Northern Edges – Day 6: Animals, Animals, Animals!

Summary –
Time of Departure: 0700h
Time of Arrival: 1500h
Distance: 608 km

After spending a couple of days with the grandkids it was back to the road and a trip to four of my favourite places all within one day.

Elk Island National Park, Jasper, Athabaska Falls and Pyramid Lake all must stop points for me when I travel through this area. They all offer special photo opportunities and spectacular views abound.

Today though they were all overshadowed by the wildlife.

First up the Bison at Elk Island.

Administered by the Parks Canada Agency. This “island of conservation” is located 35 km east of Edmonton, Alberta along the Yellowhead Highway, which goes through the park. It is Canada’s 8th smallest in area but the largest fully enclosed national park, with an area of 194 square kilometres (75 sq mi).
The park is representative of the northern prairies plateau ecosystem and as such, the knob and kettle landscape is a mix of native fescue grassland, aspen parkland and boreal forest. As well, Elk Island plays host to both the largest and the smallest terrestrial mammals in North America, the wood bison and pygmy shrew respectively.


Today I was barely in the front gate and a herd of about 40 of these marvellous beasts were idly grazing at the end of Bison Loop Road. It’s as far as I got as I spent about an hour just hanging out as the herd slowly shifted from the east to the west side of the main park road.

Even the longer lens behaved today as I finally managed to lock in settings that worked for me. The result, some of my best images yet of these animals.

A truly enjoyable time on a beautiful day as the herd just carried on working their way around me as I stood in the midst of them. I was reluctant to leave and plan on returning on the return journey.

On to Jasper and every time the same thing happens as I drive in, to the point where I say I sure Parks Canada plants them at the gate just to greet the tourists. A small group of Big Sheep causally grazing along the highway and causing the usual wildlife traffic jam.

The thing that always gets me with these guys is they are not as big as you think but they just as much fun to watch as you think.

Only the one baby in the group but he was a cutie.