Experience the wildlife in Canada

Updated on Apr 28, 2024 | Canada eTA

Canada is the second largest country in the world borders three oceans and is renowned for its rich geography that encompasses everything from snow-capped mountains of the north to temperate rainforests and rolling grasslands of British Columbia. It is a destination that embraces all types of travellers as it has cosmopolitan cities, towering mountains, thriving forests, and crystal-clear lakes, making sure that the visitors experience the most epic adventures here.

Do you dream of watching polar bears playfully rolling in the melting snow or standing amongst wildflowers and thousands of migrating caribou? Well, Canada has got all you wildlife enthusiasts covered. Canada is gloriously wild and has an enviably abundant and diverse wildlife with several national parks, the world’s longest coastline and numerous lakes and reserves.

From grizzly bears to killer whales, moose to polar bears, and salmon to seabirds, Canada offers a spectacular space for visitors to witness wildlife and indulge in animal-related adventures. Since Canada is one of the coldest nations, one could also spot snow leopards and other animals amongst the snowy mountains. If you wish to understand why this vast country is considered the world’s greatest wildlife destination, we have prepared a list of places for you to explore and experience the breathtaking Canadian wildlife that will leave you with memories of a lifetime. For singing with belugas, seeing whales off the coast of British Columbia, or polar bears sprawling out on the ice, you have to tune into Canada’s wilderness!

Prince Albert National Park, Saskatchewan

Established in 1927, Prince Albert National Park situated in Central Saskatchewan is a breathtaking and unique place to vacation. Covering around 1,500 square miles, this vast area is home to boreal forest, grassland, streams and nature trails. Unique to the park is a free-ranging bison herd that mingles with a diverse collection of wildlife including timber wolves, elks and bears throughout the park. Even though the bison are protected and managed, they have the freedom to roam around according to their wish and are often spotted on the banks of the Sturgeon River. Other animals to enjoy here include red fox, coyote, beaver, otter, moose, deer and other fur-bearing animals.

The park is also famous for its abundance of lakes which refresh you, including Waskesiu, Kingsmere and Crean Lake which provide a wonderful sanctuary for over 200 species of birds. Prince Albert National Park is a paradise for adventure seekers as it offers water skiing, hiking, fishing, kayaking, camping, canoeing and wakeboarding opportunities for visitors. Summer is a popular time to visit the park, however, fall is incredibly beautiful as the autumnal colours sweep throughout the park and it is quiet due to fewer visitors. Planning your trip around dawn and dusk is also ideal as you will get a chance to witness some of the park’s most exciting wildlife. This transitional landscape should be on every wildlife enthusiast’s bucket list.

Banff National Park, Alberta

Banff National Park in Alberta was Canada’s first national park established in 1885 and is now one of the country’s most popular destinations. From a small hot springs reserve, Banff National Park has expanded to over 6,600 square kilometres of pristine alpine wilderness and unparalleled mountain scenery. Snow-capped mountains and beautiful turquoise lakes including the iconic Lake Louise are the main highlights of Banff National Park. While snow-capped peaks, glistening glaciers, waterfalls and rich forests are just one part of the allure of the park, it also offers a wonderful experience of Canada’s diverse wildlife. The view from the mountain is so priceless and breathtaking that UNESCO declared it a World Heritage Site. The park is home to a long list of Canadian icons including elk, deer, black bears, grizzly and black bears, coyote, caribou, bighorn sheep and mountain goats, who roam the landscape.

There are a variety of adventure activities for the visitors including hiking, biking, golfing, bird-watching, mountain climbing, skiing, canoeing, etc. It is suggested to drive to the ice fields and the Bow Valley Parkway if you wish to spot a grizzly bear, however, one should be cautious if they encounter a bear as their behaviour is unpredictable. It adorns countless shimmering lakes, a group of mountains, and a simple village nearby, transporting you to a different world. Situated in the heart of the Canadian Rockies, Banff National Park is home to Canada’s most spectacular scenery that an outdoor enthusiast such as you should not miss out on!

Churchill, Manitoba

Polar BearPolar Bear

Churchill, a remote town in the far north of Manitoba, on the west shore of Hudson Bay is considered the polar bear capital of the world. These magnificent creatures are one of the largest species of bear and seeing them in the wild is truly a memorable and humbling experience. During autumn, most of the polar bears migrate from inland to the shore to feed, thereby creating a unique opportunity for the visitors to spot these powerful creatures in their natural habitat. Visitors can take tours in tundra vehicles, which are strong and made especially for viewing polar bears, and travel over the snowy and icy terrain to follow the bears. The visitors can capture excellent images of the bears that are just out for a walk or indulge in play-fighting for fun and exercise.

After winters when the ice melts away and the water starts to warm, thousands of Beluga whales inhabit the western side of Hudson Bay where the Churchill River empties into the Bay. These majestic white mammals are also referred to as sea canaries due to their musical chirps and high-pitched whistles. Visitors can take a kayak or boat trip to catch a glimpse of these friendly animals that even come near the boats without causing any trouble. Since they are such gentle creatures, some visitors also put on wetsuits and swim with them. The best time to see the belugas is from July to August. Other unique animals that can be spotted include Arctic Hares, ground squirrels, foxes, moose, etc. Churchill is also known for being a great place to witness the colourful phenomenon of the Northern Lights. There is nothing quite like seeing polar bears in their natural habitat so pack your bags now to witness this unforgettable experience.

Sidney, British Columbia

The quaint and picturesque town of Sidney is situated on the northern tip of the Saanich Peninsula, on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. Located on the Salish Sea, the environs of Sidney provide a habitat for a diverse range of terrestrial and marine wildlife. Sidney is one of the prime whale-watching destinations in Canada where many species of whales can be seen breaching the water.

Sidney is an ideal place to spot whales because these majestic creatures love to feed on salmon, which comes to these waters every summer to spawn. A whale-watching boat trip from the town provides visitors with an opportunity to witness these majestic creatures in the wild. You can also spot dolphins, porpoises, sea lions, seals, etc. on Sidney’s waterfront. Sidney attracts bird lovers as it houses some spectacular sea birds including rhinoceros auklet, pigeon guillemots, seagulls, bald eagles, and great blue herons, among others. Adjacent woodlands and farmlands are home to the black-tailed deer and eastern gray squirrels. It’s time for you to hit the water and be stunned by the staggering scenery and exceptional wildlife.

Elk Island National Park, Alberta

Elk Island National Park, situated 35 miles east of Edmonton in the Canadian province of Alberta, is a year-round wonderland for wildlife. It is a place of aspen woodlands and prairie meadows, of towering elk and howling coyotes, of lakes and grasslands, of gentle wilderness. The park is home to bison, the largest land animal in Canada, and pygmy shrew, the smallest one.

This place is the cornerstone of Canada’s bison conservation story as it played a significant role in the conservation and reintroduction of bison by bringing it back from the edge of extinction, so this is the ideal place to get up close to these magnificent creatures. Visitors can join a guided tour to know how the park gives the animals, especially the endangered ones, a natural ecosystem to live and thrive in and can also witness a bison traffic jam where you find yourself in the middle of a herd from inside your car.

Every summer, the Park also organizes a Bison Festival where the staff and local indigenous people explain the history and importance of the bison in Canada. It is Canada’s largest completely enclosed park with a dense population of hoofed animals where wildlife enthusiasts can spot moose, mule deer, beaver, elk, and white-tailed deer, and over 250 species of birds. Elk Island National Park also offers camping facilities for visitors to enjoy the beautifully clear blue skies, far away from any light pollution. The visitors can also indulge in gentle hikes through the park spend some time kayaking over the glistening lakes or try cross-country skiing. Are you ready to follow the footprints of a bison and spread a blanket at night to stargaze to your heart’s content?

Northwest Passage, Nunavut

Musk Ox

The historical and iconic Northwest Passage is an iconic waterway in Northern Canada that links the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Its freezing waters and long winters make it one of Canada’s most remote frontiers with legendary wildlife.

Located in Nunavut, it is dotted with islands and waterways that are home to the Arctic Big Five which includes polar bear, walrus, musk ox, beluga whale and narwhal. During summers, the Northwest Passage is home to one of Canada’s largest groups of polar bears, who gather to stalk prey which becomes easier once the ice starts melting away and the temperature heats up. These giant white creatures are extremely dangerous and powerful hunters.

Polar bear watching is an incredible experience for the visitors to enjoy the sheer beauty. The prehistoric-looking Musk ox, found across the high Arctic and Greenland, resemble bison due to their magnificent horns and shaggy coats.

Walrus, which are distinct because of their enormous tusks, can be spotted near ice clusters as these giant animals usually stay near the water feasting on shrimps and crabs. They tend to roll around, growling and clumsily fighting with each other and the sight of these massive animals indulging in a shoving match makes for an unforgettable experience. Nunavut’s waterfront communities such as Coral Harbour, Hall Beach, etc. are the best sites to take a boat tour and witness walrus.

Probably the most difficult of the Big Five to spot is the elusive narwhal, considered the unicorns of the sea, which can be spotted on the north coast of Baffin Island and the Lancaster Sound if you’re lucky. Summer is a prime time for narwhal-viewing experience as this incredible species of whale moves to the shore during summer. Belugas, the playful whales who squeak and splash around, can be spotted in Arctic Watch as around 2000 beluga whales gather there to play, mate and nurse their young ones. In addition to these animals, the Northwest Passage is home to Arctic foxes, reindeer, caribou, lynx and wolves and a wealth of birdlife that all manage to survive the harsh climate of Canada’s frozen north. Explore this mysterious territory and witness the wide array of wildlife here on your next trip to Canada!

The Gulf of Saint Lawrence, Quebec

The Gulf of Saint Lawrence is a majestic waterway in Quebec which acts as the outlet for the North American Great Lakes into the Atlantic Ocean via the Saint Lawrence River. The Gulf of Saint Lawrence is one of the world’s largest and incredibly diverse marine and estuary ecosystems. The nutrient-rich streams and rivers that carry sediment from the inland lakes result in an incredibly rich and unique living environment that is home to fascinating marine creatures.

The Saint Lawrence features a wide range of wildlife, including land and aquatic mammals, amphibians, reptiles, fish and over 400 species of birds. From May to October, Saint Lawrence boasts of a variety of whale species including minke, beluga and giant blue whale. Northern shrimp which have the remarkable ability to change sex during their life cycle live in the cold waters of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence. Sea stars, or starfish, which have the extraordinary ability to regenerate, are the most abundant species that live in these waters. Greenland sharks, one of the largest carnivorous sharks in the world, can be found in the depths of the Estuary and Gulf of Saint Lawrence. One of the largest and best-known crustaceans living in these waters is lobsters which are found on the rocky sea floor. It is ideal for visitors to take a boat trip for the best opportunity to see these giant creatures in the wild, including dolphins, harbour seals and porpoises. Discover the wealth of marine fauna at Saint Lawrence!

Useful Tips to Explore Canadian Wildlife with The Utmost Safety and Responsibility

Exploring Canadian wildlife is a unique experience that all travellers should gain at least once on their trip to Canada. However, safety and security while exploring wildlife in Canada is more important than everything else. That's why, we are here to educate travellers about useful tips to explore Canadian wildlife with utmost safety and responsibility.

Always pay attention to the information given about wildlife in a certain area that you plan to visit. This means that before you start exploring any destination in Canada to spot wildlife, it is important that you thoroughly educate yourself about the wildlife residing in that area to stay precocious and safe from any potential wildlife harm.

Never get too close to any wildlife. Understandably, it may be extremely tempting for travellers to get a closer look at the wildlife in the area they are exploring. However, this can put not only the traveller but the wildlife in harm too. Thus, it is recommended that travellers maintain a safe distance from the animals they are spotting in the wild.

Make noise and announce your presence in the wild. While hiking or cycling in Canada in areas that have wildlife, you must make noise to announce your presence in the area instead of surprising the animals by suddenly walking in front of them. If you suddenly come in front of them, the animals may get startled by your presence and think of you as a threat in the wild. Thus, making them aware of your presence in advance by making noise is advisable.

Feeding wildlife is not allowed in Canada. In all Canadian national parks, you will find signs that say that feeding wildlife is illegal in Canada. This is simply because if you feed food to animals, they may associate humans with a source of food and may get aggressive if they do not get fed by humans who visit their habitat. This can be life-threatening to not only the visitor feeding the animals but also other tourists/locals.

The Land of the Maple Leaf has many delightful attractions but with these attractions come thousands of tourists. If you are searching for less-frequented quiet but serene locations to visit in Canada, look no further. Learn more at Top 10 Hidden Gemstones of Canada.

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