One of the first things that comes to mind when you think about Canada is probably, well… snow. What you may not know is that there are also a few deserts and sand dunes across the country which make sandboarding and sand duning in Canada possible. 

Carcross Desert Sand Dunes Canada
Carcross Desert, Yukon, Canada. Photo courtesy of Diego Delso. CC-BY-SA

Carcross Desert – Yukon

Welcome to what is possibly the smallest desert in the entire world! This is a standard desert, but rather what was left behind from an ancient lake drying out.  Because of its size, you can sandboard surrounded by very green hills with snowy peaks, in what is a truly unique sandboarding landscape that you won’t find anywhere else. All-terrain vehicles and sand duning are also permitted on the fine-grained dunes, and hiking is a very popular activity amongst tourists of Carcross.

Great Saskatchewan Sand Hills – Saskatchewan

In the middle of the Saskatchewan prairies you can find a little hidden gem: a 1,900 sq. km area of desert-like sand dunes. These pearl white dunes are in constant movement because of wind activity, which gives them a new shape every day. Sandboarding is not popular and you may have to bring your own board or sled, but it will be worth the effort. The Great Sand Hills are truly a unique area where you can practice a variety of additional activities that you cannot do anything else! Have you ever been bone hunting? Start digging in the sand and you are likely to find the remains of local wildlife, particularly, the small rodents known as kangaroo rats which inhabit the dunes. If you hang around there at night, you may even be able to see them roaming around. Different types of birds, deer, coyotes and cows are also easy to spot around the area. You can learn more about the area by visiting the Great Sandhills Museum & Interpretive Centre in the nearby town of Sceptre.

Sandhill Park – Port Burwell, Ontario

Sandboarding in Ontario is confined to the coastal sand dunes of Port Buwell, a few hours away from Toronto. The Sand Hill Park has sandy mountains up to 450 feet above water, where sandboarding can be practiced – surfing all the way down to Lake Erie.

Okanagan Desert – Osoyoos, British Columbia 

(Not suitable for sandboarding)

The Okanagan desert is often referred to as Canada’s only desert. It’s a semi-arid zone with a very hot, dry climate in the summer and very mild winters, but unfortunately it does not have any tall sand dunes suitable for sand boarding. Osoyoos sand dunes are rather short and rather “green”: filled with bushes, cacti and wildlife, they are better explored on foot (or perhaps with an all-terrain mountainboard?).

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