Kananaskis Country boasts a mosaic of habitats, ranging from sub-alpine forests, to wetlands, to alpine meadows. These provide perfect mountain homes for a wide array of plants and animals. In shaded lodge-pole pine forests one may find calypso orchids, heart-leaved arnicas, delicate twinflowers, an assortment of wintergreen flowers, and bunch-berry. On more open slopes, thick mats of bear-berry cover the ground. In wet meadows one may see white camas, bracted lousewort, and elephanthead. Above the treeline, alpine flowers speckle 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.
Keep your eyes open! The wildlife here is amazing!
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 the golden eagle. The most common mammals you’ll see are the red squirrel, Columbian ground squirrel, chipmunk, and golden-mantled ground squirrel. A leisurely drive 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 Kananaskis home, such as the pine marten, three species of weasel, lynx, cougar, wolf, coyote, grizzly bear, black bear, and wolverine. For their safety… and yours, view all wildlife from a distance. And please, don’t ever 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.