Kananaskis Country and Canmore
Wildlife of The Area
Kananaskis Country is Located West & SouthWest of Calgary with several entrances
(Canmore, Hiway 40 off Hiway 1, through Bragg Creek, etcetera) in the front
ranges of the Rocky Mountains and boasts a mosaic of habitats, ranging from
subalpine forests, to wetlands, to alpine meadows. These provide perfect
mountain homes for a wide array of plants and animals. In shaded lodgepole pine
forests one may find calypso orchids, heart-leaved arnicas, delicate
twinflowers, an assortment of wintergreen flowers, and bunchberry. On more open
slopes, thick mats of bearberry cover the ground. In wet meadows one may see
white camas, bracted lousewort, and elephanthead. Above treeline, alpine flowers
cover the meadows with colour. Indian paintbrush, glacier lilies, western
anemones, alpine forget-me-nots, and rock jasmine not only survive, but thrive
in the harsh climate of the alpine.
Approximately 130 species of birds nest in Kananaskis Country and many can be
found in Peter Lougheed Park. The friendly gray jay will be sure to greet every
visitor to the park. Along with the more familiar raven and crow, visitors may
see grouse, woodpeckers, and a host of songbirds from warblers and thrushes, to
dippers and even hummingbirds. Their songs may be what most people experience
however, with birds like the ruby-crowned kinglet singing from the tops of trees
during the day while the spiralling song of the Swainson’s thrush echoes in the
early evening hours. Many birds of prey nest in the park including the goshawk,
red-tailed hawk, osprey, and golden eagle.
The most common mammals you’ll see in and around the campgrounds are the red
squirrel, Columbian ground squirrel, least chipmunk, and golden-mantled ground
squirrel. A leisurely drive through the park at dawn or dusk is a good time to
spot some of the larger animals such as moose, deer, or elk. Bighorn sheep can
often be seen on a summer’s day licking salt on and alongside the highway.
Please watch your speed! The more wary mountain goats can be seen high on the
mountain slopes with the help of binoculars.
Many small and large carnivores call Peter Lougheed Park home, such as the pine
marten, three species of weasel, lynx, cougar, wolf, coyote, grizzly bear, black
bear, and wolverine. Sightings of any of our elusive carnivores are rare indeed.
An exception is the coyote which is more common and can sometimes be seen
travelling along roadsides.
For their safety… and yours, view all wildlife from a distance. And please,
don’t feed any wildlife. The Park Visitor Centre has knowledgeable, friendly
staff and an array of interactive displays to help visitors learn more about the
plants and animals of the area. Various guides and checklists may also be
purchased at the Visitor Centre. Or learn more about the park’s wildlife at an
entertaining interpretive program in one of the park’s amphitheatres…
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