Adventure weekend showcases winter fun at Riding Mountain National Park

Crunching snow along the trails of Riding Mountain National Park, guide Marg Tarleton showcases the wonderland Riding Mountain National Park becomes during the winter.

On Saturday Tarleton and her husband Paul led a group of snowshoers as part of the park’s 18th annual Winter Adventure weekend, which ran from Friday to Sunday. It featured a variety of activities including guided snowshoeing, fat bikes and guided cross-country skiing, along with snow sculptures through the town of Wasagaming.

“I always encourage people to come out to Riding Mountain in the winter. It’s an experience that maybe a lot of people haven’t had because they think of it as a summer place,” Tarleton said.

“Sometimes people are really hesitant to go outside in the winter by themselves … we’re familiar with the area so we decided that we would volunteer to do this to encourage people to come out and to increase their comfort level.”

The group of about a dozen traversed the two-kilometre Brule Trail, which is part of a larger trail system. Tarleton says she chose the section because it’s easily accessible and the snow is packed by the park — making it an ideal trail for people new to the sport.

A man skates down an iced trail in the forest.
Skaters use the iced trail system in the Wasagaming townsite. (Chelsea Kemp/CBC)

For those getting into snowshoeing, Tarleton says the most important thing is to dress in layers to stay warm, always head out with a buddy and make sure someone knows where you are and when you expect to be home.

Embracing winter

CEO of Friends of Riding Mountain National Park George Hartlen said the goal of the Winter Adventure weekend is to help encourage people to get active during the some of the coldest months of the year.

“We’re just early on to February and people are starting to get a little bit of cabin fever happening. So it’s a good opportunity to get out, enjoy the great outdoors and experience Riding Mountain in winter,” Hartlen said.

“Winter is our longest season … embrace it and dress accordingly and just do what you can.”

Friends of Riding Mountain National Park is always trying new things to get people active outside, Hartlen said. The goal is to make the great outdoors an enjoyable and accessible experience for everyone.

The park was transformed with snow sculptures spread across the Wasagaming townsite as part of the plan to celebrate Riding Mountain year-round, Hartlen said, and remind people there are things to do outside the summer season.

A man stands in front of a bison snow sculpture.
Friends of Riding Mountain National park CEO George Hartlen stands by a snow sculpture in Wasagaming on Saturday, Feb. 4. (Chelsea Kemp/CBC)

The next major weekend of activities will take place on the Feb. 20 weekend for Louis Riel Day, including maple syrup rolling, bannock making and the Manitoba Snowshoe Run on Monday.

“It’s just always nice to encourage people to come out to the park and enjoy everything at the park has to offer, no matter what the season is … Don’t be afraid of going out into the outdoors,” Hartlen said.

“Stop on in, get some information on the trails and then just pick your adventure.”

Roland Liwanag and a group of friends made the trek from Brandon to check out the Winter Adventure Weekend. The trip was organized through their church, International Worship Centre, and included about five families with kids.

It was their first time coming into Wasagaming in the winter, Liwanag said.

He said the Adventure Weekend pushed them to try something new.

“In winter you don’t get to go out as much, so this would be a great time to do something fun with friends … We are just glad that this site has organized a winter festival and just a nice time,” Liwanag said.

A snow sculpture of a fox.
A person walks by a snow sculpture in Wasagaming. (Chelsea Kemp/CBC)

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