Elk Island National Park is one of the less visited National PArks in Alberta, a short drive to the east of Edmonton. It is a beautiful wilderness of aspen parkland (one of most endangered habitats in Canada with rolling meadows, woodlands and wetlands). White balsam, poplar and white birch are found round the wetter areas. There are herds of free roaming plains bison, wood bison, moose, deer, and elk.
It is a beautiful drive through the park from Highway 15 to Highway 16. There are entrance kiosks at both entrances where the daily fee to enter the park can be paid. (This is currently $7.80 or $6.80 for seniors).
The main entrance with a small exhibition is at the southern end of the park. A short distance beyond is the 1km Bison Loop Drive through open prairie landscape with a few trees. This is the best place to see bison grazing in the wild.
There are a series of way marked trails from the drive through the park. We followed part of the Tawayik Lake Trail from the picnic site along the side of the lake and through the trees. We did the start of the Amisk Wuche Trail along sections of boardwalk through the marsh and forest until we came to a bridge which had collapsed and not been repaired. We followed part of the Lakeside Trail along the side of Astotin Lake and the short Living Waters Boardwalk which takes you out over the lake. This must be one of the most beautiful spots in the park with many different varieties of wild flower growing round the edge of the water. During the season, this area can get busy with a camp site, golf course, boating, swimming and food. There is a small theatre and the restored Ukrainian Heritage house.
Parks Canada website for Elk Island National Park: www.pc.gc.ca/eng/pn-np/ab/elkisland/index.aspx
We visited during a five week trip to Canada. There is an overall report of the trip here.
I have written a series of detailed reports for some of the places visited for Silver Travel.