a good book. Swim, lounge, sunbathe, play Frisbee, bike, or hike, and if you decide you need some action, head to the resort village.
9. Katepwa Beach
Tiny Katepwa Point Provincial Park northeast of Regina was one of Saskatchewan's very first six parks, and it's still lovely. The green, hilly, rural Qu'Appelle Valley, originally settled in the 1890s by European immigrants, is worth the trip alone to Katepwa Beach, the prettiest in the area. Picnic and barbecue, and watch the sun set over the lake from your rented cabin deck.
10. Meadow Lake
The challenging 70-mile Boreal Trail of Meadow Lake Provincial Park in central Saskatchewan is the provincial park network's single backpacking trail -- through forest and past some 20 lakes. Combine a backcountry adventure with R&R on classic Kimball Lake beach, a large golden-sand beach. Water ski, paddle, boat, windsurf, swim, play volleyball, or just float along under the big prairie sky.