10 things to do in Dryden, Ontario

There's so much to do in this Northwestern Ontario wilderness city.

Come discover Dryden, a unique destination, with abundant natural beauty where tourism and recreation facilities abound. The city is known for fishing and hunting opportunities, but it offers so much more. Dryden is centrally located in Sunset Country and is easily accessible from the Trans Canada Highway. It is situated on Wabigoon Lake about halfway between Winnipeg, Manitoba, and Thunder Bay, Ontario.

The following is a list of 10 things to do in Dryden. There's such a variety, you can do one or do them all:

1. Cross the Suspension Bridge over the Wabigoon River. The Roy Wilson Suspension Bridge can be accessed through Johnston park which is just off the Trans Canada Highway. The park is also a starting point for some of the urban trails in Dryden. You'll find the beautiful 'Pieces of Dryden'  tile mosaic among the trees. Head down towards the river and you'll find the bridge. Cross the bridge to get a great view of the rapids on the Wabigoon River. Depending on the season, they'll either be rushing strongly or gently flowing down. After you view the rapids, head down one of the walking trails and then finish up with a picnic lunch in Johnston Park.

2. Visit the Laura Howe Marsh Conservation Area. Wetlands like the Laura Howe Marsh are home to a wide variety of wildlife including insects, frogs, great blue herons, red foxes, and more. Aquatic plants such as reeds, cattails, arrowheads, water lilies, and pondweeds can also be found. The marsh provides a spawning and nursery area for fish and amphibians, a winter refuge for deer and songbirds, and a food source for beavers and hunters such as snakes, foxes, and birds of prey. From the parking lot on Van Horne Avenue, you can choose either a short 0.4 km or a longer 2 km hike. Don't miss the viewing platforms within the marsh.

3. Explore Dryden Urban and Wilderness Hiking Trails.  There are many opportunities for hiking or strolling through the urban or wilderness trails in Dryden. There are three urban trail systems ranging from 5.4-12.3 km long. Aaron Provincial Park on Thunder Lake and Blue Lake Provincial Park in Vermilion Bay also over trails within their parks. Check out the remnants of the terrific wind storm of 1973 and see the bare rock surfaces scarred by glaciers that melted 10 to 15 thousand years ago in Aaron Park. For the intermediate and advanced riders, the Ghost Lake Trails offer a sense of freedom and complexity in the wilderness on existing bush roads and forest trails. There is 22 km of trails that run through many different terrains such as rocky bedrock outcrops, wetlands, and swamps mixed in the forest. Ghost Lake is also a staging lake for up to 200 Common Loons. There are also the Dryden Area Trans Canada Trails. The City of Dryden has maps of the trail systems on its website.

4. Watch a Pow Pow. Neighbouring First Nation communities are host to annual powwows which are colorful, lively celebrations of local Indigenous culture. Complete with the ceremonial dress, drums, and Indigenous cuisine, the pow-wows are packed with exciting and exhilarating sights and sounds. The Eagle Lake First Nation Pow Wow is one of the largest in Northwest Ontario. 

5. Visit the Museum, home of 'the Dryden Buck'. Centrally located, the historic Hambleton House is the home of the Dryden Museum with over 10,000 artifacts in its collection. They have both permanent and traveling exhibits. The famous 'Dryden Buck', the unofficial Ontario record whitetail deer shot in 2003 scoring 192 7/8 on the Boone and Crockett scale stands proudly in the museum.

6. Go canoeing or kayaking. The Dryden Kayak and Canoe Club meet weekly in the summer to explore the lakes and rivers around Dryden. You can discover local area canoe routes such as Aerobus Lake Loop or the Beaverhouse Canoe route. You can also rent canoes at Aaron Provincial Park. 

7. Experience Aaron and Blue Lake Provincial Parks. Nearby Aaron Provincial Park provides recreational opportunities for the whole family, from camping, fishing, boating, and canoeing in the summer to cross-country skiing in the winter. Blue Lake Provincial Park is just 45 km (28 mi) away. It boasts a long, sandy beach and water so clear you can see the bottom at six meters, and now in a sheltered cove lake northern shore, the sport of rock climbing has been introduced.

8. Treat yourself to nightly entertainment. The Dryden Regional Training and Cultural Centre, or "The Centre" as it is called, is the home of entertainment in Dryden with a state-of-the-art 500-seat auditorium. The Dryden Entertainment Series hosts performances throughout the year. Pappy's Cafe in Wabigoon is also a magical place of music and entertainment. Some of the best live music is played in an atmosphere that will make you feel like you are sitting in your own living room.

9. Play a round of golf. Dryden has two golf courses. Eagles' Landing, a 9-hole, par 36 course, is located on the shores of Wabigoon Lake. Every hole has at least one sand trap and 4 of the holes contain water hazards. Anderson's Homestead Golf Course is the second golf course in Dryden. It is a 9-hole, par 36 course.

10. Have fun at the Dryden Days of Summer. Held most Thursdays in the summer, the Dryden Days of Summer takes place on King Street between 3 & 6 pm. There are vendors, artisans and crafters, a farmers market, and various entertainment and activities each week. There's often free admission to the Dryden Museum too.

If you need a place to stay in Dryden, there are hotels and resorts nearby. For more information or book a tour, contact the Dryden Visitor Information Centre at 1-800-667-0935.

About Erin Rody

I grew up on Black Sturgeon Lake in Northwestern Ontario. I am a staff writer for the Sunset Country Travel Association. Through my articles I hope to entice you to visit the wonderful region I call home. We are all about outdoor adventure; with 70,000 lakes and rivers and a whole lot of forests how can we not be? Whether you like to fish, hunt, canoe, kayak, boat or go camping, Sunset Country has something for you. Enjoy!

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