The Prince Albert National Park is getting ready for their third annual Waskesiu Snow Days Feb. 17 to 26.
Brennan Bunko, promotions officer for the P.A. National Park, said Waskesiu Snow Days coincides with students’ February break from school as well as the Family Day Long Weekend.
“It’s a really great opportunity to get up north, experience some quintessential winter activities in the beauty of the boreal forest here in Prince Albert National Park,” Bunko said.
Waskesiu Snow Days feature tons of family fun activities, Bunko said, like snowshoeing, cross country skiing and sledding.
Bunko said they have some different events coming this year including Indigenous programing with Carol Crowe on Feb. 18 and Feb. 25.
Some of the other outdoor activities to enjoy, Bunko said, include stargazing and gathering around one of the many enclosed camp kitchens where fires can be built and treats can be eaten.
“A lot of people don’t know, but we do also have an indoor skating rink,” Bunko said. “If you bring up your skates you can enjoy that. Another thing for people to know there is free equipment for people to borrow here in the park.”
Equipment available includes cross country skis, snowshoes and chariot strollers with ski attachments which people can use to get out and enjoy winter activities.
Bunko said the park sees an influx of people during Waskesiu Snow Days and he attributes the influx to the extra programing and students on a break from classes.
“I think people are always looking for new activities to do,” he said. “Up until fairly recently I think a lot of people still thought that Prince Albert National Park and Waskesiu all closed down in the winter. More and more people are starting to realize that we are open throughout the year.”
“It is a lot quieter [during winter],” Bunko said. “There’s a lot of different activities. The wildlife is still out; you see the elk a lot and it’s really easy to track their footprints in the snow, so it’s a really unique and cool time to come up. I think people are starting to appreciate that more.”
A few activities during Waskesiu Snow Days
On Feb. 25 there will be discussion and activities surrounding the importance of safe and sustainable enjoyment of the forest at the Hawood Inn from 12-3 p.m.
“It’s talking about different ways to enjoy the park in all seasons and making sure you’re enjoying it in sustainable ways,” Bunko said. “We want people to come up and enjoy our places but we’re here to protect natural ecosystems and wildlife that make Canada so special.”
Participants will also get a chance to make a walking stick to use while they’re out in the forest.
“There are also some costumes and puppets [at the Visitors Center] that you can play around with. We do also have kits we lend out for free, so if you want to practice some geocaching we’ve got GPS units,” Bunko said. “It’s like a great big scavenger hunt around the town site.”
Bunko said the forecast for the week looks good, and he’s hoping for a big turnout.
“It’s winter, we’re Canadians, and it’s something we deal with for eight months so really we’re encouraging people to embrace it and get out and enjoy these activities,” he said.
For all of 2017 admission into the park and all Parks Canada locations is free in celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday. Passes are available on Parks Canada’s website or at the Waskesiu Visitors Center.
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