Fave Five Ecotourism Adventures in Edmonton

As a green tourism leader, there is a wide range of ecotourism adventures in Edmonton By: Debbie Olsen
Muttart Conservatory is Edmonton’s premiere horticultural attraction // © 2011 Muttart Conservatory
Muttart Conservatory is Edmonton’s premiere horticultural attraction // © 2011 Muttart Conservatory

Modern travelers are concerned about the environmental impacts of travel and look for ways to decrease their carbon footprint both at home and abroad. Even though Alberta isn’t often recognized for its environmental efforts, the province’s capital city was ranked as the best sustainable large city in Canada in 2009. Edmonton is also leading the way in encouraging the tourism industry to provide environmentally conscious and sustainable tourism opportunities.

“Edmonton Tourism is committed to sustainable living and to enhancing our eco-tourism efforts,” said Ken Fiske, vice president of economic and tourism development. “We are focused on our commitment to greening the tourism industry and hope to be recognized as an eco-friendly destination.”

There are now more opportunities for travelers to Edmonton to lessen their impact on the planet while enjoying a visit to Alberta’s capital region.

Ride the River Valley
Edmonton’s River Valley Park is 22 times the size of New York City’s Central Park, and is the largest urban parkland in North America. One of the newest eco-conscious ways to experience River Valley Park is via a guided Segway tour. A Segway Personal Transporter (PT) is an electric motorized vehicle ridden in a standing position by shifting weight to steer in the direction desired. A Segway reaches speeds of up to 12 miles per hour and can travel up to 23 miles on a single battery charge. Most importantly, riding one is serious fun. Segway of Edmonton offers guided one- or two-hour Segway tours through Edmonton’s River Valley — the first outdoor Segway tour in Western Canada.

Go for the Green
If golf is your client’s game, there are 86 golf courses within a one-hour drive of Edmonton’s city center. The area offers a wide variety of courses — many with very reasonable green fees. Visitors can experience one of the more mature city-owned public courses, such as the Victoria Golf Course or the Riverside Golf Course, or travel farther to experience the Northern Bear Golf Course in Sherwood Park, a Jack Nicklaus-signature public course. Farther to the south, the Wolf Creek Golf Course is a 27-hole links-style course built in the style of St. Andrews in Scotland. To find golf and hotel packages, check out The Edmonton Economic Development Corporation’s website.

Nature in the City
There are plenty of ways to experience nature in an urban setting in Alberta’s capital city. The Muttart Conservatory is Edmonton’s premiere horticultural attraction and features more than 700 species of plants inside its unique pyramid-style enclosures. Clients can also check out the John Janzen Nature Centre, which just underwent a renovation and expansion and is scheduled to reopen on June 25, 2011. The center offers programs, events, exhibits and information to encourage awareness and understanding of nature in an urban setting. If a wander through beautiful gardens strikes a fancy, clients can make a stop at the Alberta Legislature grounds or head south on the Queen Elizabeth II Highway to the Devonian Botanic Garden to experience an authentic Japanese Garden, floral gardens and diverse collections of native and alpine plants.

Muttart Conservatory

John Janzen Nature Centre

Alberta Legislature

Devonian Botanic Garden

Elk Island National Park
Established in 1906 as Canada’s first federal wildlife sanctuary, Elk Island National Park is home to herds of free roaming plains bison, wood bison, moose, deer and elk. Located 45 minutes east of the city, the park protects a broad expanse of aspen parkland, one of the endangered habitats in Canada that is home to more than 250 species of birds, including endangered trumpeter swans. A variety of self-guided trails allow visitors to explore the park. Be sure to take a picnic lunch and consider an overnight stay in one of the tepees at Elk Island Retreat campground.

Elk Island National Park

Elk Island Retreat Campground

Prairie Gardens and Adventure Farm
Located just north of Edmonton at Bon Accord, Prairie Gardens Adventure Farm has a seven-acre corn maze, greenhouses, a garden center and U-pick strawberries and pumpkins. The 35-acre working family farm hosts several events every year, including the Fairy Berry Festival in August and the Haunted Pumpkin Festival every weekend in October. Families will also enjoy the Klondike Ghost Town, train rides, petting farm, bale mazes and kids’ play areas.

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