Less than 35 minutes east of Edmonton lies a year-round oasis where bison roam freely, sun glistens off lakes and ponds, and stars light-up the night sky; Elk Island National Park. This gentle wilderness of aspen woodlands, prairie meadows and pockets of wetland is a wildlife-watchers paradise; free roaming bison, elk, deer, moose, and more than 250 bird species call this place home.
A short drive to Elk Island National Park rewards visitors with countless recreation opportunities; hike or bike over 80 km of trails, rent canoes and paddle around the islands on Astotin Lake, take in a free program, or borrow a geocaching kit and enjoy a nearly 200 square kilometre scavenger hunt. Fun doesn’t end as the sun begins to set; stay warm by a fire and look into a sky filled with stars and dancing Northern Lights. Without the glow of city lights around you’ll see more than you knew existed!
With so much to do why not stay the night? Book a campsite and bring your tent or RV to the Astotin Lake Campground, or pack a backpack and make the 4 km hike into Oster Lake Backcountry Campground. If you want the experience of camping but need a few more creature comforts, oTENTik’s are available at Elk Island! oTENTik’s are a cross between a tent and a rustic cabin; bring a sleeping bag and discover the joys of camping without any fuss.
Camping Reservations for Summer 2023:
Elk Island National Park campground sites and oTENTiks are available to reserve starting on March 30, 2023 at 8:00am MDT.
To reserve a campsite, please visit http://reservation.parkscanada.gc.ca or call 1-877-737-3783 (1-877-RESERVE)
Enjoy the winter weather at Elk Island National Park while it lasts!
Activities in Elk Island National Park this Winter:
When you’re ready to step outside, there are numerous opportunities to enjoy the snow!
Snowshoeing: Snowshoe rentals are available from the Astotin Lake Campground kiosk from 11 AM to 6 PM. All hiking trails within Elk Island are suitable for snowshoeing.
Skating: Bring your skates for a skate or to play some pond hockey on the rink on Astotin Lake. Access the rink from the Astotin Lake Recreation Area.
Cross-country skiing: Come for a ski on the newly set cross country ski trails on the Golf Course. This 1.5 km loop has moderate hills.
Astotin Theatre: Astotin Theatre is open from 12 pm to 4 pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Stop by to warm up during your winter adventure. Discover artifacts, talk to a Parks Canada interpreter, and watch movies on the big screen.
Northern Lights Viewing tips:
Viewing the northern lights is a popular winter activity at Elk Island National Park. Elk Island, part of the Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve (BHDSP), experiences large amounts of traffic when northern lights are predicted. Dark Sky Preserves are great places to view the stars or aurora because they have low to no levels of light pollution. Minimizing light pollution within a Dark Sky Preserve allows all Canadians to discover and enjoy the night sky; without the glow of city lights around you’ll see more than you knew existed. Lie down on a blanket and experience seasonal meteor showers, the northern lights or simply count the stars.
A safe place from which to view the northern lights in Elk Island National Park is the Astotin Lake Recreation Area. Drivers are advised to turn off their headlights once safely parked to increase the visibility of Northern Lights. If the Astotin Lake Recreation Area is already crowded, consider other locations in the Beaver Hills Dark Sky Preserve, such as the Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area or Miquelon Lake Provincial Park.
When visiting Elk Island in the winter, safety is of the utmost importance: roads can be slippery and drivers should always drive according to the road conditions and within the speed limit. Elk Island is home to many species of wildlife and they use the road too. Drivers should watch out for wildlife and drive with caution at all times.
With days getting longer, check the sunset times and be sure to give yourself enough time to finish activities in daylight, and be prepared for the conditions; pack snacks, warm clothing, and a map. Don’t rely on cell phone service in the park.
For the most up-to-date information on visiting Elk Island National Park please see: https://parks.canada.ca/pn-np/ab/elkisland
Be bison wise – Elk Island National Park (pc.gc.ca)
WINTER AT ELK ISLAND NATIONAL PARK: Select Saturdays December through March - Snowshoe & Stargaze Program - Check out the events section. For Details on Winter Camping Click Here!