Wildlife of the Canadian Rockies

The Rocky Mountains provide some of the best wildlife watching opportunities in Canada, if not North America.  For many people spotting wildlife can be the highlight of their trip.  Whether it’s a grazing elk, a whistling marmot or a black bear playing with it’s cubs, you are sure to stumble across many wild creatures.



Also known as ‘Whistlers’ because of the shrill, whistle-like noise they make. They are photo-friendly creatures who live high in the alpine.

Spot them: High mountain trails; often at the top of the Jasper Tramway on Whistlers mountain.


bighorn_sheepAppropriately named because their horns are huge, they are often used as a symbol of the Rocky Mountains.

They can be found throughout the Canadian Rockies, in all the National Parks.

Spot them: On Yellowhead Highway east of of the town of Jasper, the north end of Jasper Lake, and Lake Minnewanka Road.


mountain_goatThis stocky goat has a shaggy white coat and a rather cute ‘beard’. They are probably about as close as it gets to an all-Canadian animal.

You might need to look up to see them though, because they prefer the more mountainous areas, especially cliffs or steep slopes.

Spot them: Along the Icefields Parkway between Banff and Jasper.



Grizzly bears (or brown bears as they are sometimes known) are probably the most notorious of all animals in the Rockies. They are recognisable by the large hump at their shoulders, although you probably won’t want to get close enough to notice it.

Black bears tend to be smaller in size and are much more common.  To make things confusing they too are often brown in colour.

Spotting either one in the wild is a memorable experience. Keep your eyed open and stay back!

Spot them: Along the Banff-Radium Highway, especially between Dolly Varden Picnic area and Mount Harkin Viewpoint and along the Icefields Parkway in infamous ‘bear jams’.


Recognisable by their enormous antlers and bulbous nose, moose are usually quite timid animals.

During mating season (October – November) they can become more aggressive, and you may hear them making a very loud, peculiar bellow as they try to attract a mate.

Elk are quite a common sight in the Rockies and they often seem fairly tame as they graze nonchalantly by the roadside.

It’s worth giving them a wide berth though, especially during the mating season (fall) because they have been known to attack.

Spot them: Along the roadside, especially Highway 93A between Banff and Jasper.

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