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August 2010, July 2023

The Great Northern Plains meets a vast wilderness.

Most citizens of my country, the United States, have never heard of Saskatchewan. Along the northern US border, where I've lived for years, people may have heard of it, but most Montanans have never visited. All the better. Because this overlooked land in the center of North American has some great secrets.

The fields of the south, in summer, are gorgeous carpets of rapeseed, stretching yellow into massive skies that brew severe storms all summer. Farther north are the endless forests and lakes that compose one of my favorite wilderness areas in North America. The ancient forests, largely untouched, are home to more lakes, rivers and streams than anyone could see in several lifetimes. Huge, irregular lakes are linked by scenic rapids, with countless shoreline campsites on smooth rocks. 

The first time I went to Saskatchewan was a roadtrip through the southern farms and cities. I heard stories about the legendary landscapes of the north, but it took me over a decade to get back. 

When we finally returned, armed with expedition packrafts and camping gear, we spent an incredible week in midsummer in the waterways-style wilderness of the north, around Air Ronge, paddling, camping, and running big rapids on a remote series of rivers and lakes. We were awed by the perfection of this mostly unknown wilderness.

With so many other wildernesses throughout North America, it's a hard sell to choose to visit a land that no one ventures to, without mountains - with few, if any, scripted adventures as in western North America. But if you're an adventurous, DIY canoeist or packrafter, Saskatchewan is a veritable paradise that promises to not disappoint. Just bring bug spray. And a thermacell. And a mosquito net...

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