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Things to do in Elk Island National Park Edmonton – Bisons & Sunset Tour

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Elk Island National Park is located about 35 kilometers from the Albertan Capital City of Edmonton. Beautiful and full of lush greenery, this national park is home to the American bison. Situated in the Beaver-hills area, this conservation provides shelter for wintering herds of elk, bison and moose since times immemorial. And it doesn’t stop with wildlife, imagine beautiful nature at your door step, in a Canadian Capital city. Read to find out all the fun things to do in Elk Island National Park Edmonton. 

Things to do in Elk Island National Park Edmonton

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click one of them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. 

A quick guide to the Elk Island National Park - home to the American bisons, located just a few minutes away from Edmonton, the capital city of the Canadian province of Alberta. Get lost in the wilderness, camp out, bird watch, star gaze and so much more #canada #elknationalpark #travelalberta #exploreedmonton
Elk National Park

How to get to Elk Island National Park?

Located: 48 kms from Edmonton City Centre

Entry Fee: 7.50 (per adult)

Elk Island National Park is open 24 hours a day all year around. Its main entrance, the south gate, is located approximately 48km from Edmonton’s city centre, via Highway 16 East (Yellowhead). Best time to visit is July to September to experience the Bison activity.

Bison and Bison Conservation at Elk Island National Park Edmonton

Elk Island National Park has been preserving bison since 1907. The Canadian government bought close to 400 bison to Elk Island. With varied changes in the ecosystem,  there were migrations and transfers of bison from Elk Island to other national parks. In 2007, the wood bison population in Elk Island National Park was estimated at 315.

The picture below is the bison loop. Here you can see bison in their natural habitat, moving across the national park.

A quick guide to the Elk Island National Park - home to the American bisons, located just a few minutes away from Edmonton, the capital city of the Canadian province of Alberta. Get lost in the wilderness, camp out, bird watch, star gaze and so much more #canada #elknationalpark #travelalberta #exploreedmonton
Elk National Park

Its a stunning scene in the summer time to witness such a natural activity, on top of an open jeep. A wildlife viewing closest to bison’s natural habitat. 

While crossing the loop, ensure you slow down your vehicles and stop, allow the bison to pass at their own pace. 

Bison Loop Elk National Park

Elk Island National Park Edmonton Activities

There are a lot of fun outdoor things to do in Alberta and exploring national parks is one of the joys, when you visit this province. There are winter and summer activities that you can do at the Elk Island National Park, such as camping, hiking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, wildlife gazing, golfing, kayaking/canoeing and mountain biking.

  • Camping – Astotin Lake, located within the Elk Island National Park, has 64 un-serviced sites for RVs and tenting. The campsite has potable water, hot shower, (very clean) washrooms, firewood provided with fire permit, picnic shelters, etc. There is an option for “hike-in” camp site at the Oster Lake Back-country. You can request for equipped campsites as well at the Astotin Lake for your overnight stays. 
  • Hiking – The park has over 80 kilometers of trails that you can explore and hike. Most trails have parking, washrooms and garbage facilities.
  • Cycling & Canoeing –  There are about 16+kms of bike loops in the park. You can bring in your bikes and enjoy the nature. Road cyclists are also welcomed here. There are beautiful lakes inside the National Park and you can rent them or bring your own canoe or kayak and enjoy a cool paddling session.
  • Golfing – There is a 9 hole- Elk Island Golf Course that brings in nature and sports together. The golf course also has a little eatery (free re-fills for tea and coffee!)
  • Wildlife– Of course, you will get to see bisons and elks, how about black bears, deers, wolves, coyotes and beavers? You can view them all at the Elk Island National Park. Be sure to stop and let them pass by. Maintain a safe distance from wild animals at all times and do not attempt to feed them.
  • Snowshoeing – During winters, head to Elk Island for snowshoeing! This is SO much fun. Read our winter clothes Canada guide
Elk National Park
  • Picnicking – Of course, don’t forget to just hang out. Grab your picnic basket, yum food and head to Astotin Lake, Beaver Bay or Tawayik Lake to have a enjoy some nature views or family or alone time, your style!
  • Stargazing – Within the boundaries of Elk Island National Park, lies the Beaver Hill – dark sky reserve.  Beaver Hills and the nearby Astotin Lake is a wonderful location for stargazers and Northern Lights chasers. Be sure to check the season or northern lights forecast before hand. There are 5 dark sky preserves in Alberta and Beaver Hills – Fort Saskatchewan is one of them. Learn more about Stargazing at the Beaver Hills here
A quick guide to the Elk Island National Park - home to the American bisons, located just a few minutes away from Edmonton, the capital city of the Canadian province of Alberta. Get lost in the wilderness, camp out, bird watch, star gaze and so much more #canada #elknationalpark #travelalberta #exploreedmonton
Northern Lights in Alberta

Things to know about the National Park : 

  • Closest Airport: YEG – Edmonton International Airport
  • Located 75 kms from the Airport.
  • Entry fees apply. For an adult entry is $CAD 7.50 valid up to 24 hours. For more information on fees visit Parks Canada website here 
  • Camping, kayaking, bird watching are common activities
  • Parks Canada has partnered with MEC – Mountain Equipment Co-op to offer equipped campsites like tent, sleeping pads, dining shelter, camping chairs, a propane stove and lantern
  • Carry mosquito and bug repellents on visit
  • Be mindful of wild animals and adhere to Parks Canada/ Travel Alberta Parks warnings
  • USP:
    • Bison Conservation and Bison Loop
    • Beaver Hills – Stargazing event that occurs every September
    • Haskin Canoe – Full Moon and Sunset Tours (occurs on one Saturday, each month from June to October)
Elk Island National Park - Sunset Tour
Elk National Park

A very unique way to experience the beauty of the Elk Island National Park is taking a Sunset and Full Moon Tour. Conducted by Haskin Canoe, this is one of a kind experience. The tour lasts 2-2.5 hours, is subjected to weather restrictions, but is totally worth it to sign up for. Learn more Haskin Canoe’s tours here

Sunset Tour at Elk Island National Park Edmonton

Elk Island National Park - Sunset Tour
ElkIsland – tosomeplacenew

Isn’t it pretty? Imagine canoeing in the lake (Astotin) in the midst of nature – greenery, pelicans, bisons, beavers, with the bright sky making way to golden hues. Soak in all the wonderful time!

This picture above was taken at the Lake Astotin, Sandy Beach – on Elk Island National Park. Haskin Canoe rents canoes and kayaks at the beach during the day and on special evenings, there are Sunset and Full moon tours.

A quick guide to the Elk Island National Park - home to the American bisons, located just an hour away from Edmonton, the capital city of the Canadian province of Alberta. Get lost in the wilderness, camp out, bird watch, star gaze and so much more including a sunset tour #canada #travelalberta #exploreedmonton
Elk Island National Park

Our Sunset Tour at Astotin Lake 

For the sunset tour, bookings are made in advance. You can choose between a tandem canoe, kayak or a voyaguer canoe. These tours are conducted in the evenings and are subject to weather conditions. The price of the tour ranges from CAD$40 to CAD$100, depending on your choice of canoe/kayak.

For all tour schedules and prices from Haskin Canoe, please check here

Pro Tip:  For your tour, please ensure you bring bug spray, warm clothing including hat or torque, camera, extra clothing if you get wet, etc. Life vests are provided.
Elk Island National Park - Sunset Tour and Pelicans
Pelicans at the Elk Island National Park

We were pretty excited for this tour. Last year, due to bad weather, these tours were cancelled and we could not participate. So in 2018, we made sure that we signed up for the first tour of the year (which was in June). That day, in the afternoon, the weather was still playing games (you know Alberta weather). But we were lucky and by evening, the skies cleared and made this tour possible.

We arrived late afternoon and our tour was supposed to start at 08:30 pm local time. We walked in to the shack where canoes and kayaks were kept, signed up the waiver form and received our life-vests. Salil and I chose the voyager canoe as it was our first time here. (We had done boating before, but this was different). So we went with the voyager and I am glad we did that. This allowed me to enjoy the nature and take some amazing shots as well!

A quick guide to the Elk Island National Park - home to the American bisons, located just an hour away from Edmonton, the capital city of the Canadian province of Alberta. Get lost in the wilderness, camp out, bird watch, star gaze and so much more including a sunset tour #canada #travelalberta #exploreedmonton
Elk Island – Kayaking

The individual kayaks and the voyager canoe were led by Haskin Canoe team-lead/guide who also provided us with a brief history of the national park.

When we started the tour, it was still very bright at the deck. As paddled our way into the deep waters and saw some lovely pelicans, woods, bison, beaver lodges, and more. The lake is not deep, in fact, it is very swallow – the deepest point is about 12 feet. You won’t find any fishes in the lake.

We canoed for about 2 hours. By the time we reached the shore, it was dark and we could very well appreciate the beautiful sunset.

Elk Island National Park - Sunset Tour
Elk Island National Park – Sunset Tour

The Haskin Canoe Tour was definitely a unique experience. It was a lovely experience to canoe in the midst of beautiful nature and watch the sun go down. We highly recommend doing this tour if you are in Edmonton or planning to visit the Elk Island National Park.

This sunset will always be remembered.

Planning tips for Elk Island National Park: 

You can visit Elk Isand National Park as a day trip from Edmonton. Click here to read the coolest things to do in Edmonton in Winter.

Search and book for hotels in Edmonton here

Leaving you with this image from Explore Edmonton, as featured on their Instagram account from ours! Follow us on Facebook and Twitter! 

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bj08NBLDoRT/

Additional Alberta Resources

Want to explore more of the Rocky Mountain area and Alberta, read out resources

Last Update: July 12 2019

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you click one of them, we may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. 

PIN – Fun Things to do in Elk Island National Park Edmonton/ Sunset Tour Elk Island National Park

Things to do in Elk Island National Park
Things to do in Elk Island National Park

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22 Comments

  1. Thanks for sharing about this beautiful park. I lived in Fernie BC for 3 years which is closeish but have never heard of it. Sounds and looks like it’s worth the visit.

  2. I have not been in Canada yet, but as I go there, I will definitely go to the Elk Island National Park. The images are unbelievably beautiful, the beauty of nature is enchanting. Thank you for visiting

  3. I have not been in Canada yet, but as I go there, I will definitely go to the Elk Island National Park. The images are unbelievably beautiful, the beauty of nature is enchanting. Thanks for sharing.

  4. How beautiful are these creatures?! I’ve only seen elks in movies and documentaries, so to see them in this park would be incredible. Alberta looks like a lovely place to visit in Canada too.

  5. Looks lovely, for 7.50 this is totally worth it! i love seeing animals in the wild so this is totally for me. Your pictures look amazing too. Thanks for sharing

  6. Stunning photographs. How lucky to be able to see the Northern Lights. What a lovely trip this must have been.

  7. wow! It seems like such an incredible adventure! Can’t believe how beautiful the Northern Lights are!

  8. This is just fueling my need to go to Canada even more! What a stunning place and your post was so informative! Certainly going on the list!!

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