Nopiming Provincial Park is famous for being one of the best preserved places in Manitoba and home of the pretty Tulabi Falls. I went and stayed in the Park for three days in June 2020 for the first time.
Nopiming is an Anichinabe word meaning Entry to the Wilderness. Does Nopiming Provincial Park live up to its name? Yes and no. It is quite paradoxical: there is almost no urbanization in this park of 1,429 km2 but bears and other protected wild animals rub shoulders with the workers who operate the mines in the area. My phone had LTE in several places but the road is only gravel. Nopiming is a park of contrasts, between industry and nature.
Your guide to Nopiming Provincial Park
- Where is Nopiming Provincial Park?
- What to do in Nopiming?
- Where to sleep in Nopiming Provincial Park?
- Animals in Nopiming
- Curiosities in Nopiming Provincial Park
Where is Nopiming Provincial Park?
Nopiming Provincial Park is a 2.5 hour drive (200 km) from Winnipeg, or 3,5 hour (about 280 km) from Kenora, Ontario. The only way to get to Nopiming is by car, there are no public transportation. There is a gas station inside the park but you want to fill your tank at the closest town, Lac-du-Bonnet.
When to visit Nopiming Provincial Park?
Summer is the best season to fully take advantage of the park, of the hiking trails but also of the water routes and activities, like fishing, canoeing and swimming. The campgrounds and accommodations are only open from May until September.
Fall could make a great day trip when the leaves turn. I have seen pretty photos of the Tulabi Falls in the winter months, but you would need to be prepared, have a good car and be used to drive and how to act in winter conditions.
What to do in Nopiming?
#1 See the Tulabi Falls
Tulabi Falls are the main point of interest in Nopiming Provincial Park, and they attract a number of visitors each year. Tulabi Falls are not the largest waterfalls in Manitoba but they are still beautiful, especially as you walk around the falls to see the peaceful lake behind. A small path allows you to descend the different levels along the rocks.
In Tulabi Lake, above the waterfalls, cliff jumping is a popular sport.
How far is Tulabi Falls from Winnipeg? About 2 hours and 30 minutes, depending where you leave from.
#2 Hiking in Nopiming
Nopiming Provincial Park is not the best Manitoba park for hiking. If you are serious about hiking, you’ll find more trails in the Whiteshell – and I recommend using AllTrails for detailed maps and trails.
However, there are four official hiking trails in Nopiming and they all are really cool:
- the Tulabi Falls, which follows the trail that leads to backcountry camping sites,
- the Black Lake Trail, which would be a difficult hike of about 8 km among rocks,
- the Fire of 83 Trail, an easy 1.5 km walk,
- the Walk on Ancient Mountains Trail, a 1.8 km trail over, as the name suggests, ancient mountains.
I only hiked the the Ancient Mountains trail on this list, due to the heat (it was over thirty degrees Celsius). But it was neat anyway! Nopiming is located in the area of the Canadian Shield so, without going into too many geological details, let’s just remember that pink granite is ubiquitous.
The Walk on Ancient Mountain trail goes up a little bit (just a little, it’s still Manitoba) and allows you to observe the rebirth of nature after a huge forest fire in 1983. The disappearance of vegetation has left the rock bare = paradise for geologists who have discovered a mountain range from millions of years ago that was similar to the Rockies today!
The mica shines: it looks like little bits of glass embedded in the stone. The whole area has undergone enormous geological upheavals, including molten magma. The paper or online brochure allows you to better understand the history of the stones in the Nopiming area and it is fascinating!
#3 Lakes, lakes, lakes
What we did was to take route 315 from Black Lake to the intersection with the 314 that we took north until we reached the trailhead of the Walk on Ancient Mountains. And at almost every lake, we stopped to take a few photos!
In the photos below: Bird River / Springer Lake / Shoe Lake.
And seen from above, with a drone, Bird Lake looks like this:
#4 Plant Watching
Fir trees, wild roses, campanulas, there are lots of plants in Nopiming Provincial Park.
#5 Admire the sunset
The easiest activity, guaranteed without effort or almost… it depends on the level of mosquitoes.
#6 Go kayaking or canoeing
Nopiming Provincial Park is clearly a water park. There is a map that lists ten possible trips, with or without camping. Some free camping areas have been set up on islands. There is a jetty every 3 km or so, and you’ll see more fishermen than anywhere else in Manitoba.
It was in Nopiming Provincial Park that I was able to kayak for the first time! The rental was included in the price of the cabin we had rented. It’s funny, it takes coordination and it hurts a little in the arms. I found it cool to start on a flat, calm lake rather than a river.
The Nopiming Lodge has some boat rentals, whether or not you are staying the lodge.
Where to sleep in Nopiming Provincial Park?
Tulabi Falls, Black Lake, Beresford Lake and Caribou Landing are the main campsites. They can be reserved on the Manitoba Parks website. If camping isn’t your thing (it’s clearly not mine), there are also cabins for rent at Nopiming Lodge and Windsock Lodge.
I stayed at the Nopiming Lodge, it was cheap, clean and comfortable.
Animals in Nopiming
Nopiming Provincial Park is teeming with wildlife.
- Caribou (not seen ❌) – the park is home to a pack of 50 caribou, protected;
- Moose ❌
- Wolves ❌
- Black bears (seen one from the car ✅)
Note that there is no sign indicating to be “Bear Smart” because the provincial park budget does not afford to put signs everywhere. And that’s okay, people going to Nopiming will surely already have the right behaviour with bears. I’m preparing a blog post on bear safety.
Curiosities in Nopiming Provincial Park
Mines and minerals
Nopiming Provincial Park is rich in precious minerals of all kinds. There was even a small gold rush in 1912, but on a smaller scale than those in California or Klondike in the Yukon: in Nopiming, gold is not in the water but in the stone, so it is much more difficult to extract! 4 million dollars in gold were mined until the 1930s.
The remains of the abandoned Irgon mine at Cat Lake (discovered thanks to Geocaching) fascinated me: it was built and was ready to operate in 1953 to extract lithium but prices had dropped by then and the company was waiting for better days… Seventy years later, they have missed the boat: lithium is everywhere and their mine never opened.
On the other hand, in 2018, the Manitoba provincial government granted an operating permit to a company that would like to restart lithium extraction in this area. It is a real paradox of having both a provincial park with laws to protect nature and companies that use said nature to make a profit.
The Coca-Cola Falls
This little attraction is not exactly in Nopiming but on the way. The Coca-Cola Falls were named so because their water would be the same colour as the famous soda!
Please note that there is NO physical indication indicating the falls, not even a sign. But Google Maps has the exact location, under a small bridge before arriving in Lac-du-Bonnet from the east.
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North of Nopiming Provincial Park, the road stops. Another park begins and goes beyond the borders of Manitoba and Ontario: Pimachiowin Aki, the last Canadian site to be declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2018.
Other Manitoba things to do and see?
– the Canadian Fossil Discovery Center in Morden
– Birds Hill Park
– Nopiming Provincial Park
– Spend a day in Neepawa
– Winter glamping and dog sledding
– 12 things to do less an hour away from Winnipeg
– 10 foods to try in Manitoba
– the Pinawa Old Dam
– a guide of Rural Manitoba Museums
– Lower Fort Garry and the Fur Trade