Home to the “Polar Bear Capital of the World,” Manitoba is known for its Arctic north.
Whether you’re seeking laid-back lake camping, off-grid backcountry mountain adventures, or an Arctic tundra trek in search of polar bears and beluga whales, Manitoba isn’t short of options. The capital city of Winnipeg is a home surrounded by campgrounds and RV parks set in the prairies. Farther north (way farther north) is Churchill, Manitoba’s claim to fame thanks to the polar bear watching that can be done here. Summers are hot enough for water sports and lake camping (just watch out for bugs), while fall is prime time for polar bear spotting. The province’s two national parks are on opposite ends, each providing a unique outdoor experience.
To get outdoors close to Winnipeg, campers can pull up at Arrowhead RV Park, stop into Birds Hill Provincial Park, or visit the shores of Lake Manitoba, Lake Winnipeg, or Otter Falls. Thirty minutes from town by road, Portage la Prairie is a small farm town offering RV resort options, a golf course, and simple rural pleasures. Métis and francophone culture rule in Saint Malo, a small town just south of Winnipeg.
This part of Canada is lake country, prime for fishing, boating, and hiking. Manitobans love the provincial park campgrounds at Whiteshell Provincial Park, just a few hours east of Winnipeg by road and full of sandy beaches at Big Whiteshell Lake, Caddy Lake, Betula Lake, Opapiskaw Beach, and Falcon Beach. Nopiming and Atikaki provincial parks offer endless lakeside trails and backcountry lodges near the Ontario border.
The region’s Riding Mountain National Park provides opportunities to go hiking and boating, stay in a forest yurt, and take advantage of park RV hookups. The forested national park is surrounded by grasslands home to Manitoba provincial parks offering green spaces, including Asessippi and Duck Mountain.
Wapusk National Park is the place to see polar bears and beluga whales, but there’s no camping allowed here (due to polar bear danger) and the park is only accessible by air. For fewer logistical challenges, opt for a day-trip excursion out of Churchill into the wilds and you may still get a shot at seeing a polar bear. Churchill is also a great spot to pick up provisions and meet friendly locals who brave the winter cold in their hometown. Paint Lake Provincial Park is an option for those who want to venture into Manitoba by road from Winnipeg.