The elk stirs at the forest’s edge, just long enough for me to raise my camera. We’re with a tour group, shooting with our lenses and being guided by local experts while tracking trails. Canadian Rocky Mountain wildlife tours are clearly for animal lovers, and the best part is that they allow us to get up close and personal with wildlife. It gives me goosebumps every time.
For some of the best wildlife viewing in Alberta, check out Banff National Park, Jasper National Park and Waterton Lakes National Park. Focus on taking trips from spring through to autumn as this is when animals are the most visible.
Explore Accessible Wilderness
Alberta’s mammoth park system is loaded with wildlife. Our more than 250 provincial parks and recreation areas protect an astonishing 587 species of mammals, birds and fish. Over the past few years, I’ve been fortunate to see all of Alberta’s wildlife all-stars: elk, moose, bighorn sheep, grizzly bear, bison, cougar and wolf. My goal is to eventually add a few of the more elusive animals to my list, such as lynx, bobcat and wolverine.
Guided forays range from gentle sunset walks in wildflower meadows to rugged horseback expeditions through valleys and mountain passes that climb to spectacular views of the peaks. Wherever we explore, safety for the group and wildlife is always top priority. Keeping a safe distance – 30 m (100 ft) from large animals and 100 m (325 ft) from bears – and properly disposing of rubbish to ensure our food isn’t accessible are key to helping protect Alberta’s wildlife.
Enjoy Banff Wildlife Tours
In the Canadian Rockies the grizzly bear is an icon. I want to learn as much as I can about them and maybe, just maybe, get to see one again.
Discover Banff Tours offers a guided sightseeing Discover Grizzly Bears tour. On the Lake Louise Gondola lift, it’s a thrilling ride up the mountain, with the Victoria Glacier visible in the distance. We scan the valley below for bears. At the top, we enter an interpretive centre that shows how bears make their living in the mountains at the top of the food chain.
During the walk, our tour guide explains that there are regular grizzly sightings in the region, and while it doesn’t happen for us today, another person in our group had a sighting yesterday, so we’re eager to return.
Later, we take an Evening Wildlife Safari near the town of Banff, watching mountain goats clamber up mountainsides. One turns to face me as the sun begins to set. I set up my tripod, ready to click the shutter on another memorable moment.