Wildlife watching hero photo: Grizzly Bears Mating in Jasper National Park – Taken by: Ellen T. Myrås, Canadian Rockies.

Wildlife Watching in the Canadian Rockies

While the dramatic scenery of the Canadian Rockies is a big draw, catching a glimpse of the wildlife that calls this area home is a highlight for many of our travellers and Rocky Mountaineer guests. Maybe it’s spotting a mama bear with a couple of cubs that’s top of your list, or perhaps hearing the elk bugling during their mating season is what you’re hoping to experience. Of course, sightings are never guaranteed, they really are “wild”. But, if wildlife watching is top of your list, we’ve put together five top tips for increasing your chances of spotting some of the local fauna on your vacation.

Wildlife Watching Canadian Rockies - Bighorn Sheep

Bighorn Sheep – Jasper National Park. Photo by: Ellen T. Myrås, Canadian Rockies.

Book a spring or fall vacation

These two seasons are the best for wildlife watching, whether from the comfort of Rocky Mountaineer or out in the national parks. From mid-May to June is when bears start coming out of hibernation at lower altitudes, and you might be lucky enough to see animals with their young taking tentative first steps. September is the beginning of the elk rut, while fall months signal the salmon run, bringing bears and eagles to the river to feast.

Wildlife Watching - Elk - Talbot Lake - Ellen T Myraas | Total Advantage Travel

Elk at Talbot Lake – Jasper National Park. Photo by: Ellen T. Myrås, Canadian Rockies.

Take a day tour

As a preferred luxury travel partner, we work with Rocky Mountaineer and local tour operators in Banff and Jasper to curate packages that feature tours that include wildlife watching. Taking a tour with professionals maximizes your chances of seeing animals while you’re exploring. Not only will they be able to help spot the wildlife, but they’ll also be able to explain their behaviours and teach you about the environment. In Jasper, we highly recommend the Jasper Tour Company.

Read More: Rocky Mountaineer Train Journey – Canada Destinations

Know what to look for

The national parks are where most of the wildlife roams, so if you’re heading out on your own, familiarize yourself with wildlife that might be in the area, signs that they have been around (such as droppings and prints), and any behaviour that you should be careful of. 

Red Fox at Dawn - Jasper National Park - Ellen T Myraas - Total Advantage Travel

Red Fox at Dawn – Jasper National Park. Photo by: Ellen T. Myrås, Canadian Rockies.

Plan your day around the animals

In general, animals are most active early in the morning and late in the afternoon. Conveniently, these are also great times for photography!

Stay safe when Wildlife Watching

Wild animals are amazing creatures to observe, but they’re still wild, and unpredictable. When you’re in the national parks, make sure you respect the animals, giving them plenty of room. They say that if you’re close enough to take a selfie with an animal, you’re too close! Watch for any sign that they might feel threatened, and never get between an animal and its young. Make sure that you never mimic any of their calls or try to tempt them with food.

Tiny Black Bear Cub - Wildlife Watching - Canadian Rocky Mountains

Wildlife Watching – Tiny Black Bear Cub – Jasper National Park. Photo by: Ellen T. Myrås, Canadian Rockies.

Guidelines for Wildlife Watching

One thing we have learned is that the more respectful you are to wildlife, the more incredible your encounter will be. As, any attempts to chase, touch or otherwise disturb the animals spoil any chance of seeing them display natural behaviours and can frighten them away.

White-tailed buck, October sunset, Jasper National Park – Photo by: Ellen T. Myrås, Canadian Rockies.

Related reading: Discover Saskatchewan – Heart of the Prairies


About Total Advantage Travel & Tours, Inc.

We are a global travel partner for Rocky Mountaineer. We also offer customized vacation packages to the Canadian Rockies which include flights, motor coach tours, self-drive tours and Alaska cruises. Learn more about us.

Please contact us for more information and to book your perfect Rocky Mountaineer experience.

Total Advantage Travel & Tours
Phone: 1-800-419-1635 or direct 416-240-7700 (Canada) | Email: Info@TotalAdvantage.com.