6 Best Places for Photography in Saskatchewan

Photography in Saskatchewan is often overlooked. But Saskatchewan is a place where endless prairie horizons meet dramatic landscapes, and where landscapes have beautiful diversity. Even though most think of Saskatchewan as a “flat” and “boring” Canadian province, some of the geological features you will find here might surprise you. From the rugged beauty of Grasslands National Park to the serene Qu’Appelle Valley, Saskatchewan boasts a range of photogenic locations waiting for you to explore. In this guide, we will visit my six favourite photography spots in the province. As a local nature photographer, I will also offer insights into what you can expect to see, what equipment to bring, and other ways to enhance your photography adventure. Read more: 8 Ways to Improve Your Landscape Photography Workflow 1. Grasslands National Park: West Block Nestled in the southwestern corner of Saskatchewan lies Grasslands National Park. Its diverse terrain spans from expansive prairie grasslands to breathtaking buttes and sets the stage for an unforgettable experience. Renowned as one of North America’s largest and darkest Dark Sky Preserves, Grasslands National Park is one of Canada’s best locations for astrophotography. Besides its night skies, the West Block (accessed from Val Marie, Saskatchewan) features badlands, coulees, and impressive geological features – a landscape photographer’s paradise. 70 Mile Butte is a must-visit as it is the highest point in the park. The trail is moderately challenging, but the views and photography opportunities are worth the effort. While the landscapes are beautiful, Grasslands National Park is rich with diverse populations of wildlife that include over thirty species at risk. Once near global extinction, Parks Canada reintroduced Plains Bison to Grasslands National Park, where they still roam. Take the self-guided Ecotour to experience these giants of the prairies along with the Black-tailed prairie dog and the Burrowing Owl. Read more: How to Photograph Bison 2. Grasslands National Park: East Block Grasslands National Park is so diverse that I included it twice. Nearly 200 km from the Val Marie Visitor Centre (which plays host to the West Block) is the East Block of Grasslands National Park. While I could describe the West Block as a quiet, peaceful prairie experience, the East Block has a gritty, rugged character that makes you feel like you have stepped back in time. Rock Creek Badlands yield a treasure trove of fossils and adventures. East Block is home to the Valley of 1000 Devils hike, as epic as it sounds. This challenging trail takes you into the heart of Saskatchewan’s best badlands. You can experience clay buttes and structures, steep-sided drainages, vast grassland, and even the meandering Hellfire Creek. If you are brave enough to attempt this 11 km round-trip hike, ensure you bring plenty of water and plan to hike in the early morning or late evening. In the badlands, temperatures are experienced differently than in other areas due to the absence of cooling wind and the heat-absorbing clay soil. I recommend trying to get to the viewpoint to experience the late evening light bathing the landscape and watch as twilight fades to night, where you see the Milky Way as you never have before. Access the East Block via the town of Rockglen or the village of Wood Mountain. Look for signposts indicating the location of Grasslands National Park East Block. The road into the East Block is gravel with no cell service. This is a remote part of the province, so bring whatever supplies you need. The landscape in Grasslands National Park is expansive, so I recommend bringing along a wide-angle lens to capture the grander scenes. But also bring a telephoto lens to zoom in on the details and capture the wildlife. Read more: Why You Should Use a Telephoto Lens for Landscape Photos 3. Cypress Hills – Centre Block Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park is a well-known location to locals. It features forests, rolling hills, and lakes that draw photographers seeking natural beauty and serenity. Whether you enjoy capturing the quiet moments in the forest or the vibrant hues of a blazing sunset, Cypress Hills offers endless opportunities for stunning photography. Whispering Pines is a favourite trail of mine. Whenever I am in the park, I hit this trail to enjoy a slower kind of photography. But do not get lost in the forest for too long; ensure you give yourself enough time to get to Bald Butte for sunset. At 1,281 metres, it is the highest point in Centre Block, so it is an incredible spot to enjoy the sunset. Again, the landscape here is diverse. Bring a wide-angle and telephoto lens to capture the wonder of our wide-open skies and to ensure you go home with beautiful vignettes of the forest. Read more: 8 Best Lenses for Landscape Photography 4. The Great Sandhills There is nowhere in Saskatchewan that gets your creativ

6 Best Places for Photography in Saskatchewan

Photography in Saskatchewan is often overlooked. But Saskatchewan is a place where endless prairie horizons meet dramatic landscapes, and where landscapes have beautiful diversity.

photography Saskatchewan

Even though most think of Saskatchewan as a “flat” and “boring” Canadian province, some of the geological features you will find here might surprise you.

 

From the rugged beauty of Grasslands National Park to the serene Qu’Appelle Valley, Saskatchewan boasts a range of photogenic locations waiting for you to explore.

saskatchewan landscapes

In this guide, we will visit my six favourite photography spots in the province. As a local nature photographer, I will also offer insights into what you can expect to see, what equipment to bring, and other ways to enhance your photography adventure.

 

1. Grasslands National Park: West Block

Nestled in the southwestern corner of Saskatchewan lies Grasslands National Park. Its diverse terrain spans from expansive prairie grasslands to breathtaking buttes and sets the stage for an unforgettable experience.

Renowned as one of North America’s largest and darkest Dark Sky Preserves, Grasslands National Park is one of Canada’s best locations for astrophotography.

Saskatchewan photography

Besides its night skies, the West Block (accessed from Val Marie, Saskatchewan) features badlands, coulees, and impressive geological features – a landscape photographer’s paradise.

70 Mile Butte is a must-visit as it is the highest point in the park. The trail is moderately challenging, but the views and photography opportunities are worth the effort.

Saskatchewan photography

While the landscapes are beautiful, Grasslands National Park is rich with diverse populations of wildlife that include over thirty species at risk.

Once near global extinction, Parks Canada reintroduced Plains Bison to Grasslands National Park, where they still roam. Take the self-guided Ecotour to experience these giants of the prairies along with the Black-tailed prairie dog and the Burrowing Owl.

Read more: How to Photograph Bison

2. Grasslands National Park: East Block

Grasslands National Park is so diverse that I included it twice. Nearly 200 km from the Val Marie Visitor Centre (which plays host to the West Block) is the East Block of Grasslands National Park.

While I could describe the West Block as a quiet, peaceful prairie experience, the East Block has a gritty, rugged character that makes you feel like you have stepped back in time. Rock Creek Badlands yield a treasure trove of fossils and adventures.

East Block is home to the Valley of 1000 Devils hike, as epic as it sounds. This challenging trail takes you into the heart of Saskatchewan’s best badlands. You can experience clay buttes and structures, steep-sided drainages, vast grassland, and even the meandering Hellfire Creek.

Saskatchewan

If you are brave enough to attempt this 11 km round-trip hike, ensure you bring plenty of water and plan to hike in the early morning or late evening.

In the badlands, temperatures are experienced differently than in other areas due to the absence of cooling wind and the heat-absorbing clay soil.

I recommend trying to get to the viewpoint to experience the late evening light bathing the landscape and watch as twilight fades to night, where you see the Milky Way as you never have before.

Access the East Block via the town of Rockglen or the village of Wood Mountain. Look for signposts indicating the location of Grasslands National Park East Block. The road into the East Block is gravel with no cell service.

This is a remote part of the province, so bring whatever supplies you need.

The landscape in Grasslands National Park is expansive, so I recommend bringing along a wide-angle lens to capture the grander scenes. But also bring a telephoto lens to zoom in on the details and capture the wildlife.

 

3. Cypress Hills – Centre Block

Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park is a well-known location to locals. It features forests, rolling hills, and lakes that draw photographers seeking natural beauty and serenity.

Whether you enjoy capturing the quiet moments in the forest or the vibrant hues of a blazing sunset, Cypress Hills offers endless opportunities for stunning photography.

Whispering Pines is a favourite trail of mine. Whenever I am in the park, I hit this trail to enjoy a slower kind of photography. But do not get lost in the forest for too long; ensure you give yourself enough time to get to Bald Butte for sunset.

Saskatchewan

At 1,281 metres, it is the highest point in Centre Block, so it is an incredible spot to enjoy the sunset.

Again, the landscape here is diverse. Bring a wide-angle and telephoto lens to capture the wonder of our wide-open skies and to ensure you go home with beautiful vignettes of the forest.

 

4. The Great Sandhills

There is nowhere in Saskatchewan that gets your creative juices flowing like The Great Sandhills. Accessed via the town of Leader or the village of Sceptre, look for designated access points and follow signage indicating the conservation area.

The Great Sandhills in southwest Saskatchewan are home to 1,900 square kilometres of active desert-like dunes. Most of the dunes are covered with native grasses and dotted with old cottonwood trees and aspen groves.

Saskatchewan sand dunes

But some dunes are exposed sand that makes you feel like you are in Death Valley or other frequently photographed dune locations. The only difference is you might be the only photographer for hundreds of kilometres.

This place is a great spot for intimate, minimalist photography. Get yourself to a high location, set up with a telephoto lens, and watch the light transform the dunes into a hundred shades of colour.

As night envelopes the landscape, you will be in Class 1 dark skies, perfect for astrophotography. And, if you are lucky, you might be able to spot the nocturnal, endangered Ord’s kangaroo rat.

 

5. Big Muddy Valley

Staying in the south of the province, journey to the heart of Saskatchewan’s Badlands and discover the beauty of the Big Muddy Valley, where weathered sandstone formations (like those in the southeast corner of the province) and expansive prairie vistas converge to create a photographer’s playground.

From capturing the dramatic silhouettes of hoodoos against the fiery hues of a prairie sunset to exploring hidden caves and coulees, the Big Muddy Valley offers endless opportunities for creative expression.

big muddy valley Saskatchewan

With no Provincial or National Parks in the Big Muddy Valley, potential photography spots are not immediately obvious. Castle Butte is the main draw for tourists to the area, but it is on private land. The landowner has graciously allowed people to access it from June 1 – November 1.

Access outside these times is prohibited as it can adversely affect the calving season.

Castle Butte is 22 km south of Bengough on Highway 34 and then 5 km west on a grid road. Hiking shoes are recommended as this is a huge area to explore.

The Big Muddy Valley covers a vast part of south Saskatchewan.

Saskatchewan photography

When photographing different spots, experiment with different angles to emphasize the unique shapes and textures of the sandstone formations and use the natural shape of the landscape to guide the viewer’s eye through the frame.

Incorporate elements of foreground interest, such as prairie grasses, juniper bushes, or wildflowers, to add depth and context to your images.

 

6. Qu’Appelle Valley

The Qu’Appelle Valley follows the winding Qu’Appelle River. It is a place where rolling hills, beautiful forests, meandering rivers, and sparkling lakes create a scenic backdrop for photography enthusiasts.

Whether capturing the vibrant colours of autumn foliage on the shore of Echo Lake or the soft pastel hues of a prairie sunrise, the Qu’Appelle Valley offers endless opportunities for stunning photography.

Saskatchewan photography

The Qu’Appelle Valley is beautiful during each season, but it stands out for its beauty in the fall. The coulees come alive with vibrant fall colours that complement the golden fields along the valley bottom.

Make sure to stop at the red-roofed Little Church in the Valley near Craven, Saskatchewan.

After stopping at the church, head northeast of Lumsden through Craven onto Highway 99 (note that this 21 km stretch of road is all gravel) and take a drive through the scenic valley, stopping at the Fairy Hill trailhead and hiking through a blazing gold aspen forest to a viewpoint of the valley below.

 

Storm chasing destination

While not a specific photography location inside Saskatchewan, most are unaware that Tornado Alley reaches into Saskatchewan.

Each summer, our province is transformed into a storm chaser utopia. Wide-open spaces and a good road network provide unobstructed views of approaching storms, allowing photographers to capture compelling skyscapes above golden fields.

Saskatchewan storm chasing

However, storm chasing requires careful planning and safety precautions, as severe weather poses risks to both photographers and their equipment.

I recommend staying informed about weather forecasts and road conditions, maintaining a safe distance from dangerous storms, or joining a storm-chasing photography tour to be confident you will get into the right spot for a photograph safely.

For photographers brave enough to chase storms in Saskatchewan, the rewards are obvious: unforgettable opportunities to document the raw power and magnificence of the natural world.

 

In conclusion

Saskatchewan is a land of captivating beauty and endless photographic opportunities, from the rugged badlands of Grasslands National Park to the tranquil forests and lakes of Cypress Hills and the Qu’Appelle Valley.

Whether an amateur enthusiast or a seasoned professional, you will leave with images that showcase the natural splendour of the Land of Living Skies. So, grab your camera gear, hit the road, and embark on a photography adventure in Saskatchewan.