Since it is Canada’s 150'th birthday and all the parks across Canada are free for the year 2017, Elk Island is a must visit if you live in Edmonton or are close by. Its a beautiful park and since pets are more than welcome on leash, I have taken my two little dogs with me when it was just the two of us. Now that I have 3 I won’t venture on my own with just them and I. The main reason being the abundance of Bison that live at the park. There is always the possibility that you’ll come across Bison and so with 3 dogs I get nervous going on random hiking trails alone.
However this place is perfect for families and day trips because there is a beautiful picnic area, lake, and even camping spots. The park is 194 km² so there is plenty to explore both on foot and in your vehicle.
It is actually setup almost like a safari, you can drive your vehicle throughout in a search for Bison or other wildlife. The best destination for a day trip is Astotin Lake. There is a large parking lot, bathrooms, and gazebos with short trails along the lake. Its a great place to have a picnic or just go on a short hike, enjoying the day. I’ve never seen people swimming in the lake, but there are canoe rentals there.
I remember in elementary school we would take a day trip to Elk Island and study the ecosystem. I remember two specific events from one particular trip- my best friend accidentally falling in the water off a dock. Where we were gathering samples of bugs from the water. I felt bad for her. Also either later or earlier that day, a spider was on my face and it scared the crap out of me. It was a very eventful day! Now I go back and just admire the beauty. I am always eager to see a bison.
They actually run a bison handling facility at Elk Island National Park and they work to conserve the species. Its around May & June that you can visit the park and see the new calves that have been born. Its really a beautiful experience to get to see the Bison living in their natural environment. That is really the draw of the place, all of the unique wildlife, which your almost guaranteed to see. Every time I go I see something, always birds and sometimes Bison. Summer I think is the best time to find any wildlife anywhere, of course.
Definitely check it out if you haven’t been! Its about a half hour drive from Edmonton. Make sure you gas up though because i’m not aware of anywhere in Elk Island you can actually get gas. Of course if you are going in summer or even spring make sure to bring bug spray & sunscreen. Check out my pics below from a visit with my pups in 2015. I’ve been back recently just my bf and I, but that was still late April. These pics are from the summer and show just how green and luscious Elk Island is.
For more info on Elk Island National Park visit: http://www.pc.gc.ca/en/pn-np/ab/elkisland/visit
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