Grand Beach is a provincial park on the shore of Lake Winnipeg in Manitoba. Its fine white sand has made it an attractive summer destination since the early years of the 20th century when the Canadian Northern Railway established an excursion line to the area.
Dunes 12 metres high and kilometres of warm sand beach. It draws thousands of people from miles around.
Available activities include excellent bird watching, cycling and hiking trails, boating, fishing, kiteboarding and berry picking (saskatoons, chokecherries, and blueberries). In the winter the park offers snowmobiling and cross-country skiing.
There are numerous tourist attractions, which include food and merchandise vendors, recreation facilities, bike, hiking, and ski trails, a fishing dock, a boardwalk, and camping facilities.
The park was established in 1961 on the site of a former resort. It was popular in the "Grand Old Days" before the highways, when the railway was the main transportation to the resort.
The resort developed by the railway included many amenities including a dance hall, piers and a carousel. Most of the visitors were Winnipeg residents travelling by train and returning to the city the same day. The increase in car ownership and concurrent road improvement after the end of World War II resulted in a declining number of customers for the excursion trains. The railway did not rebuild the dance hall when it burnt down in 1950 and in 1963, the tracks were removed.
Flora and fauna
The park is a sanctuary for the piping plover, an endangered species of bird that nests on the beach. Bald eagles, bears, sea gulls, terns, and pelicans are among a wide variety of species that inhabit the area.
Leaving Winnipeg, take PTH 59 north, 80 km (50 mi) to the Grand Beach turnoff. Follow PTH 12 west 6 km (3.7 mi).
Fees and permits
(as of June 2019) Vehicle fee: $5/day, $12/3 days.
Campsites: basic services $11.55-23.10/day, electrical services $15.75-27.30/day
- The Boardwalk: From the Locomotive Kiosk, stroll along the Boardwalk. Interpretive signs with archival photos help you look into the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s at this railway resort.
- Piping Plovers: The beach is ideal habitat for this rare and endangered bird species. To provide some measure of protection, piping plover sites are fenced during the June nesting period. Interpreters and volunteer plover guardians provide opportunities for visitors to safely view the birds, without disturbing them. For more information on plovers and the guardian program contact the park office.
- Plover viewing at the Channel: At this site, which separates the east and west beaches, water flows back and forth between the lake and the lagoon. This creates extremely dangerous currents in the water. Wading and swimming are prohibited. Please use the footbridge to cross the channel.
- Berry Picking: Openings in Grand Beach's mixed forest nurture an abundant growth of berry producing shrubs. Saskatoon berries (or service berries or June berries) ripen towards the end of June. Chokecherries and blueberries are ready in August.
- Hiking: Grand Beach offers a wide variety of walking or hiking opportunities. These include informal "trails" like The Boardwalk and the 3-km beach; almost 30 km of backcountry trail networks let you stroll connecting routes to your heart's content. Self-guiding trails offer interpretive information on the area you are exploring.
- Wear long pants to help prevent contact with poison ivy; in summer, bring insect repellent; on the beach, wear sunglasses and protect yourself from intense sunshine with appropriate sunscreen lotion and clothing.
- Boating: Boating on Lake Winnipeg is permitted beyond the swimming area but is often adversely affected by strong winds and large waves. The lagoon, which is sheltered and relatively calm, is recommended for boating, waterskiing, boardsailing and other water-oriented sports. For safety, part of the lagoon has been designated for non-motorized watercraft.
- Fishing: The most popular fishing spot in the park is by the causeway bridge. Catches include perch, walleye, northern pike, silver bass, carp and the occasional catfish.
- Swimming: Swimming is permitted along the east and west beaches within the marked area. Swimming is at your own risk so please ensure that children in your company are constantly supervised. Lifeguards are not provided. Beach safety officers are on duty during peak beach use periods. Swimming or wading are strictly prohibited in the channel area between the two beaches due to dangerous currents.
- Tennis: Tennis courts are provided for public use on a first-come, first-served basis. They are open daily, 8AM to sunset.
- Cross-country Skiing: In winter, five designated routes begin and end at the same staging area. Each is rated for different skill levels: the Jack Pine (2.6 km) and Blueberry (3.2 km) trails are recommended for novices; intermediate skiers will enjoy the Boulder Hill (6.1 km) and Beaver Pond (13.3 km) trails; and expert skiers will find the Squirrel Run (2.6 km) challenging.
- Snowmobiling: Snowmobile trails skirt the park boundaries and loop through the forested eastern section. They connect with other regional trails that lead snowmobilers to Belair Provincial Forest, Pine Falls, Lac du Bonnet and the Can-Am International Trail. Winter recreation maps are available from the park office.
Buy, eat and drink
There are food and merchandise vendors in the park.
There is a huge campground 350 sites toward the east end of the park. The campground has very wooded sites. There are both electrics and non-electric sites. There are 48 seasonal camp sites, all of which have electricity. There are 306 casual campsites, in all about half offer electricity.
|Routes through Grand Beach Provincial Park|
|END ←||N S||→ Beausejour → Steinbach|
|END ← Victoria Beach ←||N S||→ Jct W E → Winnipeg|