How to use 110 Nature Hot Spots in Manitoba and Saskatchewan to Plan Your Road Trip: Book Review

This week, 110 Nature Hot Spots in Manitoba and Saskatchewan: The Best Parks, Conservation Areas and Wild Places helped me plan a two week long camping trip. It’s the summer of RVing throughout southwest Saskatchewan for my husband Chris and I. This book came perfectly timed alongside the opening of the Saskatchewan Provincial Park campsite reservation service.

Jenn Smith Nelson, one of the book’s co-authors, asked me about writing a review of her new book in February. I don’t normally write book reviews, but the title intrigued me since I make a point of exploring Saskatchewan. I thought this would be the perfect book to motivate and inspire my summer RV camping plan.


Imagine asking a stranger for directions and getting a lot of local expertise and hidden gems about the wild along the way – that’s what you can expect from this guidebook.

I relate to Jenn’s ‘Welcome to Saskatchewan’ message. In her introduction, she explains that her love of nature and pride for the prairies is what motivated her to write this book. Jenn says that the prairies are often overlooked. Next to her message is a gorgeous photo of the northern lights dancing above Castle Butte.

Jenn and I make it our mission to compile gems within Saskatchewan. And it helps to continuously discover more reasons to love our home province.

Pick up 110 Nature Hot Spots in Manitoba and Saskatchewan and you’ll likely read it cover to cover in a short sitting. You’ll use it again as a reference guide when researching a destination before hitting the road.

The book’s main introduction mentions “the healing power of nature” along with a call for readers to respect wildlife areas. The authors clearly want readers to explore rather than disrupt the fragile environments. So don’t all go stampeding into these wild places at once!

What to expect from 110 Nature Hot Spots in Manitoba and Saskatchewan

On the day 110 Nature Hot Spots in Manitoba and Saskatchewan arrived in the mail, I opened it somewhere in the middle and began flipping through. Its modern format, eye-catching headings, and clean layout makes each nature hot spot pop. Captioned photos reinforce each profile’s wild flora (plants) and fauna (animals).

Sections start with a map and point to which page you’ll find each nature hot spot. This visual Table of Contents is helpful to reference during road trip planning. Every hot spot has a short summary with information on location highlights and icons that indicate activity type.

Page view of 110 Nature Hot Spots in Manitoba and Saskatchewan
An example entry of one of the 110 Nature Hot Spots in Manitoba and Saskatchewan: The Great Sandhills. Photo courtesy of Firefly Books.

It must’ve been challenging for co-authors, Jenn Smith Nelson and Doug O’Neill, to keep each destination brief, yet detailed. There is no room for personal opinion within the hot spot entries which results in short descriptions. Imagine asking a stranger for directions and getting a lot of local expertise and hidden gems about the wild – that’s what you can expect from this guidebook.

You’ll want to check out the ‘Special Interest’ category at the back of each province’s section for information on waterfalls (yes, we have those and I’m surprised too), birds, paddling, and sky viewing spots.

How to use 110 Nature Hot Spots in Manitoba and Saskatchewan to plan your road trips

It’s super easy to flip through and plan a road trip on the fly. The map at the beginning of the Southern Saskatchewan section was helpful in creating a circle route plan for our summer RV trip. For instance, we chose Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park, Saskatchewan Landing Provincial Park, Grasslands National Park – West Block, Lake Diefenbaker – Douglas Provincial Park, and the Beechy Sandcastles.

In the future, I’m looking forward to exploring northern parts of the province and eventually Manitoba. This year, I’m focusing on the south and central regions. I found myself flipping to different parts of the book to dream about where we’d visit next. After seeing a photo of the swinging bridge, I literally booked a campsite at Nipawin Regional Park .

Beginner travellers and seasoned adventurers navigating through the prairies will find this book useful. If you’ve done a fair bit of Saskatchewan travel, 110 Nature Hot Spots in Manitoba and Saskatchewan will shed new light on old favourites while introducing you to places you likely never knew existed.

For example, I learned about the Northeast Swale right here in my home city of Saskatoon. It’s located in the Silverspring neighbourhood, east of the Chief Mistawasis Bridge. On a spontaneous visit this weekend, I was surprised to find a beaver lodge along with a patch of wild crocus in full bloom and checked it off my spring bucket list.

A wild crocus blooms on the eastern edge of the Northwest Swale in Silverspring. Photo by Amy Rederburg.

Saskatoon’s entry reminds me of the natural amenities I have, steps from home: Meewasin Trail, the South Saskatchewan River, Cranberry Flats, and white pelicans at the weir to name a few.

110 Nature Hot Spots in Manitoba and Saskatchewan provides a broad overview of natural gems with unique details that you can only learn from a local. The personal touch within Jenn’s introduction would’ve been interesting to weave into each destination entry, but would’ve resulted in a much longer book. If you’re looking for a personal story of prairie wildlife, choose a hot spot and create your own adventure.

Author Info:

Jenn Smith Nelson, co-author of 110 Nature Hot Spots in Manitoba and Saskatchewan: The Best Parks, Conservation Areas and Wild Places, is a well-known travel writer and media contributor who calls Regina, Saskatchewan home. Co-author, Doug O’Neill, is an established travel writer, certified hike leader, and Trans-Canada Trail ambassador. He resides in Toronto, Ontario.

Book Details:

110 Nature Hot Spots in Manitoba and Saskatchewan
The Best Parks, Conservation Areas and Wild Places
Published on April 15, 2019
Paperback
$29.95
ISBN: 9780228101697

6 of the Latest Do Sask Book Club Reads in Photos

A.K.A. Six Potential Titles to Add to Your 2019 Stack

Most people interested in joining the Do Sask Book Club ask what titles we’ve read recently. To be honest, we read a wide variety of genres depending on who submits their #1 book to the draw. This keeps the club on its toes and exposes us to a number of different viewpoints.

Curious to know about the latest titles read by the Do Sask Book Club? Today, you’re in luck! And you don’t even have to leave the house.

See also

At the end of every book club meeting, we have a tradition of rating each title out of five. Those who haven’t finished the book keep their fists closed. This post will give you a photo of the ratings each book was given at the time of the meeting. Most book club members like to remain anonymous, so no faces are shown.

6 of the Latest Reads from The Do Sask Book Club Shelves

Let The Great World Spin by Colum McCann

Some didn’t finish reading, but the majority who did gave it a 3. It takes a long time to get into the story, but the ending makes it worthwhile.

Grunt by Mary Roach (Got Distracted by Cake – No Rating)

“Roach … can take any scientific topic and make it clear, human, and even funny. In this case, she tackles the science of war, but not in the way you might think. On the weird and winding path she takes, she never loses sight of the sad reality and humanity of soldiers and war. ” – Member Ashleigh

The Girl Who Never Read Noam Chomsky by Jana Casale

This one made us laugh and cry. It was almost bittersweet how real and relatable it was to all of us. Highly recommend 4/5.

Text Me When You Get Home by Kayleen Schaefer

“There are lots of great pop culture references, and I applaud her for trying to change the way society frames women’s friendships, but … I found her making sweeping generalizations based on her personal experiences. Even as she’s fighting against stereotypes…, she’s using them to back her own arguments.” – Member Ashleigh

Factfulness by Hans Rosling

We liked the clear, simple language used to explain complex topics like climate change, poverty/class, migration, and world population.
It gives science-oriented hope for the future.

Becoming by Michelle Obama

The 1st Anniversary of Do Sask Book Club also had the most readers out to date. 
Michelle’s story is oddly relatable, considering the extraordinary life of America’s first black first lady. We highly recommend it for your stack this year.

At the February Do Sask Book Club meeting, we’ll discuss Educated by Tara Westover (seats currently sold out – join the waitlist). Check out the event listing for details on subsequent meetings. 

2019 is ripe for reading! Fill it with friends, a few drinks, and some literature at the Do Sask Book Club. Please contact me if you’d like more information about upcoming meetings.