Awesome Alberta: Soak in the dreamy oasis of Elk Island National Park (PHOTOS)

Jul 29 2019, 8:29 pm

A wild oasis of ominously enchanting starry skies and magnificent animals lies just 35 minutes east of Edmonton.

The Elk Island National Park is every wildlife photographer and travel buff’s dream destination thanks to the roaming herds of bison, elk, and more than 250 species of birds that make this national park a cornerstone of wildlife conversation.

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With no light diluting the park’s starry skies, visitors can take a break from the hectic pace of city life and escape to this wild sanctuary to sleep under the stars at night, go hiking or canoeing during the day, and even learn more about bison conversation at a wildlife handling facility within the park.

For your own safety, please make sure you are prepared before heading out on your next adventure. Information on how to prepare for your trip and stay safe while on your hike is available from Albertaparks.ca and AdventureSmart.

Always remember to leave no trace, pack out what you pack in, stick to designated trails, and refrain from feeding wildlife. Parks Canada visitor guidelines are available here — and please note that irresponsibly-taken selfies (even if they look great for the ’gram) can be fatal.

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Where is it?

The majestic park is located within an hour’s drive from Edmonton, in Fort Saskatchewan. While the park itself is open all year round, the bison are particularly active from July to August.

However, it goes without saying that while bison look gentle, it’s important to remember that they’re wild animals and can be dangerous and unpredictable if threatened.

Here’s how you can keep both yourself and bison safe if you come across these beautiful creatures.

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How do you get there?

The park is located 35 km east of Edmonton, at Range Road 203, Fort Saskatchewan. In order to get there, head north to Edmonton, then jump onto the Yellowhead Highway (or Highway 16) which bisects Elk Island National Park.

Elk Island National Park’s main entrance, the south gate, is located approximately 48 km from Edmonton’s city centre, via Highway 16 East (or Yellowhead Highway).

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What’s there?

Whether you want to go stargazing, canoeing, hiking, or maybe you just want to spread a blanket and have a picnic with your family, Elk Island National Park has something for everybody.

The park is a Dark Sky Preserve, so if you plan your trip right, you can enjoy the breathtaking wonder that is the Northern Lights — as well as some potential meteor showers.

You can also enjoy picnics at the reserve all year round. Picnic shelters are available on a first-come-first-serve basis and are located at most trailheads including Astotin Lake Recreation Area, Beaver Bay Picnic Area, and the Tawayik Lake Recreation Area.

Visitors can also hike and bike through the park’s several aspen forest canopy trails, as well as catch various kinds of songbirds, bison, beautiful spruce trees, hazelnut shrubs, and even wild roses (depending on the time of the year) within the confines of the expansive park.

A list of various trails can be found here.

 

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