Camping, Hiking (and a Party) in Elk Island National Park

We are on year four of this tradition, and honestly it is a highlight of the year! Three of my favourite things – camping, hiking, and a party – in an amazing place. With many of the best and brightest folks in my life. I couldn’t ask for a better birthday celebration.


Camping in autumn is a lovely adventure. Chillier in the evenings and overnight. But the cool temperatures and the yellow leaves make for a very pleasant day. We keep the same set up no matter the time of year. And with Krista-Lee joining us, we finally get to make use of our extra dishes! Elk Island National Park is considered a dark sky preserve, and it was very clear on the second night, offering up an amazing view. I am only good at identifying constellations in the city limits. With all those other stars competing for action, I lose my favourites Orion and Auriga. Unfortunately, they are now charging for firewood. But we found that two bags (~$15) gave us a long enough fire on Saturday night to enjoy before an early bedtime.


Our trail choice this year was Moss Lake Detour. Which is a shorter loop within the Moss Lake Trail. Mostly treed, there aren’t any views except for one section where you walk alongside a lake. We saw a lot of ducks, and beaver activity, but no other animals on this trail. This is outside of the safety zone, so the potential to see some larger animals – deer, moose, bison, bear – is there. I included a bit of safety talk in the introduction to bring the point home. But it wasn’t needed this time out. Chatting with folks throughout the day, most had seen some plains bison grazing by the road on the way in. Watching a 600kg beast eat their dinner is super cool from the safety of your car. But not if you come upon them on a trail with only your wits to protect you!


This weekend marks my 42nd birthday. I asked for help from my parents to put together a picnic feast. Veggies, fruit, cheese and crackers. And cupcakes of course. Lots of options for the hungry hikers! The day use area at Astotin Lake was busy, and very windy! But we found a quiet spot in the sun, and took advantage of this time to catch up with old friends. I am slowly learning how to better enjoy parties, and happily made my way around the circle offering my greetings. I notice that most people do not interact with strangers at parties! It’s not just me! And so I feel much more comfortable letting everyone do their own thing. And not stressing out, wondering if everyone is having fun or not.


Here are some of my past blogs about Elk Island National Park. There are a lot of activities you can do within the Park, and it is a great option for folks in the city (Edmonton) to get out into nature without having to drive 200km.

Please familiarize yourself with any public park or day use space before going. Here is the official Parks Canada page for Elk Island National Park. On it you will find information about trail and road closures, park fees, etc. And here are some Elk Island National Park Bison FAQs, because everybody loves the bison!

I encourage everyone who is traveling to national or provincial parks to learn the history of this space. And the names of Indigenous folks who were pushed off that land in the name of “conservation” and “preservation of wildness” to create green tourist spaces for white settlers. This website will give you a decent start learning the names of the original folks to the lands of Turtle Island: Native Land.

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