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Archive – Elk Island National Park newsletters

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Newsletter date Details
July 5, 2024

External link: Know before you go – Top 5 tips to enjoy Elk Island National Park!

Plain text version

Know before you go – Top 5 tips to enjoy Elk Island National Park!

There is something for everyone at Elk Island National Park this summer. Safety and etiquette are a shared responsibility. A great trip starts with being informed and prepared. Plan ahead to get the most out of your next visit and enjoy a summer of fun!

Tip #1: Plan ahead

Be prepared for wherever adventure takes you. It is important for visitors to be self-sufficient, self-reliant, and plan ahead.

  • Pack essential items, share a trip plan with family or friends, know how to use your equipment and check the weather before you leave. Not sure what to include in a trip plan? Use the AdventureSmart trip planning app to get started.
  • Visit the Elk Island National Park website and follow us on social media (Facebook and X) for park updates, trail conditions and trip inspiration.
  • A Park pass is required at all times. Get your Discovery Pass online to save time at the entry gates!
  • Catch a ride on the Parkbus! Parkbus brings visitors from downtown Edmonton to Elk Island National Park on weekends.
  • Last minute planner? Visit the Wahkotowin Visitor Information Centre to plan your route when you arrive!

Tip #2: Expect crowds

It’s important to pack your patience – you may encounter lineups at the park gates, overflowing parking lots at popular day-use areas and hiking trails, and park closures due to vehicle capacity constraints. Vehicle congestion can impede emergency vehicles from attending to an incident and Park staff from performing critical visitor safety, human-wildlife conflict, or law enforcement duties.

  • We recommend a morning outing before 11 am on weekends or visiting the Park mid-week Monday to Friday.
  • If the Park is full, please consider other destinations to enjoy in the area such as:
    • Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area,
    • Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village,
    • Strathcona Wilderness Centre
    • Métis Crossing.

Tip #3: View wildlife safely and keep dogs on a leash

Seeing wildlife in their natural habitat is a privilege that comes with responsibility. Help keep wildlife wild:

  • Give bison at least 100 m of space at all times, about the length of 10 school busses. DO NOT EXIT your vehicle within 100m of bison. Bison are wild animals. They may look easygoing, but bison can act defensively if startled, stressed or threatened. Violators may be charged under the Canada National Parks Act: maximum penalty $25 000.
  • If you see a bear along the roadside, DO NOT STOP. Continue to drive by slowly and give them space. Bears who are viewed too often will lose their natural fear of humans and vehicles, putting the safety of the bear, you, other visitors and surrounding communities at risk.
  • Keep pets on leash and under physical control at all times. This keeps you, your pet and wildlife safe. Off-leash pets can provoke wildlife, which could then injure you, your pet, other visitors or wildlife.
  • Do not feed wildlife. It is illegal to feed or disturb wildlife in national parks. This is for your safety and theirs. Violators may be charged under the Canada National Parks Act: maximum penalty $25 000.
  • Speeding kills. Slow down and obey posted speed limits for your safety and the safety of wildlife. Drive carefully and watch for wildlife especially around sunrise, sunset and when it is dark, and obey posted no stopping zones.
  • Report wildlife encounters or dead animals to Parks Canada Dispatch 24-hours a day: 1-877-852-3100.

Tip #4: Do your part be water smart

Exploring the open water of Astotin Lake is an invigorating experience when done safely. Stay safe in, on and around water. Understanding water safety can help prevent an emergency.

  • There are no lifeguards on duty. Children and weak swimmers must be supervised at all times when they are in or around water. If you are not "within arms' reach" of your children, you have gone too far.
  • Make the most of every water adventure by carrying essential safety equipment as required by Transport Canada on all types of recreational watercraft – boats, canoes, and kayaks.
  • Wear a certified lifejacket or personal flotation device (PFD) when on the water.
  • Check the weather before you leave shore and prepare for the unexpected – strong winds can turn Astotin Lake from serene to dangerous quickly.
  • Leave motor-powered vessels (including electric motors) at home. They are prohibited in Elk Island National Park.
  • Be aware of periodic blue-green algae blooms in Astotin Lake. These are caused by naturally occurring organisms that can be toxic if ingested, especially to pets. Check the important bulletins and posted signage at Astotin beach for updated information.

Tip #5: Keep the park clean

Visitors are expected to keep food and garbage secure, use garbage containers, and to leave the park as they found it. Garbage attracts wildlife and is a risk to visitor and wildlife safety. It is also unpleasant for other visitors.

  • Do not litter. Put garbage in designated containers throughout the Park.
  • Clean as you go, collect all litter and garbage promptly and dispose in garbage containers.
  • If a garbage container is full, do not leave garbage on the ground next to it - use the next one or bring the garbage with you when you leave.
  • Keep picnic areas and campsites clean. Never leave scented items unattended even for a minute. Scented items include food (including pet food), toiletries, dirty dishes, garbage and even empty coolers. All these must be secured when not in use, in something like a vehicle, hard-sided trailer, bear-proof food locker, bear-resistant canister or elevated food cache.

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