Qu'Appelle Valley Saskatchewan/Manitoba

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by GreatWhiteNorth, Jun 27, 2015.

  1. GreatWhiteNorth

    GreatWhiteNorth Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    4,921
    Location:
    Winterpeg - site of flatness beyond belief
    I don't know how many times I've driven (or rode) by the Qu'Appelle Valley on the Trans Canada highway, but I recently took the time to check it out properly. It's a nice ride, with a good mix of paved stretches, good gravel, and some "impassable when wet" and "travel at your own risk" type stuff through remote backcountry. A little about the valley itself here: http://esask.uregina.ca/entry/quappelle_valley.html

    My plan was to follow the valley, best I could, from Buffalo Pound Provincial Park (northeast of Moose Jaw SK, Canada eh!), eastwards to St Lazare in MB. I rode out from Winnipeg, mostly on pavement as I was in a hurry... I was meeting up with some friends camping there...

    Here I'm approaching Buffalo Pound Provincial Park from the south on SK-301, heading north from TC-1. I had to get a pic of this cool farm set-up. Not often you see a farm with an old wooden elevator:

    [​IMG]

    At the lookout in the valley as you drive in to the campground:

    [​IMG]

    Meet my friend John. John is a meatatarian like me, and master chef BBQer. We ate like kings over the weekend:

    [​IMG]

    Awesome park and campground, and fairly green (not always the case... can get pretty dry and brown around there) - view from lakeshore in the campground:

    [​IMG]
    #1
    RevyRider and Strawdog like this.
  2. squonker

    squonker Stupid is the new norm

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2006
    Oddometer:
    4,719
    Location:
    Yellowknife and Norman Wells, NWT
    :lurk I've always wanted to check out the prairies.
    #2
  3. GreatWhiteNorth

    GreatWhiteNorth Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    4,921
    Location:
    Winterpeg - site of flatness beyond belief
    Come Sunday, time for us to head home. Friends John and Olive don't have far to go (Moose Jaw), but I'm a long ways from home! I head to the east end of the park as I wanted to see the buffalo enclosure... here it is, and there are buffalo on the slopes to the right:

    [​IMG]

    I took the road north across the dam you see lower left in the pic, and head north towards the highway on gravel. I take Township Road 200 east to Hwy SK-11. This was gravel superhighway, on account of the potash mine they were building to the west just north of Buffalo Pound Lake - giant cranes blighted the horizon and there was a steady stream of gravel trucks on this road... and it was under construction - what a mess (it was raining). Took SK-11 to Lumsden, then SK-20 north to Craven - got gas there... you never know when you'll be able to get gas. I took SK-99 NE along the valley to Fairy Hill on Hwy 6. SK-99 was very nice!

    [​IMG]

    From there I took gravel Township Road 220 east along the valley edge:

    [​IMG]

    You could see for miles. Lots of active weather, storm cells popping up around me - you could see 'em 100 kms away!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I jogged south on SK640 a couple of miles to SK727 - this old barn was along that stretch. Looks like big rain over Fort Qu'Appelle, right where I'm headed:

    [​IMG]


    Next stop Fort Qu'Appelle.
    #3
    MGV8 and FadinFast like this.
  4. GreatWhiteNorth

    GreatWhiteNorth Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    4,921
    Location:
    Winterpeg - site of flatness beyond belief
    Then you'll like the ride reports linked in my sig line. People say nothing to see on the prairies - I find otherwise. Just big distances between things - big sky country!
    #4
    squonker likes this.
  5. GreatWhiteNorth

    GreatWhiteNorth Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    4,921
    Location:
    Winterpeg - site of flatness beyond belief
    Big history here at Fort Qu'Appelle. Hudson's Bay established a trading post here, the fort was of strategic importance during the North-West Rebellion, and an important Indian Treaty was signed here. I took the north shore road, Hwy 56 to Fort Qu'Appelle, which took me right past here, Fort Sans. This is an old abandoned sanitorium complex - kind of creepy if you ask me! There were no trespassing signs all 'round it, yet the main entrance gate to the complex was wide open!? More on that here: https://www.nationaltrustcanada.ca/...stings/saskatchewan/fort-quappelle-sanitorium , https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_San,_Saskatchewan , and about Treaty 4: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Treaty_4

    [​IMG].

    The fort. You could drive right through it. Struck me as being a touristy reconstruction, especially with the campground immediately adjacent.

    [​IMG]

    The old original Hudson's Bay Company store on Main Street!

    [​IMG]

    The campground looked OK ( http://fortrec.ca/camp.html ), and is a bargain at $15 a nite for tenting, but it was too early for me to make camp so I pressed on east... but not before checking something out - stumbled across this pic while reading up on the NorthWest Rebellion, in which Fort Qu'Appelle played an important role. Here General Middleton is leading the troops north to confront the Metis rebels and put down the rebellion:

    [​IMG]

    I found mention that this trail to the Touchwood Hills went up the coulee where Hwy 35 now runs - this is as close a vantage point I could find. The coulee has been considerably graded (built up/filled in) for the highway roadbed, and looks little like it used to!

    [​IMG]

    A little further along down around the corner:

    [​IMG]

    Mission completed I could carry on eastwards :wink: More about the NorthWest Rebellion here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North-West_Rebellion , and http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.ca/en/article/north-west-rebellion/
    #5
  6. calan818

    calan818 The CarMexican

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,651
    Location:
    Manitoba, Canada (6 months of snow)
    Thanks GWN...always thoroughly enjoy your historic adventures...:clap
    #6
  7. GreatWhiteNorth

    GreatWhiteNorth Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    4,921
    Location:
    Winterpeg - site of flatness beyond belief
    Thnx. Yeah, bit of a history tour my ride reports become, but good excuse to go exploring. I'm always a little anxious setting out on these adventures, particularly if by myself. Although there are a lot of people living along the valley (lots of cabins in areas), in other spots there are very few people, and it's likely not often that someone would drive by... breaking down out there in the remote locations would amp up the adventure considerably! :eek1

    Thought it's time to throw in a couple of map route pics before carrying on:

    [​IMG]

    Note that I didn't take the route past the Nicolle homestead... probably should have!

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    You'll note I generally stay on the opposite side of the valley from Indian Reserves... not that I think they'd give you any trouble, or resent "tourists" passing thru - lots of casinos in their resorts, and they want your business!
    #7
  8. GreatWhiteNorth

    GreatWhiteNorth Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    4,921
    Location:
    Winterpeg - site of flatness beyond belief
    A "heads up"... I carried on eastwards from Fort Qu'Appelle on Hwy 56 towards Lebret on the north shore of Mission Lake. SK-56 passes UNDER SK-35, and I had to backtrack and loop through town to access the road. Lebret had a Catholic mission, founded in 1866, and later a residential school was built there:

    [​IMG]

    ... and right across the road was this chapel shrine:

    [​IMG]

    Further along Hwy 56, after Mission Lake was Katepwa Lake (there's a Provincial Park and campground there), and from there I took gravel. Dig the sign - you know you're on the right track when!

    [​IMG]

    The sign says it all - "dry weather road". It had been raining through there, and further along there were some muddy spots I was able to get through carrying a little speed - I don't think I'd of made it through a few of the muddier spots on 2 wheels!

    ... it was muddy along here. Note the ski hill across the valley!

    [​IMG]

    When they say "impassable when wet" they really mean it - it was a bit risky in a few spots along there:

    [​IMG]

    Lots of ranching along here - probably a farm house back there in the coulee:

    [​IMG]

    Here the road crossed the valley and I headed east on the south side of the valley towards Ellisboro. My arrival spooked hoards of swallows which flitted around me at the bridge!

    [​IMG]

    Along that stretch to Ellisboro was this cabin - nice!

    [​IMG]

    Ellisboro, a genuine ghost town:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    I spoke with this couple (they were going same way with an SUV - hope they didn't get stuck) speaking with one of the few remaining residents... I think there was one house for sure left there, and maybe a second! A bit about that church: http://historicplaces.ca/en/rep-reg/place-lieu.aspx?id=2448

    From Ellisboro I continued east along that road. Initially it looked OK, but it got more primitive and sketchy as I went along - I crossed a muddy creek at a ford, and a little further along there was a large mud wallow completely across the road full of water - impassable! As luck would have it, there was a cut-out to my right heading south up a coulee, so I took it (without checking my map or thinking it through) - BIG mistake! Although it started out good gravel, as I climbed the slope it got muddier and eroded and I was on the edge of losing traction... but I made it to the top where it turned into dirt road heading south. I kept going, on the edge of getting stuck (the mud was flying!). It started raining as I was on that stretch, but thankfully I made it to gravel and headed east (in the pouring rain) eventually getting to SK-47. I paused, got my bearings, and headed south to Grenfell (located on the Trans Canada highway south of the Qu'Appelle Valley).

    Time to slip in a few map route pics:

    [​IMG]

    The orange highlighted route was the risky dirt/gravel bit. You can see unfortunately as a result I bypassed what was probably a very scenic stretch!

    [​IMG]

    From Grenfell, after washing the mud off at the carwash, and getting gas, I headed back north to the valley on SK-47, unfortunately riding right back into the rain. I turned off at the north slope of the valley onto SK-247, taking it east along Crooked Lake to the park campground. The rain blew over and the sky cleared as I approached the park - awesome! I was given a spot right beside the lake, and I had the tenting area all to myself (very peaceful and relaxing). I set-up camp, and was able to dry my stuff in the sun.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Gorgeous view of Crooked Lake:

    [​IMG]

    I grab a shower, relax, make supper and think about tomorrows route... hoping to make it home in one day.
    #8
    RevyRider likes this.
  9. GreatWhiteNorth

    GreatWhiteNorth Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    4,921
    Location:
    Winterpeg - site of flatness beyond belief
    Next morning I was packed, gone and on the road early. I don't think it rained overnight - I headed east on SK-247 - good pavement, and a beautiful morning:

    [​IMG]

    At the end of 247 (at Hwy 9 junction) the road along the north side of the valley turned to gravel... all the way to Tantallon!

    [​IMG]

    Abandoned farm house - big!

    [​IMG]

    The sleepy little town of Tantallon. Not much happening here.

    [​IMG]

    Abandoned house in town, right beside the river. Looks like it had been a pretty fancy house. It'd probably been flooded a few times as they'd diked along the river banks, adjacent to the house and bridge:

    [​IMG]

    The bridge across the Qu'Appelle River:

    [​IMG]

    This house and beautiful back yard was across from the dilapidated old house - nice garden!

    [​IMG]

    South of Tantallon towards Bear Creek, I turned off to follow the gravel road along the north side of the valley - it was pretty soft from all the rain, getting worse as I got further east.

    Along this stretch of gravel I was surprised to find a well tended historical marker site... I couldn't remember reading anything about this co-operative enterprise:

    [​IMG]

    More on that here: http://esask.uregina.ca/entry/harmony_industrial_association.html

    The valley narrowed and flattened out as it approaches the Assiniboine valley... optical illusion I think as the valley wasn't as deep here:

    [​IMG]

    Not far past where I took that pic I could see the potash plant on the south edge of the valley. I bailed at the crossroad south of Welby, and took good gravel south and around this huge potash mine near Rocanville, taking the gravel superhighway into Manitoba, and the highway north to St Lazare. I just didn't want to get stuck out there... spooked from the previous day. The Backroad Mapbook showed that last stretch along the valley as a thin solid line... which usually means dirt, or next thing to it. I'm hoping to go back and explore more in dryer conditions.

    The Rocanville potash plant - huge!

    [​IMG]

    The village of St. Lazare MB, at the confluence of the Assiniboine and Qu'Appelle rivers - the Qu'Appelle valley is straight across town in this view looking west. Fort Ellice is no more, but they're working on developing this historic site... and create a tourist destination. The fort was located on the western bank of the Assiniboine, south of the Qu'Appelle. It was a popular stop, as a safe haven along the Fort Carlton and Fort Ellice Trails, and a place to restock provisions - it was a Hudson's Bay Company Trading Post, and in the end served as a North West Mounted Police outpost. I hope they rebuild it.

    [​IMG]

    There was quite the fight over securing rights to the property... a few related links: http://www.mhs.mb.ca/docs/sites/fortellice.shtml ; http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/family-loses-court-battle-over-fort-ellice-land-1.635311 ; http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/op...lice-will-greet-visitors-again-179909491.html

    I hope you enjoyed the ride. From here I rode home tracing the old route of the Carlton Trail, another ride report I'm working on (shameless plug - link in signature line below).
    #9
    MGV8 and RevyRider like this.
  10. BCBackRoads

    BCBackRoads Travels with Gumby

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2008
    Oddometer:
    554
    Location:
    Kelowna, BC
    Nice Report GWN. One doesn't usually think about Saskatchewan as a motorcycle destination but the Qu'Appelle Valley is very pretty. My folks came from that area and we got back there a few times when I was a kid.

    How are you finding the KLR as a sidecar rig? The car looks like it's set up purely for cargo. Does it handle well on rougher roads?
    #10
  11. GreatWhiteNorth

    GreatWhiteNorth Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    4,921
    Location:
    Winterpeg - site of flatness beyond belief
    There's some real nice spots on the prairies - the hills and valleys of course stand out as more interesting riding. Cypress Hills is very nice if you've never been... check out my Border Commission & Redcoat Trail ride report for pics of that.

    The sidecar rig is a blast, and very practical. There is a pedestal box seat on there - under the seat itself is lockable storage, and I can load a bunch of stuff securely in front of it. The sidecar is a DMC Enduro, made for backcountry gravel travel (logging roads!). On a stock KLR, the set-up's a bit underpowered - mine has a big bore kit (705cc), ported head, aftermarket exhaust, re-jetted... doing what I can to get more power to make it a more capable highway machine. If it's not too rough, I can fly down gravel roads with it.

    Here's a link to the DMC Enduro sidecar page - it matches up well to a wide range of midsize bikes: http://www.dmcsidecars.com/sidecars/enduro/
    #11
    RevyRider likes this.
  12. AteamNM

    AteamNM Wonna Be ADVrider

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2010
    Oddometer:
    4,814
    Location:
    Sandia Mountains New Mexico
    Hey I enjoyed your ride, nice country and great hack.
    Thanks for that.
    Ateam
    #12
    GreatWhiteNorth likes this.
  13. GreatWhiteNorth

    GreatWhiteNorth Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    4,921
    Location:
    Winterpeg - site of flatness beyond belief
    Came back yesterday from a loop out to the Grasslands Nat'l Park in southern Saskatchewan, and we came back east along the Qu'Appelle Valley, starting just north of Regina. I was with Neil/Tothelake (also from Wpg). Conditions were very dry in southern SK, so I was looking forward to trying to get thru the dirt road section east of Ellisboro ghost town... which I've had to forego twice before due to mud and high water in spots. Third time's the charm, got 'er done. This is where the dirt switches back to gravel further east by a pioneer cemetary:

    [​IMG]

    Further east towards the MB border, fresh gravel had been put down on sections, and it was nasty going in places. We saw a moose just south of Tantallon! Moose are making a bit of a comeback on the prairies.
    #13
    calan818 likes this.
  14. GreatWhiteNorth

    GreatWhiteNorth Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    4,921
    Location:
    Winterpeg - site of flatness beyond belief
    Neil/Tothelake shared with me this pic he took along the way... this was close to the Manitoba border. I came over a rise and discover the road blocked by a rancher herding what I thought initially were cows. He's herding 'em the old fashioned way, on horseback with dogs. He looked a little stressed by my sudden appearance... I ask him, "any bulls in there"? His reply, "they're all bulls"!!! As this was happening a big bull in the fenced pasture ran up aggressively to the fence snorting, and the bulls all focused on him instead of me, while the rancher herded 'em into the ditch. I snuck by literally 6 feet from the last two bulls! How's that for a wild wild west experience!

    [​IMG]

    Note the dead looking trees in the background. Caterpillars were eating everything. It looked like that for miles and miles along the north side of the valley.
    #14
    B10Dave and calan818 like this.
  15. calan818

    calan818 The CarMexican

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2007
    Oddometer:
    1,651
    Location:
    Manitoba, Canada (6 months of snow)
    Always enjoy seeing pictures of the big open of Saskatchewan. Thanks for posting!
    #15
    GreatWhiteNorth likes this.
  16. grumpybear

    grumpybear Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2009
    Oddometer:
    393
    Location:
    Rural NE Alberta
    Enjoyed the this report about the Qu'Appelle Valley. My wife and I drove through the area last year on our trip east to see the fall colors. Good memories, Thanks.
    #16
    GreatWhiteNorth likes this.
  17. GreatWhiteNorth

    GreatWhiteNorth Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    4,921
    Location:
    Winterpeg - site of flatness beyond belief
    Thought I'd throw in a few more pics... closer to the Manitoba border, but further west of that Harmony Industrial Association historical site, we pulled in to this grassed area which had historical storyboards outlining the fur trading forts that used to be in the area:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    #17
    B10Dave likes this.
  18. GreatWhiteNorth

    GreatWhiteNorth Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    4,921
    Location:
    Winterpeg - site of flatness beyond belief
    I just mapped out the track on Basecamp... here's the .gpx file. I've only created a track file a few times (new to the GPS upload a track game). Let me know if it it works for you - Thnx!

    Attached Files:

    #18
  19. GreatWhiteNorth

    GreatWhiteNorth Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    4,921
    Location:
    Winterpeg - site of flatness beyond belief
    #19
  20. GreatWhiteNorth

    GreatWhiteNorth Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 2, 2009
    Oddometer:
    4,921
    Location:
    Winterpeg - site of flatness beyond belief
    Going to throw in some more pics. I really like the Qu'Appelle valley area! This is from a ride we did back in 2016, headed west to Cypress Hills. This is west of Crooked Lake. Note the ominous overcast.

    WP_20160707_005.jpg

    We took gravel to here, carried on a little further on gravel west until it turned to dirt. We turned around, as it looked like rain, came back to here, and rode back to the Trans Canada Hwy... good thing, as we rode thru a heavy downpour, and got soaked. If we'd of taken that dirt road, and got caught in that heavy rain, we'd of been so screwed, as that dirt would have turned to instant impassable gumbo. This looks like quite the old farmhouse and barn:

    WP_20160707_012_stitch.jpg
    #20
    MGV8 likes this.