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! 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.
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. April and May are 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. August is the beginning of the elk rut, while fall months signal the salmon run, bringing bears and eagles to the river to feast.
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.
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.
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: 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.