Gimli, Manitoba is its own tourist magnet, each person tempted by natural beauty, incredible vistas of Lake Winnipeg and, yes, Icelandic heritage. At 4.6 metres high, the community’s Viking Statue has been an iconic symbol, standing tall since 1967 — its warrior visage yearning for Valhalla.
Gimli has a thriving arts scene and is known for its culture and history. One such example is the Gimli Film Festival. It’s recognized as the country’s largest rural film festival, and a not-to-be-missed event.
We can’t wait to attend the next Icelandic Festival of Manitoba — now that’s a party. There’s so much to see and do, and this makes Gimli a sought-after destination for day trippers from Winnipeg.
Better yet, Gimli lies at the very heart of the Interlake region. We know you’re excited, so let’s get to it.
5 outdoor getaways near Gimli, Manitoba
You don’t have to go far for this one; Gimli’s waterfront is a popular beach and boardwalk. People come here to relax, catch some rays on the shores of Lake Winnipeg and for summer events.
What do Streetheart, Harlequin and the Trews have in common? They’ve each played the Gimli Beach Bash concert series. Come July, catching a film on the beach for the film festival is pretty cool.
Plus, we hear that the sunsets are something else.
Camp Morton Provincial Park:
Camp Morton Provincial Park is a few kilometres north of Gimli. The area was first developed in 1920 as a lakeside summer camp for under privileged children. Decades later, the colourful camp buildings are quiet, except for the people casually enjoying the grounds, and reading about bygone years.
Yurt fans delight — six of them are available to rent, as well as 14 cozy cabins. There are also traditional camp spots as well. We’ll bring the hot dog sticks and marshmallows — it’s a great place to unwind.
PS: Don’t forget to bring your hiking poles to explore some of the trails in the park.
Monsignor Thomas W. Morton had the right idea.
Hnausa Beach Provincial Park
Fun fact: Hnausa means piece of turf in Old Icelandic
Hnausa Beach Provincial Park is a short drive north of Gimli. People come for the camping facilities — basic and electricity-serviced camp spots — and recreation opportunities on Lake Winnipeg.
Hecla-Grindstone Provincial Park
Fun fact: Hecla Island was named for the famous, and hot under the collar, Mount Hekla in Iceland
An outdoor paradise where magic and mysticism hangs on the wind, the islands that comprise Hecla-Grindstone Provincial Park are steeped in many traditions, including those of the Anishinabe people.
With nearly 60 kilometres of hiking trails, you’ll walk past cliffs, by the famous lighthouse, along beaches, through marshlands and among serene mixed forests.
Camping accommodation in the park includes basic spots, as well as others that are serviced by electricity and water. Group camp spots are available as well, as are a selection of vacation cabins.
Birders rejoice! Ducks Unlimited and Manitoba Conservation welcome you to the Grassy Narrows Marsh on Hecla Island. This region is home to many species, such as pelicans, hawks and even moose. Ensure you’re respectful, as it’s a nesting ground for Canada Geese.
Once an important settlement in New Iceland, tourists now come to the Hecla Historic Village to learn about Icelandic culture and how families lived and thrived here between the 1920s and 1940s.
A self-guided walk is available in all seasons, and interpreter-led guided tours occur in the summer. Check out the former two-room schoolhouse, now the Hecla School Interpretive Centre.
Then learn all about the commercial fishery at the former icehouse, the Hecla Fish Station.
Narcisse Snake Dens
“Snakes, why’d it have to be snakes?” – Indiana Jones, Raiders of the Lost Ark
You’ll have to wait a little longer for this one as it’s currently closed due to COVID-19. Yet, when it’s open, there’s an incredible natural phenomenon that occurs at the aptly named Narcisse Snake Dens.
When else are you going to see thousands of red-sided garter snakes during their mating rituals, but springtime in Manitoba? When visiting, remember to remain on the trails and observation platforms.
National Geographic has referred to this spectacle as the largest gathering of snakes anywhere in the world. Check before you go, but it’s usually best experienced at the end of April, beginning of May.
The dens can be found in the Rural Municipality of Armstrong outside Narcisse, Manitoba.