What Is Riding Mountain National Park?

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  • Written By: Daphne Mallory
  • Edited By: Melissa Wiley
  • Last Modified Date: 26 September 2019
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Riding Mountain National Park is located in Manitoba, Canada. It’s approximately 1,146 square miles (about 2,968 square km) in size, and its northern border is located 8 miles (about 13 km) to the south of the city of Dauphin. Highway 10 cuts through the park, allowing access to large portions of the landscape. The surrounding landscape is made up of flat prairie, which makes the deciduous and boreal forest stand out from the nearby area. The park is known for its native wildlife and also for its historical heritage. Riding Mountain National Park originally became a protected area in 1929, and UNESCO designated it as a biosphere reserve in 1986.

The Cree, Assiniboines, and Ojibway native peoples originally used the area around Riding Mountain National Park as hunting and fishing grounds. Fur trapping became important in the region in the 19th century. The park is home to a variety of wildlife to this day for viewing. A captive bison herd can be viewed at Lake Audy, where an observation platform and exhibit have been constructed. Large herds of elk migrate through the park, and visitors can also see lynx, black bears, and moose. Bird watchers often visit the park to see the wide variety of species that nest there or migrate through the area. A variety of bird species can be seen, including warblers, woodpeckers, and trumpeter swans.


Central Trail leads to an interesting historical site in Riding Mountain National Park. A centralized area in the park, located far from surrounding communities, was used to house German prisoners of war from 1943 to 1945. It was a minimum security prison camp, and the soldiers were put to work cutting firewood for surrounding towns. Central Trail is one of more than 250 miles (about 402 km) of trails accessible in the park. The former POW camp is often visited by tourists who hike, cycle, or ride on horseback to Whitewater Lake. Not much remains of the POW site other than the concrete foundations of the buildings, but primitive camping is available there.

The three road entrances to Riding Mountain National Park were designed in the 1930s. They consist of twin kiosks that are connected by a covered bridge, which crosses the entrance road. Visitors often stop to look at the rustic architecture when they register to enter the park. There are entrance fees for either day or seasonal use. The campgrounds and the entrances to the park are closed to visitors from mid-October through mid-May.


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Post 3

I have been to Riding Mountain Park to see the captive bison herd and it is really a site to behold. Even from a distance you can see the size and strength of the bison and respect the power that they command rushing around in a herd.

I do not know any place else in the world where you can see this many bison in an environment like this. It is worth the trip to the park for the herd alone.

Post 2

I spent huge parts of my summers as a youth hiking and camping around Riding Mountain. Those are some of the best memories of my life. It is really a beautiful place, a special place. I don't think I've ever seen a bigger more untouched piece of nature anywhere else in the world.

Every where you turned there was some other natural wonder. A tree in bloom, a jagged rocky cliff, a moose with her young, fish jumping out of the water, the sunrise and sunset. All of it was beautiful, even to a young boy. I have not been back to Riding Mountain for many years but maybe it is time to plan a trip.

Post 1

I think it would be kind of creepy to camp in an old POW camp. I am not a superstitious person and I don't think that ghost Germans would come and get us in the middle of the night.

But at the same time that is obviously a bad place where some terrible things happen. How could that energy not still be lingering around in some form?

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