Our National Park system never ceases to amaze visitors with its stunning array of scenery, animals and vegetation. Canadians are spoiled for choice! Elk Island National Park, east of Edmonton, is one of those gems. If you’ve lived in Edmonton your whole life and never visited Elk Island National Park, you should absolutely go! Hiking, canoeing, camping and picnics are just a few of the many adventures awaiting you!
As the weather heats up and spring starts to fade away many people already have that adventure mind-set. Elk Island National Park is located a short 45 minute drive from Edmonton’s city centre and offers all the beauty of a true escape.
The best part of a visit to Elk Island is that it can be enjoyed in any weather and any season. On a windy, sprinkly rain day, we took ourselves out for a little exploration and were delighted by what to see a large herd of Bison hangin’ out on the “Bison Loop” as well as running into a trio on one of the walking trails near the lake.
Speaking of the lake, it’s so lovely there! The beautiful weather gets me so excited for swimming and even more so for canoeing and SUPing! The sandy beach area is perfect for families because it’s within walking distance of the campground, playground, picnic/day-use areas and a few of the walking paths. You might even stumble on something unexpected. After many visits I only just noticed that there’s a golf course within the park!
With camping season all but upon us it’s the perfect time to reserve your spot, the Astotin Lake Campground is open from mid-may until Thanksgiving. While you prep for your amazing summer camping trip, don’t forget to pack your walking shoes! Every path that I have taken so far has been great. I’ve stumbled on Bison, Beaver dams, stunning scenery and even quicksand!! Do you suppose one day I might get to see an actual Elk too?
Each walking trail is a bit different than the last. Some take you around ponds and display the varied aquatic habitats while others keep you hidden away in trees. A few are on the edge of the big lake too. Whatever you are hoping to see, whatever surroundings please you most, I have no doubt you can find it here!
With 11 marked hiking and walking trails of varying length and difficulty, a campground next to the lake, canoe rentals (Canoes, single and double kayaks and SUP boards (stand-up paddle boarding) are available through Haskin Canoe Rental at Astotin Lake) and plenty of green space you’ll have everything you need for the perfect getaway, not to mention the fact that Elk Island is a hot spot for seeing the Northern Lights! Spend two hours, two days or a whole week; I’m sure you won’t be bored.
By Dani Hubenig
Read Dani’s personal blog at outofthenesttravel.blogspot.ca or find her on Twitter and Instagram: @danihub
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