Guided trip: Climb the tallest sand dune

A guided trip to climb the Athabasca Sand Dunes: Seemingly out of place, the Athabasca Sand Dunes are found at the northern border of Saskatchewan.

Credit: Lee Cormier

The Athabasca Sand Dunes seem completely out of place at a latitude typically associated with boreal forest and ice roads, but there they are, on the northern border of Saskatchewan. Not only are these big piles of sand the most northerly dunes in the world, but they’re also the tallest in North America. And the 100-kilometre-long stretch of sand is the largest dune system on the continent. On their six-day fly-in trip to the area, Churchill River Canoe Outfitters sets up a base camp close to the edge of the dunes, at Thomson Bay on Lake Athabasca. Then it’s time to lace up the boots. The highlight is a long hike right into the centre of the sand with the goal of climbing the highest dune, which offers the kind of view you’d see in Saudi Arabia or the Sahara. Another hike visits several old lakeshores left high and dry as the continental glacier melted and water levels fell over thousands of years. And a third explores a skeletal forest that was once strangled and buried by sand, but was unearthed by shifting winds.

When: July 23 to 29
Cost: $4000
Churchill River Canoe