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Day Trips from Edmonton- The Best Edmonton Day Trips for Nature and Outdoor Adventure

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Edmonton has a lot of great places for outdoor recreation, but if you’re looking for a change of scenery, hop in the car and head out on one of these fun day trips from Edmonton. 

Downtown Edmonton and the North Saskatchewan River.
Downtown Edmonton

Best Day Trips From Edmonton for Outdoor Activities 

Whether you’re looking for recreation close to the city limits or within a few hours drive, you’ll discover plenty of places to hike, paddle, and appreciate nature during these day trips from Edmonton.

Pelicans seen at Muir Lake on a day trip from Edmonton.
Bird watching at Muir Lake

Some of these Edmonton day trips are short with family-friendly outdoor activities, while others are long, ambitious road trips from Edmonton involving full days of hiking and exploring nature.

Allstones Lake near Nordegg.
Allstones Lake near Nordegg

To make it easier to find what you’re looking for, these day trips from Edmonton have been organized from closest to the city to furthest away. Here are some ideas for where to go on your next road trip from Edmonton.

Driving the David Thompson Highway past Abraham Lake on a day trip from Edmonton.
David Thompson Highway and Abraham Lake

Bunchberry Meadows and Clifford E. Lee Nature Sanctuary (Devon Area)

Southwest of Edmonton, approximately 35 km from downtown 

A day trip from Edmonton to the natural areas around Devon is a great choice for families or people who don’t want to drive very far.

After leaving the city, head to the Bunchberry Meadows Conservation Area where you can enjoy an easy hike through native parkland. There are four signed hiking routes incorporating over 8 km connected trails, so it’s easy to explore the old-growth forest and grasslands that make up the conservation site.

Trees and grass at Bunchberry Meadows.

After your hike, drive to the nearby Clifford E. Lee Nature Sanctuary for another nature walk and bird viewing opportunities. This scenic spot has some lengthy, raised boardwalks and viewing platforms for admiring the surrounding wetlands and waterfowl. In addition to the boardwalks, there are three other easy trails that meander through a mixed forest and Jack pine forest.

Boardwalk at Clifford E. Lee Nature Sanctuary.

Chickakoo Lake Recreation Area

West of Edmonton, approximately 47 km from downtown

Chickakoo Lake Recreation Area, near the town of Stony Plain, offers plenty of woodland for nature lovers to explore. 

Pond at Chickakoo Lake Recreation Area.

It’s primarily a destination for hiking, since there are 11 km of trails that loop through the forest and around small lakes, but you can also go kayaking, fishing, biking, and have a picnic.

Trail beside a pond at Chickakoo Lake Recreation Area.

Elk Island National Park

East of Edmonton, approximately 48 km from downtown 

Elk Island National Park is one of the most popular places to go on a day trip from Edmonton, especially in the summer. The park offers a variety of outdoor activities including hiking, kayaking/canoeing, swimming, wildlife viewing, golf, cycling, and stargazing.

Viewing deck overlooking some wetlands at Elk Island National Park.

Day trippers flock to the Astotin Lake area where you can relax on the beach, walk along the lakeshore trails, go swimming, have a picnic, and enjoy a round of golf. There’s even a place to rent paddle boards and boats if you want to go canoeing or kayaking on Astotin Lake.

Astotin Lake, at Elk Island National Park, is a popular place to visit on an Edmonton day trip.

One of the best things to do in Elk Island National Park is go hiking. With eleven hiking trails in Elk Island National Park there’s something for everyone from short, easy hikes through meadows and wetlands, to long journeys into the forest. The variety in trail length and amount of paths to choose from make Elk Island National Park one of the top places to hike near Edmonton.

Boardwalk and a beaver lodge at Elk Island National Park.

While you’re in Elk Island National Park, make sure you drive Bison Loop Road for a chance to see a bison herd grazing in the meadows.

Herd of bison at Elk Island National Park seen during a day trip from Edmonton.

Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area

East of Edmonton, approximately 48-58 km from downtown (depending what staging area you go to)

The Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area has similar scenery to Elk Island National Park, but it doesn’t draw big crowds so is a great choice if you’re looking for a more peaceful experience.

Pond at Cooking Lake-Blackfoot Provincial Recreation Area.

The park has an extensive network of trails for hiking, biking, trail running, and horseback riding. The park is also a favourite of kayakers and canoers who come to paddle on Islet Lake. This scenic lake has several forested islands and plenty of bird viewing opportunities, making it one of the best places to go kayaking near Edmonton.

Kayak on the shore of Islet Lake.

After hiking and/or kayaking, you could enjoy a picnic and campfire at one of the picnic sites.

Miquelon Lake Provincial Park

Southeast of Edmonton, approximately 67 km from downtown

Another option for an Edmonton day trip that’s less than an hour away from the city is Miquelon Lake Provincial Park. 

Walkway crossing a pond at Miquelon Lake Provincial Park.

The park has a lakefront day use area with a playground, picnic tables, and sandy beach (although the water is not good for swimming). 

Beach at Miquelon Lake.

Day trippers can also access over 20 km of hiking trails that showcase the park’s scenic ponds and knob and kettle terrain. You may even spot some interesting birds since the park is home to over 200 species. 

Trail beside a pond at Miquelon Lake.

Wabamun Lake Provincial Park

West of Edmonton, approximately 67 km from downtown

Wabamun Lake Provincial Park is a well known spot for camping west of Edmonton, but it also has a lot of recreational opportunities for day trippers.

The park’s main draw is its beach where you can go swimming, play beach volleyball, and have a picnic. The lake is also a good spot for fishing and boating (there’s a boat launch by the beach).

Beach at Wabamun Lake Provincial Park.

If you enjoy hiking and biking, there are a few trails around the campground and one that will take you from the day use area into the town of Wabamun (best done on bike).

Trail and picnic shelter at Wabamun Lake Provincial Park.

Big Knife Provincial Park and Surrounding Area

Southeast of Edmonton, approximately 203 km from downtown

Big Knife Provincial Park, located between Camrose and Stettler, isn’t top of mind when it comes to Edmonton day trip ideas, but it’s worth a visit, especially if you want to avoid crowds.

Battle River in Big Knife Provincial Park.

The park is situated in the northern part of the Canadian Badlands, in the Battle River Valley, so it offers a different landscape than destinations closer to Edmonton. 

There are two hiking trails in the park and if you do them both it amounts to a hike of just over 10 km. From the trails you’ll have the opportunity to admire the beautiful river valley and see some small hoodoos.

Badlands and small hoodoos in Big Knife Provincial Park.

After exploring the park, drive to the nearby Diplomat Mine Interpretive Site to see some old strip mining machines on display at this reclaimed mine. You could then head over to the Diplomat Trout Pond across the road for some fishing and a picnic.

Another interesting stop you could make on your way back to Edmonton is the village of Donalda where you can see the world’s largest oil lamp replica.

Battle River Valley.

Crimson Lake Provincial Park (Rocky Mountain House Area)

Southwest of Edmonton, approximately 227 km from downtown

For a beautiful road trip from Edmonton, head down to Rocky Mountain House via Highway 12 and watch as the prairies transition to foothills. 

Once you reach the Rocky Mountain House area, a nice place to get out and enjoy nature is at Crimson Lake Provincial Park. The park has two lakes (Crimson Lake and Twin Lakes) so it’s great for water sports like swimming, kayaking, canoeing, boating, and fishing. There are also some lakeside picnic sites.

Pier at Twin Lakes in Crimson Lake Provincial Park.
Twin Lakes

As for hiking, there are 8 trails by the Crimson Lake campground and one that leads from Twin Lakes to Rocky Mountain House. The best one to venture out on is the Crimson Lake Loop (Amerada Trail) that circles the entire lake.

Crimson Lake.
Crimson Lake as seen from Amerada Trail

Drumheller

Southeast of Edmonton, approximately 281 km from downtown

Drumheller is a popular choice for an Edmonton day trip thanks to its famous dinosaur museum, the Royal Tyrrell, and other notable attractions like the Atlas Coal Mine National Historic Site, Star Mine Suspension Bridge, Hoodoos Trail, and The Little Church.

As for outdoor activities, the best way to explore the iconic badlands around Drumheller is by going for a hike in Horseshoe Canyon. From inside the canyon you’ll be surrounded by eroded hills displaying different layers of rock and unique formations. 

Viewpoint overlooking Horseshoe Canyon near Drumheller.

For another badland hike, you could also wander down into Horsethief Canyon. If you’re not up for a second canyon walk, you can instead admire the scenery from viewpoints along the edge. 

Horsethief Canyon in Drumheller.

While in Drumheller you may also want to get in a round of golf at the Dinosaur Trail Golf and Country Club. This scenic course beautifully incorporates Drumheller’s distinctive landscape.

Nordegg and Abraham Lake Area

Southwest of Edmonton, approximately 300 km from downtown (to Nordegg only, will be further to Abraham Lake)

Nordegg is a hub for outdoor adventures and the closest mountain day trip from Edmonton. It’s a long drive, but the gorgeous scenery on the David Thompson Highway makes the time fly by.

David Thompson Highway with mountains and Abraham Lake.
David Thompson Highway and Abraham Lake

With so many stunning hikes near Nordegg, you’ll definitely want to come prepared to hit the trails. Many of the hikes are full-day, often challenging excursions, but there are shorter, easier options available so you can explore a few trails in one day.

Coliseum Mountain Trail.
Coliseum Mountain Trail

One way you could spend your day trip is by hiking to Siffleur Falls in the morning, then doing the Crescent Falls hike in the afternoon. 

Crescent Falls.
Crescent Falls

Some full-day hikes that are worth checking out are Coliseum Mountain Trail (closest to Nordegg), Allstones Lake Trail, Vision Quest Ridge (offers incredible views of Abraham Lake), and Kinglet Lake Trail (furthest from Nordegg).

Abraham Lake and Vision Quest Ridge.
View of Abraham Lake while hiking Vision Quest

Even if you don’t want to hike, you’ll find plenty of beautiful sightseeing spots and viewpoints along Abraham Lake that make the trip worthwhile.

Abraham Lake with mountains in the background.
Abraham Lake

William A. Switzer Provincial Park (Hinton Area)

West of Edmonton, approximately 307 km from downtown

Another ambitious but rewarding day trip from Edmonton is to William A. Switzer Provincial Park near Hinton. 

This large park is packed with pretty lakes, peaceful forests, and over 65 km of trails for hiking and biking. There are even views of the Rocky Mountains, excellent wildlife viewing opportunities, and beaches where you can go swimming.

Jarvis Lake with trees and a mountain in the background.
Jarvis Lake

If you have a kayak, canoe, or paddle board, you’ll want to bring it with you since there are 5 lakes, plus an interpretive canoe route along Jarvis Creek. With so many lakes it can be hard to decide which one to paddle, but you can’t go wrong by choosing Jarvis Lake.

Jarvis Lake reflecting the surrounding foothills.
Jarvis Lake

Hikers will also have plenty of choices when it comes to trails. For one of the best viewpoints in the park, hike to the Athabasca Lookout where you can gaze out over the Joachim Valley and foothills to the Rocky Mountains in the distance. 

Athabasca Lookout above the Joachim Valley.

Jasper 

West of Edmonton, approximately 365 km from downtown (to the Jasper townsite)

A day trip from Edmonton to Jasper takes dedication, patience for long drives, and a willingness to wake up early, but it can be done. 

View of Pyramid Mountain and Lac Beauvert from Old Fort Point.
Old Fort Point

There are many outdoorsy things to do in Jasper including hikes, paddling, and visiting scenic viewpoints. However, since Jasper is so far away, you’ll want to plan activities that are in close proximity to each other, and not too far from the centre of town, in order to minimize driving time within the park. 

Kayak on Lac Beauvert with Pyramid Mountain in the background.
Lac Beauvert

There are plenty of possibilities for how to spend your day trip, but here are a few ideas:

Athabasca Falls.
Athabasca Falls

More Edmonton Day Trips

There are a lot more places you can visit on a day trip from Edmonton than the ones listed above. Here are a few more ideas for your active, nature-filled Edmonton day trip:

  • The Strathcona Wilderness Centre (near Sherwood Park) for nature walks
  • Muir Lake (near Spruce Grove) for kayaking and fishing
  • Mayatan Lake (near Wabamun) for kayaking
  • Hastings Lake (near Sherwood Park) for kayaking
  • Black Nugget Lake (near Tofield) for kayaking
Small dock at Chickakoo Lake Recreation Area.
Chickakoo Lake

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