Wintertime visits to Elk Island National Park provides a unique perspective on the Canadian wilderness. Trails feel brand new again and every animal that stayed behind for the winter feels all the more special for braving the cold with us. There’s nothing quite like catching a glimpse of wild bison roaming the white deep snowy plains, hooves trudging through the snow or stargazing on cold winter nights.
Make no mistake about it; Elk Island gets magical in the winter. And just a short car ride east of Edmonton, there’s so many reasons to visit the park right now. Let’s take a look at some of the winter activities you can get up to while you’re at Elk Island National Park. Plus we can already name one perk of visiting now: no mosquitos!
Hit The Trails – One of Elk Island’s big winter draws is getting the chance to snowshoe across the massive national park. Bring your own or rent – every trail in the park is set up with your snowshoes in mind. What’s more, you can use those same trails for some high-end cross-country skiing. If you’re looking for untouched powder, go after a snowfall. We highly recommend it.
Go Skating – Have you skated around an entire island? With thanks to the Astotin Lake Area, you’ll have the means to access a skating loop that’ll take you all around Archer Island and back in a whiz. Once you’ve laced up your skates, you’ve got two choices; you can gather a squad and play a few intense rounds of shiny at a maintained rink or head even further down past Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve and marvel at the lights in the night sky. Hope you’ve practiced your skating moves for this one!
Take It In – If you’re into challenges, nothing beats camping in minus zero weather surrounded by the elements. Elk Island has plenty of support for those enthralled by the idea of a little winter camping. Astotin Lake features a set of winter campgrounds, great for tenting it up or chilling back in an RV, with each campground outfitted with a picnic table and a firepit.
On select days in December and January, you can “Snowshoe and Stargaze.” With the help of a Parks Canada guide, you’ll embark upon an epic hiking quest through the snow with the stars guiding your way. Learn about the constellations and take in just how amazing everything at night sounds without the noises of the big city getting in the way. Between now and March, you can also get up to shenanigans like building shelters, going geocaching, and making fires to warm up by!
Photos by Travel Alberta
Click to learn more about Elk Island National Park.