Monday, July 28, 2008

Elk Island National Park, Alberta, Canada

Elk Island National Park is a small park with a nice sized lake about 30 minutes east of Edmonton. It is broken on two separate zones by the Yellowhead Highway - the northern area has Plains Bison, and the southern area has Wood Bison. Why is it called Elk Island? Because there are elk there, but the bison flourished more than the elk over the years. It doesn’t have a townsite, and any groceries, gas, etc.. you may need can be found in Lamont, just past the northern tip of the park. There is, however, a golf course and a small dining room with grilled food type of items. There are two campgrounds, both without hook-ups of any kind - one is for tents or trailers, is the nicer of the two, with trees, fire pits, washrooms with lukewarm showers, and picnic table. It was rather empty when we were here, but it was during the week (we arrived on Monday, left on a Friday); we found good camping without a reservation but were told that they do fill on the weekends. The other campground is for RVs only, and is basically a parking lot with fire pits and picnic tables. It was empty when we were there, and it seems as if it would have a parking lot feel if it were full of RVers. This was a very low key park with lots of shorter hike; we liked it, and it’s a nice change from the larger, more frequently used parks like Banff and Jasper.

On the topic of fire pits ~ they do things different in Canadian national Parks – you buy a “fire permit”, which usually costs $8-10 per day, and they provide all the firewood. There’s usually some firewood at your site, and when you run out, you just go to the firewood shed/area/pile and grab whatever you want. Considering in the states it seems as if you get a smallish pile for $5, this is quite the deal.

Oh, here’s a handy tip – if you need wifi, go to the public library in Lamont – it’s found in the elementary/high school area. They don’t actually allow people to use it, but it’s unsecured, there is parking across the street…………need we say more?

On the first day here we took a small hike along Beaver Pond Loop ~ we weren't impressed. It was heavily treed with no views, adn there was no pond either!

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