“One of my favourite autumn trips is south of Boissevain to the Turtle Mountains, which are often a little
later getting their fall colours.”
Summer has come and gone once more, and many people have put away their tents and trailers and called it a season. But for me, September is the best outdoor season – great for camping since the parks are less crowded, and wonderful for sightseeing, as the leaves begin their gradual change to red and gold, orange and brown.
One very scenic region of Manitoba in the fall is Spruce Woods Provincial Park. It’s also one of the earlier regions of southern Manitoba to begin the colour change, because of its location near the Assiniboine River. Golden birches and poplars intersperse with dark-green spruce in much of the region. Take a short hike along Marsh Lake for beautiful photo opportunities, or a longer one into the Manitoba Desert. If you want a long hike or bike ride, take the Epinette Trail all the way to Jackfi sh Lake. If you’re too late for the yellow poplars, you might just be at the right time for the showy tamaracks. For campers, Kiche Manitou Campground is still open, at least part of it, until Thanksgiving (October 12, this year.)
Other campgrounds with hydro and water still available until that weekend in eastern Manitoba are Big Whiteshell, Bird Lake, Nutimik Lake, Otter Falls and Tulabi Falls. For other closing dates, check the government website at: http://www.gov.mb.ca/conservation/parks/camping/dates.html.Some of the other campgrounds may be open without facilities.
North of Winnipeg, Birds Hill Provincial Park is beautiful in the fall. (Birds Hill is scheduled to shut down after Sept. 30, but sites without facilities will probably still be available.) We’ve camped there in the past in late September and had several
wonderful days hiking and biking on the trails. Deer and their fawns wandered through the campground, as did several wild turkey families.
One of my favourite autumn trips is south of Boissevain to the Turtle Mountains, which are often a little later getting their fall colours. We try to camp there at the end of September or the beginning of October. By that time the Adam Lake and William Lake areas are usually particularly scenic – depending on whether the region has been touched by frost. Some years we’ve found it still fairly green at that time; other years the whole region is a splendid gold! The campgrounds can still be used, though the water, main bathrooms, and electricity will probably be shut off. (If you want to double-check that the campground is still available, call the Lake Adam Maintenance at 534-6967.) Nearby attractions include the International Peace Garden (the flower gardens will have been dug up by that time, but the leaves can be spectacular)
DONNA GAMACHE PHOTOS
Above: MAX LAKE: The Turtle Mountain area can be very scenic in late September, early October. Left: BIRDS HILL CAMPGROUND: Wild turkeys are often seen in autumn.
or short, colourful drives to William Lake or Max Lake.
Riding Mountain National Park is another scenic destination in the fall. On a drive out to Lake Audy or Whirlpool Lake you’ll probably see wildlife of various kinds, and the leaves can be a lovely mixture of golden poplars and dark-green spruce. One of my favourite drives is the Rolling River Road, a gravel road that runs south from Highway 19. This will bring you out the south side of the park, and if you’d like a different route, you can make a round trip by driving south and east back to Onanole on gravel roads. If you’re wanting to camp, camping is available in Riding Mountain until Thanksgiving.
Autumn colours can be eye catching in many other parks, too. A drive through the Whiteshell or Nopiming parks is tempting, or a day trip to the Pembina Valley Provincial Park, southeast of Morden off PR 201. And, of course, it’s not just our parks that are beautiful. There are many other scenic drives such as Highway No. 10, from Minnedosa to Erickson; the whole Pembina Valley, including Pelican Lake and Rock Lake; the Birdtail Valley and the whole Assiniboine Valley. I’m sure readers can recommend their own special routes for a fall trip as well.
Don’t let Manitoba’s fall season pass you by, even though it can be a busy one. If you can’t squeeze in a few days’ camping, try at least to take a day trip or two to search out some of our beautiful autumn scenery.
– Donna Gamache writes from MacGregor, Manitoba