Sunset on Grayling Lake, Riding Mountain National Park, Manitoba
Hiking: Riding Mountain National Park’s underused northern gates lie just 16 kilometres south of Dauphin. Notable among the park’s 400 kilometres of hiking paths is the Birdtail Valley Trail, which cuts a path through fescue grassland, a remnant of the native grasslands that once covered the prairies. If you’d like to go for serious elevation—Manitoba style—head for Duck Mountain Provincial Park. At 2,730 feet, Baldy Mountain, near the south gate, is Manitoba’s highest point.
Sea kayaking: Locals head north to the rugged shoreline of Lake Winnipegosis—Lake Winnipeg’s lonely but no less loveable cousin.
Skiing: Riding Mountain has 120 kilometres of X-C ski trails, and there are three kilometres of lighted trails right in town at Vermillion Park.
What can we say? It’s a fairly small prairie town. Dining options amount to a handful of fast food places and regular chains, along with a few hotel restaurants and watering holes. For a nice night out, locals make the trek to neighbouring Clear Lake and take advantage of its seasonal resorts. The hundred-year-old Dauphin Town Hall has been restored and now houses the Watson Arts Centre, for concert series, plays and local and travelling exhibits. In the summer, Dauphin hosts Countryfest, Canada’s longest-running country music festival, featuring local, national and international artists. Lifetime membership=$250. Sweet!
Other factoids » Near the geographical centre of Canada » home to Manitoba’s only indoor wave pool » famous former resident: one-time New York Islander Butch Goring