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

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Compiled by the Highway Journey Alberta staff

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 an enormous clump of filth 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 the most effective parks in North America for viewing them), it was a fast reminder to us of how particular this park is.

The bison themselves include an enchanting historical past, however there may be additionally much more to get pleasure from when visiting Elk Island Nationwide Park. Solely a 30-minute drive east of Edmonton, and even nearer to the town of Fort Saskatchewan, Elk Island Nationwide Park is well accessible and presents 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 displays, and likewise buy some distinctive souvenirs and different helpful objects in your go to.

Issues to Do at Elk Island Nationwide Park

Hit the Mountain climbing Trails

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

Elk Island Hiking Trails
A pair walks down the Shoreline Path in Elk Island Nationwide Park – photograph 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 aware of).

Maintain an Eye Out for Wildlife Viewing

Whereas recognizing an animal isn’t assured, wildlife viewing in Elk Island Nationwide Park is unquestionably certainly one of its hottest actions, particularly bison viewing. With endurance and a bit of luck, you’ll be able to anticipate to identify bison, elk, beavers, birds, white-tailed deer, and a lot extra. Whereas wildlife tends to hang around within the dense forest in the course of the day, you will have a very good likelihood of recognizing animals in the event you go to the park at daybreak or nightfall.

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

A enjoyable reality about Elk Island Nationwide Park? It’s Canada’s solely fully fenced-in nationwide park, that means there’s an excellent likelihood you’ll see some bison. At any given time, there are about 400 plains bison and 300 wooden bison throughout the park. Please do not forget that bison are wild creatures and might be very harmful to people; it’s all the time greatest to take care of numerous distance and observe these security ideas to be bison sensible.

Get Out On The Water

Astotin Lake is certainly one of Alberta’s most stunning and calm lakes, and there are lots of 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 absorb the great thing about Elk Island Nationwide Park; as a result of motorized boats aren’t allowed on the lake, it appears particularly serene. Optimistically, you’ll even be capable of see some wildlife from the water!

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

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

As all the time in relation to being close to water, take as many security precautions as attainable, together with sporting a private flotation gadget always. Even if you’re a assured swimmer and the water appears calm, circumstances can change shortly and it’s good to be ready.

Loosen up 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 chill out and play on, it’s additionally a very good launch spot in your canoe or kayak. Benefit from the picnic tables, shelters, recent water bathe, washrooms, and hearth pits close by, too.

Beach at Lake Astotin
Seashore at Lake Astotin

Some issues to notice: simply as with most nationwide parks, there aren’t any lifeguards on responsibility, so it’s really useful to all the time put on a private flotation gadget in or close to the water and to all the time maintain an in depth eye on youngsters. Swimmer’s itch may also generally happen after spending time in Lake Astotin, so restrict your time swimming or spending time within the water and rinse off with recent 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 without doubt one of the oldest in all of Alberta. Play a soothing recreation of golf surrounded by the gorgeous panorama of the park, after which get pleasure from a meal within the air-conditioned clubhouse (the one meal service accessible in your 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 data or to e book a tee time.

Camp at Elk Island

Fortunately, there may be incredible tenting in Elk Island Nationwide Park, and it’s a superb approach to spend a bit extra time within the park to actually soak all of it in. As you’ll be able to inform from this checklist, there are such a lot of issues to do in Elk Island Nationwide Park that it is smart to spend at the very least a couple of days tenting so as to reap the benefits of all there may be to do and see!

Camping Elk Island
Campground at Elk Island

There are a lot of 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 (excellent for giant teams or firm retreats), and the Oster Lake Backcountry Campground. We advocate reserving your campsite as quickly as attainable, as reservations replenish shortly yearly.

And in the event 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 folks and make for a really romantic getaway, plus a tremendous approach to stargaze!

Elk Island Retreat
Geo Dome at Elk Island Retreat – photograph 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 unquestionably a treasure. Watch a film on the massive display screen, study concerning the park from Parks Canada interpreters or from a few of the artifacts preserved within the theatre, gown up like your favorite animal, discover the interactive studying house, and even hire a “Discovery Equipment” for the day. A go to to the theatre is a should in case you have youngsters in tow!

Play within the Playground

It’s no secret that Elk Island Nationwide Park is the right place to go to with youngsters, 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 children. There are picnic tables close by if you wish to get pleasure from 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 couple of scenic drives to take by means of Elk Island Nationwide Park, however the Bison Loop Highway must be the most effective. It’s not unusual to be caught in a “bison visitors jam” right here! The very best time to drive the Bison Loop Highway is at daybreak or nightfall, or on cloudy days; if it’s too sunny or sizzling, the bison will more than likely be sheltering within the close by timber and you might not see them. Be sure that to drive slowly so as to maintain each you and the wildlife secure always, and all the time keep in your car when there are animals round.

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

You too can 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.

Get pleasure from a Household Picnic

As there isn’t a meals service in Elk Island (aside from on the golf course’s clubhouse), we extremely advocate 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 a 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 a tremendous approach to study concerning the park and the vegetation and animals that decision it house. There are loads of applications 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

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

Seize Your Bike and Cycle the Trails

For a tremendous approach to see the park and get some train in as properly, attempt biking in Elk Island. As there are paved roads and velocity limits of 40km, it makes for an satisfying experience. You too can go off-road, with a couple of trails reminiscent of Moss Lake Loop and the Shirley Lake Path being well-liked decisions. Be sure you’re updated with bison security, and all the time attempt to keep at the very least 100m from any of the bison you might encounter alongside your route.

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

Stargaze and Perhaps 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 night time sky watching. Fortunately, the park is open all day daily, that means you’ll be able to reap the benefits of a transparent sky any night time of the yr. It additionally occurs to be the most effective spots for viewing the northern lights in Alberta, because it’s a simple and fast drive to get away from the massive metropolis lights of Edmonton that might hamper the view.

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

Be sure that to decorate appropriately; even on a sizzling summer time’s day, the temperatures can turn into fairly chilly at night time, 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’ll be able to discover the park within the snow for a fantastic new perspective. You possibly can even hire snowshoes from the Astotin Lake Campground kiosk from 9:30am to 4:30pm day by day. Simply bear in mind to decorate warmly!

Snowshoeing in Elk Island
Snowshoeing in Elk Island – photograph 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 well-liked. You’ll typically see a bunch of individuals enjoying hockey on the lake, so don’t hesitate to carry alongside your sticks. One other unimaginable approach to expertise Elk Island Nationwide Park in winter? Go ice skating at night time underneath a blanket of stars, one of the vital romantic evenings we will think about.

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

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


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