Go Wild for Wildlife on Vacation in the Canadian Rockies

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Written by Patrick J. Smith posted on Friday, September 4th, 2009

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Mt. Robson Provincial Park is loaded with wildlife. If you're very lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of a black bear.

Mt. Robson Provincial Park is loaded with wildlife.

Ann of Vermont writes: Where are the best places in the Rockies to see animals?

Ann, take it from a man who knows: In the Canadian Rockies, there isn’t a bad place to go if you want to see wildlife!

But I take your point, ma’am. The Rockies are a HUGE place, way too big to take in all at once. Heck, I’ve been here for years, and I’m still finding new places to explore. And I’m one of the lucky ones who gets to spend all of his time in this beautiful country. Some folks don’t get but one or two chances in their lives to come here. They want to see as much as possible in their limited time, and I sure don’t blame ’em.

Which brings me to your question, Ann. I’ve got two places I’m going to recommend. It’s not that they’re really that much better than the rest of the Rockies; it’s just that they’re (relatively) smaller areas with a whole lot of variety to offer. One is Mt. Robson Provincial Park, and the other is Kootenay National Park.

First, Mt. Robson. The park is built around the mountain, Mt. Robson, the highest peak in the Canadian Rockies at 3,954 meters. It is just west of Jasper National Park, and despite its smaller size it is a wildlife wonderland.

Black bears, moose, and goats are among the large animals commonly seen in the park. Take a trip around the park and you’ve got a very good chance of seeing some of them. You’ve got at least a halfway decent chance of seeing all of them.

Some of the other animals are more reclusive. Smaller animals such as weasels, mink, marten and otters don’t like to be noticed. You might actually have a better chance of seeing the wolves, red foxes, and coyotes who come down to the trails, especially around dawn and dusk. Two animals I can almost promise you’ll see are muskrats and beavers.

Finally, there are more than 180 species of birds that have been spotted in the park.

Kootenay National Park, just a short drive away from Lake Louise, is another place replete with life. Moose and mountain goats headline the attractions here: The moose come down to the Vermillion Pass Burn, the remnants of a forest fire in 1968, to eat the ends of the bushes that thrive in the area; and the goats congregate at the Mt. Wardle Mineral Lick.

However, the true attraction of Kootenay National Park is the Kootenay Valley. Thanks to its low elevation, the valley is lush and temperate – and thus teeming with life. Black bears, coyotes, moose, elk, and deer all roam the valley. It’s a small area and you’re almost guaranteed to see something, probably lots of somethings.

I want to emphasize, the Canadian Rockies are a treasure trove of life. There really isn’t a bad place to go to see animals. I urge you to come back as often as you can, because no matter how much you get to see, I’ll bet something new awaits you the next time.

Alberta Adventure Guide

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