The Photographer’s Guide to Saskatchewan focuses on our favourite photogenic haunts throughout the province, along with how-to details and 250 images in 208 pages. We cover several highlights from the book in subsequent posts. Here is why we consider Saskatchewan to be a photographer’s dream.
What’s so special about Saskatchewan for outdoor photography? The possibilities are as boundless as the Saskatchewan sky, with everything from herds of primeval bison roaming open grasslands of the deep south, to jaw-dropping remote waterfalls of the far north. In between are some of Canada’s baddest badlands, drifting dunes, enchanting river valleys, whimsically sculpted sandstone formations, and massive hard rock cliffs of Precambrian Shield. Then there are those extraordinary landscapes that don’t fit neatly into categories— the Cypress Hills with its delightful mix of highlands, grasslands, and forest, and one-of-a-kind hidden gems such as Lake Diefenbaker’s fairytale sandcastle, or the other-worldly crooked bush that seems straight from the pages of a fantasy novel.
This is “the” place to photograph wild prairie. Saskatchewan has some of the largest expanses of increasingly rare native grasslands left in North America, including the stunning and easily accessible landscapes of Grasslands National Park. Saskatchewan is, hands down, the sand dune capital of Canada, home to both the largest and second largest dune fields in the country, plus a few others thrown in for variety. But it’s not just size that matters. The Athabasca Sand Dunes are unique in the world. Most great sand dunes are in deserts or at least arid settings. But here a desert-like terrain is seemingly misplaced in the midst of boreal forest and lakelands, bordered by one of Canada’s largest lakes, and sliced by three rivers. Remarkably, the best way to explore deep into these dunes is by canoe! How cool is that?
Saskatchewan’s north remains largely pristine, a vast forested land of 100,000 lakes and a mind-boggling array of interconnected rivers made legendary during the fur trade, and chronicled by a who’s who of northern exploration from Mackenzie to Franklin and countless voyageurs. Today, it ranks among the world’s great canoeing destinations, serving up adrenaline-pumping whitewater and soul-soothing tranquility lost to most of the world.
Let’s not forget the critters. Located smack on the Central North American Flyway, migrating waterfowl stage here in the hundreds of thousands, giving us easy access to some of nature’s most breathtaking spectacles when massive liftoffs practically block the sky. Long famous as “North America’s Duck Factory”, Saskatchewan raises a quarter of the continent’s ducks, plays host to half of the world’s migrating sanderlings, has half of Canada’s pelicans, half of Canada’s designated sites in the Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network, the world’s largest inland concentration of bald eagles, the world’s largest concentration of breeding white-winged scoters, white-tailed deer with the largest antlers in North America, the only black-tailed prairie dogs in Canada, and a quarter of the world’s endangered piping plovers.
For photographers, the nature of the light is as important as the scenery. This is where Saskatchewan really shines. The Land of Living Skies slogan lives up to its hype, with clear air, skies of the bluest blue, more hours of sunshine than practically anywhere in the country, and the thrilling drama of sudden summer storms. Sunrises and sunsets are simply the most dazzling on the planet. We have photographed in many incredible places throughout the world, but when it comes to the quality of the light, we’ve found few places to match what we enjoy close to home.
The Photographer’s Guide to Saskatchewan is available at better bookstores and gift shops, and through our website www.parklandpublishing.com.
Note: As of 2019, access to the Sandcastles on Lake Diefenbaker has been closed.