How To Spot Wildlife in the Canadian Rockies


One of my favourite things about our Roadtrip through the Rockies was the endless excitement of spotting wildlife. From seeing my first wild bear to giggling at the bird that managed to make both me, and then the mountain goat I was photographing, jump, the mountains were full of surprises. Here is a list of what we saw, where we saw it, and how we made the most of our encounters.

Black Bears


The first black bear I saw was pretty much IN the town of Pemberton, just sitting in the bushes watching the world go by. I literally squealed with excitement, thinking that I had just had witnessed the rare sight of a wild bear. I proudly noted down my spot in my travel diary, naming my bear Grylls, and feeling kind of bad that my boyfriend didn’t see him too. Turns out that black bears aren’t so rare, and Grylls was the first of 8. We spotted black bears foraging on the side of the road looking for berries. They seemed to like sloped verges, although like I mentioned, Grylls was literally just sitting in a bush. We spotted bears:

  • In the bushes near Pemberton
  • In Wells Grey Park
  • In Mt Robson Park
  • On Maligne Road in Jasper near Medicine Lake
  • On Pyramid Lake Road in Jasper
  • On the Icefields Parkway




Elk have a distinctive light brown patch on their bums, a darker neck and backward slanting antlers. We saw them in Jasper National Park, really near the town and on Yellowhead Highway. They were best spotted at dawn and dusk.



I love the shape of a moose’s nose. I think it’s adorable. We were pretty lucky to spot a mother moose and her calf at Maligne Lake in Jasper. They spent a few minutes eating grass, and then slowly walked into the lake and swam across to the other side (away from the human paparazzi). This was the moment that I learnt that moose can swim.



These guys are pretty rare. We saw them on the far shores of Medicine Lake in Jasper, but they were too far away to photograph, so you’ll just have to believe me!

Mountain Goats


We saw this lot on the side of Yellowhead Highway. They like steep rockfaces.



There are a lot of deer in the Rockies, and like the Elk we saw them most at dawn and dusk. We usually saw them along the side of the road. In Whistler a whitetail was literally IN the road and had to leap out the way of our car! (Both ourselves and the deer were fine.)



Chipmunks are petty much everywhere in the Rockies and they’re just so freakin’ cute! This guy came and sat with my while I ate my lunch… can’t think why….

Red Squirrels


Red Squirrels are super rare in England, but they’re doing really well in the a rockies and we saw them everywhere. This little one came right up to me on Pyramid Lake Island.

Animals I wish I had seen in the wild

  • Grizzly bears (I saw Cooler and Grinder at Grouse Mountain, but didn’t manage to spot any wild ones)
  • Mountain Lions
  • Wolves (when we were hiking tunnel mountain, there was a sign warning of bold wolves so I thought we might see them, but we didn’t)

Watch our travel diary…


More posts from our Canadian Roadtrip…

19 thoughts on “How To Spot Wildlife in the Canadian Rockies

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