Urban Canoe Camping for Beginners – South Saskatchewan River

Trip Overview

A CanoeSki group launching canoes on the South Saskatchewan River

A CanoeSki group launching canoes on the South Saskatchewan River  ©canoeski

Urban canoe camping is a minor misnomer; urban only refers to the proximity of the canoe trip to the largest urban centre in Saskatchewan, not to the character of this trip. The beauty of the South Saskatchewan River, a mere 30 or so kilometres upstream of Saskatoon, contributes to the wilderness-like aura that pervades the valley. The wildlife is plentiful; the wooded slopes and coulees obscure the agricultural activity on the uplands; the scenery is inspiring, and the peace and serenity is rejuvenating.

The river channel consists of glacial till covered by a thick layer of fine sand that is constantly being shifted to and fro by the variable current. At lower levels, usually in mid-summer, many sand bars surface creating lots of natural beaches – great for wading and swimming as a refreshing break from paddling on a warm summer canoe trip.

The trip starts about 50 km south of Saskatoon and ends at the Meewasin Valley Fred Heal canoe launch, about 18 km from the City. We travel downstream to a wilderness riverbank campsite that has access to hiking trails in a unique wildlife refuge. Our overnight camp is completely self-sufficient; all the food and equipment needed to make a comfortable camp, including drinking water, is carried with us in our canoes. The intent of the program is to introduce people to camping and paddling in a relaxing and enjoyable format in addition to getting acquainted with the attractions of a marvelous prairie waterway on the City’s doorstep.

Trip Details
Duration: 2 days, 1 night
Scheduled Dates: 2023 June 17 – 18
Aug 5 – 6
Custom departure dates for groups can be arranged.
Geographic Area: South Saskatchewan River – South of Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
Nearest Communities: Saskatoon
Paddling Venue: River flatwater with mild to moderate current
Adventure Rating: Novice – being reasonably fit will enhance your enjoyment of paddling and portaging (short portage from launch area to river)
Minimum Age: 14
Total Paddling Distance: 28 – 35 km (17 – 21 mi.) Variable depending on weather, water level & condition of access roads
Hiking Distance: 3 km (1.8 mi.)
Price per Person: $445 plus 5% GST

Booking Info

Camping on a South Saskatchewan River beach

Camping on a South Saskatchewan River beach


Day 1 We meet in the morning at the CanoeSki base to load the van for departure. Our access to the river is via the Pike Lake highway and a backcountry farm road. After a brief paddling and safety instruction session, we launch our canoes and head downstream, watching for bald eagles that nest in the area. If the weather is in our favour and a good beach is convenient, we may stop for a swim break late morning or mid-afternoon. After lunch, we carry on to our evening campsite, which is located on the edge of a riverbank wildlife refuge. If time permits we may go for an after supper hike in the area or hike on Day 2 after breakfast.

Total paddling distance Day 1 is 12 – 19 km (7 mi. – 11 mi.)
Hiking distance approx. 3 km (1.8 mi).

Day 2 will take us downstream past massive shoreline sand cliffs and eventually past Paradise Beach with its “clothing optional” party goers and finally ending at the Saskatoon Berry Barn. There we will have some refreshments before loading up the van and heading back into Saskatoon, arriving late afternoon.

Total paddling distance Day 2 is 16 km (9.5 mi).

NOTE: Itinerary may be rearranged depending on river water level, weather and condition of access roads to launch area.

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. To book your space on this trip, please see Registration

Packing List, Liability Waiver and Detailed Trip Info – contact Cliff Speer 306-653-5693 or cliff@canoeski.com

South Saskatchewan River Canoe Trip Photos August 3-4, 2014

A group of enthusiastic beginner paddlers keen to explore the beautiful South Saskatchewan River, landed at the CanoeSki base on the August long weekend. Cliff Speer outfitted and guided the 2-day “Urban Canoe-Camping” excursion assisted by Henry Eng of Saskatoon. Mother Nature co-operated with warm tailwinds to help paddlers keep their canoes moving downstream at a nice pace. Relaxing on the sandbars, wading and swimming to cool off and get refreshed, enjoying delicious campfire meals and spending a night tenting in a pristine riverbank campsite, all made for a picture perfect mid-summer canoe trip just a few kilometres from the city’s outskirts!
Images © canoeski.

Note: A larger format and/or full layout version of the Urban Canoe Camping Trip can be viewed in Flickr where the master file is located.

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