Elk Island National Park with My Global Attitude

Things To Do in Elk Island National Park


If you’re visiting Edmonton or actually live there, count yourself lucky! You live close to Elk Island National Park, a conservancy of the largest land mammal in North America, the wood bison.

Elk Island National Park is the only fully fenced National park in Canada and manages conservation recovery herds for Wood and Plains Bison. It’s located on the North side of Highway 16 approximately 35 minutes’ drive East of Edmonton.

Activities inside the park include wildlife viewing, hiking, cycling, canoeing, kayaking, camping, star gazing, picnicking among others.




Wildlife Viewing

One of the mistakes we did was visiting Elk Island National Park at midday when all the animals had gone hiding from the summer sun. We were nevertheless fortunate to meet a heard of close to 20 wood bison grazing by the parkway, and a white-tailed deer by the shores of Astotin Lake.

Wildlife available in Elk Island National Park includes Elk, Wood and Plains Bison, Coyotes, Beavers, Black Bear, wolf, mule deer and white-tailed deer. Early morning or late evening are the best times for a safari. Drive slowly on the park way, stop and look around for any animals grazing by.


Elk Island National Park with My Global Attitude


Elk Island National Park with My Global Attitude


Elk Island National Park with My Global Attitude



There is a total of 11 trails in Elk Island National Park ranging from flat to moderate terrains.

The shortest trail is the 2.5 kilometres Amisk Wuche Trail which is popular for aquatic and bird life, with the longest trail being Wood Bison and Tawayik Lake Trails 16 and 16.5 kilometres long respectively.

Other trails are:


Tawayik Lake Trail 16.5 kmModerate
Wood Bison Trail 16 kmModerate
Lakeview Trail 13 kmModerate
Moss Lake Trail 12.5 kmModerate
Shirley Lake Trail 12.5 kmModerate
Hayburger Trail 12.2 kmFlat
Simmons Trail 5 kmModerate
Beaver Pond Trail 3.5 kmGentle
Shoreline Trail 3 kmGentle and Paved
Amisk Wuche Trail 2.5 kmModerate to Steep
Living Waters Boardwalk 300 mFlat


For a good chance to spot wood bison, moose and elk, Tawayik Lake, Wood Bison and Shirley Lake Trails are recommended.

Most trails have parking, bathrooms, viewpoints and garbage facilities at the trailheads.


Cycling is one of the best ways to adventure while keeping fit. At Elk Island National Park, enjoy 20 kilometres of paved Parkway with plenty of animal viewing opportunities.

Cycling in the park makes a good summer family day. As a safety measure, it’s advised not to cycle silently to prevent chances of sudden wildlife encounters. Make noise or sing off key and the wildlife will be happy to have you around.


Elk Island National Park with My Global Attitude


Canoeing in Astotin Lake

Rent a canoe or kayak at Astotin lake and explore all the islands in the lake. A Canoe for two adults and two kids or three adults costs from $25 to rent for the first one hour with $10 charged every extra hour.

Stand up paddle board for one-person costs $10 for the first hour. Kayak for one person also costs $15 for the first hour.


Around Astotin and Oster Lakes is a camping ground offering walk-in tenting and unserviced RVs with facilities like flush toilets, hot showers, picnic shelters. Firewood is provided free with a purchase of fire permit.

Beginning May 2017, backcountry camping is now available at Oster lake which should be reserved online in advance on Parks Canada Reservation System.


At Elk Island National Park, you will be literally spoilt for choice with outdoor and scenic picnic areas like Astotin Lake, Beaver Bay, and Tawayik Lake.

If the weather doesn’t permit an outdoor picnic, there are three all-year round picnic shelters available at Astotin Lake Pavilion, Astotin Lake, and Tawayik Lake.

Astotin Lake Pavilion is also available for winter picnic adventure.


There are eight geocaches in Elk island to keep you busy and adventurous for up to half a day. Geocaching is an exciting high-tech adventure game where contestants use GPS to search for caches (containers).


Elk Island National Park with My Global Attitude


Elk Island National Park with My Global Attitude


Star gazing

Star gazing in summer or Northern lights in Beaver Hills Dark Sky Reserve during winter? You choose. Be sure to call in advance for the dark sky programme in Elk Island National Park.

Watch a concert (Summer only)

Check parks Canada website prior to your visit to see summer festivals and concerts worth attending.


We clearly had our fun moments at Elk Island National Park !


Elk Island National Park with My Global Attitude


Elk Island National Park with My Global Attitude


Elk Island National Park with My Global Attitude


Elk Island National Park Contacts

  • 1-54401 Range Road 203
  • Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta
  • 780-922-5790 – General inquiry & Snowshoe rental
  • 1-877-737-3783 – Campsite reservation (Alternative
  • 1-877-852-3100 – Emergency Contacts for Parks Canada
  • 911 – Fire, Ambulance, RCMP


What did i miss? Share your adventures at Elk Island National Park in the comments section below.

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Comments (18)

  1. Never heard of Geocaching before. Sounds like a fun game, cant wait to try it out ! Loved your one leg standing pose picture, haha, we call it vrkasana in Yoga. Yoga is physical and mental exercise practiced in India. You taught me a lot many things with this post, saw wood bison too for the first time. Thanks. More power to you girl !

    1. Had also never heard of it until I visited Elk Island National Park. Although we didn’t play the game, looks like it’d be interesting.
      Hahaha, thanks about my vrkasana pose. I don’t do Yoga though.
      Thanks Nitasha and more power to you too 🙂

  2. That is a great tip to remember, early morning or late evening is a great time to catch wildlife. Also, never heard of Geocaching. Sounds quite interesting 🙂

    1. Very important Swati, you will have a higher chance of seeing many wildlife. It also applied to safaris on Africa.
      Happy travels!

  3. So much cool activities to do here. Just the camping and wildlife viewing is enough to give me a great adventure but here there’s more. I think I would also enjoy if I visit, I wish I could one day. 🙂

    1. Make it a plan Gale! You will enjoy Elk Island.

  4. Wow, the Wood Bison looks so scary, I would be scared if it comes close to my vehicle. Geocaching sounds something unique and fun, would love to try it someday. I agree with on going animal watching early morning is the best option.

    1. It’s so scary Suma. My friend almost drove off when it approached our car 😀
      I’m sure Geocaching would be fun. Thanks for reading xx

  5. Such a beautiful way to spend a few days. I love hiking, and like the idea that the hiking trails are moderate. If I were to pick any two besides hiking, I would love to go stargazing and camping. Cheers!!

    1. Hiking is a good way of keeping fit while on the road where you never get time for the gym. Star gazing while camping sounds like fun xx

  6. Ugh, this is so sad! I’m Canadian and I used to leave near Edmonton and yet… I’ve never heard of this park! You’re teaching me so much about my own country!

    It’s so so cool that you got to see those Bisons up close! I think it’s such a magical experience to encounter wildlife in their element 🙂

    1. Oh Nancy! Allow me to explore and write about your country on your behalf 😀
      Make a point to visit Elk island when you’re back from your one year adventure.
      Happy travels xx

  7. Looks like you had a really good time. Pretty pictures and a great post. I love Bisons. I have seen some at Yellowstone. But I´m not sure how comparable these two Parks are. Great tips of things to do. Thanks for sharing

    1. Yes Pia, we had an amazing time! I’d love to visit Yellowstone National Park too some day.
      Thanks for reading xx

  8. many things to do in the national park. For me the best part is that you can camp there as well. Such a beautiful natural surrounding

    1. Yeah It is a national park buzzing with activities especially during summer.
      Thanks for reading xx

  9. Looks like you have so much fun together! 🙂
    And there is so much to do at the national park!

    1. Thanks Finja. It’s a buzz of activities at Elk island.
      Thanks for stopping by xx

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