adventure, birding, boating, day trip, Duncairn Dam, Eastend, Family Fun, Frenchman River Valley, Grasslands, kayaking, Kidless Fun, Lac Pelletier, Paddling, Reid Lake, relaxation, Simmie, Swift Current Gull Lake, T-Rex Discovery Centre, wildlife
Each year my husband and I take turns looking for something fun and new to do for our anniversary. Last year was my turn, and I happily stumbled upon Carefree Adventures operating out of Simmie, SK of all places (yeah, I didn’t know it was there either!).
Offering kayak lessons, and the chance to paddle either up the Swift Current Creek (when the water levels allow), or through to the Duncairn Dam reservoir (also known as Reid Lake), John Smith (yes that’s his real name) at Carefree Adventures is a very personable and friendly guy, and he’ll gently ease you out of any fears you might have, and into one of the many different kayaks he offers.
After a 3hr lesson, and a LONG paddle on Reid Lake, John taught us all about the different types of kayaks that are available, and shared the story of how he came to turn his passion for kayaking into a business.
For John, kayaking was a bucket list item, that he and his friends had on their list of things to do for more than a few years before they finally got around to actually trying it, and from the first moment he dipped his paddle, he was hooked.
“We had talked about it for three years before we actually got around to trying it,” says Smith. “And that’s something I find is quite common with people who are wanting to try kayaking. They want to try…but something keeps holding them back. But, once they finally take a chance and try it, they love it.”
With a cabin down at Carefree Park near Simmie that has been in his family since the early 70’s, Smith soon found he was able to indulge his newfound passion more that most on average, and frequently took long leisurely paddles on the Swift Current Creek that flows through the park and into Duncairn Dam/Reid Lake.
Paddles he shared with family and friends as he introduced them to the sport.
Less tippy than a canoe, and an easy enough skill to learn the basics of, Smith soon decided to share his newfound passion for kayaking by starting up Carefree Adventures in 2009 and now offers tours, lessons and rentals.
Now as he heads into his fourth season of operation, John says people are still a little astonished when they find out they can learn to kayak right here in the southwest.
“Whenever I do a demo day or attend a trade show people just look at me and say…”Kayaking at Simmie?! Really?” They just can’t believe that you can kayak here. They kind of just scratch their head about it,” laughs Smith. “They must think we’re trying to pull a quick one on them or something.”
But kayak here they do, down both the Swift Current Creek, into Duncairn Dam, and down the Frenchman River through Grasslands National Park in Val Marie when water levels allow. An experience Smith says that allows people to enjoy the park in a different way.
“Those tours are really extra special,” stresses Smith, “and just like our Creek tours, they give people lots of opportunities to just relax, de-stress and do some wildlife watching from a water vantage point.”
Book John for a full tour, or if you’ve already got the basics down, and you just want to paddle on your own you can even rent his kayaks out for your own use.
After our summer adventure, we went back again in the Fall for the full tour from the “Old Steel Bridge into Carefree Park,” it was so calm and so relaxing. A really wonderful experience! So much so, we’ll definitely be heading out again this summer!
How to Get There:
If you’re coming from Swift Current, just head the same way you would if you were going to Lac Pelletier down Hwy 4, then keep going past Lac Pelletier till you turn right at Vesper. Once you enter the community of Simmie, just follow the signs to head down to Carefree Park.
And if you’re coming from the west down the Trans Canada, no need to head all the way into Swift Current, simply turn right at Hwy 37 out of Gull Lake, and make a left at secondary Hwy 631 which will take you into the Park.
Here’s a map to help you find your way.
What to Bring:
1) Footwear that can be worn in the water. Flip Flops not really recommended as you want something that won’t fall off.
2) Towel to dry off. Nothing but your feet really get wet so no need for a full on bathing suit. On our summer adventure we wore bathing suits, shorts and t-shirts, while our fall adventure was a little more bundled, but once you get strapped in to the kayak, you’re nice and toasty warm.
3) Water and Snacks. John actually brings water for those having lessons, but if you’re heading off on your own having something to sip on, and snack on keeps the energy up. After your adventure settle down and have a picnic right in the Park.
4) Camera: John provides waterproof bags for your to store your gear, so we’d recommend bringing a camera along with, so that you can snap shots of your paddle-mates, the spectacular scenery, and any wildlife you may see. (Beware: the cows in the area sometimes pretend their wildlife, just to sucker you in!). Other wildlife you may encounter includes: Trumpeter swans, Sandhill cranes, Great Blue herons, ducks and geese galore, beavers, muskrats, minks, coyotes, foxes, porcupines and plenty of mule and white-tail deer, and even the occasional moose and elk.
When not to visit:
The water levels of the Swift Current Creek and Frenchman River vary considerably, so the length of your tour may depend on the water levels, John will keep you up to date prior to your tour. Otherwise, the only thing that might deter you is rain and wind – and even then it’s still fun to go!
There are serviceable outhouses located in Carefree Park. But if they’re not quite “your thing” and you look sad enough, John will probably let you use the bathroom in his cabin.
Nice to know:
- Carefree Park has camping available for a really reasonable price. Nothing to write home about, but if you’re looking for a nice, quiet, inexpensive spot, this would be the place. Camp for a weekend, and take your tour!
- Simmie isn’t that far off from many other SW Destinations including: Eastend and the T-Rex Discovery Centre, Grasslands National Park and the Frenchman River Valley.
Who to contact:
John Smith – Owner/Operator of Carefree Adventures
Tel: (403) 528-9871 / (306) 297-6232
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