Lifestyles of the Wild and Famous
The mountain parks provide countless opportunities to create memorable Canadian moments, including up close and personal encounters with some of Canada’s most famous celebrities such as moose, beavers, and bears. The Rockies also offer the chance to spy a myriad of lesser known stars — from numerous species of birds in low elevation wetland areas, to mountain goats scrambling atop the highest peaks.
Of course, unlike a visit to Hollywood, there are no maps to the stars’ homes. Nor is visiting a national park an outing to the zoo. There are no signs pointing the way to the moose, no paved trails to the otters, and certainly no caged grizzlies — which is what makes wildlife watching in the Canadian Rockies so exciting; so rewarding; and so very, very unpredictable.
There are some simple things you can do to improve your odds. Venturing out and about at dawn and dusk, when many of the animals tend to be more active, certainly helps. And knowing something of the animals’ preferred habitat is obviously going to improve your odds. But, ultimately, it comes down to patience, curiosity, and heaps of luck.
Knowing how much celebrities enjoy their privacy, please make sure you don’t turn into a stalker, because these megastars really will charge you if you play the role of the park paparazzi. The elk wandering the streets of Jasper may look tame, the bighorn sheep that loiter around the Lake Minnewanka parking lot in Banff may appear harmless, but we need to respect that they are wild animals, and remember that we are the ones paying them a visit–in their homes.
So as you create your own Canadian moments in some of the most spectacular landscapes on the planet, make like a true blue Canadian and be polite. Be respectful. And leave the hockey stick at home (we don’t want you to be that Canadian).
Michael Kerr is former park naturalist and the author of five books, including The Canadian Rockies Guide to Wildlife Watching, What’s So Funny About Alberta? and When Do You Let the Animals Out? A Field Guide to Rocky Mountain Humour. Surf him up at mikekerr.com.
By Michael Kerr
(Photo: Elk in Jasper National Park, courtesy of Travel Alberta)