Wildlife spotting in Kananaskis Country, Alberta

We have been really missing the wildlife since moving to Alberta. Where we lived before we had wildlife in our garden every day but here we have to go searching for it.

Yesterday was going to be a nice day, so we decided to go for a drive into Kananaskis Country to the west of Calgary. There has already been a bit of snow in the area and the forecast is for more, so we wanted to get over there whilst we could. Also, they close the road from the beginning of December, so we won’t be able to go there even if we wanted to. 

We headed across west via the Trans Canada Highway and then went south on Highway 40 into K-Country. The roads weren’t too bad here as the sun was shining and had some warmth to it, so the snow had melted. 

The only issue was we weren’t seeing any wildlife, so we decided to drive along one of the back roads we had been along before. It is less busy there and we thought there might be more chance of seeing something. The only problem was, the roads here were really icy and after about 20 km we decided to turn back and stay safe. 

We stopped for lunch at one of the many pull-in areas and we had pretty good views to eat our sandwiches by. As you can see, there has been quite a bit of snow in the area, which thankfully, has been cleared from the picnic areas. 

As we continued the journey, we noticed a road that we had not been down previously. So, like all intrepid explorers, we decided to investigate.

It turns out this is primarily a logging road but gave us good views and the road was not icy or snowy, which was a plus. It was, however, very rutted with the big trucks using it, so the drive was really rough. Thank goodness we have a 4×4 truck!

However, once again, we saw no wildlife, other than a few birds. After about 30 km we decided to turn back as following this road would take us too far south. We then got back onto Highway 40 and headed north, back towards the Trans Canada Highway.

Then, just as we had pretty much give up on wildlife sightings we spotted a White-Tailed Deer in the trees. She didn’t hang around for long, so I only managed to get one decent photo, but yeah! Wildlife!

Not long after spotting the deer, we came across a load of bums! That would be the back ends of a group of five male Bighorn Sheep (Rocky Mountain Sheep). We have seen single males before, but not a group of them. They were happily grazing at the side of the road and didn’t pay us much attention.

Except for this guy, who seemed to be taking an unhealthy interest in our truck. He managed to pose for some photos, then suddenly started to make a rather determined move towards us. We decided we should go as we did not want to have to explain to the insurance company how we got ram horn-shaped dents in our truck!

So, by now we were pretty happy with our wildlife spotting. It would have been nice to see a bear or some elk, but we’ll take deer and sheep.

As we were getting towards the end of the road, suddenly a group of Mule Deer ran across the road. They were very quick, so I only managed to get a couple of reasonably decent shots before they disappeared into the trees. 

These deer are different from the white-tailed in several areas. The most significant is their rear. The white-tailed have long tails that are brown on top and bright white underneath. When they run or are startled they raise their tails and it, along with their white rump, flashes a large white area. 

Mule deer, on the other hand, have a shorter thinner tail with a black end that can barely be seen against their white rump.

So, all in all, a pretty successful day for both wildlife and scenery. Now the weather is starting to change here, we might not get too many more opportunities to travel out west.