The Great Sand Hills in southwestern Saskatchewan are a spectacular active sand dune anomaly in the prairies. The dunes and surrounding lands are largely in their natural state and offer a glimpse into how diverse and beautiful the prairies can be beyond the normally seen agricultural farmlands.
These dunes are very lightly visited, and many western Canadians don’t even know they exist. Yet the dunes are very accessible, within an hour’s drive of the Trans-Canada Highway. This unique spot is definitely worth a detour from the very long prairie drive, and is also a worthy destination on its own.
The Great Sand Hills are located within an ecological reserve so are not accessible for overnight camping, but there is a public access point in the northwestern section. From there you can access the dunes and as well as find interpretive signs about the geology, wildlife, and current use of the lands. The sand is very fine so be sure to kick off your shoes and walk along the dunes in your bare feet. Some people have even been known to toboggan down the dunes.
Know Before You Go
One relatively nearby camping of choice is west of the Great Sand Hills at Sandy Point Park, located along the South Saskatchewan River along Highway 41. From there it's about a 30- to 45-minute drive east to the Sand Hills. Range Road 321 from Highway 41 will pretty much take you to the parking area. Nearer camping options do exist in and around the town of Leader as well.
The nearby town of Sceptre features The Great Sandhills Museum & Interpretive Centre.