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5 tips for wildlife watching in the Canadian Rockies

A cruise and rail journey is the best way to discover the Canadian Rockies. Here are 5 tips for wildlife watching while you’re there.

Canadian Rockies wildlife watching tips

Posted on

04 Mar 2020

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 Rocky Mountaineer guests. Perhaps it’s spotting a mother bear with her cubs that’s at the top of your list, or maybe it’s hearing an elk bugling during the mating season. Of course, sightings are never guaranteed – they really area “wild” – but if wildlife watching is top of your list, here are 5 tips for increasing your chances of spotting some of the local animals:

Black bear, Canadian Rockies

Book a spring or autumn cruise

Spring and autumn are the best seasons for wildlife watching, whether from the comfort of Rocky Mountaineer or out in the national parks. Bears start to come out of hibernation at lower altitudes during April and May – and you might even be lucky enough to see animals with their young taking tentative first steps at this time too. August is the beginning of the elk rut, while autumn months signal the salmon run, bringing bears and eagles to the river to feast.

Elk, Canadian Rockies

Take a day tour

Rocky Mountaineer works with local tour operators in Banff and Jasper to curate packages that feature tours and activities.

Taking a tour with professionals maximises your chances of seeing animals while you’re exploring. Not only will they be able to help spot the wildlife, they’ll also be able to explain their behaviours and teach you about the environment.

Chipmunk, Canadian Rockies

Know what to look for

The national parks are where most wildlife roams, so if you’re heading out on your own, familiarise 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.

Owl, 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!

Bighorn sheep, Canadian Rockies

Stay safe

Wild animals are amazing creatures to observe, but they’re still wild – and unpredictable! When you’re in the 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.


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