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Elk Island National Park

Top 5 Things to do

1) Get stopped by a bison traffic jam while watching for wildlife.


A group of Plains Bison stand on the parkway in Elk Island National Park.
© Parks Canada

From beavers in the ponds to birds in the trees, Elk Island is teaming with creatures who call the park home. Heart pounding with excitement; find yourself in the middle of a bison traffic jam as you tour the park. Pull over to the side, open your window and breathe in the woolly smells and listen for the soft grunting as you get up close and personal from the safety of your vehicle. Close your eyes and feel like part of the herd.

2)  Paddle and explore the many islands of Astotin Lake.


Paddlers enjoy an evening canoe trip on Astotin Lake.
© Parks Canada 

The sun on your face, a cool breeze blowing across the lake and the soft swish of your paddle - explore the many islands of Astotin Lake. Secluded bays and protected shorelines are perfect for practicing your paddling skills. “Lily dipping” around the lake, you hear the eerie laughing call of the red neck grebe and follow a pilot of pelicans as they paddle along. Discover the diversity of waterfowl and shorebirds that nest on Astotin Lake. There is no better way to spend your day!

3)  Hike the trails and discover Elk Island in all seasons.


Hikers enjoy an autumn stroll on a trail in Elk Island National Park.
© Parks Canada

Picture yourself strolling through the shadowed landscape of a black spruce bog; the tangy smell of spruce trees mixed with the earthy scent of moss and peat under your feet. All seems quiet and still as you climb a small hill; then the world changes all around. The darkness of the spruce trees opens up to a bright and sunny aspen forest canopy. The trail narrows as the mossy ground gives way to wild rose and hazelnut shrubs. Lose yourself in the sound of autumn leaves crunching under your feet then thrill at the haunting bugle of a bull elk in rut. Hike at Elk Island National Park: new scents, sights and sounds await you all year round.

4) Share a picnic with family and friends at Astotin Lake.


Park visitors enjoy a picnic near the playground at Astotin Lake.
© Parks Canada

A peaceful lakeside setting, a crackling campfire, good food and great company... What could be better? The Astotin Lake area of Elk Island National Park has picnic shelters and tables, fire pits and wood, drinking water and washrooms to make your picnic enjoyable and comfortable. Take time to visit the Astotin Lake campground, golf course, interpretive theatre, hiking trails and don’t forget to stay for a breathtaking sunset to complete your day.

5) Escape the city lights and gaze upon the splendour of a starry night.


The big dipper and the northern lights shine in the night sky above Elk Island National Park
© Parks Canada

When was the last time you looked up at night and saw the Milky Way? At Elk Island, enjoy the beauty of an unspoiled night sky. Elk Island National Park is part of the Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve that celebrates a sky free of city “light pollution.” Lie down on a blanket and experience seasonal meteor showers, the northern lights or simply count the stars with your little ones who will be thrilled at being up past their bedtime, all while staying warm beside a cozy campfire.