Day 16: Swift Current to Besant Campground

Salt flats at Reed Lake

The prairies have a beauty that I cannot adequately convey through words or pictures. One has to pass through the rolling fields of wheat, enjoying panoramic views and miles of emptiness, to gain an appreciation of it all.

The ground in this area is rich with deposits of Sodium Sulfate. Don’t be surprised if you see a white film in the ditches or on the horizon. Sodium Sulfate is harvested using an evaporation process that separates the Sodium Sulfate from water. The result of this proccess is a product used in industrial applications like the manufacturing of detergents.

Chaplin Lake is designated by the Western Hemispheric Shorebird Reserve Network because it is vital bird habitat. Chaplin Lake is Canada’s second largest saltwater lake. 67,000 birds have been counted in this area in one day. Birds flock to this area to feast on shore flies, brine shrimp and seeds from the shallow, salty water. Many birds use this area as a link between their winter home in South America and their nesting grounds in Canada’s north. Some birds fly for over 70 hours without a break, making this stop a much-needed rest area. Stop at Chaplin’s Interpretive Centre to learn more.

Climb the lookout tower in Chaplin Lake to view nearby Chaplin Lake and salt flats. Sodium sulfate has been mined in this area since 1947.

Your destination for the evening is Besant Campground, just east of Mortlach. Mortlach, population 254, is famous for its Saskatoon berry Festival held annually on the first Saturday of July. There is a small grocery store here that is closed on Sundays. Check out Mortlach Museum where you can have your picture taken in their authentic jail cell.

The Besant Campground is located next to a small pond. There is a small store on-site and laundry facilities available. Debit and credit cards are not accepted. Watch the ground for cacti.

Kilometre Log
0.0Leave Kinetic Park Campground heading east on South Railway Street East.
0.3Turn left onto HWY 4.
2.8Cross over Swift Current Creek.
3.2Turn right off of HWY 4 onto HWY 1.
3.6Cross over Swift Current Creek.
17.8Waldeck. No services.
45.7Exit to Herbert and Lone Eagle Campground.
50.0Reed Lake.
59.3Exit to Morse.
64.1Intersection of HWY 1 & HWY 19. HWY 1 & 19 are the same here until Chaplin.
69.5Highway splits around the town of Ernfold.
80.1Cross over Chaplin Lake.
130.1Exit to Mortlach at intersection of HWY 626 & HWY 1.
136.6Turn right off of HWY 1 towards Besant Campground.
138.5Bike down a long tree-lined road until you see the campground office.

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