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HomeRoad Trip15 FUN Issues to do at Elk Island Nationwide Park (for 2022)

15 FUN Issues to do at Elk Island Nationwide Park (for 2022)

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Compiled by the Highway Journey Alberta group

Final up to date on August 31, 2022

Think about our shock – on our most up-to-date go to to Elk Island Nationwide Park – when what we first thought was a giant clump of dust on the facet of the highway ended up being an precise bison, nearly as quickly as we handed the doorway! Whereas we had seen each woods bison and plains bison there earlier than (it’s top-of-the-line parks in North America for viewing them), it was a fast reminder to us of how particular this park is.

The bison themselves include a captivating historical past, however there’s additionally much more to take pleasure in when visiting Elk Island Nationwide Park. Solely a 30-minute drive east of Edmonton, and even nearer to town of Fort Saskatchewan, Elk Island Nationwide Park is well accessible and provides a wide range of actions for the entire household.

Elk Island National Park Visitor Centre
Wahkotowin Customer Centre at Elk Island

Cease on the Wahkotowin Customer Centre simply earlier than the south park entrance (see a map right here) to get the lay of the land, view their interpretive reveals, and likewise buy some distinctive souvenirs and different helpful objects on your go to.

Issues to Do at Elk Island Nationwide Park

Hit the Mountain climbing Trails

In the event you like mountaineering, you’ll completely love Elk Island Nationwide Park. With 11 mountaineering trails to select from, starting from family-friendly, simple hikes just like the Residing Waters Boardwalk Path (lower than half-hour) to the tough Wooden Bison Path or Tawayik Lake Path (4-5 hours), there actually is a mountaineering path for everybody within the park. Regardless of which of the mountaineering trails you select, you’re certain to take pleasure in some wildlife viewing in addition to some spectacular surroundings of Astotin Lake, the aspen, poplar, and spruce forests, and/or the wildflower meadows inside the park.

Elk Island Hiking Trails
A pair walks down the Shoreline Path in Elk Island Nationwide Park – picture supplied by Discover Edmonton

Observe that the Shoreline Path is paved, making it stroller and wheelchair accessible (though there are some steep areas to be conscious of).

Preserve an Eye Out for Wildlife Viewing

Whereas recognizing an animal is rarely assured, wildlife viewing in Elk Island Nationwide Park is certainly one among its hottest actions, particularly bison viewing. With endurance and a little bit luck, you may count on to identify bison, elk, beavers, birds, white-tailed deer, and a lot extra. Whereas wildlife tends to hang around within the dense forest through the day, you’ve got an excellent probability of recognizing animals should you go to the park at daybreak or nightfall.

Bison in Elk Island National Park
Bison in Elk Island – picture supplied by Journey Albera credit score @motherpixels

A enjoyable truth about Elk Island Nationwide Park? It’s Canada’s solely utterly fenced-in nationwide park, that means there’s an excellent probability you’ll see some bison. At any given time, there are about 400 plains bison and 300 wooden bison inside the park. Please keep in mind that bison are wild creatures and could be very harmful to people; it’s at all times finest to take care of a variety of distance and observe these security ideas to be bison sensible.

Get Out On The Water

Astotin Lake is one among Alberta’s most lovely and calm lakes, and there are numerous alternatives to get out out on the water. Whether or not it’s kayaking, canoeing, stand-up paddle boarding, or sailboating, spending time on the water is a good way to soak up the great thing about Elk Island Nationwide Park; as a result of motorized boats usually are not allowed on the lake, it appears particularly serene. Hopefully, you’ll even be capable of see some wildlife from the water!

Canoeing on Lake Astotin
Canoeing on Lake Astotin – picture supplied by Journey Alberta credit score Roth & Ramberg

You’ll discover the boat launch on the north finish of Astotin Lake, the place you may lease canoes, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards from the Astotin Lake Recreation Space. Make your means across the many islands of the lake to actually get to know the realm and see a facet of the park you may’t expertise from land.

As at all times in terms of being close to water, take as many security precautions as doable, together with carrying a private flotation system always. Even in case you are a assured swimmer and the water appears to be like calm, situations can change rapidly and it’s good to be ready.

Calm down on the Seashore

Simply since you aren’t close to an ocean doesn’t imply there aren’t some nice seashores in Alberta! With a sandy lakeshore to calm down and play on, it’s additionally an excellent launch spot on your canoe or kayak. Benefit from the picnic tables, shelters, contemporary water bathe, washrooms, and fireplace pits close by, too.

Beach at Lake Astotin
Seashore at Lake Astotin

Some issues to notice: simply as with most nationwide parks, there are not any lifeguards on responsibility, so it’s beneficial to at all times put on a private flotation system in or close to the water and to at all times maintain a detailed eye on kids. Swimmer’s itch also can generally happen after spending time in Lake Astotin, so restrict your time swimming or spending time within the water and rinse off with contemporary water afterwards!

Play a Spherical of Golf

Yep, that’s proper… there’s a nine-hole golf course in Elk Island Nationwide Park! Established in 1936, this golf course is likely one of the oldest in all of Alberta. Play a soothing recreation of golf surrounded by the gorgeous panorama of the park, after which take pleasure in a meal within the air-conditioned clubhouse (the one meal service accessible in the complete park).

Elk Island Golf

Whether or not you’re a seasoned professional or a newbie, the golf course in Elk Island is assured to be a enjoyable few hours out on the inexperienced. Name (780) 998-3161 for extra info or to ebook a tee time.

Camp at Elk Island

Fortunately, there’s incredible tenting in Elk Island Nationwide Park, and it’s a superb method to spend a bit extra time within the park to actually soak all of it in. As you may inform from this listing, there are such a lot of issues to do in Elk Island Nationwide Park that it is sensible to spend a minimum of a number of days tenting to be able to benefit from all there’s to do and see!

Camping Elk Island
Campground at Elk Island

There are numerous methods to go tenting in Elk Island Nationwide Park. You possibly can select from the Astotin Lake Campground (75 non-serviced websites, together with 15 walk-in tent websites), a Parks Canada oTENTik (there are 5 to select from), the Astotin Lake Group Tenting Space (good for giant teams or firm retreats), and the Oster Lake Backcountry Campground. We suggest reserving your campsite as quickly as doable, as reservations replenish rapidly yearly.

And should you can’t discover a spot within the Nationwide Park, there are alternatives close by. Elk Island Retreat which have yurts, trapper cabins, a tipi and the new Geo Domes for guests to remain in. The domes are for a most of two individuals and make for a really romantic getaway, plus an incredible method to stargaze!

Elk Island Retreat
Geo Dome at Elk Island Retreat – picture supplied by Journey Alberta credit score Sameer Ahmed

Spend Time on the Astotin Theatre

It’s not typically you discover a theatre inside a park, however Astotin Theatre in Elk Island Nationwide Park is certainly a treasure. Watch a film on the large display, study in regards to the park from Parks Canada interpreters or from among the artifacts preserved within the theatre, costume up like your favorite animal, discover the interactive studying area, and even lease a “Discovery Equipment” for the day. A go to to the theatre is a should when you’ve got kids in tow!

Play within the Playground

It’s no secret that Elk Island Nationwide Park is the proper place to go to with kids, what with the wildlife and nature to discover. One other perk? The playground! Discovered within the Astotin Lake Space, this in depth playground is a enjoyable place to spend a while climbing, sliding, and assembly different youngsters. There are picnic tables close by if you wish to take pleasure in a meal or a snack after playtime.

Elk Island Playground
The Playground in Elk Island Nationwide Park

Drive the Bison Loop Highway

There are a number of scenic drives to take by means of Elk Island Nationwide Park, however the Bison Loop Highway must be top-of-the-line. It’s not unusual to be caught in a “bison visitors jam” right here! The perfect time to drive the Bison Loop Highway is at daybreak or nightfall, or on cloudy days; if it’s too sunny or scorching, the bison will most probably be sheltering within the close by timber and you could not see them. Be sure that to drive slowly to be able to maintain each you and the wildlife secure always, and at all times keep in your car when there are animals round.

Bison on the Road
Bison on the Highway in Elk Island – picture supplied by Discover Edmonton credit score Parks Canada

You may also attempt driving the Yellowhead Freeway to identify each plains bison and wooden bison, whereas the Elk Island Parkway can also be a route with good alternative to identify wildlife out of your automobile.

Take pleasure in a Household Picnic

As there is no such thing as a meals service in Elk Island (aside from on the golf course’s clubhouse), we extremely suggest you carry some meals with you into the park. Fortunately, there are many incredible spots for a picnic, together with close to the seaside, the playground, the enduring Purple Chairs and even the campground. Simply bear in mind, your meals is for people solely… don’t feed the wildlife!

Red Chairs in Elk Island
Purple Chairs in Elk Island Nationwide Park

Be part of an Elk Island Nationwide Park Interpretive Program

Run by Parks Canada interpreters, becoming a member of an interpretive program at Elk Island Nationwide Park is an incredible method to study in regards to the park and the vegetation and animals that decision it residence. There are loads of packages to select from each on weekdays and on weekends within the hotter months, together with ones about bison conservation, archeological digs, why beavers are referred to as “ecosystem engineers”, and a lot extra.

Elk Island National Park Interpretive Program
Elk Island Nationwide Park Interpretive Program

Youngsters will love the “every day discoveries”, as you by no means know what the afternoon’s adventures will maintain. Our favorite program in Elk Island Nationwide Park? Positively the night packages across the campfire, the place you may hear tales in regards to the rise and fall of bison or in regards to the stars above. Be sure that to reach early to be able to safe a spot!

Seize Your Bike and Cycle the Trails

For an incredible method to see the park and get some train in as nicely, attempt biking in Elk Island. As there are paved roads and pace limits of 40km, it makes for an satisfying experience. You may also go off-road, with a number of trails equivalent to Moss Lake Loop and the Shirley Lake Path being widespread decisions. Ensure you’re updated with bison security, and at all times attempt to keep a minimum of 100m from any of the bison you could encounter alongside your route.

Aerial View of Elk Island
An aerial View of Elk Island Nationwide Park

Stargaze and Possibly See the Northern Lights

Elk Island Nationwide Park is a part of the Beaver Hills Darkish Sky Protect, making it an important place for stargazing and evening sky watching. Fortunately, the park is open all day day-after-day, that means you may benefit from a transparent sky any evening of the yr. It additionally occurs to be top-of-the-line spots for viewing the northern lights in Alberta, because it’s a straightforward and fast drive to get away from the large metropolis lights of Edmonton that would hamper the view.

Northern Lights in Elk Island
Northern Lights in Elk Island Nationwide Park – picture supplied by Journey Alberta credit score Curtis Comeau

Be sure that to decorate appropriately; even on a scorching summer time’s day, the temperatures can turn out to be fairly chilly at evening, particularly close to the lake.

Go Cross-Nation Snowboarding or Snowshoeing

Elk Island Nationwide Park isn’t only a place to go to within the hotter months… it’s a superb vacation spot within the winter months, too. With loads of cross nation snowboarding and snowshoeing trails, you may discover the park within the snow for a good looking new perspective. You possibly can even lease snowshoes from the Astotin Lake Campground kiosk from 9:30am to 4:30pm every day. Simply bear in mind to decorate warmly!

Snowshoeing in Elk Island
Snowshoeing in Elk Island – picture supplied by Journey Alberta credit score Sameer Ahmed

Ice Skate on Astotin Lake

Equally, the lake isn’t only for summer time sports activities! As soon as Astotin Lake is frozen over, ice skating right here is extraordinarily widespread. You’ll typically see a gaggle of individuals enjoying hockey on the lake, so don’t hesitate to carry alongside your sticks. One other unimaginable method to expertise Elk Island Nationwide Park in winter? Go ice skating at evening beneath a blanket of stars, probably the most romantic evenings we are able to think about.

Bison in Winter
Bison in winter in Elk Island – picture supplied by Journey Alberta credit score Sameer Ahmed

In the event you’re planning to base your self within the capital metropolis earlier than visiting Elk Island Nationwide Park, don’t miss out on these assets:



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