Banff National Park is rich with wildlife, unfortunately there is no magical equation on how to optimize the opportunity to see wildlife, other then a lot of luck + a fully charged camera. While we drove through the park we spotted all but the elusive mountain goat on our list. Each encounter was random, unexpected and completely jaw dropping.
On our second day as we drove from lake to lake my hubby literally pulled over to pee on the side of the highway. As I waited for him in the car, Leo and I decided to take some fun selfies, when all of a sudden Rudy started yelling “get your camera ready!”, as he ran back to the car. He jumped in, did a quick u-turn and about 2 blocks away 3 brown bears, I am assuming a mama and her cubs, were grazing on the side of the mountain. The loud cars didn’t even interrupt their foraging. We sat in our car, on the opposite side of highway in absolute shock of what we were seeing. We made sure to respect their space and not impede on coming traffic. For more tips when encountering wildlife check out this post.
The Best time of day…
The best times we found to see most wildlife was just after dawn when the highways were empty and the animals were free to roam or late afternoon/ just before dusk when most animals were feeding. The most common sightings seem to be elk, and deer and with a keen eye potentially a bear.
The best time of year…
The best time of year to spot most larger wildlife is during low tourist seasons, fall, winter, and spring. Most of the animals move to lower points of the mountains to mate or eat during these times.
Top 5 animals to look for
4. Big horn Sheep
Like I mentioned earlier, being in the right place at the right time, mixed with a little bit a luck and a keen eye always in the woods is the only way to spot wildlife. We spotted 5 bears over the course of 1 day, just a few feet off the highway eating some berries. They blended in so well I could barely see them. We managed to see elk on our very last day at about 6:30 am chilling in a field on our way to the airport.
I love seeing animals in their natural habitats. Banff was the perfect example of seeing humans and animals coexist in their natural habitat. For more information on how to appreciate wildlife while visiting Banff, see this post.