Riding Mountain Overview

Riding Mountain National Park, situated in the heart of Manitoba, Canada, is a distinctive natural oasis amid the agricultural landscape of the Central Plains. Established in 1930, the park covers an expansive area of approximately 2,969 square kilometers (about 1,146 square miles), making it a significant protected area in the region. Riding Mountain stands out as a “island of the wilderness” that offers a diverse range of ecosystems, including vast stretches of boreal forest, aspen parkland, and prairie grasslands, which create a unique biodiversity hotspot.

The park is anchored by the dramatic Manitoba Escarpment, which provides a stunning backdrop to the park’s varied landscapes. At the center is Clear Lake, a popular spot for recreational activities such as boating, fishing, and swimming, surrounded by lush forest and scenic campgrounds. Riding Mountain National Park’s extensive network of trails caters to hikers, bikers, and horseback riders, offering everything from leisurely walks through meadows of wildflowers to challenging treks across rugged terrain.

One of the park’s most notable features is its role as a sanctuary for wildlife. Riding Mountain is home to a wide variety of animal species, including black bears, moose, elk, and a captive bison herd located in the Lake Audy Bison Enclosure. The park also provides habitat for over 260 bird species, making it a prime location for birdwatching.

Riding Mountain National Park is not only a haven for nature enthusiasts but also a place of cultural significance. It encompasses the traditional lands of several Indigenous groups and includes important historical sites, such as the East Gate Registration Complex, one of the last remaining examples of early park architecture in Canada.

With its stunning natural beauty, rich biodiversity, and recreational opportunities, Riding Mountain National Park offers visitors a chance to connect with nature and explore one of Canada’s unique protected areas. It serves as a testament to the importance of preserving natural landscapes and wildlife for future generations.

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Riding Mountain National Park Highlights


Riding Mountain National Park, nestled in the heart of Manitoba, Canada, is a biodiverse oasis where prairies, forests, and wetlands converge, hosting an array of wildlife species that offer visitors a rich tapestry of natural encounters amidst the park’s stunning landscapes.

Bison Once near extinction, bison herds within the park are a powerful symbol of conservation, roaming the grasslands in a display of their historic presence.

Black Bear Common throughout Riding Mountain, black bears are versatile foragers, adapting to the park’s varied habitats and reminding visitors of the wilderness beyond.

Moose The majestic moose, the largest of deer species, is often seen wading in the park’s lakes and marshes, browsing on aquatic vegetation and willows.

Wolf The elusive wolf, apex predator of the park, moves silently through the forest, playing a crucial role in maintaining the ecological balance of Riding Mountain.

Elk With their haunting bugles echoing in autumn, elk roam the park’s meadows and forests, a sight that captivates visitors with their grace and size.

Common Loon The haunting call of the common loon over the park’s lakes is a quintessential sound of the Canadian wilderness, embodying the spirit of the north.

Beaver As nature’s engineers, beavers shape the park’s waterways, creating habitats that support diverse species with their intricate dams and lodges.

Great Gray Owl The great gray owl, with its impressive size and piercing eyes, is often spotted perched silently in the forest, a ghostly figure at dusk.

Red Fox The cunning red fox, with its striking orange fur, is a common sight, showcasing its adaptability by thriving in both the park’s forests and grasslands.

White-tailed Deer Grazing in the clearings and along the park’s edges, white-tailed deer are a serene presence, symbolizing the gentle side of the wilderness.

Riding Mountain National Park’s wildlife, from the iconic bison to the mysterious great gray owl, invites visitors to explore and appreciate the natural harmony and beauty of one of Canada’s treasured national parks.

Riding Mountain National Park Pictures

Engaging Riding Mountain

Explore the diverse landscapes of Riding Mountain National Park on its network of hiking trails. From leisurely strolls through lush forests to challenging treks up scenic ridges, the park offers trails for all skill levels and interests.

Keep an eye out for wildlife such as black bears, elk, and songbirds as you immerse yourself in the natural beauty of the park.

Discover the serene waters of Riding Mountain National Park by canoe or kayak. Paddle along scenic lakeshores, explore hidden bays and inlets, and enjoy stunning views of the surrounding landscapes. With rental facilities available, it’s easy to embark on a paddling adventure and experience the beauty of the park from the water.

Take a leisurely drive along the park’s scenic roads, winding through forests, grasslands, and wetlands.

Enjoy panoramic vistas of rolling hills, crystal-clear lakes, and picturesque meadows as you soak in the natural splendor of Riding Mountain National Park from the comfort of your car.

Keep an eye out for wildlife such as deer, foxes, and birds of prey as you explore the park’s diverse ecosystems

Riding Mountain National Park Trails

Bald Hill Trail

Rating: Difficult

Distance and Elevation Gain: 8.1 miles (13 km) round trip with about 1,148 feet (350 meters) elevation gain

Description: This trail leads hikers to one of the highest points in the park, offering panoramic views of the surrounding area. The ascent is challenging but rewards hikers with breathtaking vistas of the Manitoba Escarpment and the mixed forest below. The trail is well-marked and offers an immersive experience in the park’s natural beauty.

Ominnik Marsh Trail

Rating: Easy

Distance and Elevation Gain: 1.8 miles (2.9 km) loop with minimal elevation gain

Description: Perfect for families and casual hikers, this easy loop takes you through the serene Ominnik Marsh.

The trail features a boardwalk that allows for close-up views of wetland plants and wildlife without disturbing the delicate ecosystem.

Interpretive signs along the way provide insights into the marsh’s inhabitants, making it an educational experience as well as a scenic one.

Gorge Creek Trail

Rating: Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: 4.3 miles (7 km) loop with about 656 feet (200 meters) elevation gain

Description: Winding through a stunning gorge carved by glacial waters, this trail showcases the geological history of the area. Hikers will traverse mixed forest landscapes, encounter diverse plant life, and enjoy views of the creek below.

The trail’s moderate difficulty makes it a rewarding hike for those looking for a bit more of a challenge without venturing into backcountry terrain.

Moon Lake Trail

Rating: Moderate

Distance and Elevation Gain: 5.6 miles (9 km) loop with minimal elevation gain

Description: Circling the picturesque Moon Lake, this trail offers hikers the chance to enjoy the park’s tranquil waterways and spot local wildlife.

The trail is moderately easy, with some rocky and root-filled sections, making for a varied hiking experience.

Benches and picnic spots along the route invite hikers to relax and take in the scenic views of the lake and its surroundings.

Brûlé Trail

Rating: Easy

Distance and Elevation Gain: 2.5 miles (4 km) round trip with minimal elevation gain

Description: This gentle trail is ideal for a leisurely hike through Riding Mountain’s distinctive aspen forests. The path is flat and well-maintained, making it accessible to hikers of all skill levels.

Along the way, interpretive signs detail the history of the area’s Indigenous peoples and the park’s diverse ecosystems, offering a peaceful yet informative outdoor experience.


1. What is Riding Mountain National Park known for?

Riding Mountain National Park, located in Manitoba, Canada, is known for its diverse landscapes, rich biodiversity, and opportunities for outdoor recreation. Established in 1929, the park encompasses a vast area of over 1,100 square kilometers, including mixed-grass prairie, boreal forest, and aspen parkland ecosystems.

One of the park’s main attractions is its stunning scenery, which includes rolling hills, crystal-clear lakes, and lush forests. Visitors to Riding Mountain National Park can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, camping, wildlife viewing, and water sports.

The park is home to a wide range of wildlife, including black bears, elk, moose, and over 200 species of birds, making it a popular destination for nature lovers and wildlife enthusiasts.

In addition to its natural beauty, Riding Mountain National Park offers opportunities for cultural and historical exploration.

The park is home to several Indigenous archaeological sites and historic landmarks, providing insights into the region’s rich cultural heritage.

Whether you’re seeking adventure in the great outdoors or simply looking to relax and reconnect with nature, Riding Mountain National Park offers something for everyone to enjoy.

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  • Britannica, Riding Mountain National Park,, retrieved April 2024.
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  • National Geographic, National Parks of North America, Canada-United States-Mexico, National Geographic Society, 1995.
  • Parks Canada, Riding Mountain National Park,, retrieved April 2024.
  • UNESCO, Riding Mountain National Park,, retrieved April 2024.