I spent the last day of July hiking to Spirit Sands at Spruce Woods Park. Dog day harvests flies (similar to cicadas) were sawing the air, dragonflies danced on the updrafts and the prairie grasses were dotted with magenta and purple flowers. Plenty of rain has furred the dunes with vegetation this year.
Since the devastating flood of 2011, Spruce Woods has rebounded extremely well. Though virtually wiped out by the Assiniboine River two years ago, the lower campground is now partially restored and open for camping. The park office which stood next to the campground was destroyed by the flood. Today the park office is still in a trailer in the upper campground. All the park’s trails are open and accessible.
One of the park’s best features are the horse-drawn covered wagon rides to the dunes and the punch bowl. Operating daily at 10:00, noon and 2:00 during July and August, they offer an easy way to transport the whole family to the park’s most interesting phenomena with minimal hassle and maximum interest. The wagon, pulled by two Belgian heavy horses, stops at the base of the dunes. You can climb the dunes, get sand between your toes and witness the spectacular views of the dunes. Back on the covered wagon to the punch bowl, an intriguing pool of blue-green water, you can explore the site then ride back to the trail head. The horses travel at a leisurely pace and cowboy Larry Robinson, who has been operating the rides for about 20 years, provides rich commentary on the history of the park and its denizens during the 90-minute ride. It’s a memorable family experience. Tickets – $14 for adults, $8 for youth – are available at the wagon office and can be reserved at 204-526-7727.
I noticed a sundance going on this weekend in the park. Sundance, a no alcohol, no drugs event, is open to the public. Access is off the Epinette Creek trail head. Watch for signs.
Twenty minutes north of the park is one of Manitoba’s heritage gems – Carberry. The first annual Carberry Heritage Festival takes place August 9 and 10 with lots of things to do and see. Check out the details here.