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If someone were to ask you where some of the best white water rapids in Canada are located, what would you answer? Ottawa? The Kootenays? Western Quebec? Nahanni? Whatever your response, it should include a nod to northern Saskatchewan’s Churchill River.
About five hours north of Saskatoon flows the Churchill River; a series of lakes joined by falls and rapids. Here, the land forms of the Precambrian Shield have created a truly unique washboard flow of water. The rapids are short but often very powerful given their shelf-like nature, providing some incredible paddling opportunities.
The landscape is very distinct from what you might imagine Saskatchewan to look like. There are no rolling fields of wheat and antelope and open skies here. Instead, these paddles and portages are surrounded by heavily forested shield, tree-covered islands and accompanied by wading moose, black bears, and eagles. It’s exactly the type of landscape you would expect to surround world-class paddling. With class 1 through 4 rapids and relatively easy approaches, the lakes and passes allow you to hike and paddle many of the sets of rapids as many times as you want. When we heard about this amazing place, we had to go.
The nearest town to a proper Churchill River launch is Missinipe, Saskatchewan. We explored the Churchill River with Missinipe-based outfitter, Churchill River Canoe Outfitters, who have been exploring and touring northern Saskatchewan for over 40 years. Churchill River Canoe Outfitters offer seven private cabin rental opportunities within the town as well as something called a “Paddlers Hostel,” which is a series of small bunk style cabins with two shared spaces to prepare food and relax before and after your adventure. Having these facilities made exploring the area incredibly easy, especially considering how remote the river is.
We spent two nights in Missinipe and one amazing day out on the river, which gave us enough time to check out varying levels of rapids and paddling opportunities while also experiencing Northern Saskatchewan’s wilderness and rocky shield. If you want some of Canada’s best paddling in a visually stunning landscape free of crowds, we highly recommend a paddle on the Churchill River. Churchill River Canoe Outfitters offer a variety of guided tours and packages. The premiere experience is their eight day, 150 km, 12 portage trip: The Boreal Forest Primer. Fly-in opportunities such as the incredibly epic, Athabasca Sand Dunes are available. Contact Churchill River Canoe Outfitters with your timeline and desires and they’re sure to get you sorted with a trip that’s right for you.
An incredible series of rapids and white water paddling and camping on the Churchill River in Northern Saskatchewan.
Churchill River, Missinipe, Saskatchewan.
How to get there:
Your cheapest option is to fly into the Saskatoon airport and rent a vehicle to drive the 4-5 hours to Missinipe.
June and July are the best months to travel the Churchill River but ideal seasons vary from year-to-year.
It costs $2695.00 for the Boreal Forest Primer for five or more individuals. Paddler’s Hostel Private Cabin $85/night. Paddler’s Hostel Non-private Cabin $35 per person a night. Inquire with Churchill River Canoe for individual rentals.
Like this post? Check out Incredible White Water Canoeing In Canada’s Prairies and The 6 Best Things To Do In Saskatchewan, too!