Visitor guidelines

Elk Island National Park

Protected areas are unique places and require unique rules to protect them. To ensure visitors to Elk Island National Park enjoy the park in a safe manner that respects the experience of other visitors and preserves the park environment, some activities have been restricted or prohibited.

Breaking the law in a National Park can result in eviction, a ticket or in more serious instances, arrest. Canadian National Park offences can carry heavy fines and could result in jail time or restitution. For some offences, such as poaching or pollution, fines can be in excess of $250,000. View a complete listing of the Canada National Parks Act.

Activity Restrictions

There are a number of outdoor activities that require a permit. Check with the Elk Island National Park Visitor Information Centre prior to engaging in non-traditional, unusual or commercial activities. Kites are only permitted in the Astotin Recreation Area.

There are a number of outdoor activities that are not permited, including the use of metal detectors and motor-powered vessels. Review the Elk Island National Park important bulletins for more information.


You cannot take-off or land an aircraft in a national park without a Restricted Activity Permit from Parks Canada, with some exceptions as listed in the National Parks of Canada Aircraft Access Regulations. All aircraft must comply with the Canadian Aviation Regulations and National Parks of Canada Aircraft Access Regulations.


Consuming alcohol is only allowed at registered campsites, private residences or on licensed premises. Alcohol is not allowed at beaches, recreation areas, cook shelters or on trails. During certain periods of the year, specific campgrounds may have temporary alcohol bans in effect. These will be identified through notices posted online and at the campgrounds.

Alcohol bans are in effect for the following areas:

  • Astotin Lake Campround and the Group Campground: Friday to Monday of every May Long Weekend, July Long Weekend, August Long Weekend and September Long Weekend
  • Oster Lake Backcountry Campground and Overflow Campground: year-round

Review the Elk Island National Park important bulletins for more information.

Area Closures and Restrictions

Area closures and restrictions are sometimes needed to protect natural or cultural resources or for visitor safety reasons. Closures are enforceable by law. Closure notices will be posted at the trailheads, access points, park offices, and information centres. Information on closures is also available on our Important Bulletins page.


Use of gas or electric motors is not allowed on any waterbody in Elk Island National Park

Be safe on water. Any type of inflatable is considered a vessel when it is used for navigating and each occupant/passenger requires a life vest and safety equipment.

Drinking alcohol and boating is illegal, similar to drinking and driving.


Camping is allowed in designated campgrounds only. The permit holder for the campsite is responsible for the site, including cleanliness, noise levels and actions of visitors. Camping (including sleeping in a vehicle) is not allowed in roadside pullouts, trailheads and recreation areas.

Be a good neighbour by reviewing all camping safety, regulations and etiquette before departure.

Noise and park enjoyment
Do not interfere with others’ quiet enjoyment of the park during any part of the day or night. This includes loud music and shouting in campgrounds or in recreation areas.

Quiet hours
Quiet hours are enforced in all campgrounds.

  • Quiet hours are in effect from 11 p.m. to 7 a.m. year-round
  • During quiet hours, music, generators, loud conversation and consumption of alcohol are not allowed.

Please remember, even quiet conversations can carry through a forested area.


Cannabis is legalized and strictly regulated in Canada. It is each visitor’s responsibility to understand federal, provincial and municipal regulations for cannabis use.

Review where cannabis can and cannot be used in Elk Island National Park

Day-use areas

Day-use areas, such as beaches and picnic sites, are open from 7 am to 11 pm. They are not for camping or partying at night. Liquor is not allowed at all day-use areas. Fires are only allowed where designated, metal fire boxes are available and firewood is not provided.


All Parks Canada places are ‘no drone zones’ for recreational use.

If you do not possess a permit or special permission to fly your drone in a Parks Canada place, please leave your drone at home. Learn more about our drone usage rules.

To report someone operating an unmanned air vehicle (UAV or Drone) call Parks Canada Dispatch at 1-877-852-3100.


Pedal assist electric bicycles (e-bikes) are allowed on designated bike trails at select national parks.

What does pedal assist mean?

  • Power assistance is only provided when the bicycle is being pedalled.
  • When pedalling stops, the power assistance also stops.

What other specifications does the bike need?

  • The motor can generate a maximum of 500W.
  • Power assistance stops when the bicycle attains a speed of 32 km/h on level ground.

Please note that e-bikes equipped with an accelerator (a throttle) are not pedal assist e-bikes and can only be ridden on roads.

Electrical bikes (e-bikes) used on Parks Canada’s trails need to respect the following definition

  1. has steering handlebars and is equipped with pedals,
  2. is designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground,
  3. is capable of being propelled by muscular power only,
  4. has one or more electric motors which have, singly or in combination, the following characteristics:
    1. it has a total continuous power output rating, measured at the shaft of each motor, of 500 W or less,
    2. power assistance immediately ceases when the muscular power ceases,
    3. it is incapable of providing further assistance when the bicycle attains a speed of 32 km/h on level ground,
  5. is equipped with a safety mechanism that prevents the motor from being engaged before the bicycle attains a speed of 3 km/h.

Fires are only allowed in designated fire pits provided. Random fires are not allowed in National Parks.

Please keep campfires safe for both visitors and the environment by following these rules:

  • Keep fires small – To reduce their impact on the environment, fires must be contained within the designated fire pits provided and be kept to a reasonable size.
  • Do not burn garbage or collect deadfall from the surrounding forest for burning.
  • Never leave a fire unattended – Fires must be attended at all times. Be sure to fully extinguish campfires before leaving camp or going to bed at night. Soak the ashes, stir them, and soak them again until ashes are cool to the touch.
  • BBQs – Charcoal barbeques are permitted. Please dump cold ashes into a fire pit.

Backcountry camping – Fires are allowed in areas with a provided fire pits only.

Fire permits for Oster Lake Backcountry Campground – Purchase a campground fire permit at the Visitor Centre before departure.

Firewood – Purchase bundled firewood at the Astotin Lake Campground Kiosk and the Visitor Information Centre.

Firearms and hunting

In general, firearms and hunting are not allowed in National Parks. Firearms may be transported through National Parks in accordance with the National Parks Wildlife Regulations and the Firearms Act.


Use of, selling, or purchasing fireworks, or any other type of explosive, is not permitted within a National Park.


Fishing in not permitted in Elk Island National Park.

Garbage and litter

Never litter.

Good times in the great outdoors are safer and more rewarding when you Leave No Trace of your visit. A good rule is to leave “no trace on the place” and “no trace on others’ space”.

Store all food, garbage and scented items when not in use. Deposit garbage in designated garbage bins.

Never leave food unattended. Leaving any scented items unattended, even for a few minutes, puts visitors and wildlife at risk.

Review all camping safety, regulations and etiquette before departure.

Invasive Plants

Invasive plants are non-native and spread rapidly, taking over new areas very quickly.

To help protect Elk Island National Park from invasive plants:

  • Clean your equipment. Check your gear and footwear for any seeds, mud or plant material before and after coming to the park.
  • Brush your boots to remove plant material after using hiking trails.
  • Use only local firewood, gardening materials and certified weed-free hay.

Visit the PlayCleanGo website for more information about this program.

Take the PlayCleanGo pledge with the Canadian Council on Invasive Species to help prevent new invasions and stop the spread of existing invasive plants.

Natural and historic objects

It is illegal to collect plants, mushrooms, berries, animals, animal parts (including antlers), fossils, driftwood, rocks, signs, or any other historic or natural object. 

If something significant is found, leave the item in place and report findings to the nearest Parks Canada office. Please leave these natural items for others to enjoy.

Motorized vehicles (off-road driving, snowmobiles, ATVs, personal watercraft)

Vehicles must remain on hardened surfaces, paved and gravel roads. The use of ATVs, snowmobiles, dirt bikes, or other off-road vehicles is not allowed. Scooters are considered motor vehicles for these purposes and are not allowed on trails or areas closed to motor vehicle traffic.


Please park only in designated areas and areas where you do not pose a risk to others. If a parking lot is full, find the next closest lot and walk to your destination.

Pets and service animals
  • Dogs stress wildlife: Dogs can be seen as a threat or as competition
  • Off-leash dogs can trigger aggressive behaviour from wildlife like bison, moose, bears and coyotes
  • Keep dogs on a leash and under physical control at all times
  • Never leave dogs unattended
  • Remember to clean up after a pet
  • Service animals are welcome, in the company of their handlers. Please keep service animals on a leash or harness during each visit.
Recreation areas

Fires are only allowed in provided fire pits.

Alcohol use and camping are not allowed.

Do not interfere with others’ quiet enjoyment of the park during any part of the day or night. This includes loud music and shouting in campgrounds or in day use areas.

Moss Lake Trailhead and Tawayik Recreation Area are open from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Smoking and vaping

Be aware of provincial smoking and vaping regulations regarding distances from buildings, playgrounds, and other facilities.

Cannabis is legalized and strictly regulated in Canada. It is your responsibility to understand federal, provincial, and municipal regulations for cannabis use.

Review where cannabis can and cannot be used in Elk Island National Park

Ticks and Lyme disease

Throughout Elk Island National Park from April to November, there is a small chance of being exposed to Lyme disease if bitten by an infected blacklegged (deer) tick. Lyme disease is a serious illness; however, it's easy to prevent and treat when caught early.

For more information on Lyme disease, blacklegged ticks, and how to protect yourself from tick bites while enjoying the outdoors, please visit the following websites:


Feeding, enticing and disturbing wildlife puts visitors and wildlife at risk. Violators may be charged, be required to appear in court and could pay fines up to $25,000.

Review wildlife safety information; regularly.

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