Road Trip? What Sask. residents can and cannot do this spring

Campers will soon be able to drive into their site and set up the folding chairs, although not everywhere.

Tourism Saskatchewan says people are ready to hit the road. 

"There's a bit of a pent up demand," said Mary Taylor-Ash, CEO of Tourism Saskatchewan. "We know that people are going to be willing to travel very close to home."

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Taylor-Ash said park staff has been working hard to get people outside, even if not all amenities are open. She said they've been seeing a lot of interest in travelling locally instead of leaving the province or country. 

"We'd love to see people supporting the local tourism industry," Taylor-Ash said. "Supporting them in the short term so that we can get through this."

Where can I camp? 

Sask. Provincial parks: You can begin overnight camping on June 1st. It'll be at half capacity and with some recreational areas closed. 

National parks: Some will open for day use on June 1st, but not overnight camping until at least June 21. On June 21, the federal government will reevaluate the situation and may decide when overnight camping will be allowed. 

Alberta, British Columbia, Manitoba provincial parks: Only provincial residents are currently allowed to book provincial parks. You won't be able to book any campsites in any other provinces yet. If you do travel and stay at a hotel, the provincial government recommends you self-isolate and monitor for symptoms in case you contract COVID-19 while out of province. 

What can I do at Sask. provincial parks? 

You can book single sites, go hiking on any trails, use the bathroom — one family at a time, get firewood from a pile, get water and enjoy the outdoors. 

You can also go to your cabin or property at the provincial park at any time. You're also advised to physically distance from others and keep gatherings small and limited. 

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You cannot book group campsites or group reservations. You also cannot book two sites side-by-side. You can't book a tent or yurt — such as Camp-Easy. You won't be able to shower or do laundry. 

You cannot play on playgrounds, go in swimming pools, go in cookhouses or clubhouses, use a picnic area, tennis court or go on public beach access areas yet. 

What can I do at national parks? 

Prince Albert National Park: Starting June 1, the park will be open for limited visitor access. You can use most day-use trails, most day-use areas and beaches, canoe or kayak on Waskesiu Lake and River, Heart Lakes, Amiskowan, Shady Lake and Spruce River, go boating or fishing on Waskesiu Lake and Heart Lakes, and use a small public bathroom.

Grasslands National Park: You can go on a scenic driving tour, use day-use sites at the Frenchman Valley Day Use Area, Rock Creek Day Use Area, and more, and hike most day-use trails in the west block and easy block. People cannot go to the visitor centre, stay overnight at any campgrounds, or hike any of the Backcountry Loops. 

Batoche National Historic Site, Fort Walsh National Historic Site, Motherwell Homestead National Historic Site: You can walk along the day-use trails and use the public toilets. You won't be allowed in any historic buildings or visitor centres yet. 

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Where are some places to go in Saskatchewan? 

There are a number. For help, 'Sask Hiker' Jay Brown has submitted some of his top picks. He is an avid camper, hiker and blogger in the province. 

Douglas Provincial Park: "There's the sand dunes hike that you can do, it's a short little 5K loop. I recommend doing it close to sunset when the sun is setting because the sun sets behind the dunes and it's absolutely stunning, the way of the sun just reflects off the sand. It's absolutely amazing."

Buffalo Pound Provincial Park: "[It's] got a huge network of mountain biking trails that's maintained by a club out of Moose Jaw. It's 50 or 60 (km) or something like that. And it's for all skill levels. If you're comfortable on a bike, there's a trail for you out there."

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The Saskatchewan River: "Probably one of the best paddle routes a beginner could do. You can't get lost. There's no rapids. You can camp anywhere along the bank. You just pull up and plop down a tent. And when it comes to canoeing, you don't need a lot of precise gear. You can just take the stuff you throw in a car."

The Cypress Hills Area: "That will change a lot of your perspective about the province. Especially that whole southwest corner. It's amazing — the badlands, the grasslands."

I'm a first time camper or hiker, what's your advice? 

Brown said for any first time hiker, the biggest thing is to just go out and try. 

"This is an opportunity for people to really explore their own backyards," he said. "There's lots of great things that are within an hour or two hours or three or four hours from your house that some people probably have never seen before."

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