If you want a taste of Northern Manitoba, Clearwater Lake Provincial Park has what you want. Located seven and a half hours from Winnipeg, and half an hour northeast of The Pas, it is one of Manitoba’s most unique provincial parks.
The drive north to the park takes you along scenic Highway 6 and 60. It goes goes through kilometres and kilometres of unbroken forest. During higher elevation spots on Highway 60 you can see the forest stretch out as far as the eye can see. The Boreal forest appears as if it will never end. When the clouds are blocking the sun, and fog is floating above the trees, it is a haunting and foreboding site.
Travelers should be wary though, there is a 428 kilometre stretch from Moosehorn to The Pas without any gas stations. The gas station that was at the corner of highway 6 and 60, about halfway between Moosehorn and The Pas, is now closed.
As the name Clearwater Lake suggests, the parks main feature is a lake. When the lake is still, the bottom of the lake can be seen from over 30 feet.
The lake itself is surrounded by forest and natural stone beaches. The rocks have been made smooth from the crashing of the waves.
The rock surrounding the beach is made up of dolomite. Dolomite is formed when calcite in limestone is modified by groundwater that contains high levels of magnesium.
The dolomite rocks here where estimated to be formed 400 million years ago.
After the last ice age ended, about 12000 years ago when Northern Manitoba thawed for the first time, water began filling into fractures between the rocks. The water would then freeze, causing the cracks and fractures to increase in size. Over thousands of years, this has formed caves and crevices among the cliffs along Clearwater Lake.
For adventurers wanting to see the caves and crevices for themselves, there is a hike that starts near Provincial Highway 207 that goes through the forest and towards Clearwater Lake. Once the shoreline is reached the caves are there to be discovered. The hike itself is only a kilometre long, but admiration of the caves will make it feel longer.
Due to the fact that the caverns have such a cool temperature, snow can sometimes be found in them during June and early July.
The park is also home to a variety of wildlife, the most intriguing of which are black bears and moose.
There are two campgrounds near the caves, Campers Cove and Pioneer Bay. Campers Cove has very private campsites as well as a hiking trail that starts at the campground and crosses a creek. The facilities here are adequate, however for those using the showers, be prepared for a real northern experience. They are as frigid as Hudson’s Bay.