Spruce Woods Provincial Park - Manitoba | Dark-Sky Preserve

Photos: Sheila Wiwchar (top left, bottom left); Ron Berard (bottom right)

Spruce Woods Provincial Park was declared a Dark-Sky Preserve on September 4, 2022 in partnership with Manitoba Environment, Climate and Parks, the Winnipeg RASC Centre, and the Friends of Spruce Woods. The park is located in southwestern Manitoba on Treaty No. 1 Territory and the Homeland of the Red River Métis, and is the first RASC-designated Dark-Sky Site in the province.

The park encompasses 269km2 and is part of the Assiniboine Delta Natural Region, which was formed by a retreating glacier. It contains a variety of habitats including spruce parkland, upland deciduous forest, mixed-grass prairie, river bottom forest, and sand dunes. Natural features in the park include the Assiniboine River, 11 oxbow lakes, Devils Punch Bowl (a depression in the hills created by underground streams), and the Spirit Sands, a desert-like area with towering sand dunes named in recognition of their religious significance to Indigenous inhabitants. The park is home to a wide range of animal species, including the Bembix wasp, wolf spider, olive-backed pocket mouse, western hognose snake, elk, and Manitoba’s only lizard, the northern prairie skink. Plant species include cacti, white spruce, tamarack, black spruce, basswood, elm, ash, and Manitoba maple.

The area’s original inhabitants include the Clovis and Woodlands peoples, who lived in the area 11 000 years ago and 2000 years ago respectively, as well as the Assiniboine, Cree, and Anishinabe (Ojibwe) peoples. The land was also once the home of Fort des Epinettes, a trading post of the Northwest Company in the 1700’s.

The park boasts sky quality readings of 21.5 - 21.7 mag/arcsecond2 and offers a variety of astronomy-related programming and events, including night hikes, campfire presentations, sky tours, and the Spruce Woods Star Party and Spruce Woods Public Event, both hosted by the Winnipeg RASC Centre. The Brandon and Area Astronomical Society also supports programs and events at the park. In addition to stargazing, visitors can partake in a number of outdoor activities, including cross-country skiing, tobogganing, snowmobiling, skating, biking, canoeing, hiking, horseback riding, swimming, fishing, and birdwatching. Facilities at the park include a Visitor Centre, featuring interpretive exhibits, an amphitheatre, and a gift shop. Visitors can learn about upcoming events and programs on the Manitoba Parks events page or on the Manitoba Parks Facebook page. Information is also available at the Visitor Centre.

Visitors can camp at Kiche Manitou (an Indigenous phrase meaning “Great Spirit”) campground, which offers 200+ sites, both serviced and unserviced, and 14 yurts with accessible and pet-friendly options. The campground features showers, washrooms, a laundromat, and a concession. Group camping is also available. The park also has several backcountry campsites with non-modern toilets, fire pits, and picnic tables. Visitors can book a campsite or yurt through the Parks Reservation Service.

The park lies 75km east of Brandon and 180km west of Winnipeg. Fuel, accommodations, restaurants, pharmacies, and groceries can be found in the nearby towns of Glenboro (13km south) and Carberry (27km north).


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