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The best parks in Edmonton

Elk Island National Park

The best parks in Edmonton

Edmonton may be chilly in winter, but spring, fall, and especially summer -- with 18 hours of daylight -- are ideal for playing outside.


Most know Alberta's capital city as home to the world's largest shopping mallExternal Link Title, but did you know it also has North America's biggest urban park? Edmonton has dozens of gorgeous green places to play, relax, and connect with nature. Here are five of the best.

1. Wilderness near the city at Elk Island National Park

It's just east of Edmonton, but Elk IslandExternal Link Title is wonderfully wild. Spot herds of plains bisonExternal Link Title, black bears, moose, elk, and a variety of birds at Canada's biggest fully enclosed park. If you're lucky, you might catch a glimpse of shy lynx or gray wolves, too. Hike one of 11 varied trailsExternal Link Title or spend the day lounging on the beachExternal Link Title under the big sky.

2. Get active at Edmonton River Valley

A river runs through it -- that's the winding North SaskatchewanExternal Link Title, which originates from the Canadian Rockies' Columbia Icefield. And you could easily spend a week exploring Edmonton's River ValleyExternal Link Title, North America's biggest urban park at nearly 19,000 acres. Boat, jet ski, paddleExternal Link Title, pan for gold, and fish for goldeye, lake sturgeon, and northern pikeExternal Link Title. GolfExternal Link Title or picnic at 20 parks, or hike some 90 miles of trailsExternal Link Title.

3. Dance to folk music at Gallagher Park

Gallagher ParkExternal Link Title becomes a community of charming tents and booths in August during the hugely popular annual four-day Edmonton Folk Music FestivalExternal Link Title, with six stages, concerts, workshops, a beer garden, and craft fair. Fans from around the world celebrate, dance, and picnic in the natural amphitheater on the river valley's southern slopes (a ski hill in winter). Past headliners have included greats such as k.d. lang, Van Morrison, Loreena McKennitt, and The Head and the Heart. Killer views of the downtown skyline match the world-class performances.

4. Beautiful blooms and butterflies at Devonian Botanic Garden

If you're a fan of exotics, don't miss the University of Alberta's indoor-outdoor Devonian Botanic GardenExternal Link Title, with 10,000 plant speciesExternal Link Title External Link Titleon 240 acres. Just 15 minutes outside Edmonton in DevonExternal Link Title, the showcase includes herbs, special collections of iris, lily, and peonies, a Native PeoplesExternal Link Title and Japanese gardenExternal Link Title, ecological and wetland reserve, plus nature trails spanning 110 acresExternal Link Title.

5. Take a walk in the park at William Hawrelak Park

The huge lake with little islands and inviting grassy areas with lots of elbowroom make 168-acre William Hawrelak ParkExternal Link Title a favorite for everyone. Catch one of several major festivals here (heritageExternal Link Title, Freewill Shakespeare FestivalExternal Link Title,External Link Title Symphony Under the SkyExternal Link Title) at the Heritage Amphitheatre, or just stroll or cycleExternal Link Title, play beach volleyball, take out a paddleboatExternal Link Title, read a book on a bench, or enjoy a leisurely picnicExternal Link Title.


Edmonton is a modern city of nearly one million, so of course there's plenty to see and do: museums, sporting events, shopping, festivals, boat cruising, rodeos. But we recommend starting with these parks.

Plan your vacation at the Edmonton Tourism website.