Elk Island park

Elk Island national park near Edmonton lets you snowshoe in the footprints of bison

Open year-round, the winter wonderland of Elk Island National Park is a prime spot for wildlife sightings. The park offers explorers the chance to see some of the most majestic creatures this continent has to offer.

Just east of Edmonton, the park sits at the edge of the boreal forest. Vast wetlands, lakes, aspen forest and prairie meadows is all part of the rustic landscape.

With over 80 kilometres of accessible trails to explore, visitors can drive or hike. For the greatest winter experience, strap on a pair of snowshoes.

Elk, moose, white tail deer, coyotes and over 200 bird species, call this place home. However, the park is best known for its involvement in saving Alberta’s bison as the centre of bison conservation in Canada. 

The bison population went from tens of millions to being nearly extinct due to over-hunting in the early 1900s. The Canadian government intervened and purchased one of the last herds, shipping over 700 wild bison to the park.

Now hundreds of both wood and plains bison have survived in the protected sanctuary of Elk Island for over a hundred years.

It’s not just wildlife that makes this park notable. Elk Island is a Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve and is an optimal spot for catching a glimpse of the northern lights. Be sure to extend your snowshoe adventure into dusk. 

Visitors can also skate on the scenic Astotin Lake in the winter and go canoeing or kayaking in the warmer months.

If coming face-to-face with a bison – while enjoying a handful of winter activities – excites you, Elk Island will be the perfect spot for your next adventure. 

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