Elk Island National Park, Alberta

08/26/07 - 08/30/07

Elk Island National Park is just outside of Edmonton. There are two sub-species of bison in North America and Elk Island is one of the few places where the Wood Bison sub-species can be found. It also has the Plains Bison sub-species (which is the one we're all familiar with). The two are separated by fences to keep them from interbreeding.

Elk Island has eleven hiking trails. It also has a recreational area around Astotin Lake. Besides the two bison sub-species, it also has moose, elk, beaver, and lots of waterfowl.

I spent five days here. I usually hiked one of the trails in the morning, relaxed in the afternoon, and wandered around the lakeshore in the evening. I averaged around 6 miles a day of walking. So I got my exercise in.

Hiking here is different than most places. Most of the trails are through forest and the bison are everywhere. So you really have to pay attention. There is one trail that goes through the area where the wood bison are. I had only taken 20 steps or so on the trail when I heard a bunch of rustling in the bushes. There was a group of 10 or so wood bison coming towards me. I backed off and they got on the trail just ahead of me. I let them go ahead of me and then continued down the trail. I got about 2 miles down the trail and there was a big bull bedded down within 50 feet of the trail. I decided it wasn't worth trying to get past him, so I had to turn around.

Reflections
Steve Winker