Wildlife lovers, watchers and photographers, take note. Elk Island is home to free roaming plains bison, moose, deer, elk and over 250 species of birds. Also, both the largest and smallest terrestrial mammals in North America make their homes here, the wood bison and pygmy shrew!
Spring, summer, fall or winter, there’s so much to do – from a dozen different hikes and walks for meanderers or power walkers, overnight camping, scenic picnic areas, geocaching, golfing, kayaking, canoeing, and winter snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. A day trip might not be enough.
Like the rambunctious Richardson’s ground squirrel, kids need to burn off energy too. This is the ideal venue, with three walking trails under four kilometres in length. Explore the Astotin Lake Area playground and beach. Or walk on water, literally, on the Living Waters Boardwalk. Don’t forget your dip net, because the water is teeming with beetles, minnows, freshwater shrimp and more.
You know the words. “Oh, give me a home where the Buffalo roam, where the deer and the antelope play…” It may be the state song of Kansas, but it applies here in Edmonton too. Rather, it applies to the beautiful aspen parkland that lies just east of Edmonton –– Elk Island National Park. An oasis for four-legged and two-legged creatures alike, it’s a place that holds such natural beauty and mystique, it’s been said the words, “I’m bored” have never been uttered here.
One of 43 national parks and reserves administered by Parks Canada, Elk Island National Park is just a hop, skip and a jump from Edmonton. 35 kilometres, in fact. So a spur-of-the-moment day trip is never out of the question.
Elk Island National Park falls within the Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve, which means optimal conditions for seeking out sparkling star clusters, nebulae and galaxies, and even catching a glimpse of the bright, pulsating chorus of lights we know as aurora borealis.