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Ski areas in Saskatchewan are designed for families. The affordability and accommodation for large groups creates a unique ski experience.
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Downhill skiing in Saskatchewan is a great family-oriented sport. Not because the hills are scaled back from famous, scream-inducing mountain resorts of other regions but because of the way ski areas here are designed. It's really all about managing the quantities of food you will need for a lot of people who will be cold and hungry frequently throughout the day. In a nutshell, skiing here seems to be regarded as something of a picnic.
The lodges you will discover at ski areas in the province are havens for families, however big or small. Wapiti Valley Ski Area is a perfect example.
In the moments before a descent down one of Wapiti Valley’s ski runs, it’s worth looking out over the Fort a la Corne Forest Reserve that extends northward in front of you. It isn’t endless, of course, but there is relatively little between you and the top of the world except for snow-laden wilderness at that moment. It’s a wonderful, exhilarating sense. And then you get to push off and glide, as recklessly as you choose, down to the lodge.
Wapiti Valley Ski Area was built in 1982 by the Wapiti Ski Cooperative Association: the attached regional park was established two years later. The original T-bar and the log-construction lodge were the first projects that got the ski area underway. Improvements to the people-moving equipment continued through the 1980s and 1990s until the year 2000 when the hill’s current quad chairlift was installed. A renovation in 2005 added additional space to the chalet to include a new rental shop and more seating for visitors. Permanent cottages—some quite elaborate—all-season structures, and a collection of rental cabins have contributed to the annual increase in the number of skiers at the hill, more than 30,000 annually, many traveling from as far away as Saskatoon. The hill is located about a 30-minute drive north of Melfort on Highway 6.
Even as the ski area evolves, the setting remains the same—which is a very good thing. The Fort a la Corne Forest Reserve, Codette Lake and the Saskatchewan River are visible from the ski area. The reserve, or planning area, is 132,502 hectares of forested land, located approximately 40 kilometres east of the City of Prince Albert. It is a forest island, surrounded by agricultural land. Its name has become well-known in recent years because of the diamond exploration that brought international attention to Saskatchewan.
Each of Saskatchewan's ski area's has it's own unique story. Consistent among them are relaxed paces and facilities that make skiing a time for family and friends.