Summer is in full throttle, which means it's time for you to venture outdoors and see what Alberta has to offer. But instead of heading straight to Banff, why not stick closer to home and check out something just as beautiful? Elk Island National Park is a summer staple for Edmontonians and for good reason.  

For starters, it's just 40 minutes away from Edmonton. If you're craving some peaceful nature time but you don't want to make a long drive to the Rockies, this should be the perfect hideout. 

The park is named as such because it's packed with elk, bison, and over 250 species of birds. If you're in the mood for some fascinating wildlife viewing, then setting up shop at Elk Island is a great option for you. 

Plus, it's also overflowing with a number of lovely lakes and rivers. Astotin Lake is by far the most popular lake in the park, and its sandy shores will make you feel like you're in the tropics. 

You can go for a day and just enjoy a sweet picnic by the water. Or you can make reservations for an overnight campground and get the chance to wake up in the most serene setting. 

The wide marshes and fields also make for the perfect spot to stargaze while you're camping. An ideal escape from the hustle and bustle. 

Other lakes in the park include Oster, Shirley, Tawayik, Moss, Blackfoot, and more.

Swimming, tubing, windsurfing, sailboating, kayaking, and canoeing are a few of the water-based activities you can take advantage of.

But make sure to check in with park officials on the safety instructions as well as what's allowed in the various areas. 

The docks on some of the shores are just as magical as well — spectacular sunrise or sunset spots that will leave your jas on the ground. 

The hiking trails are just as unforgettable. With aspen and spruce trees surrounding you at all times, you will feel at one with nature. The sweet sounds of the birds singing are just the cherry on top. 

All in all, a wonderful little getaway that'll let you escape into nature but also keep you close enough to the city. 

Elk Island National Park

Address: Elk Island National Park, AB

Why You Need To Go: To check out the incredible lakes, beaches, and trails in this wildly underrated national park.