North, east or southwest—Swan River has cruise-control rides worth checking out

Swan River’s roads wind through farmland, mountains and bush

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The Qwick Stop parking lot

Every Wednesday at 7 p.m. the Swan Valley Motorcycle Ride Group meets at the Qwick Stop parking lot in Swan River, Manitoba. — Photo courtesy Cal Johnston

Every Wednesday night, Cal Johnston’s retro Triumph Bonneville T-100 865-cc twin is on the road. He’ll show you around Swan River, if you like camaraderie. That’s why he started up the Swan Valley Motorcycle Ride Group. “We go for a 30- to 60-minute ride, have coffee, get to know fellow bikers, then ride home,” said Johnston.

Swan River is settled within an open farming area. Once you head out of the valley, the landscape shifts from flatlands to bush. “It’s nice riding,” Johnston said. “We’re not worried about traffic or anything—we’re remote. You might see some wild animals.”

There are a variety of routes that the group takes on their weekly outings. Even if you’re not around on a Wednesday night, you could take these scenic strolls whenever you visit the land of swans.

Head north on Highway 10 for 50 minutes to reach Mafeking. Johnston recommends popping into the summertime ice cream shop in Mafeking to cool down. It’s also a good opportunity to kick the tires and shoot the breeze with chums.

Go east along Highway 10 to reach Cowan. From there, you can take the fork in the road down Highway 10 to Ethelbert or continue east on Highway 20 to Camperville. The trek to Camperville is especially bushy and takes about 50 minutes to reach from Swan River. The road to Ethelbert winds its way along the east side of Duck Mountain Provincial Park. Give yourself an hour and a quarter to reach the park from Swan River.

Benito is a little closer to the valley—a mere half-hour jaunt down Highway 83 southwest of Swan River. Benito is a useful gateway into Saskatchewan. Continue down south to resort areas around Madge Lake and Duck Mountain. You could also choose to go left to Norquay, Saskatchewan. “There’s a neat stop there,” Johnston said. “It’s a restaurant/bar that’s been converted from a railway station called Whistle Stop. It’s a ’50s design. It’s kind of neat.”

Whatever route you take, enjoy the splendour in and around Swan River, Manitoba.   

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