Province/Territory: Saskatchewan

Hike and canoe along the shores of one of Canada’s largest lakes

  • 8000 years since humans first set foot here
  • 30 metre high dunes stretching for over a hundred kilometres
  • 30000 hectares of the world's most northerly expanse of active dunes

You arrive by floatplane on Lake Athabasca to explore a string of spectacular dunes stretching for over a hundred kilometres toward the horizon. This is the Athabasca Sand Dunes Provincial Wilderness Park, the most northerly expanse of active dunes in the world and containing an extraordinary array of wildlife and a fragile ecosystem of rare plant species.

Paddling along the mouth of the William River, you set off to explore this subarctic desert-like terrain. You’ll spend the next few days hiking to the largest dunes, trekking through the exhumed forest and meandering along the beach. By the time you return to the shores of Lake Athabasca you’ll understand why this place of tranquil grandeur is being protected.

Why you should visit
  • Fly in a floatplane along the south shore of one of the world's largest lakes to the mouth of the William River.
  • Hike and paddle through an area unique to North America.
  • Stand on top of the biggest, most northerly sand dunes on the continent. Dunes are between 400 to 1,500 metres long and can reach approximately 30 metres in height.
  • Learn about the boreal flora and fauna, the landforms and history of the Canadian Shield.
  • Visit rock paintings to learn about Canada's First Peoples.
  • Venture where few have gone before. Catch a glimpse of the area’s native eagles, mergansers, ospreys and plovers. Catcha glimpse of a bear or wolf.
  • Learn why the Athabasca Sand Dunes Provincial Wilderness Park is protected.
  • Explore the exhumed forest or wander along the beach, learning about endemic plants and bird life.
  • Listen to a loon’s distant cries as you sip your early morning coffee at your lakeside camp.
  • Arrive back in Missinipe in time for a celebratory meal together.

Weather

  • Saskatchewan summers are usually warm and dry. Long days of sunshine extend from late-May until late September. Expect average daily July temperatures of 23°C.
  • Spring lasts from March until mid-May and brings variable temperatures and some rain.
  • The end of September brings the colourful season of Fall and lasts through October. The days can be warm and sunny but an extra sweater is always a good idea.
  • Discover local weather information. Research local weather patterns at Environment Canada's Canadian Climate Website.
Visitor information
  • Churchill River Canoe Outfitters rates & dates.
  • Trips follow the same route as Canada's famous Voyageurs.
  • Program dates and the content can be customized for groups of 5 or more.
  • Novice, intermediate or advanced canoe paddlers are welcome.
  • Each guide is trained in rescue, first aid and CPR.
When to go
  • The Athabasca Sand Dunes 7-day trips run during the month of July. A number of other excursions are also offered throughout the province from June to September.
Need to know
  • Royal Trail Head Prospector expedition canoes are used.
  • Guests sleep in comfort on Thermarest mattresses in warm Hollofill sleeping bags.
  • Guests have plenty of time each day to take photos, fish, and relax by the fire.
  • Meals are cooked on environmentally friendly wood-burning and small one-burner gas stoves.
Getting Here
  • The Athabasca Sand Dunes are located in the northwest corner of Saskatchewan, along the south shore of Lake Athabasca.
  • The departure point is in Missinipe, 1.5 hours drive north of La Ronge, where you'll take a float plane to Lake Athabasca. The operator provides a shuttle service to and from the airport or bus depot in La Ronge for a fee.
  • Transwest Air flies to La Ronge several times a day from the nearest major city, Saskatoon. There is also daily bus service run by the Saskatchewan Transportation Company.