Of all the national parks that I've visited, Riding Mountain surprised me the most. Located on the Manitoba Escarpment, a long stretch of steep hills dating back 65 million years, the park rises from the surrounding farmland like an island in a sea of prairies.
Here you'll find Clear Lake, its startling blue waters bordering the Wasagaming townsite. Strolling around this small community of log cabins, some of them dating back to the 1930s, you might feel like you've accidentally wandered onto the set of a movie.
I arrived for the first time on a rainy afternoon. It was early spring in Manitoba and the black bears were just starting to emerge from their winter dens to feast on the dandelions that grow alongside the road. One morning I saw eight of them while driving out to Moon Lake to watch the sunrise.
If bears aren't your idea of a good time, there are plenty of other interesting things to look at, including moose, deer, elk, wolves,
and a herd of bison that roam the shores of Lake Audy. The park also offers beautiful trails for hiking and cycling. Not to mention plenty of places to picnic and swim.
When exploring the area, be prepared to drive down a couple of bumpy dirt roads, especially if you're heading to the top of the Manitoba Escarpment along Highway 19. Your car might get a little muddy, but the views are definitely worth a trip.
Overall, I loved my time here and I can't wait to go back again. Despite being one of the lesser known national parks in Canada, Riding Mountain is a real gem.
Don't miss the chance to take in a show at Park Theatre, the largest log-cabin movie theatre in the world. Other recommendations: Ominik Marsh, the East Gate National Historic Site, and the Foxtail Cafe.