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Asessippi Provincial Park

With several of our provincial campgrounds closed this summer due to flooding, campers and boaters may want to check out some new locations. One provincial park in western Manitoba is Asessippi Provincial Park located north of Russell.

Asessippi Park isn’t a large park – just 23 square kilometres – but there’s plenty to do for those who like outdoor activities. Its focal point is Lake of the Prairies, stretching north up the Assiniboine Valley from the Shellmouth Dam for about 65 km. The dam was built where the Shell River joins the Assiniboine, so the water also backs up into the valley of the Shell, and it is along that portion of the lake where most of the park lies. With the hills and lake, this is a particularly scenic region, especially in a year with bountiful rainfall to keep everything green.

Naturally, fishing is a prime activity for those who stay at the park. The lake is famous for its pickerel (walleye), as well as jackfish (northern pike) and perch. But if you’re not a fisherman, you could still enjoy boating, waterskiing, swimming, biking, parasailing, hiking or just relaxing around your campsite.

Boats are put into the lake near the dam, but can be parked overnight at the marina near the campground. (The road down to the marina is locked at night.) A few boats and canoes are available for rent from the concession booth, where light lunches and camping supplies can also be purchased.

On a recent stay at the park, I rented a yurt – a new experience – and very enjoyable. The screened walls give you the feeling of being in a tent, but can be closed if it’s cool, windy or rainy. There’s a heater to use if it’s cold, and a fan if it’s hot, and it’s roomy, with sleeping room for five. Asessippi has six yurts, but they’re quite popular so reservations are needed.

A new feature at the park this sum- mer is a hard-packed bike trail from the main campground to the pavilion above the beach. Just finished last fall, it’s about two km one way. Another improvement is the new children’s playground. In the same area is another feature for the young or young at heart: a miniature golf course.

Asessippi Park is a mixture of prairie meadows, wooded hills and water so the flora and fauna are varied. It’s a good spot for animal-or birdwatching, or looking at the wide variety of wildflowers. On my stay there I saw a large cinnamon-coloured bear and a couple of deer, as well as many rabbits hopping around in the campground. Geese, ducks and pelicans flew overhead, and songbirds could be heard, as well as late-night howling of coyotes and the “peep-peep-peep” of a saw-whet owl.

Asessippi Provincial Park – it’s a good place to spend a day – or a week.

– Donna Gamache writes from MacGregor, Manitoba

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