Facts & How-To's

Elk Island National Park: 4 Best Facts to Know!

Elk Island National Park, located in Alberta, Canada, is a beautiful and unique destination that offers a wide range of recreational activities and opportunities to see some of the country’s most iconic wildlife. From hiking and biking to wildlife viewing and picnicking, there is something for everyone at Elk Island.

1. It’s History!

Established in 1906, Elk Island has a rich history as a sanctuary for bison. In the early 1900s, the bison population in North America was in serious decline due to overhunting and habitat destruction. Elk Island played a crucial role in preserving the species, and today it is home to the largest purebred bison herd in the world.

In addition to its wildlife and recreational activities, Elk Island also has a rich cultural history. The park is located on Treaty 6 land and has long been an important place for First Nations people. Today, visitors can learn about the history and culture of the Cree and Métis people at the park’s Interpretive Centre.

1.1. What’s More?

First and foremost, it is important to note that Elk Island is a protected national park. This means that there are certain rules and regulations in place to ensure the safety and preservation of the park and its wildlife. For example, it is strictly prohibited to feed or approach any of the animals in the park. It is also important to stay on designated trails and paths, as going off-trail can damage the delicate ecosystem of the park.

The park is located just east of Edmonton, which is the capital city of Alberta.

If you’re planning a visit to this amazing park, here’s a comprehensive guide to help you make the most of your trip.

2. What’ll to Know before going to The Elk Island National Park?

2.1. Getting there –

Elk Island National Park is located about 45 minutes east of Edmonton, Alberta. If you’re driving, take Highway 16 East until you reach Range Road 214. Turn left and follow the signs to the park. Alternatively, you can also take a shuttle from Edmonton that will take you directly to the park.

If you’re flying into Edmonton, you can rent a car at the airport or take a taxi to the park. If you’re coming from out of town, you can also check out accommodation options in the nearby town of Lamont.

2.2. When to visit –

Elk Island National Park is open year-round, but the best time to visit depends on your interests. If you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of the park’s abundant wildlife, the best time to visit is in the spring and fall. This is when the animals are most active and visible.

If you’re more interested in hiking and outdoor activities, the summer months are the best time to visit. The weather is warm and pleasant, making it the perfect time to explore the park’s trails and waterways.

3. Things To Do –

There are countless things to do and see in Elk Island National Park. Here are just a few of the top activities you won’t want to miss:

3.1. Wildlife viewing:

Elk Island National Park is home to a variety of wildlife, including elk, bison, moose, beavers, and over 250 species of birds. You can spot these animals from the comfort of your car or on a guided tour.

Elk island national park
Photo by Justin Hu on Unsplash

One of the main attractions of Elk Island National Park is the opportunity to see bison in their natural habitat. The park is home to a herd of over 500 bison, one of them is White tailed deer and you’ll often see them grazing in the prairie meadows or along the roadside.

3.2. Hiking:

The park has over 50 kilometers of trails that wind through the forests, meadows, and wetlands. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or just starting, there’s a trail for you.

Elk Island National Park is home to a variety of trails, ranging from easy walks through the forest to more challenging hikes to scenic viewpoints. Some popular trails include the Astotin Lake Trail, which offers great views of the lake, and the Tamarack Trail, which takes you through a forest of aspen and tamarack trees.

If you’re looking for a more strenuous hike, you might want to try the Bison Loop Trail. This trail takes you through some of the park’s more rugged terrain and offers the opportunity to see bison up close. Just be sure to keep your distance and follow the park’s guidelines for safely viewing wildlife.

Located near the Astotin Lake area of the park, the beaver pond is a tranquil and picturesque spot that is home to a variety of wildlife, including beavers, ducks, and other waterfowl. One of the best ways to experience a beaver pond is to take a leisurely walk along the trail that surrounds it.

And also, you can explore the aspen woodlands and witness their stunning autumnal display.

3.3. Camping:

Elk Island National Park has four campgrounds to choose from, ranging from rustic to full-service. You can pitch a tent or bring your RV and enjoy the great outdoors.

The campground has over 200 sites and offers a variety of amenities, including washrooms, showers, and a laundromat. One of the popular campgrounds is Astotin lake campground.

3.4. Canoeing and kayaking:

The park has several waterways that are perfect for canoeing and kayaking. Rent a boat or bring your own and explore the waterways at your own pace.

The park is home to several lakes and ponds that are stocked with a variety of fish, including rainbow trout, brook trout, and more.

3.5. Birdwatching:

Elk Island National Park is a paradise for birdwatchers. You can spot over 250 species of birds in the park, including bald eagles, great blue herons, and sandhill cranes.

If you’re interested in learning more about the park’s wildlife, you might want to consider taking a guided tour. These tours are led by knowledgeable park staff and offer the opportunity to learn about the park’s animals and plants in a more in-depth way.


3.6. Educational Programs:

The park offers a variety of educational programs for visitors of all ages. You can learn about the park’s history, wildlife, and conservation efforts through guided tours, talks, and hands-on activities.

4. Things to know before you Go –

  1. Hours of operation: The park is open from 8 am to 8 pm daily.
  2. Check the park’s website for current information on hours, fees, and any temporary closures.
  3. Pack for the weather – temperatures can vary greatly in Alberta, so be prepared for both warm and cold weather.
  4. Bring plenty of water and snacks, as there are no food services within the park.
  5. Consider purchasing a Parks Canada Discovery Pass, which gives you access to all national parks and historic sites in Canada for a year.

5. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

Q1. Is fort Saskatchewan located in Elk island?

Fort Saskatchewan is a city located about 30 kilometers northeast of Edmonton and is not part of Elk Island National Park. If you are interested in visiting Fort Saskatchewan, there are many things to see and do in the area, including visiting the Fort Saskatchewan Museum and Historic Site, taking a walk along the Riverfront Promenade, and exploring the city’s many parks and trails.

Q2. Other than Elk island national park, which park I can visit in Alberta?

Wood Buffalo National Park is a massive national park located in northeastern Alberta and the southern Northwest Territories. It is Canada’s largest national park and is home to a variety of wildlife, including the world’s largest herd of free-roaming wood bison.

One of the most notable features of Wood Buffalo National Park is the Wood Buffalo-Slave River Corridor, which is home to the largest herd of wild bison in the world.

Q3. Are there any guided tours or activities available at Elk Island National Park?

Yes, Elk Island National Park offers a variety of guided tours and activities, including bison and elk viewing tours, birdwatching tours, and nature walks.

Q4. Is there a fee to enter Elk Island National Park?

Yes, there is a fee to enter Elk Island National Park. The fee is $10.80 per person, or you can purchase a family/group pass for $21.60. Children under 17 years of age are free.

6. Conclusion

In conclusion, Elk Island National Park is a truly unique and stunning destination that offers something for everyone. From its diverse array of wildlife and breathtaking landscapes to its numerous recreational activities and educational opportunities, this park is a must-visit for anyone who loves nature and the outdoors.

Whether you’re looking to go hiking, birdwatching, or just enjoy some peace and solitude, Elk Island is the perfect place to do it. So if you’re planning a trip to Alberta, be sure to put Elk Island National Park on your list of must-see destinations. You won’t be disappointed!

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