Cranes & Colors Canoe Trip

South Saskatchewan River Cranes & Colors Canoeing

Trip Overview

Fall canoeing on the South Saskatchewan River

Paddles and life jackets match the colors on the riverbank willows!  (© canoeski)

This trip is designed to introduce you to the delights of fall canoeing and the many advantages the river has to offer in a season like no other! In the past we have also been able to add a naturalist and a bit of hiking to the line-up of trip attractions.

The overwhelming attractions of canoeing the South Saskatchewan River in autumn are three-fold. First are the prolific flocks of migrating waterfowl congregating on the sandbars; second are the brilliant fall colors bursting out of the coulees and riverbank vegetation; and third is a positive negative – no pesky biting critters to spoil your evening hours in camp!

The predominant species of waterfowl marshalling on the river are Sandhill Cranes and Canada Geese with lesser flocks of Snow Geese and Ross’s Geese. The Sandhills have an unmistakable loud guttural call that seems to carry on in the evenings till the wee hours, so imagining it as part of nature’s symphony is the best way to get lulled to sleep in a tent, where it seems that every sound is magnified!

There are 2 trips in the line-up: a day trip and a 2-day overnighter, both overlapping on what is undoubtedly the most interesting piece of river between the town of Outlook and Saskatoon. The day trip gives you a taste of the autumn aura in the river valley in September, including a noon campfire corn roast ; the 2-day trip gives you the full meal deal – an immersion in the sights, sounds and smells of fall on the river round the clock!

Trip Details
Duration: Day trip or 2 days, 1 night
Scheduled Dates: 2024 Sept 1 Day Trip
Sept 7– 8 (2-day trip)
Custom departure dates for groups can be arranged.
Geographic Area: South Saskatchewan River – Saskatoon region
Nearest Communities: Saskatoon, Saskatchewan Canada
Paddling Venue: River flatwater with mild current
Adventure Rating: Novice – a modest degree of fitness and upper body conditioning will help prepare you for paddling and portaging
Minimum Age: 14
Paddling Distance: Day Trip: 23 km (14 mi.)
2-Day Trip: 43 km (26 mi.)
Hiking Distance: 2.5 km (1.5 mi.) – both trips
Price per Person: $190 plus 5% GST (day trip)
$480 plus 5% GST (weekend)

Booking Info

Itinerary (Day trip)

Migrating Sandhill Cranes on the South Saskatchewan River

Cranes and colors on the South Saskatchewan River     (photo: Dominique Hurley)

We assemble at the CanoeSki base in early morning and after reviewing the river maps and our route for the day, we head south on highway 60 to eventually reach our launch site on the river. On the way, we pick up fresh corn from a market garden on Valley Rd, to add to our lunch stop on the river.

Prior to launching, we take time to review paddling strokes and canoeing safety, then head downstream for several kilometres before pulling off the river for a noon meal. Highlight of the day is a corn roast where we build a campfire and roast smokies and corn on the cob over the coals.

Our route connects with a scenic wildlife refuge, where we can go for a short hike as a break from paddling, as time permits. Eventually our river day trip ends up at the Saskatoon Berry Barn where we load the van and return to Saskatoon, arriving late afternoon.

Itinerary (2-day trip)

Day 1 – We depart from the CanoeSki base in early morning and head south on highway 60 to our launch site on the river. After a short portage and a brief paddling and safety instruction session, we launch our canoes and head downstream. We’ll stop for a riverbank picnic lunch on the way to our evening campsite which is located close to the river in a wildlife refuge. After supper we’ll explore the wildlife area on foot.

Paddling distance: 20 km (12 mi).
Hiking distance approx. 3 km (1.8 mi).

Day 2 – Our trip continues downstream to our final destination at the MVA Poplar Bluffs canoe launch. En route we pass huge sand cliffs along the east shore and a few kilometres before reaching the Berry Barn, we cruise by Paradise Beach which has few sun worshippers during the fall season. We stop for afternoon refreshments at the Berry Barn, then move on to our take out point at Poplar Bluffs. After loading the gear we head back to Saskatoon to arrive around suppertime.

Paddling distance: 22.5 km (13.5 mi).

NOTE: Itineraries may be rearranged depending on river level and condition of access roads to the launch areas.

Hiking during a fall canoe trip on the South Saskatchewan River

Stretching the canoeing legs on a colorful cottonwood forest trail near the river  (© canoeski)

Package Includes:

  • Canoeing and safety equipment
  • Storm-proof nylon tents
  • Waterproof packs for personal items & clothing
  • Nutritious meals prepared over an open fire
  • Certified instructor/guide
  • Return transportation by passenger van from Saskatoon

Prices shown in Canadian Dollars; applicable taxes extra
Advance booking required, subject to availability

Packing List, Liability Waiver and Detailed Trip Info – contact Cliff Speer 306-653-5693 or

Cranes & Colors Trip Tales

A South Saskatchewan River Canoe Trip Full of Amazing Fall Sights & Sounds by Shelly McGrath, September 2013
South Saskatchewan River Canoe TripLooking for a fall canoeing adventure, Shelly landed on CanoeSki’s South Saskatchewan River Cranes & Colors corn roast canoe trip. She is taken with the beauty and tranquility of the river valley in its fall splendour, and the abundant birds and wildlife that frequent the valley in autumn. She adds that the campfire roasted corn was the best she’s ever tasted!…>>>

Christine Varnum

An Elemental Fall Journey on the South Saskatchewan River by Christine Varnum, September 2005
“The trip was full of sensations…the heat of the sun, bursts of scent from sage and dry grasses on the nature walk, and the river with its wildlife and colorful landscapes…” are just a few of Christine’s reflections on the fall Cranes & Colors day trip on the South Saskatchewan River>>>