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  Prince Albert National Park

Prince Albert National Park is located 200 km (120 miles) north of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan (metro pop. 260,000, 2011 census). It's open year around, but May to September is the most popular period (page updated 2012).

The million-acre park sits on the southern edge of Canada's great boreal forest in a transitional zone featuring a mixture of spruce, pine and aspen forests containing numerous lakes, rivers and streams. Eskers, the narrow, sinuous ridges of gravel and sand left behind as the glaciers retreated, and drumlins, smooth, egg-shaped hills formed during the same process, can be seen in the park.

Elk, black bear, fox, moose, beaver, deer, badger and many other varieties of wildlife range within the park, which boasts of being "one of the few places left in the world where timber wolves live undisturbed". Park staff will suggest best-bet locations if you wish to try to listen for the evening howlings, or you may wish to inquire about the interpretive program in which visitors learn how to howl for wolves. Some 195 species of birds have been spotted in the park, which is home to the second-largest flock in Canada of rare white pelicans. A colony of double-crested cormorants nests on an island in the park, and loons can be heard nightly. Remember to bring insect repellent. The mosquitoes can be bad after a wet spring.

The village of Waskesiu, located on the shores of a lake bearing the same name, is the only community within the park's boundaries. Most of the facilities one would expect to find in a tourist town are located in Waskesiu, including souvenir shops, restaurants, hotels and motels, rental cabins, camping areas, a beach, tennis courts, and one of the most beautiful golf courses in the province.

Backcountry campers must register in person at the park Information Centre in Waskesiu before setting off into the wilderness. In addition to park entry fees (see park's page) backpackers must pay additional nightly fees for use of campsites on the trail (higher fees in the more developed, "drive-in" campgrounds). Backcountry sites are located on Kingsmere and Crean lakes, and on the Bladebone and Bagwa canoe routes (canoe rental is available at three marinas). Backcountry camping is not limited to the designated trails and routes. Many other opportunities exist for wilderness travel, and there's no nightly charge for camping in these unserviced areas. Anglers should note that while a provincial fishing licence is not required, a national park one is.
Prince Albert National Park, in Saskatchewan’s boreal forest.

If you're considering canoeing to Grey Owl's cabin, park officials recommend setting aside two days for the journey. While Kingsmere Lake is frequently peaceful and placid, it can be a killer. Canoeists are strongly advised against crossing the lake because of the strong northwesterlies that can rise up quickly. The cabin is reached by staying close to the eastern shore, where the campsites and piers are located. Car parking is free in the lot at the trailhead, where both canoeists and backpackers depart for Grey Owl's cabin.

More about Grey Owl:

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