Top things to see and do in Elbow & Lake Diefenbaker
From parks to watersport playgrounds, this area boasts a ton of things to do
Known as Saskatchewan’s largest lake, Lake Diefenbaker is a man-made reservoir formed by the Gardiner Dam and the Qu’Appelle River Dam being constructed across the South Saskatchewan and Qu’Appelle rivers. This created a body of water that not only provides irrigation for the area but also offers visitors the chance to explore more than 800 kilometres of sandy, undeveloped shoreline.
1) Fun on the waterfront
For those who love the water, Lake Diefenbaker provides plenty of access, whether you favour swimming, getting out with your power watercraft or feeling the wind at your back as you run under full sail—Lake Diefenbaker is the sailing capital of the prairies. Winds that funnel off the adjacent rolling hills and grasslands create ideal conditions.
To cater to the boating crowd that flocks to the lake each summer, Diefenbaker has three full-service marinas. This makes long day trips and even longer overnight trips possible and allows mariners time to explore the many secluded bays along the lakeshore, some of which can be reached only by water.
The largest of these marinas, and indeed the largest on the prairies, is located at the most easterly point of the lake at the village of Elbow. Boasting 150 slips that lie in a long, narrow coulee, the marina can accommodate boats up to 40 feet long.
Two additional marinas can be found, one near the village of Riverhurst within Palliser Regional Park and the other in Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park at the southernmost end of the lake. Both offer gas, fishing supplies, rentals and a place to moor.
2) Provincial playgrounds
If you’re looking to stay overnight, Lake Diefenbaker has plenty of places to park a rig. The area boasts three large provincial parks and three regional parks, each with its own unique history and amenities and each offering sites with unparalleled views of the lake.
The three Lake Diefenbaker provincial parks are Danielson, Douglas and Saskatchewan Landing. All have been recently upgraded to include more electric sites and a new online camping registration system.
At Danielson Provincial Park, visitors have an opportunity to see the Gardiner Dam in action. One of the world’s largest earth-filled dams—with an ability to pump out an astounding 7,500 cubic metres of water per second—this marvel of engineering has an interpretive centre on site where visitors can learn more about the history of the dam, grab a bite to eat in the centre’s cafe or have a picnic on the nearby wide, sandy beach, followed by a relaxing swim.
In contrast to Danielson’s man-made highlight, Douglas Provincial Park—named after the late premier Tommy Douglas—looks to offer visitors a more natural experience. It has 27 kilometres of interpreted hiking trails and includes a section of the Trans-Canada Trail that travels alongside the lake. Hikers can view wildlife including moose, whitetail deer and mule deer as well as more than 170 species of birds.
Saskatchewan Landing’s landscape is a mixture of rolling hills and native prairie grassland. This park celebrates its history as the traditional crossing place on the South Saskatchewan River where generations of aboriginals, Metis and, later, new settlers to the area would cross the river. This was known in pioneer days as the Battleford Trail. The traffic that crossed here by ferry and steamboat transported supplies up from the railway in Swift Current to North Battleford. Today, interpretive hikes through the coulees allow visitors to see the remnants of early pioneer homes and to wonder how a life could be carved from such a rugged environment.
3) Regional parks for your pleasure
In addition to its provincial parks, Lake Diefenbaker also provides visitors with a number of services at three regional parks: Prairie Lake Regional Park in Beechy, Palliser Regional Park in Riverhurst and the Outlook and District Regional Park located within the town of Outlook. Each offers guests the opportunity to camp in the park or to take advantage of nearby accommodations and amenities.
Without the hustle and bustle and overcrowding that can be found in so many popular vacation spots across Canada, Saskatchewan’s Lake Diefenbaker offers travellers the wide open spaces the province is well known for. There’s room to have fun and explore the many wonders that Lake Diefenbaker and its communities have to offer.