Kananaskis Country is located west & southwest of Calgary 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.
Wildlife Viewing Safety
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…
For more information about local wildlife, wildlife viewing and how to live smart with wildlife, please visit the websites listed below.