Home » Day Trips in Edmonton – The Gateway to the Canadian Rockies

Day Trips in Edmonton – The Gateway to the Canadian Rockies

by K Gordon Schultz

Day Trips from Banff National Park

The road from Edmonton to Banff is well renowned as one of the most scenic routes in the world, passing wildlife and sights aplenty. However, should impatience take hold of you for a drive before you hit the Canadian Rockies, Edmonton has some exellent day trips. Below are but a few for your perusal.

Elk Island National Park.

Drive east on the Yellowstone Highway for about 45 minutes and before you know it, you are there. Prepare yourself for a walk. It doesn’t matter what your level of fitness is because the trails vary in length from 2km to 20km. Afterwards, there are open picnic areas and wood-burning stoves for cooking some fresh food. Camping is permitted in designated spots and golfers will be delighted to know that there is an excellent course adjacent to the campground. What more could you want!


Fair enough! Elk Island is home to a herd of buffalo (bison) which you can often see right from the highway. It would not be a wise move to try to touch the buffalo. There is no shortage of stories of how this small gesture has ended up badly. It is also common to see deer, elk, beaver, lots of birds, and sometimes moose (called “elk” in Europe). Although the park is open year round, it is much more accessible in summer.

Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village

If you are looking for something a little different, you can combine your trip to Elk Island National Park with a visit to the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village. This living history village has a number of buildings dedicated to explaining the vast influence Ukrainians have had on Albertan life. Located on Highway 16 just east of the national park’s boundary.

Sylvan Lake

Sylvan Lake is about an hour and a half drive south on the Queen Elizabeth II Highway(QE2). This is a great place to get away from the city and just chill out for the day. There is a beautiful lake and beach here as well as waterslides. It is possible to camp here too.

It is also possible to make a day trip from Edmonton to Calgary – linking the two gateway towns to the Rockies. It is only a six hour return trip. Check out our Calgary section for more information.

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