Skip to Content

Alberta’s Wildlife

What’s better than a road trip? Why one with plenty of animals to gawk at along the roads. Driving through Alberta, Canada, not only were there pristine landscapes, vistas that will take your breath away, but the bonus was all the wonderful wildlife we were able to watch along the way. Kids of all ages, even babies will enjoy a trip through the Canadian Rockies. There’s so many animals to see out of the car window.

Driving through places like Mt. Robson and Red Pass of Jasper National Park, then Canmore and Banff, of Banff National Park, you will see a myriad of wildlife from sheep to geese to bears, oh my!

Bighorn sheep on the side of the road in Alberta.

If you’ve never seen wild sheep, Alberta is the place for you.  We saw many types of sheep.  They were up high, down low, running up steps right beside us.  They weren’t afraid of humans; in fact, they may have been a little too friendly in my estimation.  This majestic Big Horn greeted us along the Icefields Parkway.

A young doe crosses the road in Alberta.

The sweet young doe was hanging out across the street from one of the most stunning vistas.  Mama Deer probably thought those humans wouldn’t bother with animals when a scene like that of Moraine Lake was in front of us.  She was almost right.

Canadian goose family swimming in a pond.

We saw lots and lots of babies.  These Canada geese are just scooting along in a small creek.  They looked as happy as can be.   Every animal we saw, we saw babies.

A baby sheep along the Canadian highway.

This baby mountain goat never strayed far from its mother.  The mountain goats were moulting, and were not that picturesque, but this little guy was one of the cutest things we saw.  Just look at that face!

A baby moose trying out a new set of legs.

This young moose was a little wary of us, but hung around munching at the young shoots long after we were tired of watching her.  One hint while driving through wilderness, is stop where all the other cars were stopped.  There must have been 50 people watching her when we pulled over.

Alberta black bear a little too close for comfort.

Yes, we saw bears!  I lost count on how many bears we saw.  There were black bears everywhere!  This guy, like most of them, were also eating the young shoots in the grass.  They ate mouthfuls of it.  Can you see a little hanging out of his mouth?

A young Alberta moose with velvety antlers.

This elk was also munching away.  He was all by himself, but we did see a small herd of females with babies along one of the rivers, much further off the road.

Ground squirrels on guard duty in Alberta.

How cute are these ground squirrels?

Alberta black bear rooting for food.

And finally, we enjoyed watching this grizzly for quite some time.  She was rooting and digging up the stump.  Termites are a favorite of bears, and she was going to get every last one of them.

Tips for watching wildlife:

  1. Most animals are either nocturnal or crepuscular, meaning most active at dawn or dusk.  Therefore the best time to see animals is first thing in the morning or during dinnertime, so you need to decide what is more important to you eating at your regular mealtime or going animal viewing.
  2. Most of the animals, like that grizzly up above, look very sweet, cute, and cuddly.  They’re not.  They are wild and dangerous.  You wouldn’t believe how many people are willing to get too close to these animals.  Don’t do it.  Keep your distance.  Keep the car between you and the animal.  They are fast!  Getting a good photo is not worth getting hurt.
  3. Never, ever get between a mama anything and her offspring.  It does not make them happy.
  4. Going off-season, like visiting Banff in fall, or Jasper in Spring will lessen the crowds and magically it seems even more wildlife will appear. Maybe it’s the noise level.  So, we suggest definitely going off-season if you can.
  5. And make sure to take the best gear with you like the best travel backpack.

Tips for photographing wildlife:

  1. Since the light is usually lower during optimal viewing times, crank up your ISO to at least 800 or higher.  A flash will not work, and it might scare the animal.
  2. If you shoot on Sports or Burst mode, you are more likely to get a clear shot.  You will also get plenty of bad shots, but hey, it’s digital.  Delete them.

Further Canada Reading
Things to do in Alberta
Canada Travel Guide
Driving the Icefields Parkway
Dinosaur Provincial Park
Head Smashed In Buffalo Jump

Have you been to Canada?  Where have you found some great wildlife viewing?

Rajlakshmi

Monday 29th of September 2014

the Elk looks fascinating... so does the dear :) wonderful captures

Corinne Vail

Monday 29th of September 2014

Rajlakshmi, thanks!

Corinne Vail

Saturday 27th of September 2014

Eileen, I know. It's soooo beautiful!

Michele {Malaysian Meanders}

Friday 26th of September 2014

Wonderful wildlife photos! I especially like the ones of all the babies and juveniles. When I drove the Icefields Parkway, there was still tons of snow on the ground since we were there for skiing. I didn't see nearly as many animals. I'll have to keep your tips in mind as I seem to have a rather bad track record for photographing wildlife.

Corinne Vail

Saturday 27th of September 2014

Michele, It is difficult to photograph wildlife, but it's doable. Good luck!

Phoebe @ lou Messugo

Thursday 25th of September 2014

Oh my indeed! These photos are stunning, I can't believe how many different animals you saw. I would love to see bears one day, and I would certainly love to visit the wilds of Canada, it's definitely on my bucket list.

Corinne Vail

Friday 26th of September 2014

Phoebe, I'm sure you and your family would love it. There's just something about viewing animals in the wild.

Dick Jordan

Thursday 25th of September 2014

You were lucky. When I was in the Canadian Rockies two years ago the only critters I saw were pikas at Moraine Lake and an lone elk sprinting across the road, both near Lake Louise.

Corinne Vail

Friday 26th of September 2014

Dick, I do think luck plays a part, but also you have to think about the times of day that you are out there. Dawn and dusk are the keys to seeing more.