There’s a New Year-Round Camping Experience in Manitoba’s Riding Mountain National Park


Stay in “Turtle Shells,” Indigenous-owned units open year-round in Manitoba’s Riding Mountain National Park.

Pack your bags! There’s a new, year-round accommodation option in Manitoba’s Riding Mountain National Park that ticks all the boxes when it comes to a sustainable stay. Turtle Village also gets high marks in the design and trendiness categories. This might be the coolest and coziest place you stay this winter. 

The project is an Indigenous-owned collection of eight “Turtle Shell” units, each off-grid mini cabins offering a queen-sized Murphy bed, solar panels, a battery bank for interior lighting and charging electronics, propane heat, a firepit and a picnic table.Shel Zolkewich

“Currently, my family of five resides in a 400-square-foot mini home,” says owner Ashley Smith. “My goal is to demonstrate that we can enjoy high-quality, yet affordable housing or accommodations, all while reducing ongoing maintenance costs. I see Turtle Village as an opportunity to offer unique, eco-friendly experiences that leave no footprint on our land and rely on natural resources.”

Located on a bay near the park’s collection of TENTiks—canvas tents on platforms that are also open year-round—there are heated washrooms with running water within a few steps. An indoor cooking facility is also nearby, making a stay at Turtle Village sprinkled with conveniences.      

The units require little maintenance and are self-contained when it comes to heating and electrical. The village is surrounded by everything Riding Mountain National Park has to offer in all seasons—including fabulous hiking trails and a herd of bison. Shel Zolkewich

“I believe we must take a responsible stance on the environmental impact of tourism and lead the way in eco-tourism,” Smith says. “This also provides people with the chance to experience these principles on a small scale.” 

Windows on three sides let the light pour in, making the snug space feel just right. There’s artwork, blinds for sleepy heads, area rugs and funky LED lighting tucked under the bed. Visitors need to bring their own bedding—so you can go utilitarian with a sleeping bag or ramp up with comforters, blankets and oversized pillows.

Exploring the park in the winter is easy thanks to a network of hiking, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing trails, many with trailheads within walking distance of Turtle Village. The town of Wasagaming has plenty of winter programs too, including a skating rink, light displays and snowshoe or ski rentals at The Friends of Riding Mountain National Park gift shop. Lakehouse Restaurant and Elkhorn are open year-round for dining if you want someone else to do the cooking.

How to Reserve: Watch out for seasonal specials as low as $99 a night here

Shel Zolkewich


What to Bring:

• Bedding and pillows
• Bathroom essentials including towels
• Cookware (like pots, pans, utensils and dishes)
• A portable camp stove (a fire pit is provided)
• Food and snacks and a method for storing them, like a cooler or dry bags
• Season-appropriate clothing, like waterproof and windproof outer layers, hats, gloves and extra socks
• An axe or a fire starter
• Outdoor chairs for comfortable seating
• Flashlights or lanterns
• Your sense of adventure

Shel Zolkewich


Pro Tip: The Wasagaming Campground entrance closed at the end of summer, so follow the signs to the winter camping entrance around the corner.

Take a Drive: A 30-kilometre gravel road leads to the park’s most visited residents—a herd of roughly 40 captive bison at Lake Audy. Motor through the pasture path to get an up-close view of the herd and hear their low and slow grunts. Moose, deer, bears and elk may also delight you with an appearance.


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