*notcot in nature , 09:55

Elk Island National Park- 02.18.15

elk0.jpg This post is part of our special NOTCOT Alberta Great Escape series thanks to our friends at Travel Alberta. In Part I, we roadtripped up from LA for a fall adventure. In Part II, we are experiencing all that Alberta Winter has to offer! Follow the series to see what inspires us along the way!

You know i’m not one to pass up a visit to see some bison! (Remember the baby ones at Waterton?) When I found out that Elk Island National Park is just outside Edmonton (maybe a half hour drive), I had to go see! While we were warned to keep our eyes open as we cruised the highway through the park for Bison, and as promised, on the highway we saw a good two dozen or so bison along the fences! Both when coming and going! I suppose it shouldn’t be surprising that once inside the park, we only found one - seeing as we knew exactly where most of the others were. It was also surreal to see a coyote jumping so high as it ran through the snow across the road! The visitors center is a must stop too - so many funky taxidermied creatures and fun gifts. I adore their stress bisons - see the stress bisons above in lieu of the herds of bison along the highway i couldn’t get pictures of.

According to the Elk Island National Park site, “Elk Park was first established in 1906 as a federal game preserve to protect the declining elk populations of the Beaver Hills. Some of the last Plains Bison in the world were reintroduced to Elk Park in 1907. In 1913 Elk Park joined the Parks Canada family. Since that time Elk Island National Park has been Canada’s source of disease free bison for re-introduction and conservation initiatives throughout its former range.”

On a longer trip (or the next time we’re in Edmonton), we’re definitely coming back to Elk Island National Park - perhaps to camp, hike, or snowshoe around the lakes! See what we saw on the next page!

After all the Bison sightings along the highway - we headed into the park. I wish I was able to get pictures of them - there were so many! But safety first… so some things you’ll just have to go see yourself! elk1.jpg

First stop at every national park, is the visitor’s center to see what’s going on and grab a map. Inside this one you’ll find playful taxidermied baby bison, coyote, beaver, and more! As well as some adorable Canadian National Park gear and Elk Island Stress Bison i couldn’t resist! elk2a.jpg

There were literally buckets of stress bisons! elk3.jpg

Driving through the park - we spotted one lone bison in our rearview… elk4.jpg

… and looped back to watch him roam the snowy hill for a bit. So large! So majestic! elk5.jpg

While we sadly did not find more from the road inside the park… the views and lighting at sunset were stunning - and when we did head out of the park, we saw dozens of bison from the highway again! After seeing two vehicles stuck and being towed out of the snow banks, we didn’t even risk trying to pull over on the highway to get pictures of the bison packs, so you’ll have to take my word for it (and go see for yourself!)

But for now, you can imagine with my stress bison what they looked like out there! snow7.jpg

Here’s a map of the park - it’s covered in lakes which must be incredible in the summer! That redline across it is the Yellowhead Highway where we spotted most of the bison! elk6.jpg

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